Council decision angers taxi drivers
A decision by Northumberland County Council not to reverse the policy which means that taxi drivers in Berwick have to travel to Alnwick to have their vehicles tested has been criticised.
Hopes were raised when the council agreed to review the policy after the issue was raised by Coun Georgina Hill, Independent member for Berwick East.
However, the licensing and regulatory committee voted in favour of the officer recommendation to retain the current policy, citing safety reasons.
Licensing manager Tasmin Hardy told the committee that the council does not have any testing facilities within the Berwick area, nor does the council employ any MOT testing staff in premises nearby. The cost to develop a new MOT testing station would be in excess of £100,000.
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One of the benefits of testing being completed by council inspectors, she added, is the ability for testers to be authorised to immediately suspend a vehicle licence. From June to December, three suspension notices were issued for Berwick vehicles.
Coun Hill, who criticised the poor attendance by councillors for the meeting, said: “It is a ludicrous premise, and frankly insulting, to imply that no garages in Berwick are equipped to do the vehicle testing to a satisfactory standard and it is clear that Northumberland County Council have not made any meaningful inquiries in to whether this is the case.”
George Richardson, of the Berwick Taxi Association, said: “I am not fully convinced it is to do with public saftey and more to do with the income from the testing process. Over 1,000 taxin the county at £55 per test with many being tested two or three times a year, that’s an income exceeding £110,000 per year between three testing stations – a lot of income.”