GMB raises concerns with Dacorum council over watering down of knowledge test for private hire taxi drivers

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GMB professional drivers branch raises serious concerns with dacorum council over watering down of knowledge test for private hire and taxi drivers.

Flooding the market with extra licences will lead to serious problems such as more traffic congestion and higher emission levels says GMB London.

GMB, the Union for Professional drivers, has written to Dacorum Borough Council raising serious concerns in relation to proposals to water down the current strict knowledge test for new local private hire drivers. [See notes to editors for copy of letter to Dacorum Councillors]

GMB have issued a briefing note outlining their members concerns to local councillors ahead of a scheduled meeting of the Licensing and Health and Safety Enforcement Sub-Committee on Tuesday 28th March where this proposal will be discussed. [See notes to editors for copy of the briefing note]

GMB have also raised a number of Health and Safety and environment issues related to the council’s proposal.

Steve Garelick GMB Branch Secretary said,

“Local drivers believe that if the current knowledge test is made easier for licence applicants the area will be flooded with new drivers coming in from far and wide with little knowledge of the local area. This will have a detrimental effect on already struggling drivers and their families operating in the area to make ends meet.

“Flooding the market with extra licences will lead to serious problems such as more traffic congestion and higher emission levels. Drivers with little knowledge of the area will be more reliant on apps for directions raising the risk of an accident whilst distracted at the wheel. This is why we are calling for a strengthening of the current test.”

Mick Lancaster GMB Regional Officer said,

“Unfortunately what we see taking place in the Dacorum Borough is being mirrored across the country. Cash strapped local authorities removing essential safeguards put in place to protect the public in order to raise short term revenue. Councillors have a duty of care to protect the trade of local drivers as they would do with any other small business and stop treating the existing drivers of Dacorum as an easy target. We expect a positive outcome from the meeting scheduled for 28th March”   


Contact: Mick Lancaster on 07974 249754; Steve Garelick on 07565 456 776

Notes to editors

1) Letter to councillors

March 13 2017

Dear Councillor,

Planned Amendments to Private Hire and Taxi

On behalf of members I am attaching a copy of a briefing notice intended for the Licensing committees forthcoming meeting on March 28th.

This paper highlights issues that are blighting existing drivers and is subsequent to a document sent on cross border issues by some private hire operators such as Uber and the damage to the local economy.

I would ask you to consider how the proposals affect your constituents who fill these roles when at committee or pass your views on to the committee members.

2)  Dacorum Taxi and Private Hire Members Briefing Paper

The council is planning several proposals which no doubt has a detrimental effect on existing individual licensees and some smaller operators.

Key in these recommendations is a dumbing down of the Private Hire testing criteria.

The result of such a change will manifestly interfere with the status quo of the area which is already under pressure from the cross-border issues eluded to in the previously circulated document from ourselves.

Adding increased driver numbers based on an easier entry criteria will have multiple impacts including more vehicles in the area causing increased congestion and emissions.

Do you really want busier roads and increased emissions in the vicinity?

To expand on this using the laissez-faire attitude that has occurred with operators in London driver numbers increased from around 53,000 less than 3 years ago, to over 123,000.

Economically this cannot work for drivers as income is reduced and rates are paired down putting the consumer ahead of the driver.

The workers involved in the current trade are small businesses and deserve the same respect as any other local business when deciding their fate.

Drivers have responded on the following points in this fashion:

1. Please keep the existing course and ADD an awareness course to strengthen quality of service.

2. There is no need to for reassessment following testing. As a member stated why would you resit an A level when you have already passed?

3. Unless more detail is provided on the shape and vision of a refresher course no vote should be taken otherwise this leaves carte blance for any criteria to be decided without further reference.

4. We would only comment that there is a divergence of costs for Medicals which can be as high as £140 per test this is clearly an issue which GMB is addressing nationally with the BMA.

5. We are happy to provide a copy of TFL’s latest form which I believe would assist doctors and licensing in a faster clearer process saving referral back to GP’s and Opticians.

6. The current TFL badges are actually not fit especially from an enforcement perspective and an alternative is sought.

The plan was to incorporate a number within a plate surround as well as rdif for scanning via a common smart phone.

DoT and DVLA issues are delaying this matter but we strongly recommend against this proposal on the grounds of public safety.

7. Following a TFL market research exercise it was discovered many actually view the prebook as an invitation to approach the vehicle and attempt to book a journey with added impetus to vehicles that are seen as luxury marques being safer due to the investment made in the vehicle. This step may add further enforcement issues.

I wanted also to bring to your attention drivers concerns on other issues.

Valuable rank space was lost to drivers as a result of county council road changes assistance from councillors would be welcomed in addressing this situation.

There is a major concern in relation to Mr. Hills behaviour and attitude towards drivers this borders on antagonistic and arrogant and is not befitting the expectation of officers who would expect the same treatment from the public.

We have contacted the police in relation to concerns over Touting and Plying by out of town vehicles as well as verbal abuse and non-payment of fares. These matters need the councils backing too.

A petition will be provided on the 28th to show the support drivers have in this matter and I request you give this and some of the comments on it due consideration.

Steve Garelick

My background I have driven for over 25 years as a private hire driver in London and I am an unpaid member representative for Taxi and Private Hire Drivers and Small operators.

I sit on various committees representing members as well as having interaction with Department of transport, Meeting of Minds, Susie Lamplugh Trust as well as advising Politicians from all sides of the Political arena at both national and local level, I attend very frequent meetings with TFL and have an almost daily interaction with them.

Frequently I am called on by media for advice or viewpoints on interrelated matters.

I am credited with assuming the Tribunal action on behalf of members for worker rights against Uber.

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