Harrogate taxi drivers hit out at 'unfair' penalty points proposal

Taxi drivers in Harrogate have hit out at "unfair" plans which could see them lose their licences if they get seven or more penalty points.

By Jacob Webster
Tuesday, 12th April 2022, 4:31 pm
Harrogate Borough Council will vote on the penalty points proposal at a meeting tomorrow (13 April).
Harrogate Borough Council will vote on the penalty points proposal at a meeting tomorrow (13 April).

Harrogate Borough Council has put forward the proposal for approval at a full council meeting tomorrow in a move which it says is "reasonable" and will improve safety for passengers.

But cabbies argue the policy is too severe and will result in a further loss of drivers in the district.

Kevin O’Boyle, owner of Central Taxis, described the proposals as "draconian" and said it will become "far too easy" for drivers to lose their licences.

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He also argued cabbies are more likely to pick up points than regular road users because they spend more time on the roads.

"There's a serious shortage of taxi drivers and this just isn't going to help," Mr O’Boyle said.

"I've done between 2.5 million and 3 million miles, and the chances of me getting points are much greater than the average driver.

"If you're driving in a strange place that you don't know too well, it's easy to drift over the speed limit by a couple of miles per hour."

Under the proposals, drivers would still be given the chance to argue their side and give reasons why their licence should not be revoked.

Currently, the council said licences are reviewed on "an individual basis when points accumulate".

It also said there is no minimum or maximum time that licences can be revoked for and that drivers can re-apply at any time.

Speaking at a recent meeting, Gareth Bentley, licensing manager at the council, said while he recognised the concerns over a reduction in drivers, this had to be balanced against the safety of passengers.

He also said taxi drivers had to be treated differently to regular road users as "they are in an elevated position in terms of looking after people's safety."

"There is a higher responsibility and a higher need for us to ensure safety," Mr Bentley said.

The proposals have been put forward as part of new statutory standards from the Department for Transport which all councils are expected to adopt unless there are "compelling reasons" not to.

However, the standards are silent on how many penalty points a taxi driver can get before their licence is revoked, and it's up to individual councils to decide this.

Nearby in Leeds, hundreds of drivers have gone on strikes over similar proposals that could see them suspended if they get more than six points.

Harrogate Borough Council held a consultation on its seven points policy during February and March when it received comments from several drivers, one of which described the plans as "unfair".

The driver said: "It's just another example of one rule for everyone else and one for us as we are at the bottom of the food chain."

Another added: "The taxi trade is getting harder year on year with longer hours for less reward and councils are doing nothing to help.

"The long term result will be people leaving the trade."

The policy has been recommended for approval by the council's licensing committee at tomorrow's full council meeting.

By Jacob Webster, Local Democracy Reporter