Berkshire

Wokingham taxi drivers call for licence cap

Taxi drivers in Berkshire have written to a council calling on it to cap the number of new licences it issues.

Drivers in Wokingham said there was not enough business to go round and trade was down by about 30%.

In the letter, the drivers said they were being forced to work longer hours for less financial gain.

Wokingham council said the number of licences issued in recent years had not increased significantly, but it would listen to concerns.

Imran Hussein, from the Hackney Carriage Drivers' Association in Wokingham, warned drivers were struggling to afford living costs.

'Saleable commodity'

He said: "Wokingham has no regulation in place, it is open so as long as you fill the criteria. Everyone is welcome.

"Adjoining local authorities, like Reading, Bracknell as well as Maidenhead, all have regulation in place which protects drivers' livelihoods.

"It is a triple whammy of too many new incomers, high fuel prices and less demand due to money worries in the recession."

In Wokingham, drivers need to pass a medical test, a Criminal Records Bureau check and provide two character references, as well as other checks.

Councillor Barrie Patman, chairman of the licensing committee on the Conservative-controlled Wokingham council, said: "The the total number of vehicles that we have got licensed has been roughly the same for the last three years.

"The government advice to us is not to do that [introduce a cap] because the taxi licences start to become a saleable commodity.

"But we will be prepared to talk to the drivers on this issue."

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