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Taxi war in the west midlands

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Birmingham Council braced for a taxi war among black cab drivers!!

A BIRMINGHAM taxi war could be looming amid fears that cabbies from across the Midlands could exploit a legal loophole to work in the city.

Black cabs registered in other boroughs can now pick up pre-booked passengers in Birmingham following a High Court ruling in a taxi war between Berwick-on-Tweed registered cabbies and neighbouring Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council.

But members of the city council’s licensing committee said they feared the decision would lead to drivers registering in other areas and trading in Birmingham in the hope of earning more cash.

That may cause problems as the authority insists on high standards of taxi and minicab regulation, including knowledge tests for drivers, training for carrying disabled passengers, criminal record checks, an English language test, an age restriction on cars and higher licensing fees than some areas.

Birmingham also controls the number of cabs on the roads and has imposed a strict ban on new licences for the last three years.

Already officials have been told of an agent offering to register drivers in Shrewsbury and an increasing number from Sandwell to allow them to work in Birmingham.

Committee member Coun Bob Beauchamp (Con, Erdington) said: “This is not a legal loophole but an absolute chasm. There will be a free-for-all on our streets and we will be able to do nothing about it.

“If other authorities are relaxed about issuing licences, they may be cavalier about enforcement.”

And Ray Beach, of the Birmingham and Solihull Taxi Association, said: “These other drivers may not be CRB checked and there may be no age restrictions on vehicles, no NVQ or disability trainings.

"Everything we do in Birmingham to drive up standards will be undone.”

The committee was told Birmingham Council officials could only report cabbies breaking their licensing conditions, such as not displaying badges and plates, to the licensing authority. The committee is writing to the Department for Transport asking for the loophole to be closed.