Licensing delays force dozens of Doncaster cabbies off town's roads
Dozens of Doncaster cabbies have been forced off the town's roads due to severe delays in the council's licensing checks.
Hundreds of taxi drivers are calling on the council to take urgent action as a backlog in the licensing process has put some drivers at risk of losing their homes because they are unable to work.
For some the process, which usually takes two to three weeks, is taking more than four months.
By law, taxi drivers must renew their licences every three years in order for enhanced criminal record checks to be carried out by the Disclosure and Barring Service, DBS, on behalf of the local authority which issues the licence.
Drivers have told The Star a backlog in the checks has led to some being kept waiting for months. Taxi drivers are unable to work without a licence.
At present, about 50 Doncaster drivers are suspended – with some claiming they risk losing their home if their application is not processed soon.
Around 200 taxi drivers have now signed a petition set up by the owner of Absolute Cabs, Jaan Saqlain, calling on DBS to rectify the situation.
He said: “These are people’s livelihoods that are being lost here. They’re forcing people who haven’t done anything wrong to be out of work for weeks. I haven’t got any drivers who are suspended at the moment, but I’ve got three whose licences are about to run out and I’m expecting they could be waiting for some time.
“We do realise that the checks are important but it’s not their fault and the process is taking too long.”
“If this continues we’re going to stage a protest to get the council to give us temporary licences.”
Mr Saqlain has also warned that the number of suspended drivers is going to lead to longer waiting times for customers wanting to book a taxi.
Peter Dale, director of regeneration and environment, said: “It is a condition of every licence that this check is carried out every three years. This is so that we can make sure that drivers are fit and proper people to be trusted with the safety and wellbeing of passengers.
“The dangers are real. In recent months Doncaster Council has refused or revoked licences for two convicted heroin dealers, a driver who violently assaulted a member of the public, a man who fell asleep at the wheel, several who have been convicted of attempting to pervert the course of justice and three men who made lewd comments to lone female passengers.
"These are just a few cases.
“The current issues being experienced by drivers are due to delays with the DBS processing applications and we have made representations with the police because of concerns over people’s livelihoods being affected.
“In response we have started sending out reminders to drivers six months ahead of their DBS renewal date instead of the usual three months.
“The vast majority of drivers are decent, law abiding people who work very hard to provide a good service to their customers but in the past we have had instances where drivers have failed to disclose convictions during the period of their licence.
“Therefore we cannot simply take drivers on their word. Making exceptions or issuing temporary licences to drivers who have not been checked properly would undermine public confidence in the licensing system and potentially put lives at risk.”
A spokesman for the DBS said: “We are working closely with those forces whose performance does not meet targeted turnaround times and are in direct contact with any force that is underperforming.”