Council pays out £11k to Stoke-on-Trent taxi drivers after losing three court battles
One driver was awarded £8,215 costs after row over transporting wheelchair users.
More than £11,000 of taxpayers' cash has been paid out to taxi drivers - after the aggrieved cabbies won court battles against a council.
Three taxi drivers received a share of the cash in the past year after successfully taking their cases to North Staffordshire Justice Centre.
They launched appeals following meetings with Stoke-on-Trent City Council's licensing committee.
The four court appeals saw:
. One taxi driver awarded £8,215 costs after the council refused his request to licence a saloon vehicle and no longer transport wheelchair users;
. One taxi driver awarded £1,262 costs after the council withdrew his licence for allegedly breaching conditions;
. One taxi driver awarded £1,800 costs after the council withdrew his licence following a conviction for child neglect;
. No costs awarded to a cabbie who got his licence back after being accused of sexual assault.
It has also been revealed that the council immediately revoked five licences between January and September. It followed allegations of rape, attempted rape, child exploitation, sexual assault and drug-driving against the cabbies.
The details emerged at a meeting of the council's licensing and general purposes committee.
Referring to the wheelchair case, committee chairman Councillor Joy Garner said: “£8,215 is a lot of money. I think the panel members make difficult decisions and take these decisions very seriously.”
Vice-chairman Councillor Chris Robinson added: “If we had the full information in some cases we may have made a different decision."
Dave Currie served as the Stoke-on-Trent representative on the National Private Hire Association. He says court costs awarded against the council are just the tip of the iceberg.
He said: "The licensing panel changes every so often and when it gets new members they're like a child with a stick - they go around hitting things and tend to shoot from the hip.
"They have little or no experience - they're just professional politicians. They are laymen and are going on instinct.
"There is only one set of people who can take plates off a driver and that's the magistrates, unless there is an extreme situation where a person has been driving dangerously."