New measures to improve taxi safety in Pendle have been welcomed and backed by borough councillors.

It comes after unannounced taxi safety checks in November and January found high failure rates with issues including worn tyres, brake problems, loose wheel nuts, loose batteries, faulty lights, seal belts and fluid leaks.

Taxi safety enforcement has been a source of debate, concern and disagreement between officials, councillors and the trade for some years.

Updated licensing powers including penalty points and licence reviews for taxi drivers or company owners responsible for breaches, ranging from spot-check failures to multiple vehicle breaches by taxi firms over a year, have been backed by councillors.

Drivers and company owners in some situations will have to appear before Pendle’s Taxi Licensing Committee for licence reviews. A mobile phone app is to be introduced for daily vehicle checks with penalties for those who do not use it. There will also be penalties for people who lie or are ‘untruthful’ about taxi safety checks. Another measure is to extend taxi knowledge tests to include a test on the basic mechanics of cars.

The taxi trade has opposed introducing an app and had disagreements over who its own representatives are.

A total of 13 measures were backed at the latest full meeting of Pendle Council.

Lib Dem Coun David Whipp, the deputy council leader, said: “As part of the shared administration, we agreed there should be a review of taxi safety. I think this new report makes excellent suggestions. Recent checks have picked up a significant number of defects. If daily checks had been properly followed, the number of defects would have reduced significantly.”

Conservative Coun Kieran McGladdery, who has raised taxi safety fears and frustrations a number of times in recent years, said: “I am absolutely delighted with this. This proposal was first put forward two years ago and has not changed since then. To hear Lib Dems and members of the [taxi] committee supporting it, I’m truly delighted.

“It has been an ongoing issue and I have had some fierce debates, respectful but fierce, These changes should make an immediate improvement. Thank you for eventually getting to this decision.”

Labour Coun Mohammed Iqbal said: “Councillor McGladdery is right to say there has been fierce debate. The failure rate was truly shocking under him. Taxi businesses have been given a warning and incidents have reduced. Some offenders have been dealt with by the taxi committee.

“But some of these new recommendations will put significant pressure on the committee. If taxi drivers are to be sent to the committee for not doing their daily checks, where are the resources going to come from? The committee needs to be capable of dealing with a surge of cases.

“Also there has not been recent consultation with the taxi trade, such as with training and the magical app. We had a presentation about the app from a Burnley company. But, as far as I’m aware, the council has never gone out to tender on this. There should be transparency. We should not just give a contract to a certain company.”

Independent Coun Yasser Iqbal said: “I agree in principle about this. But it’s the app I have some issues with and with recent consultation.

“Taxi drivers may properly check their vehicle in the morning but then suffer some damage if they hit a pothole, for example. This would not show on the app. Or a light bulb going out or whatever. But an inspector would find it later in the day. This type of situation needs some thought.

“Also is the app good value for money? Have we asked anyone else about apps? It has been railroaded through. Has it been properly looked at?”

Coun David Whipp said taxi safety proposals had been put forward in the past but Coun McGladdery had failed to get support from some other Conservative councillors. And one former Conservative committee chairman had used his casting vote not to implement changes.

Coun Whipp added: “No disrespect to Councillor McGladdery but I think there was an aggressive approach to driving this through, which I don’t think helped. But there has been progress. Clearly, the taxi trade is hostile to this but I think there has been dialogue.”

He added: “Some people have spoken about improvements to vehicle failure rates. But 50 per cent is still too high. Training with the app needs to be addressed. Hopefully, with safety improvements and the trade responding, there will be less failures and less of a surge of work for the taxi committee than perhaps expected. We need to grasp this nettle.”

In a vote, councillors agreed the taxi recommendations.