London cab drivers heading to Leeds for fares

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Dozens of private hire vehicles in Leeds are being driven by people issued with licences by Transport for London.

And records held by TfL reveal that 85 of their licensed taxi drivers have registered with Leeds postcodes.

The figures were shared with Leeds City Council’s Licensing Committee yesterday as they received an update on the challenges faced by enforcement officers working to clamp down on illegal activity by taxi drivers.

Senior licensing officer Andrew White said the “very vibrant nature” of Leeds’ night-time economy meant that drivers from neighbouring authority areas were taking advantage of deregulation and coming to the city at weekends to pick up work.

But the council has no ability to suspend, revoke or refuse to renew the licenses of so-called ‘cross border’ drivers if they are found breaking regulations.

One of the biggest areas for concern is plying for hire – private hire vehicles picking up passengers who have not pre-booked as required by law.

Another is that enforcement officers out on the ground cannot readily recognise if drivers are suspended elsewhere.

Mr White said: “When we see vehicles licensed by other authorities driving in Leeds, we don’t know if they’re fit to drive, let alone safe to drive.”

Leeds City Council is lobbying the government to change the current legislation, while also entering into talks with York City Council and the other West Yorkshire authorities about how they can work more closely together.

Enforcement teams, who work alongside police, have also carried out more than 200 test purchases this year to catch drivers plying for hire.

Around 10 per cent failed to turn down passengers and a number of cases are going through the courts.

Council officers are also reviewing a database of more than 500 observations of ‘cross border’ vehicles, which will be shared with the relevant licensing authorities.

Meanwhile, West Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner has given £47,000 to fund two specialist road policing officers in the city centre on Friday and Saturday nights.