London cabbies are famed for their “knowledge” and now Lincolnshire taxi drivers are facing a test of their local wisdom too.
West Lindsey District Council is introducing an exam for anyone applying for a taxi licence.
Hopes that exam for cabbies will improve the safety of taxi users
It will test applicants’ knowledge of roads and routes across the district, and will be introduced from September 1.
It comes after the Conservative-led authority saw an increase in the number of cabbies applying for licences in Lincolnshire and then leaving to work in other places.
Taxi drivers say this happens because the waiting list for licenses in big cities, such as Manchester and Leeds, can be up to two years.
Councillors on the communities committee approved the proposals at a meeting in Marshall’s Yard on July 16. Under the new legislation, any applicant that fails the exam will be refused a permit.
The test will quiz applicants on the quickest and safest routes across West Lindsey.
Each test will cost an applicant £15 to sit.
Councillor Jessie Milne, chairman of the licensing and regulatory committee at West Lindsey District Council, said: “The council’s primary aim in taxi licensing is to ensure the safety of the travelling public.
“It is not unlawful for a driver to get a licence from us and then choose to operate outside our district.
“When this happens it is extremely difficult for the council to apply enforcement and keep its fleet under observation.
“Without control over licence conditions, public safety could be put at risk by potentially unsafe vehicles – they could have bald tyres, faulty lights or an uninsured driver.
“Clearly we need to address the issue to prevent drivers operating remotely and to ensure the safety of the public.
“Under this new policy, and in line with the High Court judgement in 2008, we are now entitled to refuse applications where we believe the applicant intends to operate outside West Lindsey.”
Eddie Kay, manager at Eddie’s Taxi, said: “A local knowledge test is a very good idea.
“There are too many taxi firms in the West Lindsey area who do not have the local knowledge required to provide a reliable and safe service.
“There has been a huge rise in taxi firm applications in West Lindsey who then want to go on and run companies in places like Manchester.
“It’s because there is a much longer waiting list in the bigger cities and so it’s easier to go through our process.
“But the authority is then unable to keep tabs on the firm’s actions – making it unsafe for taxi users inside and outside of West Lindsey.”
Sam O’Keefe, 32, from Nettleham, added: “This is a very good idea and one I would support completely. If anything, it should have been done sooner.”
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