SMOKING at the wheel, over-charging and aggressive conduct to passengers are just some of the complaints made about taxi drivers in the borough last year.
Using Freedom of Information laws, the Wigan Evening Post can reveal that in 2010/11, Wigan Council received 145 separate complaints from people about taxi drivers registered in the borough. Of these, 39 were made by other members of the hackney carriage and private hire trades.
However, taxi drivers feel that the full story is not always told where complaints are made. Ronnie Melling, branch secretary of the Hackney Drivers Unite Union, said: “Like everything there are better taxi drivers than others, but there are two sides to every story.
“Complaints such as fare charging are common but you very rarely get the full story.
“I have spoken to many people who have complained about being charged a lot of money for what appears to be a reasonably short journey.
“However, when you inquire, you more often than not find that they have made three stop-offs or have nipped into a takeaway and such like, which then makes the fare seem reasonable.
“Taxi drivers have to put up with a lot, especially late at night and if you have a genuine complaint the licensing association has a very thorough complaints procedure which is fair to everybody.”
Other complaints made included drivers sounding horns, refusing fares, over-charging, failing to report accidents, picking up passengers late and the standard of driving.
A spokesman for Wigan Council said: “All complaints made about hackney carriage and private hire drivers are dealt with in accordance with the council’s enforcement policy.
“If there is evidence of a driver acting in breach of the various regulations, formal enforcement action may be a consideration depending on the circumstances.
“Also, under the taxi legislation the council has the power to suspend, revoke or refuse to renew a driver’s licence if he/she is convicted of an offence of dishonesty, indecency or violence or for any other reasonable cause. These powers are delegated to the regulation committee.”
“We consider that the conduct of licensed taxi and private hire drivers is generally good. However, where complaints may be received these will be dealt with in accordance with the council’s enforcement policy.
“There is currently no requirement for drivers to undergo any formal training although all taxi and private hire drivers are required to comply with requirements, including to act in a civil and orderly manner at all times.”