Cabbie’s high price for mercy mission

Wigan taxi driver John Hewson
Wigan taxi driver John Hewson

A WIGAN cabbie is counting the cost of a mercy dash to Germany which has left him unable to work for months.

John Hewson of Pemberton faces the prospect of losing thousands in lost revenue through his self-employed job after he failed to update his Hackney driving badge by a matter of days due to a family emergency.

In my whole career not once have I ever had a run in with the council or had a complaint against me and now this

John Hewson

The 64-year-old was forced to drop everything and board a flight the day before his licence needed renewing after his sister-in-law, who lives in Hockenheim, took ill.

Now Wigan Council insists John, who has worked on the roads of Wigan for more than 30 years, has to reapply for all taxi licences including CRB checks, knowledge tests and a medical, costing him hundreds.

However, John said this process has resulted in him losing his job for up to 11 weeks.

He added: “It’s really daunting and upsetting as I don’t know how I’m going to support my family as the application times could take up to 11 weeks.

“I had filled the forms out and was ready to post but my sister-in-law took ill and I had to fly to Germany the day before it was due to be renewed.

“Not only this but my wife has to have surgery and I just lost track of everything. It’s actually a lot more serious than it sounds.

“I’m gutted that I only missed the date by a matter of days and I have tried talking and have apologised to people at the council but there’s nothing they can do. I just have to go through the whole process again.

“In my whole career not once have I ever had a run in with the council or had a complaint against me and now this. It was just a simple mistake but because of this I will lose thousands, I’ve not got a clue what I’m going to do, it’s a nightmare.”

Alan Blundell, Wigan Council’s assistant director for regulation, explained the authority wrote to all 1,400 licensed taxi drivers in January last year to advise they were no longer issuing renewal reminder notices as part of a streamlining of administration processes to limit increases in licence fees.

He said: “The letter also reminded all drivers that it is their responsibility to ensure that their licence is renewed on time.

“All drivers should know when their licence is due to run out – we even print licence expiry dates on the badges which taxi drivers have to wear when they are working.

“All drivers should therefore be fully aware of the expiry date of their licence, and also of the importance of submitting a timely renewal application to us.

“Unfortunately, this taxi driver did not submit a renewal application. His licence has therefore lapsed and may not be re-instated until minimum legal requirements have been satisfactorily complied with.”