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East Renfrewshire drops taxi practical ‘Knowledge’ test amid backlog crisis



East Renfrewshire Council has decided to eliminate the practical driving assessment for new taxi and private hire drivers, shifting to a solely written 'Knowledge' test.


This decision follows the revelation of a substantial backlog, with 120 tests pending and an estimated 300 hours required to process them over the next three to four months. The council's licensing committee ratified this amendment in a recent meeting.

The alteration affects both existing applicants awaiting their practical tests and new candidates. Initially, the practical component, which involves navigating specific locations under supervision, was implemented to enhance service standards.


A council report highlighted staff shortages and the demanding nature of administering the practical test as key reasons for the accumulation of uncompleted assessments. This has raised concerns regarding the efficiency and sustainability of the current testing regime.


John Paul Duffy, Chairman of the Scottish Private Hire Association (SPHA), voiced significant concerns over the council's decision-making process.

According to Duffy, the trade and public were not consulted before the committee's decision, a move he believes contradicts the Scottish Regulators' Strategic Code of Practice. Duffy emphasised the necessity of transparency and engagement, citing a previously agreed revival of the East Renfrewshire Hire Car Forum—a platform intended for such dialogue.


The SPHA has invited members of the Licensing Committee to their next meeting on 28 May, urging for a reevaluation of communication and consultation practices surrounding licensing decisions.


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