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PostPosted: Sat Jan 11, 2020 5:29 pm 
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Wolverhampton Council hands out 15,000 taxi licences in one year to drivers across UK

Wolverhampton Council handed out a record 15,000 private hire licences last year – raking in nearly £3.7 million in fees. But only a small fraction of the new licence holders are operating in the city, with some drivers working hundreds of miles away in Scotland.

Applications from Kilmarnock, Edinburgh, Perth and Kirkcaldy were received by Wolverhampton Council last year, as the authority granted 15,171 licences to extend its dominance over the British private hire market. The data was provided in a Freedom of Information request.

It showed that in 2019 a total of 11,461 applications to Wolverhampton Council came from drivers based in Birmingham, while there were 2,457 from Manchester, 1,926 from Coventry, 1,279 from Leicester, 1,102 from Nottingham and 432 from Telford.

In the last five years the city council has received applications from 325 miles away in Perth – a six-hour drive from the city, and 254 miles away in Truro, Cornwall, which takes almost five hours to get to by car. It has granted 35,035 private hire licences since 2017, pumping £8.7m into the authority’s coffers.

The overall figure for last year was up 25 per cent on 2018, and represented an 18-fold increase on the 833 licences the authority handed out in 2015. In that year a change in the law allowed private hire drivers to operate in a different area from where they obtained a licence.

It prompted licensing bosses at Wolverhampton Council to streamline its application process and slash the prices of licences – leading to a dramatic increase in applications. However, the authority’s dominance of the market has not gone down well with other councils, some of which have seen their own private hire applications plummet.

In 2018-19 Birmingham Council issued 1,768 private hire licences, down 11 per cent on the previous year. It currently has 4,461 drivers licensed. Meanwhile Walsall Council received just 48 new applications for licences last year, when it had a total of 1,129 private hire drivers registered. The authority’s total income from private hire and Hackney Carriage licensing was £157,482.

Over the same period Wolverhampton Council had 1,018 applications from private hire drivers based in Walsall.

A new report to Walsall’s director of public health has outlined concerns over dwindling application numbers. Councillor Mike Bird, the leader of Walsall Council, said he favoured a change in legislation as the current system was “making a mockery” of local authority licensing laws.

“Wolverhampton Council has cornered the market, but you have to question whether it is right that a driver can get a licence there but ply their trade hundreds of miles away,” he said.

Concerns have also been raised over passenger safety. Lib Dem campaigner Ian Jenkins, said: “The council has turned a vital safety check into a cash cow. “We need to support the private hire trade in the city and not turn ourselves into a taxi version of Gretna Green. “It just seems like the budget line comes first above everything.”

Wolverhampton Council has always defended its position, stating that it oversees enforcement operations all over the country, and that any profits it makes from licensing are ploughed back into the scheme.

Councillor Alan Bolshaw, the city’s licensing chief, said: “Councillor Bird seems to have come quite late to the party. "There have been several consultations about the private hire trade and he appears to be playing catch up. His contribution to the debate is welcomed as much as anybody's."

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 11, 2020 5:31 pm 
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surely running licensing as a business is against the spirit of the acts of parliament

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 12, 2020 9:56 am 
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Issuing so many and without making a profit?;very strange


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 12, 2020 6:02 pm 
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rayggb wrote:
Issuing so many and without making a profit?;very strange

Oh they are making a profit, and that profit is subsidising the whole licensing section, not just taxi/PH.

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 12, 2020 7:48 pm 
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Sussex wrote:
Oh they are making a profit, and that profit is subsidising the whole licensing section, not just taxi/PH.


I agree they must be making a profit but money must be recorded and retained in 5 separate accounts and cannot be used to cross subsidise any part of licensing function.


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 13, 2020 9:04 pm 
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I agree they must be making a profit but money must be recorded and retained in 5 separate accounts and cannot be used to cross subsidise any part of licensing function.

Indeed, but who is ensuring the council keep to the rules that they should be? :-k

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 02, 2020 11:05 pm 
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Meant to post something about this at the time, but couldn't be bothered, because thought it would go on a bit. So I'll keep it brief, but here it is :-o

Quote:
Wolverhampton Council handed out a record 15,000 private hire licences last year – raking in nearly £3.7 million in fees. But only a small fraction of the new licence holders are operating in the city, with some drivers working hundreds of miles away in Scotland.

Applications from Kilmarnock, Edinburgh, Perth and Kirkcaldy were received by Wolverhampton Council last year, as the authority granted 15,171 licences to extend its dominance over the British private hire market. The data was provided in a Freedom of Information request.


Can't for the life of me think why anyone in Perth or Kirkcaldy (Fife) or elsewhere in Scotland would think it a good idea to get a plate from Wolverhampton. Not even sure of the legality - as I've said before repeatedly, you can't just plate in one part of Scotland and go and work full-time in another part of Scotland, but whether that also applies to cars plated in England I can't be bothered looking into.

But the article presupposes that the driver is working in the area that they've given as their address, I think.

Although that probably holds true in most cases, in many it won't, and I suspect that's the reason for the handful of drivers supposedly working in Scotland.

If Wolverhampton badging and plating 35,000 or so drivers in the past few years or so then there's bound to be a few oddball scenarios, like a temporary address in Scotland, and actually working elsewhere.

Image

Likewise, while I suppose it's fair to assume that the Leicester drivers are actually working there or close by, as regards the West Midlands conurbation, I would assume living in one area while working in another is quite common, eg Birmingham, Walsall, Dudley and Coventry.

And while the numbers in the above graphics are obviously interesting, what would also be instructive would be the proportion of local cars plated by Wolverhampton.

For example, they might just be 20% of the fleet in Leicester, but almost *all* the fleet in some small town. But that wouldn't be evident from the above graphic, although possibly more interesting in licensing terms.


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 02, 2020 11:06 pm 
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edders23 wrote:
surely running licensing as a business is against the spirit of the acts of parliament

Indeed, but it's generally the letter of the law that matters, and not the spirit [-(


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 03, 2020 8:12 pm 
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Can't for the life of me think why anyone in Perth or Kirkcaldy (Fife) or elsewhere in Scotland would think it a good idea to get a plate from Wolverhampton. Not even sure of the legality - as I've said before repeatedly, you can't just plate in one part of Scotland and go and work full-time in another part of Scotland, but whether that also applies to cars plated in England I can't be bothered looking into.

But your act only applies to vehicles working in Scotland, and the English Act allows Scottish cars to work England, as your act allows English cars to work in Scotland.

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 03, 2020 10:11 pm 
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Makes me wonder where the cars they drive are licenced.


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