New taxi drivers may have to prove they can speak English to get a licence in one part of Greater Manchester

by learn a language journalist

New taxi drivers may have to prove they can speak English – and pass a local knowledge test – before being allowed behind the wheel in Trafford.

There are also plans to provide a dual badge for both Hackney carriage and private hire drivers – and the cost of a licence is set to go up.

Council chiefs plan to ask applicants to provide a relevant English language certificate.

They have not yet decided on the new fee because the format of the local knowledge exam needs to be agreed, and the work involved calculated.

The cost of a three-year licence is currently £432 and includes the price of a training course and DBS check.

Town hall bosses plans to change the current system in a bid to crackdown on the number of licence applications it receives from out of town drivers.

In 2015, Trafford council scrapped the requirement for taxi drivers to pass a knowledge test – the only town hall in Greater Manchester to do so.

The range of acceptable qualifications to prove English skills was also extended, in a bid to speed up the process.

But since a change in policy the council has received ‘several thousand’ expressions of interest from drivers wanting a licence.

“A significant amount of these are from people living out of the area,” a town hall report reads.

“In the absence of a local knowledge test there seems to be a perception with applicants that it is easier to obtain a licence in Trafford than other authorities.”

Members of the council’s public protection sub-committee will consider the plan on Thursday.

The town hall ran a public consultation on the changes in June. Nearly 700 people responded.

Trafford Town Hall

A report said some agreed with the reintroduction of the knowledge test, saying it’s ‘frustrating’ drivers are not familiar with the area and take longer routes than necessary.

Others said sat navs have made the test ‘obsolete’.

There was strong support for a requirement for drivers to speak fluent English, the report added.

“Everyone who responded said good communication was an essential part of being a driver – particularly for vulnerable people using the service,” papers added.

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