Wolverhampton Council have come under further scrutiny with accusations of putting profit over safety as drivers from around the UK flock to the authority for fast track minicab licensing.
Reports made public suggest the local authority took £1.29m from proceeds of taxi licensing in 2016/17. Up from £416,070 in previous year. Wolverhampton's taxi licensing chief Alan Bolshaw denied the authority were cashing in on a more relaxed licensing process.
According to Express and Star Conservative group leader Wendy Thompson stated: “There’s no doubt this is a cash cow. What concerns me is the test the council gives is robust – the safety aspect is crucially important. “I’ve been told people are coming here because the drivers can get a licence in the space of weeks rather than months, and it can take two years in some places. “I do find it strange other councils aren’t using this system if it’s such a wonderful thing.” However, Councillor Bolshaw said: “The reason we are getting more applications is because we have a state of the art computerised system, which means we can turn around applications much quicker than many other areas."
The controversial minicab app Uber will be monitoring the situation closely as they struggle to keep licenses around the UK. Uber lost the high profile London market, but have lodged an appeal and are under severe pressure in Brighton.
If Uber were to lose licenses in already established markets the cross border hiring loophole will become appealing to the American firm. By recruiting drivers within authorities who offer a light touch and fast track approach Uber could maintain a fleet of drivers available for hire all across the UK.