A PETITION signed by more than 250 taxi and private hire drivers has been handed to the council amid claims the authority is “victimising” drivers.

The York drivers are protesting against a £40 charge which must be paid to take part in compulsory safeguarding training, which is organised by City of York Council.

The petition claims the council is “victimising the York licensed trade" by demanding £40 per driver for the training course, adding that the fee from the trade's 888 drivers would amount to £35,520.

It said: “This will be done under threat of dismissal by the York taxi licensing department if the course is not taken or failed.

“We believe that this is intimidation and victimisation as at the same time, York taxi licensing department are turning a blind eye to the out of town private hire and Hackney carriage drivers who will not be expected to take the course and as usual will not contribute a single penny to the city coffers.

"We feel that this is the final straw. Enough is enough.”

Mike Slater, the council's assistant director with responsibility for licensing, said the training was introduced after the child sexual exploitation scandal in Rotherham, but drivers who could prove they had similar training need not take the course.

He said: “To protect our taxi drivers and the most vulnerable people in the city, we need every existing and future licensed driver in the city to understand all the issues around safeguarding. This is a decision being taken by many other local authorities.

“Like any other licence, professional requirements to be a taxi driver can change over time. We’re giving existing drivers until their next renewal application to take this course, or prove that they’ve had equivalent training. For most, that will be over a year from now. Every application for renewal will then be considered on its merits. Local authorities do not pay for any licensees to complete essential professional training, so it would be inconsistent to cover the cost of this course.”

The petition will be considered by the council’s executive early next year.