If you're a taxi driver in Manchester, you might have noticed private hire vehicles (PHVs) with Wolverhampton plates on the roads. This is because many drivers have chosen to get their PHV licence from Wolverhampton City Council, which has a reputation for being cheaper and faster than other local authorities.
But how many Wolverhampton PHV drivers actually work in Manchester? And what are the implications for the taxi industry and public safety?
According to The Bolton News, the latest figures released by Wolverhampton City Council show there are a total of 21,853 private hire drivers licensed with them as of March 2023. Out of these, 4,049 licences belong to drivers who were registered at the time of their application as being in Greater Manchester. That means almost a fifth of Wolverhampton PHV drivers are based in Manchester.
This trend has raised some concerns among local drivers and councillors, who claim that Wolverhampton PHV drivers are undercutting the market, avoiding local regulations and standards, and posing a risk to passengers. They argue that Wolverhampton City Council is issuing licences without proper checks and inspections, and that there is a lack of enforcement and accountability for drivers who operate outside their area.
However, Wolverhampton City Council defends its licensing policy, saying that it follows the national guidelines and legislation for private hire vehicles, and that it has a robust system of vetting and monitoring its drivers. It also says that it has no control over where its drivers choose to work, as long as they comply with the law and the conditions of their licence.
The debate over cross-border hiring is not new, and it has been intensified by the rise of online platforms like Uber, which allow drivers to accept bookings anywhere in the country. The Government has been reviewing the taxi and private hire legislation since 2018, but it has not yet published its proposals for reform.
In the meantime, some local authorities have taken steps to limit or regulate cross-border hiring, such as introducing stricter criteria for licensing, requiring drivers to display their licence details on their vehicles, or setting up joint enforcement teams with neighbouring councils.