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Council condemns irresponsible Private Hire go slow threat

City of Wolverhampton Council has condemned a threat by private hire drivers to stage a go slow protest during tomorrow (Thursday 20 October) evening's rush hour.

Wolverhampton Private Hire Drivers Association, which claims to have 600 members, has formally notified the council of its intention to carry out the action - but not told the public.

Councillor Alan Bolshaw, chairman of the city council's licensing committee, has branded the action totally unnecessary and irresponsible and accused driver representatives of refusing to enter into meaningful dialogue with the authority.

He said: "We want to make the public aware that the private hire driver representatives are threatening to cause this disruption. People need to be kept informed and as far as we are aware Wolverhampton Private Hire Drivers Association haven't made their intentions public.

"We don't want people to be taken by surprise if this happens. They say they have 600 members and clearly if hundreds of drivers organise themselves to drive slowly around the city centre at rush hour, it could cause significant disruption.

"We are bitterly disappointed that Wolverhampton Private Hire Drivers Association are choosing this route rather than sitting around the table with us to discuss their concerns.

"We arrange regular working group meetings with the trade which is a forum to discuss issues and concerns between the trade and ourselves.

"The fact is that the trade representatives failed to attend the last working group meeting. This is the forum for these discussions to take place.

"I implore the trade to call off this unnecessary and irresponsible action and attend the next scheduled meeting and talk to us. They say they are concerned with the number of private hire drivers licenced in the city and claim these concerns are based on public safety grounds.

"I do not believe for a minute that their primary concern is public safety. This protest is about self interest, they want us to implement restrictive trade practices to limit the amount of drivers able to work and thus limit competition which is not in the interests of customers."

In recent years, City of Wolverhampton Council has cut unnecessary red tape and bureaucracy at the request of the private hire trade. These business friendly changes have not compromised public safety.

In particular, the council has reduced the licence fee from more than £600 five years ago to £249 today, has changed vehicle conditions and allows private hire drivers to drive in bus lanes - all changes supported by drivers.

In terms of public safety, all applications for a private hire licence are subject to the following conditions:

  • an enhanced DBS disclosure
  • holding a full, clean, UK driving licence for a minimum period of twelve months.  If an applicant has current points then guidelines are applied
  • a DVLA driving licence check
  • a mandate which allows us to share information with other councils about previous application refusals or licence revocations
  • a medical certificate demonstrating that the applicant meets the DVLA's Group 2 medical standards
  • completion of the driver training programme and successfully passing the test at the end of the training

Any convictions or other relevant information identified on either the DBS, provided by other councils or returned by the DVLA licence check is considered against the Council's guidelines. 

These guidelines are robust and have been held up as regional best practice. 

The driver assessment process consists of the following subject areas:

  • Safeguarding children
  • CSE awareness
  • Licence conditions
  • Vehicle conditions
  • The licensing process
  • Enforcement and compliance
  • Plying for hire
  • The Health Act 2006
  • Environmental Protection Act 1990
  • Customer safety
  • Disability awareness
  • Road and passenger safety
  • Personal safety
  • Wolverhampton's geography and key locations

Following this all applicants must pass a test, there are 28 questions from a pool of over 100, so each test paper is unique (i.e. if somebody copies somebody else then they'll fail).  New questions are added all the time to keep the content current. The whole process and the test itself is only available in English.

  • released: Wednesday 19 October, 2016