To receive comments or views from members of the public at the Committee’s discretion.
Chris Boswell made the following statement:
“Good Morning. Thank you very much for letting me speak. I appreciate Anne-Marie Coulthard for bringing this to the Committee’s attention. I have had lengthy discussions with Members from the Licensing Committee and the Committee Members themselves in reference to the changes of the taxi licensing that was introduced last year.
My main concern over the policy is the level required for the new test and the pass rate for applicants to be able to apply. Currently in Grantham, over the bigger companies (CB Taxis, Autocabs, Amber Cabs, Premier Cabs and Grantham Taxis) there are 100 drivers, 56% of those are English, the other 44% are non-English. You have now introduced a test that would eradicate probably 90% of that 44% because they wouldn’t be able to meet the required standard, that is now introduced. The first English test is discriminatory, the new policy outlined the initial impact assessment flagged this policy change as being high under racial discrimination and it’s now acting as a blockade for anyone wanting to pursue this as a career. It is proved to be highly accurate in the early implementation, candidates who have a good level of spoken English but are not nativeEnglish- speaking have passed the DBS check, the knowledge test, safeguarding training – they have all passed all training required.
Currently, since the test has been introduced, only 20% pass rate has been succeeded. New analysis stating now that this application of the policy statement will be carried out in equitable manner with all applications considered on their individual merits on a case-by-case basis, that is in Appendix 3 that you were given from Licensing. This is not true, because it’s a pass or fail, there is no personal merit. You either pass the test or they fail the test where that’s it and they have to pay again to do the test, which they are likely going to fail again. It is not something you can learn because it’s on how you speak to a computer and the computer then decides whether or not you’re speaking well enough English to do this. People from Eastern European backgrounds or European backgrounds in general, get their words mixed up as to how we speak.
Words translated from English into another language as we all know when we have studied French or Spanish; the sentence may go forwards as normal but then when you translate it into the other language, the words can be jumbled up so when they’re translating it, that’s coming across and this is what the versant test picks up on, whether or not they get the sentence in the correct order, they get in the incorrect order, it’s an automatic fail because it’s a system that is trained to listen for the correct sentences. I do agree that a good understanding of English is required due to knowing where to go and safeguarding. The level doesn’t need to be where it’s at. I have drivers that work for me, that cannot pass this test, they already work and they are scoring 35/40. I can converse with them perfectly fine, but they wouldn’t be able to be a taxi driver now. This needs to be looked at, to lower this level so that people can become a taxi driver, the trade is hurting already because of covid, a lot of Eastern Europeans have come back to their home countries and now the ones that we do have living here that want to work, we can’t recruit because they can’t pass this test.”