‘Victimised’: Aspiring operator feels let down
A taxi driver from Moortown says he feels ‘upset’ and ‘disgusted’ following the treatment he received from Leeds City Council after applying for a private hire executive license last month.
Mohammed Yousef has been a taxi driver in Leeds for over 25 years, driving his first private hire vehicle in 1988.
As a private hire driver, he has worked for numerous companies across the city and earlier this year decided to set up his own operation as a Private Hire Executive operator and driver.
Amongst the differences between a private hire vehicle and an executive vehicle is the prior are required to display an identifying plate and have council-issued signage on the side of the vehicle whilst the latter are required to display a discreet executive plate.
Aiming to offer an ‘executive’ service to customers, Mr Yousef had hoped that he would be able to begin operating when his new vehicle was delivered at the start of September.
However, after paying for his application forms, he says he was then told the end of November would be the earliest that he could hope to ‘be on the road’.
“I feel like I have spent £545 on application forms and I’m no closer to my license,” he said.
“When I first applied I was told I would be contacted to arrange an interview with a licensing officer but after two weeks of waiting I had to phone the office who told me they had forgotten.
“Eventually I was given an appointment and was told during it that I would only have to wait a couple of weeks for it all to be processed. I was also told that I may get a concession on my private hire executive license as I already am a private hire driver.”
After completing the forms, Mr Yousef was informed that they would not be processed until 20th November due to a waiting list.
“I do not understand what there is to wait for,” he said. “I have been a taxi driver in Leeds for 27 years and they already have all my information, all I want now is the opportunity to put the title of executive at the end of private hire.
“The government always speaks about the important role small businesses have in society yet I feel like I am being offered no support, just obstacles, when trying to set up mine.”
Mr Yousef is currently challenging the wait-time for his license to be processed.
In response, Leeds City Council have offered him the opportunity to attend a Private Hire Executive Operator Seminar prior to his forms being processed and the possibility of not sitting the required English language, literacy and numeracy testing due to his history as a driver in the city.
According to Leeds City Council: “The issues around the operating of a business involving executive vehicles has the same business, legal and public safety principles as other areas of transport licensed by Local Authority.”