CABBIES could strike after councillors brought in a new penalty points system to catch bad taxi drivers.
Kirklees Council’s Licensing and Safety Committee backed the proposal yesterday.
But a taxi drivers’ representative predicted strike action if the system is introduced.
Council officers have drawn-up the proposal, which punishes cabbies for dozens of offences.
Any driver who racks up 12 points in a year could be stripped of their licence by Kirklees.
Some of the offences are taken from the general penalty points system used on all motorists – including driving without insurance and using a mobile phone at the wheel.
However, many of the offences in the Kirklees system are unique to cabbies – including overcharging for a journey, failing to wear a driver’s badge and jumping the queue at a taxi rank.
Kirklees Hackney Carriage Association spokesman Amjad Nadeem warned yesterday his members could strike over the issue.
“We’re going to ask our members what steps they want to take,” he said.
“Chances are we will have a protest or strike action over this.”
Mr Nadeem added it was wrong for cabbies to have to face two penalty systems – one enforced by law and the other by Kirklees.
He said: “Our members feel this system is unfair because there’s already a system in place where penalty points go on a normal driving licence.”
Mr Nadeem added that the council had promised to consult his group before deciding whether to go ahead.
He said: “We had a meeting with councillors and officers in January. They were supposed to have a further consultation with us, which they did not do.”
The Licensing and Safety Committee backed the system at Huddersfield Town Hall yesterday.
It will come into force on January 1, 2012.
Any driver who racks up 12 penalty points in a year will go in front of the council’s Licensing Panel with a recommendation that their licence is suspended for 28 days.
A cabbie who collects another 12 points will be suspended for 56 days.
And any driver who racks up 12 points for a third time will have their licence revoked.
Several committee members spoke in favour of the penalty points system.
Kirkburton Conservative Clr Adrian Murphy said: “I think we should go ahead with this and move our standards up.”
Clr Christine Iredale told the meeting that cabbies who commit motoring offences deserved extra punishment.
The Golcar Lib Dem said: “If a normal driver uses their mobile at the wheel they get three penalty points and a £60 fine.
“If a taxi driver uses his mobile phone while taking paying passengers, I believe that’s a more serious offence.”
Liversedge and Gomersal Conservative Clr Derrick Yates added: “The good drivers aren’t affected by this. It’s the one’s who persistently ignore the rules.”
Clr Masood Ahmed was the only member of the 12-strong committee to speak against the penalty points system.
The Dewsbury South Labour man does not believe the council has enough workers to enforce the new rules.
“We’re already struggling with the staffing we’ve got,” he said.
Councillors also criticised a 243-name petition opposing the new system, which was submitted by Kirklees Hackney Carriage Association
Committee members claimed several names had been written in by a single person.
“You can clearly see that one man has done the work on each page,” said Clr Murphy.
“It’s ridiculous, they must think we’re dodos.”
Heckmondwike Labour man Clr Steve Hall agreed.
“This petition is an absolute joke,” he said.
“How are we supposed to take this seriously? It should be thrown in the bin.”
But Mr Nadeem told the Examiner: “The paperwork was given to each base who took responsibility for getting every driver to sign it.
“There’s a badge number next to each name, so every driver can be contacted to see if the information on the petition is correct.”
Some of the offences in the new penalty points system for taxi drivers. Totting 12 points could equal a ban
Unreasonably prolonging a journey or overcharging 4 points
Failure to have a working fire extinguisher 3 pts
Touting or illegally plying for hire: 9 pts
Failure to wear driver’s badge: 4 pts
Eating food while driving: 3 pts
Carrying an offensive weapon in a vehicle: 6 pts
Failure to observe taxi rank discipline: 3 pts
Driving without a taxi driver’s licence: 12 pts
Smoking in a taxi: 3 pts
Refusing to accept a fare without reasonable cause: 4 pts
Kirklees Council votes against relaxing taxi driver licensing rules – Read the story here