Shabir Ahmed
APPROVED: Shabir Ahmed (right), co-chairman of the Keighley and Bradford Taxi Driver’s Association, said he approves the new rulings but wants to see more help given to cabbies from local authorities

Conversation tests welcomed by association chief

Drivers across Bradford are being told they will face some extra English lessons this year if their linguistic skills don’t pass the grade with the city council.

The announcement was made in a report released earlier this month, with Bradford Council proposing tougher tests to ensure the city’s cabbies are able to hold conversations with their passengers.

Previous rules indicated that a would-be cabbie must be able read a paragraph from a book and write a receipt for a journey. However, the latest rulings will replace the old technique with a conversation exam.

A Council report says possible questions could include: ‘What do you think of the weather recently?’, ‘Where did you take your last customer?’ or ‘How do you get from A to B?’.

The report adds that ‘the answers are not the focus, the focus is to ensure the applicant understands English and has contributed to a communication in English at a basic level.’

Shabir Ahmed, of the Keighley and Bradford Taxi Driver’s Association, praised the new rulings and believed communication was important in the trade.

“I think no cabbie or taxi driver has ever been against this sort of test but the council has just never introduced it,” he said.

“Nearly every new driver can fluently speak English now because it is important for their job. This rule should have been brought in around 20 years ago along with legislation for dress codes in my opinion but those in charge are only just catching up now.”

Mr Ahmed added that, despite his backing of the changes in English tests, he would rather see the council helping drivers than adding further legislations.

Referring to the £30,000 surplus that Bradford’s taxi and private hire licensing service made for the period of 2013/14, he continued: “It costs each of us £6 to get our taxi licensed.

“It costs the council nothing to check them with the DVLA so every penny of that is profit. It may not sound like a lot of money but when you consider the number of drivers it is clear that we are being overcharged.”

The authority has confirmed plans to lower many of its fees in the near future whilst a decision as to whether the new English tests will be brought in, will be made later this week.