A MAN who trains city cabbies has hit out at Glasgow City Council’s decision to delay the introduction of a mandatory driver certificate by seven months, describing it as as “seriously flawed”. 

Ross Blyth, head of Roadtrain Glasgow, is warning the authority will receive an influx of Taxi complaints as he fears drivers will fail to meet professional standards having not sat mandatory exams.

A committee held on Wednesday ruled that the certificate - named the introduction to the Role of the Professional Taxi and Private Hire Driver at SCQF level five - will be delayed until April due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

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The professional certificate examines drivers on nine mandatory units, including workplace health and safety, safety in transportation of passengers, professional customer service, maintenance and safety of the licensed vehicle, mobility and wheelchair assistance, routes and fares, transportation of luggage and parcels, safe transportation of school age children and licensing regulations.

Anyone wishing to become a taxi driver for the first time can still access the £400 qualification. But the issue has arisen for existing taxi drivers – who are obliged to sit the exam every three years with the renewal of their license badge. 

The report states the decision was made by the committee after noticing a candidate “backlog” in Glasgow as it reads the online exam portal was “unavailable” to drivers “for over five months”. 

But Mr Blyth says this is not true as he argues the qualification has been accessible to drivers every day since his centre was given the go-ahead to provide the training in March.

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He said: “My first concern was that a council committee made a decision based on a seriously flawed and inaccurate report. The committee members can only decide on what action to approve if the information given to them is correct.

“The committee obviously assumed the officers who presented this report to them yesterday had done their homework and that clearly wasn’t the case.

“The threat to the wider public is that instead of over the next three years, having every driver with a professional certificate, is now unextended. This leaves the council open to increased complaints because there’ll be a large number of drivers operating in the city over the next three years who have not undergone professional training.

“Let's not beat around the bush - if you have a driver just now who has his badge but hasn’t learned English, doesn’t know the streets and is due his renewal in October, that means he will continue that behaviour for another three years because he won’t have learned or renewed the skills from the certificate.

“It closes the gates for the authority to see how many of the 1000 to 1500 drivers are persistent in their professional standards.”

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He warns his business is now at jeopardy as he argued there is “no threat” of COVID-19 in his exam centre.

He explained: “This leaves us as training providers in jeopardy. We’ve went to considerate expense to set up the training centres to standard for this certificate.

“We have got premises for this course and spent considerate money rigging them out in order to deliver this qualification to drivers in Glasgow.

“I have drivers chapping my door every two minutes asking for their money back. I’ve took in £40,000 in fees and they want it back. 

“Taxi drivers are out every day, day in day out with people in their cabs in a close proximity. If they come to my centre with a maximum of five people in spaced out desks, there is no threat. 

“I would say them coming to our centre gives them a break from the COVID-19 risk in their cabs.”

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A Glasgow City Council spokesman outlined a temporary hold on the requirement to undertake the training will ease financial pressure already imposed on Taxi drivers due to the pandemic.

He said: “It is widely understood that the taxi and private hire car trade has been severely affected by the COVID-19 crisis.

“A temporary hold on the requirement to undertake training will relieve hard-pressed drivers of a financial burden at a very challenging time.

“We cannot comment on Mr Blyth’s decision to continue to receive drivers for training within his premises when all other educational facilities were expected to be shut to help stem the spread of the virus.

“During lockdown drivers have been able to undertake on-line study as part of their training course.

“However, drivers are required to attend a training centre in person to complete course assessments.

Mr Blyth outlined his school teaches a maximum of five people at one time with strict hygiene measures in place in a bid to suppress the transmission of coronvirus.