Proposed council takeover of private hire driver tests after alleged cheating within outsourced bodi
Liverpool Council could be set to take complete control of private hire driver tests after it was alleged that cheating was taking place within outsourced bodies.
In 2011 new test requirements were introduced to ensure a higher standard of driver, but the testing has been carried out by four separate bodies.
Currently the tests are carried out by Unite the Union, Alpha Cars, Excel Compliance and Antrec. At a licensing committee meeting which took place earlier this week, a new set of proposals discussed would see the council take sole control of the 'street knowledge test'.
According to a report in the Liverpool Echo, two of the attendees at the meeting suggested the proposals could help eliminate the rumoured cheating on the current test. The proposals say: ‘To absolutely ensure this test is delivered, invigilated and marked in a way which is 100% to the satisfaction of the City Council in terms of integrity, it is proposed that the City Council’s officers resume responsibility for the administration of the Test.’ The report also highlighted that in 2017 a whistleblower expressed ‘concerns over the integrity of the training delivery of an approved provider which highlighted the high pass rate and lack of an independent invigilator’. Councillor Pauline Walton also backed up such claims, saying she had been made aware of alleged cheating, with a rumour suggesting people paying others to take tests for them under the current system. She said: "I have heard rumours about one particular person taking tests for other people. "There is no evidence for that but I have heard rumours about it. "I really hope that this consultation comes back and supports us taking assessments back in house." Sharon Hanson of Village Taxis, a private hire taxi company, said the council taking control of assessments would tackle any poor drivers and 'alleged corruption' in the assessment process. She said: "We strongly support it going back in house. "We personally feel that the quality of drivers has dropped significantly over the past few years. "We turned two drivers away recently because their English was not good enough so that we could understand them in the office so how can we expect customers to get into a car and feel fully comfortable." She said the drivers in question did have the required assessments. She added: "If it does go back in house it will eliminate the 'alleged corruption' of people supposedly going and taking tests for other people." Among the new test, drivers would have to demonstrate a higher standard of English speaking as well as complete a more advanced numerical section. The proposals will now go out to consultation before the licensing committee make a decision on adopting them.