Wigan taxi licence application figures plummet

Taxi cab
Taxi cab

Applications to work as a private hire or black cab driver dropped by nearly 75 per cent last year, it can be revealed.

Wigan Council received just 256 licence applications last year, compared to the 1,007 submitted during 2016.

But the dramatic fall has been attributed to rule changes surrounding the frequency of licence renewals.

Lisa Backstrom, licensing manager at the council, said: “As a result of the Deregulation Act, the duration of Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Driver licences changed from being renewed every year to only every three years in late 2015.

“We expect to see an increase in figures as the three-year licences are due to be reviewed. The figures for last year are predominantly new applications only.”

Eddie Earley, union rep for the borough’s hackney cab drivers, said he had concerns about licences only being renewed every three years.

He was unhappy with the cost and he fears drivers may not declare any criminal offences for a longer period until their renewal date, possibly putting passengers at risk.

Mr Earley said: “I have never liked a three-year badge, I have never wanted it.

“We were never consulted on it.”

He also disputed the figures provided to the Observer, saying he believed there was an increasing number of people taking tests to become drivers.