‘It’s ridiculous’ – cabbie for 50 years told to take English test

Leonard Burford, 71, has been a licensed black cab driver for the past 50 years. Picture: Steve Robards
Leonard Burford, 71, has been a licensed black cab driver for the past 50 years. Picture: Steve Robards

A black cab driver of 50 years’ experience has called council rules ‘ridiculous’ after being told he’d have to pay for a driving test and an English language test before his licence can be renewed.

Leonard Burford, 71, a licensed London cabbie, applied to renew his Mid Sussex taxi licence, having held one 25 years ago, in hope of working part-time during his retirement.

He told the Middy his hopes were shattered when he was told by Mid Sussex District Council he must pass an English language test, driving test, knowledge of the area test and numerous others – which he would have to pay for.

The council has said this is the criteria for everyone who wishes to apply for a licence.

Mr Burford, of Clerks Acre in Keymer, said: “It is just ridiculous. They must realise I have a London cab licence and a bus licence. I was a bit disappointed and shocked.

“All this stuff I have done and it doesn’t seem to matter. I have to do all these tests – it has hurt me a bit.

“Asking for an English test broke the straw for me. For a person so experienced – surely this is a bit ridiculous.”

Leonard said 25 years ago getting a licence to drive a taxi was simple, maybe ‘too relaxed and easy’.

But he said now things had gone too far the other way.

“I don’t see how they are going to get youngsters in,” he added.

Mr Burford moved to Hassocks from London 30 years ago and started his own taxi firm, LB Taxis, which went on for several years.

He said he was doing radio work for Five Star Taxis in Hassocks and some work in London, before deciding to renew his licence to drive in Mid Sussex.

District council cabinet member for community Norman Webster said: “The licensed taxi and private hire trade provide a valuable service; safely transporting residents and visitors around our district.

“Licensing of taxis and private hire drivers is devolved to the relevant authority. The council’s aim in licensing is to protect the public.

“The requirements to hold a licence reflect this aim and have been closely scrutinised and approved by elected members.”