A 12-week consultation will begin by Newcastle Borough Council as they look to crackdown on poor language skills within the taxi and private hire trade.
If agreed, all new applicants will have to prove they can speak a good level of English by providing an English language certificate.
It will be incorporated into a new scheme to create an in-house ‘knowledge’ exam to improve standards of taxi and private hire drivers.
Applicants will be expected to know the rules of the road, understand the law surrounding disability and taxi legislation and complete child sex exploitation training every three years. A written English test will also be expected to be completed, according to a report in the StokeonTrentLive.
Councillor Tony Kearon has backed the new proposals but has highlighted concerns surrounding the legitimacy of how some applicants may prove their English speaking skills.
Kearon said that written evidence can come from anywhere and suggested that a face-to-face interview with council staff may be a more appropriate approach.
According to the Newcastle and Kidsgrove Taxi Driver’s Association vice-president Bashir Choudahry, there are now around five-times the amount of cab drivers in the area than there was five/six years ago, but there has been no increased demand by customers, making it impossible for some to make a living.
Members of the authority’s licence and public protection committee backed the plans which will now undergo a 12-week consultation.