Express newspapers report that A YORKSHIRE mill town has been bombarded by applications from would-be-cabbies nationwide who see it as a soft touch for a taxi licence.
Private-hire drivers can be approved by any town hall to work anywhere in England and Wales
Huddersfield, famous for being the birthplace of rugby league, is at the centre of a minicab licensing storm.
Until recent deregulation, private-hire drivers could be licensed only by the local authority where they lived.
But they can now be approved by any town hall to work anywhere in England and Wales.
This has led minicab bosses to send new driver applications to councils that do not require knowledge tests.
Some councils are being bombarded by thousands of requests from drivers with no knowledge of the area.
Now Kirklees Council in West Yorkshire is rushing in a knowledge test after being swamped with non-local applications.
Senior Tory councillor Robert Light said: “Kirklees is seen as a soft touch.
We became suspicious after we had a lot more applications than normal from all over the place.
“A lot of other councils are bringing in knowledge tests. The duty of the council is to ensure public safety and Kirklees drivers don’t want outsiders taking their trade.
“We need to know taxis are legitimate and not putting the public at risk.”
More than 250 of those badged up in Rossendale in Lancashire are working more than 100 miles away in Derby, which has a tough maps test.
Paul Brent, chairman of the National Taxi Association, said: “These pirates are getting their licences in the sticks and working anywhere.
“Trafford in Greater Manchester, where I come from, got rid of the knowledge test and ended up with 3,000 applicants. It will take three years to clear the backlog.
“One guy was talking about working in London. He could not care less that he did not know where St Paul’s or Piccadilly was as long as he had his sat nav or phone.
“Councils can’t take enforcement action against cabs not registered in their area. So anyone getting into one risks getting ripped off. It is an absolute disaster.”
The Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association said: “We are extremely concerned about cross-border hiring.
“The local licensing authorities do not then know the identity of who is driving or have the ability to check their criminal record or suitability to carry passengers in their area.”