Move to end ‘bureaucratic nightmare’ of taxi and minicab inspections set to be approved

A “BUREAUCRATIC nightmare” over inspecting taxis and minicabs is one step closer to being untangled, the deputy leader of Bradford Council has said.

Councillor Val Slater said Bradford Council was in the process of teaming up with their counterparts in Leeds, Yorks, Wakefield, Calderdale and Kirklees so they can safety-check each other’s vehicles.

It’s part of increasing moves among the members of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority to fully standardise the way they licence and enforce taxis and minicabs.

The changes are being hurried through after the Government relaxed sub-contracting laws across the country in October.

This means an operator in one authority can sub-contract work to a business in another area, making cross-border working more common.

But currently, Bradford’s taxi enforcement officers can only stop and check vehicles licensed by Bradford Council – a situation Cllr Slater described as a “bureaucratic nightmare”.

Under the changes, Bradford Council’s licensing and enforcement officers would be able to spot-check taxis and minicabs and suspend licences on vehicles licensed by any of the members of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority.

Similarly, the council would give the other authorities across West Yorkshire and York delegated powers so they could spot-check Bradford cabbies driving in their own areas.

This week, the council’s regulatory and appeals committee will be asked to approve the changes, before they go to the full council to be rubber-stamped.

Similar moves are taking place across the other authorities, so the changes can come into effect in April.

Cllr Slater welcomed the progress.

She said: “It’s a big step towards standardisation and making sure that we are all operating under the same conditions and that people have got the same standards of service.

“It does cut down a lot of the bureaucracy.”

Council documents show no-one from the cab trade sent in official responses to a recent consultation about the changes, but that operators and cabbies’ groups had been broadly supportive when discussing the idea in meetings.

As well as enforcement, the authorities are also considering working together on:

* a West Yorkshire centralised licensing database maintaining a centralising record of applications, suspensions and revocations;

* a standard criteria for the policy on drivers’ past convictions;

* and the driver application process, including improved common minimum standards for safeguarding training and English comprehension.

The committee meeting takes place at Bradford City Hall on Thursday.

source: http://www.thetelegraphandargus.co.uk/