6,000 Wolverhampton taxi licences given out - but most won't ever work in city
Thousands of taxi drivers granted a licence by a Black Country council will never work on the patch.
More than 6,000 people were issued with private hire licences by Wolverhampton council this year – up from less than 1,000 in the whole of 2014.
But many of the 6,395 drivers will not even visit the city as 5,319 live elsewhere, including one as far away as Southampton.
Wolverhampton taxi drivers say the local authority is too lenient on tests for new drivers and too many licences are being given out.
The Deregulation Act 2015 means drivers can operate anywhere in the country, no matter where they get their licence.
The council has also dropped an exam testing understanding of the local road map.
The figures, which have been released following a Freedom of Information (FOI) request, compare to 2014, when 953 licences were issued. Out of those, 800 lived in the city and 153 were from outside.
Wolverhampton council charges £225 a year for a private hire licence. This compares to £306 in Dudley, £102 in Walsall excluding assessment and examination fee, £175 in Stafford and £153 in Sandwell.
Councillor Alan Bolshaw, chairman of the council’s licensing committee, said: “City of Wolverhampton Council is widely regarded as having one of the most efficient and streamlined private hire licensing application operations in the country.
“We have utilised new technology to provide an online platform enabling us to provide a much faster turnaround of licence applications than many other areas.”
Councillor Bolshaw said new drivers still had to complete a ‘comprehensive driver training programme’, which included an English language category.
He added: “Overall, our approach makes Wolverhampton council an attractive option to private hire operators and their drivers who have been free to choose where they apply for their licence since the Deregulation Act 2015.”
Taxi drivers in the city say too many licences are given out by the local authority, and have called for a limit on the number operating.
They say, despite many of the drivers working outside the area, there are too many who can operate in the city.
In October last year, taxi drivers in the city held a 'go-slow' protest. They complained the council was too lenient on tests for new drivers and too many licences were being given out.
Amrik Singh, a hackney taxi driver with 25 years’ experience in Wolverhampton, said: “We have been saying this for years now – there are too many drivers coming here from outside the city, its damaging our trade.
“But for the council it just means more more money. We need a limit to protect our trade.”