Taxi drivers won’t be forced to take BTEC after all because courses ‘cost too much’

THE high cost of courses to improve the level of service from taxi drivers in Christchurch has led to councillors rejecting the idea.

At a meeting of the licensing committee on Monday, members discussed plans to ask drivers to complete BTEC and NVQ qualifications in a bid to raise the quality of service for passengers.

They also discussed whether to introduce a safeguarding module for drivers to complete.

However, members felt the fees involved in the BTEC and NVQ courses were too high.

The discussion came after Bournemouth council asked their drivers to complete BTEC and NVQ courses, which led to a concern that drivers were moving to Christchurch to work.

Officers warned that there could be strong opposition to the measure, especially with a lack of government funding.

Councillor Bernie Davis, portfolio holder for safe and healthy communities, said: “Members requested that officers investigate the feasibility of introducing BTEC and NVQ qualifications for hackney carriage and private hire drivers (taxi drivers).

“We were aware that other nearby local authorities required taxi drivers to complete such courses and that this may have resulted in a displacement of applications to Christchurch. It was also felt that such qualifications may improve the general level of service offered to the public.

“At the licensing committee meeting, members decided that the fees presented made it unreasonable to make the qualifications a requirement.

“However, we have requested further investigation into other providers to ensure best value.

“Members did agree to introduce a new safeguarding module, following high profile national case reviews relating to taxi drivers and the safeguarding of children and vulnerable adults.”

The safeguarding module follows the independent inquiry into child sexual abuse in Rotherham.

A report to the committee said officers had considered an e-learning course and seminars, but had “reservations” they could be too in depth and irrelevant.