But they have also inserted a special ‘widow’s clause’ requiring non-English speaking spouses of deceased proprietors to learn the language in just SIX months.
The authority was forced to take legal advice on its Hackney Carriage taxi policy – and whether its language requirement could be discriminatory – after concerns were raised by unions and hackney carriage companies. The debate was in relation to possible special dispensation for wives of deceased older drivers – who may never have learnt English – to allow them to inherit the licences without speaking English. Comparisons were made with other businesses – everything from football clubs to small firms – which can be legally owned by non-English speakers.
A proprietor of a taxi licences is effectively the owner of a small business – and won’t necessarily ever face the public or drive a taxi.
A report presented to the meeting said: “The proprietor is accountable for a wide range of statutory responsibilities; the safety of the vehicle, controlling the drivers and maintaining a relationship with the council. It is…reasonable to expect a proprietor to speak and understand English.”