Wolverhampton minicab row: 2,000 more expected to apply to become minicab drivers

Another 2,000 drivers are expected to apply for minicab licences by the end of the year, despite soaring numbers and existing drivers complaining of huge salary losses.

Now angry drivers are threatening strike action against Wolverhampton council.

Earlier this year it was revealed that the number of private hire drivers in the city had shot up from 858 in July last year to 1,323 this year, as drivers from Birmingham and other areas flooded the market and took advantage of restrictions being removed by the local authority.

At the last licensing committee meeting it was revealed the council was expecting to receive ‘in the region of 2,000’ additional applications by the end of this year.

Raheel Shah, from Wolverhampton Private Hire Association, said: “As a union we are not happy. It’s all well and good giving licences out but where are these people going to find the work? There are already too many drivers in Wolverhampton.

“The standards are too low for drivers to get a licence and the people of Wolverhampton are suffering because of it.

“The council do not care about the people, they just care about making money. It’s not fair on the drivers either. How can they deliver the best service if they are so stressed?”

The increase in drivers in the region, which equates to almost 60 per cent compared to last year, could be attributed to restrictions being removed by the city council.

An exam familiarly known in the trade as The Knowledge, which tests drivers’ understanding about the local road map, and a practical skills test, were dropped by the authority in response to government changes in policy. Now a simpler test is done by prospective cabbies.

Mr Shah said: “There is no space for anymore drivers. There must be 1,500 already. A lot of them don’t even know the area because they have come in from elsewhere and are not taking their tests.

“Drivers aren’t required to take the proper tests here, yet in other areas they must. Without the proper knowledge of the roads in Wolverhampton, the customers are going to get a rubbish service.

“As a union we are against any more drivers being taken on. We may have to consider a strike against the council.”

Councillor Alan Bolshaw, chair of the council’s licensing committee, said: “There may be a lot of applicants but I’d imagine only a handful will be granted licences.

“I can understand drivers might be alarmed. Under the new laws, people can apply for taxi licences from anywhere in the country. But only a handful will be working in Wolverhampton.”

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