Former Southport MP John Pugh says that councillors have received “a flurry of complaints” regarding delays in distributing new or renewed taxi licences in Sefton.
He says that “many taxi drivers have in desperation tried to use other licensing offices as far away as Wolverhampton” while expressing concern about the council’s “laid back” approach to the complaints.
Sefton Council blames the delays on drivers attending appointments without the required documentation.
Cllr Pugh, Lib Dem opposition leader on Sefton, says that a recent ‘performance report’ on taxi licensing was missing key information, such as processing time and delays.
“To tell the world what you do but not long how it takes you to do it is simply not a ‘performance report’
“No benchmarks are given.No comparisons are made and no standards or timescales are set.
“This will do very little to quieten critics of Sefton and seems tone-deaf to the concerns of the taxi trade whose fees from the private hire and hackney trade help support the Sefton licensing department.”
“If a taxi driver experiences an unnecessary delay of only a week while a licence renewal is processed, that’s still a week’s work lost. That is critical given the current cost of living crisis.”
A Sefton Council spokesperson said: “Between April 20121 and March 2022 Sefton Council’s One Stop Shop dealt with over 14,000 taxi vehicle and driver license applications.
“Auto-renewal of licences put in place during the COVID pandemic ended in March and we now operate an appointment only service.
“To make this easy for drivers, we write to them ahead of when their renewal is required, to confirm the date and time of any appointment required.
“Unfortunately, due to the numbers of drivers attending renewal appointments without the evidence we have told them we need, or the newly required HMRC tax-check codes, we are having to make multiple appointments for them which can slow down the process. We would, therefore, urge drivers to read the letters we send out carefully when they receive them.”