South East Wales

Rhondda Cynon Taf cabbies say Cardiff taxis take trade

Pontypridd and Cardiff
Image caption Drivers in towns such as Pontypridd (l) say they are losing out to cabbies arriving from Cardiff

Taxi drivers in the south Wales valleys claim they are losing out to Cardiff-based cabbies who cannot get a licence in the city.

Rhondda Cynon Taf Taxi Association says drivers do not have to take the test known as "the knowledge," and its local licence is more easily obtained.

While Cardiff drivers operate legally, the association is critical of some.

RCT council said applications from outside had increased, and were granted if drivers were up to standard.

The council also said it was introducing an NVQ test for new applicants which would help to maintain "high standards".

Gary Edwards, owner of Celtic Cabs in Pontypridd and a spokesperson for RCT Taxi Association, said: "We're struggling for work now.

"They've got a knowledge test in Cardiff [for taxi drivers] which we haven't got here. RCT council gives licences to these people who can't get them in their own area.

"A lot of them find it too difficult or too expensive in Cardiff to do it."

He said some of the Cardiff-based drivers were good but there had been complaints about others not knowing the area and getting lost.

He added that a possible solution would be a cap on the number of licences in RCT.

"We've got a hell of a problem here," he said. "There's about 360 hackney carriages in Rhondda Cynon Taf and only 40 rank places."

He said he hoped the new test being introduced for drivers may help to reduce the number coming from Cardiff.

'Lawful competition'

"They will have to reach certain standards but I'm not sure how difficult those standards will be - it's a new thing," he said.

An RCT council spokesperson said: "There has been an increase in the number of applications from drivers outside the borough and, where the drivers have passed the 'fit and proper person' test, they have been granted.

"Some of our native drivers do object to this lawful competition. We are not here to interfere with the free market.

"Our focus is to ensure that the public in RCT are protected from rogue drivers. That has been achieved by licensing only 'fit and proper persons' and by taking robust enforcement action against any unlicensed drivers we identify."

The council said it had "recently raised the bar" by introducing an additional NVQ test for new applicants "to ensure that they understand good practice and are committed to providing good service before they are given a licence to operate here".

"Existing drivers are not required to sit the NVQ," the council said.

"We expect this initiative to ensure that high standards are maintained in the licensed trade and we shall continue to prosecute any drivers found to be operating without a licence."

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