More than 50 Wakefield taxi drivers get licence from Wolverhampton Council 'because it's cheaper'
Dozens of taxi drivers from Wakefield have got their licence from a council 106 miles away in the West Midlands, instead of the local authority, in the last three years.
Wolverhampton Council issued more than 35,000 private hire and hackney carriage licences to cabbies all over the country between 2017 and 2019, including 51 to drivers in the Wakefield district, a Freedom of Information (FOI) request revealed.
It follows claims from Wakefield councillors that cabbies were going to Wolverhampton to get a licence because its fees were cheaper and its rules less stringent than other authorities.
Taxi drivers are now allowed to trade anywhere in the country as long as they have a licence from a single local authority, after a 2015 law change.
But the system has come under fire because councils can't enforce their own rules on cabbies with a licence from elsewhere, even if they trade in that area.
The group representing taxi drivers in Wakefield has defended the system and said it does not compromise public safety.
A spokesman for the Wakefield and District Private Hire and Hackney Carriage Association said: "The rules aren’t different in Wolverhampton, it’s more that it’s cheaper to get a licence.
"The tests are outsourced to MOT stations which makes it easier.
“If it’s good enough for Wolverhampton and safe for the public there then it’s good enough for everywhere else in our opinion.
"Any change to the system would have to go through the government but I can’t see that happening."
Wolverhampton Council did not respond to a request for comment.
The FOI results showed that six Wakefield drivers obtained a licence from Wolverhampton in 2017, before 13 got one in 2018.
There was then a sharp rise in 2019, with a further 32 cabbies going to the West Midlands authority for permission to trade.
The figures showed that although the majority of licences Wolverhampton issued were to drivers based in the Midlands, cabbies from as far apart as Newcastle and Southampton had been granted a licence from the authority.
More drivers from Wakefield obtained a licence over the three years than Leeds (43), Huddersfield (14) and Halifax (13).
Local Democracy Reporting Service