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New Wolverhampton taxi drivers 'don't know what they are doing', say cabbies

Passenger safety is at risk in Wolverhampton, according to cabbies who are concerned about an alleged lack of training given to new drivers.

New Wolverhampton taxi drivers 'don't know what they are doing', say cabbies

According to members of the Wolverhampton Hackney Carriage Association, new drivers are not receiving proper training prior to being given their licence and taxi plates.

The group has written to Colin Parr, licensing manager at Wolverhampton Council.

It is signed by the chair of the WHCDA, the director of Rainbow Taxis, chairman of Associated Taxis, director of Mobility Cabs and a Unite representative. It states that: "The hackney carriage trade has serious reservations about new private hire drivers.

"We feel the public is put at risk and other road users are put at risk.

"Most new private hire drivers cannot speak English and do not know the venues in the city centre, never mind around the other parts of Wolverhampton. Some are not familiar with the road layout in the UK."

Rob Marris MP for Wolverhampton South West has written to the Secretary of State regarding the problem.

In his letter, MP Marris says: "Some councils in England have rigorous checks on the suitability of prospective taxi drivers as fit and proper persons; other councils allegedly less so. This discrepancy could create a loophole, thereby allowing a rogue to slip through the net."

Concerns about the training of drivers emerged after the council changed the way it qualifies its drivers. Now they only have to participate in a day-long course.

Previously, drivers have had to complete a full theory test, a practical test and further NVQs to qualify.

Muhammad Nasim, a taxi driver, said: "It is disgraceful. It's just not safe for customers when drivers depend solely on the satnav, cannot speak English and are not properly trained."

Mr Nasim wants the council to put all new applications on hold and work to re-instate the original hire test system, including the theory and practical test.

A meeting to discuss the issue was to take place on March 17. However, concerned members think this is far too late.

"They need to do something about this now. Passengers are feeling uncomfortable, drivers don't know what they are doing and the council is just issuing far too many licences," Mr Nasim added.

In addition to the training problems, drivers are concerned about the new pedestrianised zone in Queen Street.

The WHCDA said:"We the Hackney carriage trade have lost most of our work from the Market Street taxi rank since the new road layout.

"We propose the Princess Street pedestrian zone should be made available to only carriages, if they have a passenger, not just to cut through the city centre.

"This is in the best interest of public safety and will keep the taxi fare low for the most vulnerable."

Drivers also expressed their disappointment at the council's enforcement team, who they believe have failed to stop taxis plying for trade and poaching passengers.

Colin Parr, licensing manager, said: "Our position remains the same. We hold quarterly meetings between the council and the drivers where they can raise their concerns, along with the other items. The changes we made to training were in response to government changing their policies."

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