Bradford taxi drivers '˜may have asked family to take licensing test because of their poor English'

Aspiring taxi drivers in Bradford may have been asking family members to complete application forms for them or speak to licensing officers on the phone because of their poor English, according to a council report.
A review of taxi licensing in Bradford has been carried out. Stock pic.A review of taxi licensing in Bradford has been carried out. Stock pic.
A review of taxi licensing in Bradford has been carried out. Stock pic.

An independent review into Bradford council’s taxi licensing service was carried out by Leeds council inspectors and its findings published this week.

In four main areas, the service was found to be operating in accordance with the highest national standards, and in a similar way to neighbouring Leeds.

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The Bradford council service, which deals with 330 Hackney Carriage drivers and 3,970 Private Hire drivers, is responsible for licensing and inspecting vehicles to ensure they do not pose a risk to the public.

Bradford council now asks drivers who want a taxi licence to speak to an officer in person rather than by telephone. It was urged to take action over concerns that new applicants were asking family members to complete forms and answer questions for them over the phone.

The review said that 40 per cent of those who applied for a licence and attended an appointment could not complete the application because they failed the English comprehension and literacy test or due to wrong or incomplete information.

The service introduced a pre-assessment to identify early problems over the phone, involving the officer asking the applicant simple questions and assessing whether they will struggle to pass the English comprehension test.

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The review said: “However, the service has a concern that some applicants may be asking partners or family members to take the call for them and by-passing this pre-assessment.”

It added that some applicants had difficulty with the English literacy test, and raised the concern that they “may be asking other members of the family to complete their application paperwork for them as well”.

The Leeds city council authors said these concerns “require genuine consideration”. It said: “Part of the English comprehension tests involves how the applicant responds to simple questions over the telephone so if another family member is doing this on behalf of the applicant the test is being compromised.

“Certainly that would be exposed when the applicant comes in for his appointment and has difficulty answering further questions with an officer over the counter, but that could be valuable time wasted if the applicant will never be able to pass the English comprehension test.”

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After the issue was identified early, Bradford council introduced requirements two months ago that applicants must speak in person to an officer rather than over the phone. No drivers were granted a licence without the required levels of English.

Elsewhere, the report identified that new technology being introduced in the service is catching out some drivers out because they are not as computer-literate as others, but that plans are in place to introduce training for those who need it.

Coun Sarah Ferriby of Bradford council said: “The council has always had confidence in its taxi licensing service but it’s great to see that an independent review has found that such confidence is fully justified. We have received some complaints about the service and we have answered those issues that have been raised.”

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