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The following story has been reproduced from the Derby Telegraph.
Derby cabbies 'avoiding stiff test in city by passing easier one in Gedling'
TAXI drivers who cannot speak English well enough to pass Derby's "knowledge" test have allegedly been registering in Gedling instead.
To become a driver in Derby, you have to take a tough exam which tests knowledge of places and routes in the city.
But taxi drivers who have already achieved the grade say others unable to do so are registering in Gedling and coming and then taking customers in Derby.
They say some drivers go to Gedling Borough Council because getting a licence there has not involved taking a knowledge test about the local area.
Mark Keenan, manager of Derby-based Western Cars, said some drivers "don't understand the language well enough to pass the knowledge test in Derby so they go elsewhere".
Derby City Council says there is a public safety issue to Hackney carriage drivers getting their licences outside the city.
This is because it has no powers to do safety checks on the vehicles and drivers, the cabbies do not have to comply with the city council's conditions and the authority has no powers to investigate complaints against them.
And the practice has meant Gedling gets the benefit of the licence fees.
Mr Keenan said his private hire firm did not employ drivers not licensed in the city.
Mr Keenan said: "I'm upset for the drivers of Derby. They are paying good money to go through stringent tests here.
"Then these people are disrupting their living – coming through the back door by getting easier licences from other places. I have every sympathy for the council. Their hands are tied."
Mr Keenan said he believed that there could be "80 to 100" drivers with licences from outside Derby operating in the city at any one time.
He said he had heard of people travelling to Gedling for a licence from as far away as Portsmouth – 200 miles away.
He said: "I've heard a story of someone being picked up to go to Derby Royal Derby Hospital and the driver asking where it is."
The borough council says it has now changed its system but admits the previous one attracted drivers from "as far afield as Biringham or further".
In Derby, drivers of both private hire and Hackney taxis must pass a test asking questions about local knowledge of Derby, vehicle maintenance and licensing conditions and pass a medical examination. Once they have done this, they must pass an NVQ Level 2 certificate in Road Passenger Driving.
Asked for a response to the allegations being made, Councillor Marje Paling, chairman of Gedling's Environment and Licensing Committee, said the authority was aware of the issue.
The council said the licensing procedure was similar to Derby's but, until this week, without the local knowledge test. It says the lack of test is believed to be a reason why drivers were coming from far afield to register in Gedling.
The councillor said: "It is important that taxi drivers in the borough provides a safe and professional level of service to the public and, as part of that, drivers licensed by this council should have a sound knowledge of the borough, their licence requirements and highway safety.
"We have become aware of an increase in the number of applications for driver's licences, a proportion of which have been from outside the area, some as far afield as Birmingham and further.
"The test will bring us into line with what many other local authorities have already brought in."
Michael Kay, Derby City Council's head of environmental health and licensing, said there were a number of hackney cabs, licensed by other authorities working for Derby private hire firms. The drivers are self-employed.
He said: "We believe the majority have been licensed by Gedling Borough Council. Whilst we carry out regular vehicle safety checks on our licensed vehicles and drivers, we have no powers to do so on vehicles or drivers licensed by another local authority.
"Nor would they have to comply with conditions we attach to vehicle licences."