Dear Sir

The town’s County Councillors welcome Nicky Pagiatis’s letter in last week’s Newton News. The role of a taxi driver can be demanding and difficult at times and does require drivers to be both skilled and knowledgeable so they can provide a safe and professional service. We do believe however that for the right person, taxi driving can offer a rewarding career.

There does appear to be some difficulty in recruiting suitable drivers at the moment but – from a different point-of-view – that is an opportunity for people seeking a challenging-but-interesting job.

The local County Councillors have been aware for some time of the problems facing local taxi firms and on 5 May, at the request of MP Phil Wilson, we held a meeting with them together with officers from DCC Licensing Services.

With public protection uppermost in our minds, we were not able to support requests to make the qualifying tests easier. Neither could we agree to allow drivers who had not completed the necessary checks and tests to have a ‘probationary year’. We would not wish our loved ones to be driven in a taxi by someone who was not wholly or properly vetted and who had not satisfied the basic requirements for competency. We will not agree to let our residents do so either.

What we *did* offer the taxi operators was – for unemployed candidates – access to free training/coaching on the theory aspects of the qualification, and fully-subsidised transport to and from those courses. DCC officers also agreed to find ways to make the tests (whilst just as demanding and relevant) less intimidating … and to discuss those changes with representatives of the taxi trade through the Taxi Working Group.

You can read about the issues and our efforts in greater depth on Cllr Clare’s blog here:

County Councillors Joan Gray, Kate Hopper, Sarah Iveson, Eddy Adam, John D Clare, Mike Dixon and Jed Hillary