A test designed to measure how well new private hire drivers know the streets of Birmingham is to be replaced by a ‘navigation test’ after councillors agreed the proposal.
Instead, new private hire drivers looking to be licensed by Birmingham City Council will have to show that they can read a map, as well as demonstrate a good understanding of the law applicable to their trade and the conditions attached to their licences.
The new test – which will replace the ‘knowledge test’ – is due to be introduced later this summer, after it was approved by the Licensing and Public Protection Committee yesterday (15 June 2016).
Since 1 October 2015, under the Deregulation Act 2015, private hire operators have been allowed to subcontract jobs across local authority boundaries to sister companies, using vehicles and drivers licensed by other local authorities.
This has led to an increasing number of private hire drivers working in Birmingham who do not have a Birmingham licence – making it increasingly difficult to sustain a knowledge test for private hire drivers in Birmingham.
Councillors also agreed applicants should have to complete enhanced disability awareness training, to now include safeguarding of children and vulnerable adults, before being granted a licence.
In making its decision, the Licensing and Public Projection Committee has recognised the increased use of sat nav devices by drivers.
Cllr Barbara Dring, Chair of the city council’s Licensing and Public Protection Committee, said: “Our ‘knowledge test’ is seen as one of the toughest in the region, so it is hoped that removing this from the application process will encourage more drivers to be licensed in Birmingham, rather than in other local authority areas. This will give us more control over drivers working in our city.
“This process will still include an individual one-to-one meeting with every new driver, a communications assessment to test their ability to speak English and a navigation exercise.”
The revised test and enhanced disability awareness training are expected to be introduced later this summer.
These changes relate to private hire drivers only. The knowledge test for Hackney Carriage (black cab) drivers has not been changed.