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Leeds taxi licensing boss suspended

york-eve-postSource: Yorkshire Evening Post

Des Broster, who heads up Leeds City Council’s taxi licensing section, is the subject of an internal city council investigation.

No official reason for his suspension has yet been given.

It comes at a time when his department has faced mounting criticism over its implementation of new rule changes.

Concerns over the handling of taxi contracts for private hire companies have also been raised.

Leeds East MP Fabian Hamilton said he had been concerned for some time about taxi licensing in Leeds and is calling for a full investigation of the whole department.

“I am concerned to hear that a senior officer who runs the service has been suspended,” he said.

“I would like clarification from the council about what is going on.”

Paul Landau, from the Leeds Hackney Drivers’ Association, said: “We have had concerns regarding the vehicle licensing department for over 18 months since our association was born.

“On April 20 we sent a letter to the chairman of the regulatory committe outlining our concerns about this department.

“In 2008 we handed in a petition with over 500 signatures in relation to (drivers] not being happy with the way the department is being run.”

Earlier this year, the Yorkshire Evening Post reported drivers were demanding Mr Broster’s resignation, claiming he was trying to push through new lower age limits for cars without properly consulting them.

Ahead of a consultation meeting at Pudsey Civic Hall, 500 drivers tried to pack into a room designed for just 60 people.

Mr Broster has presided over tough new rules for cabbies, including introducing new knowledge tests and an NVQ qualification in taxi and private hire skills.

He has also been a vocal critic of the quality of some of Leeds’s taxi services.

Last year, while launching the new knowledge test, Mr Broster said: “This is not about putting drivers under pressure to pass exams – this is all about us, as a council, helping drivers gain the skills they need to do their job better and provide a higher standard of service to the general public.”

A Leeds City Council spokeswoman said: “A member of staff has been suspended while an investigation takes place.

“It would be inappropriate for us to comment further while the investigation is underway.”

Earlier this year, taxi unionists wrote a strongly worded letter to Stuart Turnock, the council’s chief officer of licensing to demand an urgent meeting.

The letter said there was “now a complete lack of trust between drivers and licensing and we ask you to involve yourself in this situation before the situation escalates”.

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