Pendle’s taxi trade has been accused of dragging its feet over ideas to improve vehicle safety, after numerous risks were found in spot-checks.

Conservative Coun Kieran McGladdery has made the allegations after a series of council taxi safety meetings in which, he claims, the trade has made no positive suggestions.

Councillors at this month’s Pendle Taxi Licensing Committee recently gave the trade ‘one more chance’ to put forward proposals for change. An extraordinary meeting is to be held soon to look again at the issues.

Coun McGladdery referred to that committee and another task-and-finish group which has been dealing with taxi safety. He said some meetings were effectively ‘pointless’ because of the lack of progress.  Last year, he chaired a number of taxi meetings and the taxi trade was given three extra months to come up with ideas, new policies or solutions.

Earlier this year, it was reported that 15 out of 16 taxis stopped in Pendle during a safety spot-check failed to meet the required standards. Vehicle problems included oil leaks, which could have burst into flames, and missing wheel nuts.

Suggestions have included requiring taxi drivers to use a mobile phone app to ensure they carry out routine car checks. But the app idea has been queried by some in the trade, according to council reports. There is also disagreement about what type of taxi inspections should be done, such as MOT-type tests or other types of compliance tests.

Coun McGladdery told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: ” I am passionate about improving public safety and am increasingly extremely concerned that a major incident is around the corner.

“At one Task & Finish Group, the taxi trade quite literally had nothing to suggest, other than to blame potholes and ‘excessively aggressive’ council officers for everything. Neither are true nor contribute to the situation.”

Official council records for the September 11 taxi licensing meeting state: “At the time this meeting was called, no written proposals had been received. They were since submitted and circulated prior to it.

“The trade was questioned about their opposition to an app to record daily vehicle checks, which would cost around £1 a week per vehicle, compared to £1.50 or £2 per vehicle recording the check on paper.  The trade asked that, if the app was introduced, it should be up to individual drivers to decide whether the daily check was recorded on an app or paper.”

The minutes add: “There was broad agreement amongst councillors that the trade’s  proposals were not sufficient to improve the significant failure rates of taxis. It was suggested that they be given one last chance to recommend measures that would improve the road-worthiness of vehicles and public safety at a further Task & Finish Group meeting.

“Any proposed changes to policy would need to be agreed at a further  licensing committee meeting and then the council.

“Coun McGladdery also claimed no invitation was sent to different councillors to ensure a bi-party attendance of a recent taxi meeting before the September 11 licensing committee meeting."

Cllr Ahmad said “I am disappointed but not surprised at Coun McGladdery’s comments. During his tenure as chairman of the committee, he oversaw a rapid decline in taxi safety and his aggressive approach towards the taxi trade by not engaging with them on various matters led to a breakdown in communication. In fact, his draconian proposals were rejected by his own party leadership in a council meeting in March 2023.

“I am firmly committed to taxi safety in Pendle but this cannot be the council just blaming the trade. We have to work with everyone with a stake in this matter. I would encourage Coun McGladdery to take a positive role and work with me and the committee.”

An official Pendle Council spokesperson said the council acknowledged there is an unacceptable level of failure rates when taxis and private hire cars are spot-checked.

Neil Watson, the council’s assistant director of planning, building control and regulatory services, said: “We’re working hard with all parties to ensure that significant improvements are made to ensure the public can travel in taxis safely.”