Conservative councillor for Telford and Wrekin Council has had a motion passed by unanimous decision during a council meeting to call on the government to give more licensing powers to local authorities.
Stephen Burrell put forward the motion because he said a number of applicants who failed their licensing process, which is set out to protect the public, have gone to another authority, notably Wolverhampton City Council, to obtain a licence.
During a full council meeting held on 19 September, Richard Overton, the portfolio holder for enforcement in the borough’s Labour administration, spoke in support of a motion opposing cross-border hiring.
Cllr Overton said: “Prior to the Deregulation Act of 2015, private-hire operators were only permitted to subcontract jobs to operators licenced by the same authority as themselves.
"Following deregulation, they were permitted to subcontract to operators licenced by any authority in England and Wales.
“For example, a booking will be received for a job in Telford and that job could be lawfully subcontracted to operators licenced by Wolverhampton City Council, who in turn would be able to subcontract a Shropshire-licenced vehicle and driver to undertake that work.”
He added: “Here in Telford and Wrekin, to protect our public, we have robust standards in place for vehicles and drivers.
“These standards are not always mirrored by our neighbouring authorities."
Overton highlighted the council's requirements for all applicants in Telford and Wrekin to undergo child sexual exploitation and disability awareness training.
He continued by adding: “There have been numerous instances of drivers failing this council’s standards test and, subsequently, being granted a licence by Wolverhampton City Council.
“We have the ridiculous situation of a driver who has been refused by Telford and Wrekin Council still being able to work in Telford.”
Motion leader, Cllr Burrell, said that whilst the 2015 deregulation act was "doubtlessly well-intentioned", it has diluted the control of drivers by local authorities.
Cllr Burrell said: “In the absence of national standards, we would ask that the council commit to working with neighbouring local authorities to develop and adopt a set of minimal standards, following on from which we would ask the council to seek development of a reciprocal approach with those authorities.
“By holding the Government to account, being fully compliant with the most recent guidelines and working with local authorities, we can demonstrate emphatically to all residents that our council is doing everything within its power to ensure their journeys are both agreeable and safe.”
The motion put forward by Cllr Burrell proposed the following:
‘This Council calls on Government to amend legislation licensing the operation of private hire vehicles to allow local authorities greater control of the private hire operators providing services within their area.
‘In addition, this Council commits to making the fullest use of its powers to ensure, that the drivers and operators of private hire vehicles in the Borough receive appropriate training, development and support and are committed to the very best standards of service and safeguarding for each and every passenger.’
Image (Remixed): Source; Pixabay + Telford and Wrekin Council