A KEIGHLEY transport group chairman said an unacceptably high number of private hire vehicles are failing Bradford Council’s 24-hour inspections regime.

Michael Westerman, chairman of Keighley Public Transport Watch, said he was told “62 to 63 per cent” of cars being tested at 24 hours notice were failing.

Speaking at a transport watch group meeting, he said this percentage was not good enough, especially as some of the firms involved have council contracts to take youngsters to and from school.

He asked: “Are schools and parents aware of what the failure rate is? It’s disgusting that Bradford Council can put these contracts out when so many vehicles fail.

“You’d think that when they’re being given 24 hours notice, taxi operators would check their cars and get them rectified before sending them for inspection.”

Boss of Keighley firm Metro-Go Private Hire, Stuart Hastings, said: “Bradford Council is more interested in looking after the taxi driver than looking after the public, schools or NHS patients.

“Can you imagine what schools and parents would think if they knew the cars picking their kids up aren’t fit for purpose?

“A lot of private hire cars sent for inspections never see a spanner between tests.

“You can’t have a nine-year-old car that’s done 250,000 miles that doesn’t need a lot of maintenance. That’s impossible.”

A Bradford Council spokesman responded: “The travelling public’s safety is our number one priority.

“We set minimum standards that vehicles must pass an annual inspection to be licensed, on top of the annual MOT test.

“If licensed vehicles fail for either multiple minor or any more serious points then the retest fee is much higher.

“This is supplemented by additional unannounced checks of vehicles by taxi service enforcement officers. The number of officers is appropriate to the service’s needs and has been agreed with all West Yorkshire licensing services.

“A 62 per cent failure rate in random inspections represents all failure reasons. These can include one light bulb not working. Our standards are high.

“That figure includes minor mechanical faults which the driver wouldn’t discover on a daily vehicle inspection. The pass rate for vehicles submitted for the annual test was 73 per cent.

“The number of licensed vehicles in the district is 3,500. The number on school runs is about 350.

“The Passenger Transport Service and the Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Service conduct random checks on licensed school run vehicles. There’s never been a serious mechanical incident involving a licensed vehicle on a school run.

“Whenever vehicles are found which have failures of standards, immediate action is taken, which includes the suspension of the vehicle from operating until faults are rectified.

“A recent independent review of Bradford Council taxi operations identified passenger safety and good practice as the service’s main priorities. The service was found to be operating in accordance with the highest national standards.”