The petition calling to bring back the test comes after Newcastle City Council axed the stringent checks

Taxi drivers from LA taxis Michael Watson, David Tait, Jenny Dryden, Dave Shears and Mark Houlahan

Taxi drivers from LA taxis Michael Watson, David Tait, Jenny Dryden, Dave Shears and Mark Houlahan

Hundreds of taxi drivers have backed a campaign to bring back the compulsory “Geordie Knowledge” test.

Newcastle Council scrapped the stringent test which demand cabbies in the city have in depth knowledge of the area they cover.

And now employees at some of the region’s biggest taxi firms have signed a petition calling for the locality test to be brought back.

Many drivers claim that customers will receive a poor service because of the decision to get rid of the test, while others believe the ability to find places in a driver’s chosen working area is a reasonable expectation.

Bosses at the city council say the decision to make the changes relates to pending government legislation, and the increased use of satellite navigation systems and app based systems.

Owner of LA Taxis Rob Armstrong said: “Newcastle might be losing drivers off the back of the locality test but it’s always good that anyone becoming a taxi driver in the city knows the area and knows where they are going.

“People can always rely on satellite navigation to find their way around but if you ask people they would like to think the driver knew the best way to go.

“Personally I favour having tests in place because it means it’s a better managed system.

“I would like the tests to stay in place. There should be time and effort put in to become a taxi driver.”

More than 600 people have signed an online petition calling for the traditional knowledge test to be brought back to Newcastle in just five days.

Want to know about the test? Everything you need to know about the test

Tom Elvidge of Uber, left, and Newcastle taxis driver Michael Jarvie, on the Quayside

Tom Elvidge of Uber, left, and Newcastle taxis driver Michael Jarvie, on the Quayside

The news comes after it was announced taxi app Uber was launched in Newcastle, allowing passengers to summon a cab with their smartphone.

Jenny Dryden, 30, of Corbridge, Northumberland, said: “I think it’s absolutely ridiculous. With everything that’s going on, with Uber starting in the city, the taxi industry is already quite hard.

“I have been on the taxis for eight and a half years now and have noticed a big decrease in the number of people using taxis as it is.

“Newcastle City Council are making it even harder for us. I have spoken to a few customers who are unimpressed the knowledge test is being scrapped.”

Michael Watson, of Newburn, said it was putting the general public at risk.

The 'Uber' taxi app

The ‘Uber’ minicab app

The 45-year-old said: “You do not know who is driving the car. The type of driver who does not know anywhere near here.

“People would not like their young daughters to go into a car with a driver who has not been checked by the police and does not know where they’re going.

“The standard of drivers will go through the floor and the council have not consulted any taxi groups over this.”

A spokesman for Newcastle City Council, said: “As part of its role in licencing private hire drivers, the council has introduced a new process that replaces the traditional locality test that private hire drivers had to take.

“The change is in anticipation of pending government legislation, and in recognition of the increasing use of satellite navigation systems and app based systems.

“Our new process will make applicants aware of their licensing responsibility and covers; safeguarding and vulnerability, passenger safety, medical fitness, road safety, and continue our extensive criminal record checks in the interests of passengers’ safety.

“The full locality test will however continue to be maintained for hackney carriage and dual licensed drivers which unlike private hire can pick up passengers for journeys that are not pre-planned.”

 

Source: Chronicle Live