There are concerns about taxi drivers from out of town travelling into Sheffield to work

A minicab driver from Sheffield has written to Sheffield MPs pleading for help in closing a loophole which he says is putting livelihoods at risk
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Yazid Atallah said there has been an 'alarming increase' in the number of out-of-town private hire vehicles licensed in Wolverhampton flooding Sheffield - which he said is having 'a major impact on the number of jobs' Sheffield drivers can get.

There are concerns about taxi drivers from out of town travelling into Sheffield to workThere are concerns about taxi drivers from out of town travelling into Sheffield to work
There are concerns about taxi drivers from out of town travelling into Sheffield to work

"For whatever reason, Wolverhampton private hire vehicles are allowed to work anywhere in the UK," he said. "And it is very easy to obtain a Wolverhampton private hire licence."

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He said all would-be cabbies in Sheffield must complete a taxi and private hire driver college course leading to a professional certificate, plus safeguard training, a knowledge test and a driving test.

"This comes at great cost and time to complete," he said, "but is necessary to ensure drivers work to a high standard which in turn mitigates safety and safeguarding issues."

But in Wolverhampton, he claimed, the course can be completed in a day, and there is no driving test or extensive knowledge test, making it 'very easy' for drivers to get their badge.

And he said whilst in Sheffield only vehicles less than five years old - or seven in the case of hybrids - can be granted a plate, and any car older requires a six-monthly MOT. In Wolverhampton even vehicles over 11 years old can be granted private hire licences to operate, he claims.

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In his open letter to Sheffield MPs Paul Blomfield, Miriam Cates, Gill Furniss and Clive Betts - as well as to Transport Secretary Mark Harper - Mr Atallah said: "There is severe unfairness. We are unable to compete in our own district that we are licensed to. How is this fair?

"This alarming concern is having a major impact on Sheffield licensed drivers, with all of them complaining about the lack of work due to the amount of out-of-town drivers we have here.

"There needs to be enforcement in place. This huge financial burden with lack of work, due to the amount of out-of-town drivers, is putting pressure on families in Sheffield. This is not fair.

"We need something to be done urgently - this cannot carry on.

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"All we are asking is for private hire plated vehicles to only be allowed to take work from within their own district and surrounding areas, and stop this cross-border hire."

The issue of Wolverhampton-licensed cars operating across all parts of the UK has been highlighted elsewhere in the country, with complaints as far apart as Lancashire and Essex.

Prior to 2015, drivers and their vehicles had to be licensed within the local authority where they work, and return to their area of registration in between jobs.

But a change in the law brought in by the Deregulation Act 2015 meant they can now operate freely anywhere in the UK.

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And, in Wolverhampton, the process of registering as a driver is known to be much cheaper and quicker, with drastically lower application costs and much shorter processing waiting times.

As a result, many drivers are taking advantage of registering in the Midlands city instead.

Only last week cabbies in Harlow, Essex, called a meeting with councillors to demand action over the influx of Wolverhampton-registered drivers in their area.

Sheffield Council has been approached for comment on the issues raised.

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In a statement issued last year, Wolverhampton councillor Phil Page said: "Wolverhampton has been at the forefront of private hire licensing for the last five years and continues to provide an exemplary model for other local authorities to adopt. 

"I feel immense pride at the role we have played in helping raise the standards for professional drivers and I am adamant that some of the best drivers across the country are those licensed by City of Wolverhampton Council."

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