Wolverhampton council rakes in £1.2m from 'cash cow' taxi licences
Wolverhampton council has made more than £1.2 million handing out private hire licences in the last year – with bosses being accused of using them as ‘a cash cow’.
The authority made £1.29m from taxi licensing in 2016/17, but has come under fire amid safety fears.
Wolverhampton-licenced cabs have reportedly been spotted as far afield as London, according to the city’s Conservative group leader. The council netted £416,070 in 2015/16.
Meanwhile, the local authority has gone from granting just over 600 private hire driver licences a year in 2012/13 to almost 3,000 last year, a Freedom of Information Act request has revealed.
Licensing boss Alan Bolshaw said he disputed the fact it was a money making exercise and insised licensing policy has cross party support.
Tory group leader Wendy Thompson said: “There’s no doubt this is a cash cow. What concerns me is the test the council gives is robust – the safety aspect is crucially important.
“I’ve been told people are coming here because the drivers can get a licence in the space of weeks rather than months, and it can take two years in some places.
“I do find it strange other councils aren’t using this system if it’s such a wonderful thing.”
Councillor Bolshaw said: “The reason we are getting more applications is because we have a state of the art computerised system, which means we can turn around applications much quicker than many other areas.
“It is utter nonsense to portray this as a money-making exercise. Income must be reinvested back into the licensing service, which is exactly what we have done.
“We take passenger safety extremely seriously and our safeguarding standards are amongst the best in the country.
“We are proud of the fact we have streamlined and transformed our licensing function without compromising public safety.”