Leeds taxi drivers risk losing licence after breaching controversial new points system
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Under a policy adopted by the city council last year, cabbies who clock up nine points on their licence for minor motoring offences can be stripped of their right to trade. The threshold had previously been 12 points.
The change was bitterly opposed by the Leeds Private Hire Drivers Organisation (LPHDO), who claimed it was unfair and disproportionate, but the council said it would improve passenger safety and was brought in under government guidance.
The local authority also insisted that revoking a licence would be a last resort, with training offered in the first instance. Now, it’s been revealed three drivers are due to face hearings within the next couple of months after being among the first in Leeds to breach the nine-point threshold.
The council’s licensing committee was told on Tuesday that all three had previously been given training after falling foul of the rules before. The committee voted to extend a 12-month pilot, brought in when the policy was introduced last summer, to have all such cases decided by a panel of councillors, rather than by officers.
It means those hearings can go ahead. Ahmad Hussain, the chair of the LPHDO, said he wanted all potential punishments of drivers to go before councillors in public to ensure transparency in the process.
Speaking on Tuesday, Mr Hussain said: “We’re happy they introduced that system and we’re glad they’re extending it, but we’ve always said sub-committees have to be there for all suspensions and revocations – not just for minor motoring offences. It’s far better to have that decided by what is effectively a jury, rather than by an officer.”
The LPHDO also welcomed a new council initiative allowing drivers to work for two cab firms. The move, announced last week in the form of a pilot scheme, brings into Leeds line with other authorities in West Yorkshire who already allow the practice.
Deputy council leader Debra Coupar said the scheme would give drivers a “much-needed boost during the cost-of-living crisis”. But Mr Hussain said the policy should be adopted permanently.
“It’s been brought in to stop the exodus of drivers leaving Leeds,” he said. “This should have come in a long time ago. It’s better late than never, but some would say it’s too little too late.
“If it’s something completely new for the industry then we’d understand the need for a pilot. But why do they need to do a pilot scheme when it’s already happening in local authorities all around them, in Bradford and in Wakefield?”