‘Stop this invasion’ say Luton taxi drivers

The protest in March
The protest in March

Angry Luton taxi drivers are arguing that nothing has been done to stop their Dunstable counterparts from “invading” their territory without sitting the same knowledge test.

A year ago, taxi drivers complained that drivers from Dunstable, registered with Central Bedfordshire Council, were able to transfer their licences over to Luton without sitting the same test.

The frustrated drivers claimed that the Luton knowledge test was lengthy, the businessmen having to study hard to know Luton routes, yet Luton Borough Council “just let the other drivers transfer over”, having sat a Dunstable test.

As Luton private hire drivers fear loss of work, one disheartened taxi driver claimed: “It is unfair to Luton drivers and a slap in our faces!

“People need to ask Luton Borough Council how they issue private hire licences to Dunstable taxis without a knowledge test? This is jungle law!

“They are also letting Go Cars Luton have Dunstable drivers.

“This is annoying; work is very low and on top of that, Uber is working here!”

A protest was held in March outside the Town Hall to complain that Uber cars were taking trade away, as non-Luton Uber taxis dropped outsiders into the town but picked up new Luton clients.

A Luton Borough Council spokesman, said: ”To demonstrate our ongoing commitment to supporting the local licence holders we organised a trade seminar with one of the sector’s leading solicitors which all local drivers were invited to attend free of charge, in addition Luton has a representative that sits on a national working group which is looking to develop a national drivers’ database. Once developed this will help to stop drivers being able to move from one local authority to another if their licence has been revoked.

“We have been concerned for some time about the issue of cross-border hiring, and the number of drivers that have been licensed in neighbouring authorities to operate out of Luton bases. It is in everyone’s interest to have these drivers licenced by Luton Borough Council and operating under our conditions; we are then able to enforce these conditions, ensuring that all drivers are operating to the same standards. We actively work with licence holders from neighbouring authorities operating in Luton, encouraging them into the Luton Borough Council licensing regime.

“All applications require an enhanced DBS, DVSA and medical checks plus a knowledge test.

“Only a LBC Certificate of Compliance is accepted for vehicles.

“It should be noted that out-of-district booked private hire vehicles, including Uber, are entitled in the UK to pick up a passenger from anywhere, travel anywhere and drop off anywhere. They can also park or wait anywhere that a private vehicle can in accordance with any parking restrictions.”

Tyler Pickford, operations manager at Go Cars Luton, said: “From the end of October, only Luton drivers will be able to pick up in Luton.

“All our Dunstable drivers are getting a Luton badge. To get a badge transferred over and when people renew their badge (every three years), they will have to sit a Luton knowledge test.”

An Uber spokeswoman, said; “Private hire operates on a triple licensing requirement meaning that the operator (Uber), the driver and the vehicle must all hold the same licence for a booking.

“In order to be able to join the Uber app under our Luton licence a private hire driver must hold a valid licence from the Luton Borough Council (including a local knowledge exam) for both themselves and the vehicle.”