Council chiefs are set to press the government to close a licance loophole and introduce more stringent checks for minibus drivers operating as taxis in South Tyneside.
The issue was raised at the recent meeting of the full council over the difference in regulations between the licensing of taxi drivers and those of nine-to-16 seater vehicles known as Public Carriage Vehicles (PCVs).
This is a serious loophole which is endangers the safety of the travelling public.Coun Ken Stephenson
Coun Ken Stephenson, said he was “concerned” due to mini-bus drivers only having to “self-declare” they have no previous criminal convictions, but no checks are carried out.
He told the council licenses for nine-to-16 seater vehicles are issued and controlled by the DVLA and traffic commissioners.
Taxi drivers in order to operate have to be licensed by the council and need to undergo a criminal record check every three years.
Coun Stephenson said: “Many of the minibuses are used by taxi companies. The general public assume they have undergone the same checks as taxi drivers.
“Those who have been refused a licenses or have existing licences revoked due to criminal convictions are going on to drive minibuses.”
Coun Stephenson added: “As a local authority we want to see the same stringent checks put in place for minibus drivers as those for taxi drivers.
“This is a serious loophole which is endangers the safety of the travelling public.”
At a meeting held at Jarrow Town Hall, a motion was passed for the council to write to the Secretary of State for Transport to “express their concerns” over the safety of the travelling public “as a result of the unsuitable and outdated licensing process.”