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PostPosted: Tue Oct 13, 2020 9:17 pm 
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Hull City Council found guilty of bias in taxi driver training row

A watchdog has ruled Hull City Council was biased in the way it directed people applying for new taxi licences to just one training provider to obtain a necessary qualification.

Until changes were made earlier this year, the council's application pack for would-be taxi drivers only referred to one provider of a mandatory BTEC course.

It involved 150 hours of home revision based on a 175-page training document followed by a three-day classroom course.

In a complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman, the Humber Taxi Association (HTA) claimed the council unfairly signposted applicants to North Humberside Motor Trades Group Training Association, a charity which provides apprenticeships to the authority's adult education department Hull Training.

In a new report, the Ombudsman said the council had shown show bias towards one of its own sub-contractors by failing to include details of an alternative independent accredited BTEC provider, Humberside Training Associates, which was set up in 2018 with the support of the HTA.

After receiving an initial complaint over the application pack, the watchdog said council agreed to include details of the alternative provider in a revised version.

However, the new pack still only named the same provider and gave contact details while stating: "The BTEC can be obtained through any accredited provider."

The Ombudsman said: "The council failed to take the action required. The revised pack stated any provider could be used but it still in effect, pointed applications to one training provider.

"It took until January 2020, after a complaint to the Ombudsman, for the council to properly address the issue."

The Ombudsman also ruled the council had failed to properly review or renew its contract with the charity after initially setting up and funding the BTEC course as a pilot scheme seven years earlier.

The report said this lack of oversight contradicted Hull Training's own written polices which requires sub-contracted contracts to be reviewed annually.

It said the council's response to complaints by the HTA about this and its links to the sub-contracting company were "not open and transparent".

In a judgement, the Ombudsman said: "The council should apologise to the (Humber Taxi) Association for the lack of transparency in its responses to their complaints and correspondence.

"It should also apologise for the delay in removing Training Provider Y (the Motor Trades Group) from the application pack."

As part of the decision, the council was also ordered to pay £250 to the taxi association to recognise the "time and trouble" it had gone to in pursuing the matter.

David Stuart, a director at Humberside Training Associates, said: "It is a pretty damning report and really shows how independent training providers in the area, including Humberside Training Associates, have suffered as a result of the council's actions.

"More pertinently to the people of Hull, the actions of the council have adversely affected the taxi trade in Hull with many taxi businesses going to the wall and potential drivers not being given a freedom of choice and encouragement to pursue taxiing as a career.

"The council blatantly disadvantaged us as it was clearly inappropriate for the licensing pack to refer to only one provider of the BTEC course, which just happened to be a sub-contractor of its own adult education department."

A city council spokesperson said: "The city council always endeavours to follow a fair approach when recruiting training providers and other outside contractors.

"This is a report from a ruling from June 2020. Since the ruling, the council has begun a full review of taxi driver training, including the knowledge test, and any future provider will be required to undertake a quality assurance process.

"Hull City Council always strives to make sure the city's drivers are trained in accordance with current guidance and are able to provide the high standard of service expected by the public, including drivers having a good working knowledge of the city and being able to communicate this to their passengers."

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 13, 2020 9:19 pm 
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A city council spokesperson said: "The city council always endeavours to follow a fair approach when recruiting training providers and other outside contractors.

"This is a report from a ruling from June 2020. Since the ruling, the council has begun a full review of taxi driver training, including the knowledge test, and any future provider will be required to undertake a quality assurance process.

"Hull City Council always strives to make sure the city's drivers are trained in accordance with current guidance and are able to provide the high standard of service expected by the public, including drivers having a good working knowledge of the city and being able to communicate this to their passengers."

This drives me mad.

All they needed to say was we are sorry, and we have now changed things.

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 14, 2020 7:00 pm 
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David Stuart, a director at Humberside Training Associates, said: "It is a pretty damning report and really shows how independent training providers in the area, including Humberside Training Associates, have suffered as a result of the council's actions.

"More pertinently to the people of Hull, the actions of the council have adversely affected the taxi trade in Hull with many taxi businesses going to the wall and potential drivers not being given a freedom of choice and encouragement to pursue taxiing as a career.

"The council blatantly disadvantaged us as it was clearly inappropriate for the licensing pack to refer to only one provider of the BTEC course, which just happened to be a sub-contractor of its own adult education department."

Not entirely clear how what the council did 'sent taxi businesses to the wall' and how potential drivers weren't encouraged to pursue taxiing as a career.

Unless, of course, he means that thier own course was easier to 'pass' than the course that the council was steering applicants towards. Which certainly ties in with the earlier discussion here about the course effectively being an assessment rather than a qualifcation as such, therefore effectively impossible to fail.

And isn't the Huberside Training Associates that complained to the ombudsman an offshoot of or closely related to the Humber Taxi Association, which was the rebranded Humber Private Hire Association :?:

Which makes a mockery of the complainer's point about the council being unfair to 'indepedent' providers of the qualification. Huge conflict of interest if it's in their interests to get as many drivers through the course as possible.

Which is why in turn I don't think organisations like this should be allowed to adminster such courses in the first place [-(


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