Cambridgeshire taxi firms slam council delays in granting licenses

Taxi firms claim they are missing out on dozens of potential jobs a day – as the council delays applications by up to two months.

South Cambs Taxis Ltd (SCT), based in Sawston, says that delays in setting up appointments with South Cambridgeshire District Council are ‘damaging’ small businesses.

Prospective drivers have been forced to look elsewhere for employment, unable to wait more than eight weeks to find a job.
The council claims that the delays are because of an ‘increase in applications’.

“Turning away jobs”

Neil Payne, managing director of SCT, said: “We applied for a driver today to go and have put in his paperwork at South Cambs council, but couldn’t get an appointment until mid November.

“The appointment system seems to have got worse in the last month and I’ve struggled for a few years trying to find good drivers. I’m having to turn away minimum 20 jobs a day.

“Cambridge and the surrounding areas are growing so much. There’s a need for drivers. But small businesses like myself are struggling.”

To become a taxi driver first requires a DSA driving test, for which an appointment can take up to six weeks.

After they pass their test, drivers have to submit their application forms, as well as take a medical which is signed and stamped by a doctor. This now takes up to eight weeks.

Drivers then have to apply for a DBS check, which takes up to six weeks, before they can fully register to become drivers for taxi companies.

“Any drivers that are coming along now to support us over the Christmas period are not going to get a license before January,” said Mr Payne.

“It’s just red tape all the way. I’m just turning more work away than I can take because I haven’t got drivers.

“Yes they’ve got to do their checks, yes they’ve got to be correct and the drivers have to have clean records, but all the government bodies are slowing it all down.”

Interested drivers delayed

Cambridge City Taxis (CCT) is another company struggling to find drivers.

The service currently has 49 drivers but recognise that they need more to respond to the growing need in Cambridge.

David Wratten, managing director of CCT, said: “It just seems there must be another way to get round this and to get the paperwork in earlier.

“It needs to change. It’s got more difficult. I’ve had three people who’ve been interested in coming to work but they’ve been delayed in trying to get the process finished.”

“Checks are important”

A South Cambridgeshire District Council spokesman said: “An increase in the number of taxi licence applications we have received recently has meant that it has been taking us longer than we would have liked to sit down with applicants.

“We are sorry for the delays during this time but are pleased to be able to confirm that we have worked through most of the backlog and nearly all new applicants are now being sat down with within two weeks.

“New online systems we have put in place for DBS checks, formally known as CRB checks, as well as checks we need to carry out with the DVLA, have also seen the time it takes to process the applications fall by more than half.

“Clearly the checks are very important to make sure only suitable drivers are licensed.”

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