Town hall rejects licence bids over criminal records

A Hackney Carriage rank
A Hackney Carriage rank

A trio of would-be taxi drivers have had applications to operate in Wigan rejected due to concerns about their criminal backgrounds.

All three bids were knocked back by the council’s regulation committee earlier this month, according to town hall documents.

Council bosses have previously said each applicant’s records are considered on an individual basis and safety is of “paramount importance”.

An Evening Post investigation earlier this year revealed that the committee did grant or extend licences to drivers with criminal records on more than 20 occasions since 2012.

Details of the convictions recorded against the latest three to have their bids rejected were not revealed in the town hall documents.

Minutes from the regulation committee meeting of December 9 record that committee members deemed each, who were applying for Hackney Carriage permission, to “not be a fit and proper person to hold such a licence”.

A report from earlier this year revealed background checks on would-be taxi drivers uncovered almost 3,000 offences in the last three years.

They included serious motoring offences such as driving without a licence or insurance, drunk driving and driving whilst disqualified.

The government figures show Wigan Council had requested 1,544 background checks in the last three years, of those 488 had previous convictions or cautions.

From those 488 applications, a total of 2,939 offences were flagged meaning those applicants will have had multiple convictions.

Julie Middlehurst, group manager for regulatory services at Wigan Council, said earlier this year: “We would like to reassure the public that each case is considered very carefully on its own merits and based around the circumstances of the offences along with representations made by the driver at the hearing of the committee. But at all times the safety of the public is of paramount importance in that decision.”

A spokesman for the National Private Hire Association had previously said a common sense approach is required by town halls when assessing licence applications and a clear distinction should be made between lower-tier motoring offences and more severe offences.