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Third of Greater Manchester taxi drivers registered in Wolverhampton - FOI Published Date: 15/10/2023

Local Government Lawyer reported that the BBC made Freedom of Information requests after Greater Manchester elected mayor Andy Burnham said in August: “They shouldn't be doing it because they're giving plates without being able to then monitor the performance” and said Greater Manchester required newer vehicles and more rigorous checks.

There are just over 36,000 private hire drivers with a Wolverhampton plate, about 13% of the city's population of about 262,000, the Local Democracy Reporting Service said. By comparison, 16,300 private hires have a Greater Manchester licence plate.

Mr Burnham told BBC Radio Manchester in August: "How are they not checking up on those taxis and those drivers, but they're taking in the money for it.

"They shouldn't be doing it because they're giving plates without being able to then monitor the performance."

In a statement to Local Government Lawyer, a Wolverhampton spokesperson said:

“While City of Wolverhampton Council has never actively encouraged applications from drivers outside the city, existing legislation requires that if an application is submitted and requirements are met, then the application must be granted. The council may not refuse an applicant simply because they live in a different area. 

“Our early adoption of digital technology has allowed us to offer a simple and efficient online application procedure, with the requirement that drivers attend in person for training and strict assessment before an application can be processed.   

“Applicants are usually local to the area they drive in, but many have chosen to be licensed in Wolverhampton due to our efficient, yet rigorous, licensing process.”

The spokesperson said Wolverhampton upheld the highest standards in drivers and operated an electronic system to check their Disclosure and Barring Service status.

Drivers must also attend a one-day training programme, provided independently by Worcestershire County Council.

A report last January to Wolverhampton’s regulatory committee illustrated the scale of the council’s minicab licensing operation.

Licensing manager Greg Bickerdike told councillors: “Because of the shortage of drivers, Wolverhampton has been inundated with applications from across the country, in part due to slow processing times and high fees in their home authority. This has created a backlog of applications.”

Mr Bickerdike’s report went on to say Wolverhampton’s licensing service was “struggling to meet demand” and as of December 2022, had 2,634 applications, equivalent to a two-months wait. Wolverhampton had 26,745 registered drivers in December 2022, an increase of 7,428 over the year.