A NEW partnership will see local authorities in the area working together to make it more difficult for taxi and private hire drivers to break the law.

The five West Yorkshire local authorities and York have agreed to a joint enforcement partnership scheme which will ensure action can be taken against any driver licensed by any of the six councils where ever they are operating within the combined borders.

Until now if one of the authorities checked a private hire or hackney carriage taxi licensed by another authority there was little they could do to stop it being driven illegally or unsafely.

But due to the new partnership approach, appropriate action may be taken against a driver by the authority they are working in at the time.

The cross border enforcement is the first of many projects the six authorities – Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees, Leeds, Wakefield and York - are working on to support the taxi and private hire trades and improve the safety and comfort of their passengers.

The range of offences covered includes: driving without insurance, picking up passengers on the street who haven’t pre-booked, driving with vehicle defects such as defective brake lights or bald tyres, displaying incorrect signs so that it is not clear the vehicle is a taxi, smoking whilst sat in the taxi, and driving without the correct licence.

Councillor Sarah Ferriby, the Council's executive member for healthy people and places, said: “When you get in a private hire vehicle or taxi you should be confident that the vehicle is safe, well maintained and that the driver is licensed, insured and trustworthy.

“The only way to guarantee that is to have a strict set of rules that are regularly enforced.

“It makes absolute sense to carry out cross border enforcement – when we travel by private hire or taxi we do not restrict our journeys to one area, so licensing authorities shouldn’t restrict how we enforce the rules around driving those vehicles.

“It is worth saying that the majority of taxi and private hire drivers and their vehicles are safe and comply with the law.

“For them this change will have no impact. It is those who believe that the law doesn’t apply to them, who selfishly drive without considering the safety of their passengers, who will notice a change.”

Shabbir Master or the Hackney Carriage Owners and Drivers Association in Bradford, welcomed the move, but called for drivers who passed a check in one authority to be given a seven-day receipt which could be produced to enforcement officers in other authorities.

This would prevent the same vehicle and driver being checked multiple times in the same week as they travelled through different council areas.

"The changed are welcomed by the taxi fraternity in Bradford," he said.