A PRACTICAL test for new taxi and private hire drivers in East Renfrewshire has been dropped due to a massive backlog.

Officials at East Renfrewshire Council reported 120 tests currently need to be completed - and the process could take around 300 hours over three to four months.

They proposed limiting the Knowledge test to a written test only. The council’s licensing committee approved the change on Tuesday.

The new rules will apply to all drivers with outstanding practical tests, and any new applicants for taxi or private hire licences.

A two-part test was introduced to “improve customer service standards”, with the practical part involving an applicant being asked to drive to certain locations across the East Renfrewshire Council area while accompanied by a licensing enforcement official. 

However, a report to the licensing committee stated periods of “long-term staff absence, allied to the labour intensive nature of this process, have resulted in a backlog of tests”. 

It added: “The total processing time for a single test has been calculated as 2.5 hours. If the current process is retained, it is reasonably estimated that it will take approximately 300 hours over three to four months to clear the backlog.”

Currently, to “avoid unnecessary delays in processing applications”, licences are issued “conditional on the test being subsequently passed by the applicant”.

The intention has been to conduct tests within six months of the licence being granted, but there are “now a number of applications where the delay exceeds this timeframe”.

“In order to clear the backlog, maintain service standards of drivers on the road and minimise future delays it is proposed to amend the process by limiting the test to a written examination,” the report added.

It added the move will allow multiple candidates to be tested at the same time and free up officials to carry out enforcement duties.

The redesigned written test will be “maintained by the clerk through time to ensure it remains accurate and up to date”.

It will be conducted in “an exam hall style setting”, but can be adapted to address equality issues.