April 28, 2019
The Welsh Government intends to introduce an ‘all-Wales’ licensing body and remove authority from the council. However, a union has backed for councils to have full control and eliminate taxi drivers who work outwith their operating area and affect others income. These concerns will be reviewed by the Welsh Government.
Others say drivers who carry out their trade cross-borders are increasing consumer choice. Taxi drivers currently have the option to work freely around Welsh local authorities.
Plans under consultation state this has led to inconsistent safety and quality standards. Resulting in a lack of procedure for enforcing regulations against taxis licensed to work across a variety of areas.
The Welsh Government wish to set up a national licensing authority in a bid to overcome current issues. This would oversee all previous work by councils relating to hackney and private hire taxis, with national standards in place.
Other action would see national standards applied and regulated by 22 local authorities in Wales. With more authority in place for councils and a secure structure to share information.
The GMB union said the proposed plans wouldn’t resolve the issue of ‘cross-bordering’. Lorraine Gaskell, Regional Organiser, said: “We sat on one major junction in Cardiff and over the period of an hour we saw 44 licensed cars from Cardiff and 33 out-of-town taxis.”
Some drivers fear the new system could affect their livelihood with competition from other drivers being able to work in their usual pick-ups.
Cardiff cabbie, Paul O’Hara, said: “The public deserve a good service but not to the detriment of drivers earnings and health because they’ve to stay out 12-13 hours a day to earn a living. It’s a crisis in the trade.”
Social Media Backing
Uber driver, David James, launched a Facebook page in favour of cross-bordering. He set up the online group, ‘Taxis Without Borders’, to highlight the benefits of operating in different areas.
A post on the group said: “Closing borders will remove customer choice, as someone’s preferred company may not be able to service the area they’re in despite being geographically local enough to be able to.”
Mr James added: “Drivers should be allowed to work anywhere they want to. It’s not just for the driver’s benefit, it’s for anyone’s benefit.”
A spokeswoman from the Welsh Government said: “The Government is currently consulting on its proposals and we’ve already noted concerns raised in relation to both cross-border working and the numbers of licenses being issued.
“These will be considered and will inform our next steps.”