Licensed taxi drivers across the region have been ordered by Scottish Borders Council to provide proof they have the right to work in the UK.
The demand, which applies to all new and renewal applications for the one-year permits, comes from Scottish Borders Council, which currently licenses 356 drivers and 103 operators.
Last week these operators and 31 private hire car operators received an email from Mike Wynne, SBC’s licensing standards and enforcement officer, instructing them that drivers’ “additional documents” must be submitted and witnessed with all licence applications.
Mr Wynne cited the recently enacted Immigration Act 2016 under which people who do not have permission to be in the UK face sanctions, including having their bank accounts frozen and driving licences seized.
“Under the provisions of the Act which came into force on December 1, 2016, SBC will not be able to issue a taxi or private hire car driver licence to any person unless a check has first been made to confirm the person is not disqualified by reason of his or her immigration status from driving a taxi or private hire car,” stated Mr Wynne.
“This means all applicants for taxi or private hire car driver licences, including UK passport holders, will need to attend their nearest SBC contact centre or the licensing office at Newtown St Boswells in person with original documents demonstrating they have the right to work in the UK.
“Council staff will require to check the validity of these original documents in the presence of the applicant before the licence can be issued and the council is required to retain copies.”
If drivers are British citizens they must provide a current passport or birth certificate along with a National Insurance card or an up-to-date P60/P45 containing a National Insurance number. If the driver is an EU national, a passport or national identify card is required. And if the driver is neither a British citizen nor an EU national, he or she must provide a passport and “residence permit confirming your immigration status”.
One Galashiels taxi operator described the move as “politically-driven bureaucracy”, adding: “I’ve no idea why taxi drivers have been targeted.
“To get a licence to drive a taxi you already need to prove your date of birth, have a driving licence and undergo a police national computer check.
“In other words, the current vetting system works well in the Borders.”