A MEMBER of Bolton Council's licensing committee has called on the government to tackle a legal loophole meaning private hire vehicles licensed outside of the region can still operate on Bolton's streets.

Executive member for environmental services, Councillor Nick Peel, is urging the government to create national regulation to keep customers safe and close the loophole, labelling it as "dangerous".

The loophole currently exists in legislation allowing private hire drivers to operate in Bolton and Greater Manchester, despite being licensed in areas with less stringent standards.

Cllr Peel said: "This loop hole is quite dangerous because Bolton licensing authority can refer or revoke licences of drivers we don't deem to be suitable to be driving taxis in Bolton because of their past history including crime or a range of things.

"If that person is able to go to another authority with a lower standard and then come to Bolton that is wrong.

"The very least the Government should do is create a level playing field of standards."

He also highlighted a particular issue with drivers licensed by Wolverhampton Council, which he says has created "a lot of concern".

Last year it was reported that councillors in the West Midlands had criticised Wolverhampton City Council for operating a "more lenient" licensing system for private hire drivers.

The councillors claimed that cabbies were heading to the area due to these circumstances, allegedly undermining public safety in the area.

The situation is also thought to have resulted in hundreds perhaps thousands of taxi and private hire vehicle drivers licensed in Wolverhampton working on the streets of other towns and cities including in Bolton and Greater Manchester.

Cllr Peel said: "This is a problem and it's happening all over Greater Manchester.

"We have been calling for the Government to introduce new rules to say that you can only be licensed by the authority in the area that you live or by neighbouring authorities, or that there is national minimum standard that applies.

"Because unless they do something about this the loophole will continue to be ruthlessly exploited."

Cllr Peel's comments also echoed those made by Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham earlier this week.

Spearheading a drive to improve standards for taxi and private hire vehicle customers in the region Mr Burnham called for a regulatory review and urged Westminster to close the legal loophole.

Mr Burnham said: “I’m committed to supporting the local taxi and private hire trade by giving a voice to this growing national problem and calling on government to close this loophole in the law.”