Cabbies in Wakefield are travelling 106 miles to get their taxi licence from Wolverhampton because their rules are less strict, it has been claimed.
Private hire drivers are able to operate anywhere in the country provided they have permission from a single local authority.
And now Wakefield’s licensing committee has been told that companies in the district are sending their staff to the West Midlands to get their licence after they’ve failed to meet the requirements locally.
The claims have been repeated in other parts of the UK and on Monday taxi drivers in Wolverhampton took part in a ‘go-slow’ protest, as they accused their council of making it too easy to enter the trade.
It comes as councils in West Yorkshire are trying to agree on one set of taxi rules to cover the whole region.
Councillor Elaine Blezard told the committee: “I’ve heard through taxi drivers that a lot of them are going to other councils to get their licences because of how stringent our rules are.
“If we are working together (with other councils), why are they going to places other than Wakefield?”
Councillor Yvonne Crewe said that at a recent meeting with local taxi bosses, one firm owner told her that he sent drivers to Wolverhampton because the process was “quicker”.
She said she was not originally aware of the 2015 law change that meant cabbies could live and work away from the licensing authority.
Coun Crewe said: “When I was first told this, I had visions of a convoy coming over the top of the M62 first thing in the morning, and then going back at night.
“But this company’s drivers were refused here and they just sent them there. There must be something about Wolverhampton that makes them all go there and that worries me.
“We don’t check them, so how do we know they are fit and proper people?”
The BBC reported on Wednesday that Wolverhampton Council issued more than twice the number of private hire licences of any other local authority between March 2015 and March 2017.
The Wakefield District Private Hire and Hackney Carriage Association, which represents drivers, has recently been in conflict with the local council about rises in licensing fees and tough new emission rules.
Association co-chairman Wajid Ali claimed the licensing committee “didn’t have a clue” about the problems facing drivers in the district.
He said: “Wakefield Council has some of the highest licensing fees in the country.
“If you go to Wolverhampton, your licence costs £69 and you get it in 20 days.
“It’s not for us to say what the rules should be. The law’s the law and we are abiding by it. Everything we’re doing is legal. Call it a loophole if you will, but if it’s there drivers have every right to take advantage of it.
“We’ve been used as a cash cow by the council and we’ve been warning them of that for years.”