Controversial Move Raises Concerns Over Communication Standards for Minicab Services in London
London minicab drivers are set to be exempt from proving English language proficiency under new plans endorsed by Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of the capital. Transport for London (TfL) has decided to temporarily suspend the requirement for drivers to pass language proficiency exams that assess their ability to read, write, and speak English. Some drivers argue that these licensing tests, which include modules on safety, equality, and regulatory understanding (Seru), are overly challenging, leading to the temporary suspension.
However, black London taxi drivers have expressed concerns about passenger safety, contending that these exams play a crucial role in ensuring drivers are well-versed in safety and regulatory duties. Mayor Khan acknowledged the concerns and announced the pause in enforcement against private hire drivers who haven’t met the Seru or English language requirements. During this trial period, drivers struggling to meet the requirements won’t face licensing enforcement action.
The decision to suspend the English language proficiency tests has been met with mixed reactions. Some minicab drivers argue that the Seru exams test memory rather than understanding the rules themselves. Transport for London is moving toward an “open book” format for Seru exams based on driver feedback. The open book assessments are being trialed, and during this period, no licensing enforcement action will be taken.
TfL will contact drivers who have not passed the Seru exams to take the new open book tests. In the interim, these drivers can continue to operate their cabs. However, those who do not respond to TfL’s invitation risk having their licenses revoked. The authority emphasizes compliance, stating that licenses will not be renewed until drivers pass the exams. Steve McNamara, General Secretary of the Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association, expressed concerns, asserting that compromising these requirements compromises passenger safety.
The temporary suspension also applies to Uber, one of London’s major private hire operators. Keith Prince, the Conservatives’ London Assembly transport spokesman, cautions that these tests may return if Mayor Khan secures another term. TfL clarified that while Khan called for Seru enforcement to be halted, the decision was made by its regulators, with the Mayor serving as the chairman of the transport authority.
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