A Keighley taxi boss has defended the current policy on re-licensing private hire cars damaged in accidents.

Stuart Hastings, of Metro Taxis in Church Street, responded to news that a driver is challenging Bradford Council to have the existing system changed.

When a private hire car is involved in an accident or damaged, it must be reported to the council and inspected. If it is classed as a write-off, it must be inspected in Northampton before a council licence can be reissued.

But Khurram Shehzad, of Bradford firm Local Cars, said drivers have struggled with the policy relating to vehicles classed as Category D by insurance companies. This is when the car is repairable, but the work would cost more than the vehicle is worth. He argues these drivers should not have to take their vehicles to Northampton for a check, as this is expensive and unnecessary.

But Mr Hastings said the current system deserved support, as it is designed to protect the safety of passengers travelling in what are, effectively, public transport vehicles.

“If anything, I’d like the system to be even more rigorous,” he said.

“These aren’t private cars. They’re covering 1,000 miles a week and carrying around members of the public, so they should be at their best at all times.

“It should take a day to get to Northampton and back, which isn’t the end of the world. And the driver will then know that car is fit for purpose.”

Mr Shehzad has lodged papers with Bradford and Keighley Magistrates’ Court relating to the council’s decision to request a Northampton inspection of one of his drivers’ vehicles, which was involved in a minor accident and classed as a Category D due to the cost of repairing damage to its door.

The car has been fixed and passed an MoT, but the council demanded a Northampton inspection, saying that is the only way it can reissue licence plates.

Mr Shehzad pointed out that if a taxi driver is using a car worth about £1,000, even minor, non-structural damage to the vehicle would cost so much to fix insurance companies class the vehicle as uneconomical to repair.

Commenting earlier this year, a council spokesman said: “Autolign Inspections [in Northampton] are the only UK company specialising in the re-classification of vehicles written off by insurance companies.

“There are no insurance industry-recognised local garages certified to carry out these inspections.”