A LANCASHIRE council which licenses taxi drivers from outside its borders has confirmed it has approved applications from 17 Rotherham drivers.
Rotherham commissioner Mary Ney has conceded that drivers are able to apply for licences in other boroughs to avoid Rotherham’s new strict regulations, including compulsory CCTV cameras in cabs.
Rossendale Council said it had not done anything wrong licensing cabbies from elsewhere.
Its policy currently required drivers applying for a licence to declare their intention to work “predominantly” in the Rossendale borough area, a spokesman said, stating that it was “unlikely” that drivers would be granted a licence if they live outside a 30-mile radius from the town centre.
Passengers and other drivers have noted Rossendale-licensed taxis operating in Rotherham.
And Ms Ney warned that drivers licensed elsewhere would avoid coming under Rotherham’s new rules meant to protect passengers and drivers, such as compulsory CCTV cameras in cabs.
The strict rules were imposed in the wake of the Rotherham child sexual abuse scandal, with the Jay Report saying cabbies played a “prominent” role in the abuse of hundreds of children.
The Rossendale spokesman said: “We are aware that there are Rossendale-licensed taxis operating in Rotherham.
“This is legal, and results from changes to national regulations which means taxi drivers have the right to apply for licences wherever they wish, subject to meeting the local application criteria.
“Once a vehicle has been licensed as a hackney carriage it is a hackney carriage for the duration of that licence, wherever it is currently located, and can therefore be used for pre-booked purposes in any district in England and Wales.
“It is not an offence for a licensed private hire operator to take bookings and then dispatch a hackney carriage licensed by a district which is different from that which licenses the operator.
“A hackney carriage can lawfully be used for pre-booked work outside its district.
“This is the result of national regulations, over which we have little or no influence.
“There are 17 currently licensed hackney carriages with the word Rotherham in the licence holder’s address.”
The spokesman said that Rossendale Council did not actively encourage taxi drivers to use its licences instead of Rotherham ones but drivers could choose where to apply for a licence.
He added: “For new applicants, we have an intended use policy, where applicants must declare their intention to work predominantly in the Rossendale area.
“We have also refined this down to a 30-mile radius and we’ve introduced basic skills tests for new applications.
“This is being phased in for renewals.
“Detailed assessment criteria for local areas are set by licensing committees.
“There is variation in these from area to area.
“We have not undertaken a direct comparison of Rossendale’s criteria with Rotherham.
“However, we do participate in local officer networks to help understand, review and share good practice.”