Following a High Court ruling in a taxi conflict between Stockton-on-Tees and Berwick-on-Tweed Borough council, registered cabbies in other boroughs can now pick up pre-booked passengers in Birmingham.
The decision would lead to cabbies registering in other areas and trading in Birmingham in the hope of earning more cash, say the members of the city Council’s Licensing Committee. The decision may cause problems as the authority insists on high standards of minicab and taxi regulation, including training for carrying disabled passengers, criminal record checks, knowledge test for drivers, an age restriction on cars, higher licensing fees than some areas and an English language test.
The number of cabs on the roads and taxi insurance quotes has declined as Birmingham have enforced a stern ban on new licences for the last 3 years.
An agent has already started offering to register drivers in Sandwell and Shrewsbury, allowing them to work in Birmingham, officials has been told.
“There will be a free-for-all on our streets and we won’t be able to do anything about it. This is an absolute chasm, not a legal loophole.” said Bob Beauchamp, Committee member.
A member of the Birmingham and Solihull Taxi Association, Ray Beach, said “ There may be no age restrictions on vehicles, no disability or NVQ trainings and these other drivers may not be CRB checked”. He added “Everything we do in Birmingham to driver up standards will be undone”.
Birmingham Council officials could only report cabbies to the licensing authority when they break their licensing conditions, such as not displaying plates and badges, the committee has been told. However, the committee is asking for the loophole to be closed by writing to the Department for Transport.