SCRAPPING six-month temporary private hire and taxi drivers’ licences in the Ribble Valley has angered local cab firms.

They say they are struggling for new staff who cannot afford to wait months before they get behind the wheel and start earning.

Before April, new drivers could be granted a six-month approval to drive while they completed a special ten- week ‘Steering to Success’ course and knowledge test at Accrington and Rossendale College before getting a full licence.

In January, Ribble Valley Borough Council licensing committee voted to scrap the temporary permissions, claiming evidence that many drivers were simply using the temporary licence with no intention of taking the free course and passing the test.

Operators say that unless new drivers apply just as a course begins and there are places, they face a five-month wait to start working and earning - longer during the college summer holidays.

Caroline Fox, proprietor of Clitheroe’s LMC cars, said: “This is causing my firm problems and I know it is causing the same problems to other operators. The course takes ten weeks so driver can have to wait for up to five months before betting behind the wheel and earning money.

“People who are unemployed and looking for a job cannot afford to wait that long.

“I am now having real trouble recruiting the new drivers. I asked the council to direct new licence holders to my firm and they said other companies were in the same boat. Something needs to be done.”

The council’s head of legal services, Diane Rice, said: “A temporary licen-ce gave the driver six months in which to complete the ‘Steering to Success’ course and knowledge test. Not all councils offer this option.

“An increasing number of applicants failed to complete either or both within the six month period. The council decided, after consulta-tion with licence holders, that the temporary licence option should be with-drawn as the council was not satisfied that it supported its objectives of promoting high levels of public safety and service.”

The committee heard 65 per cent of temporary permit holder never went on to fulfil the requirements for a full licence.