rawley Council insists that all licensed vehicles are required to be identified by permanent stickers. However, the drivers would prefer the signs to be fixed by magnets so that they can be removed when the vehicles are being used privately. Zainool Ebrahim, the chairman of the Crawley Licensed Cab Drivers' Association, outlined the problem: "I have had someone knock on my door in the middle of a night and ask me for a lift because they saw my car in the driveway. Even when my family go to the cinema, we are getting asked for lifts and then I worry about my car outside for the rest of the night. My son doesn't like getting in it now because of the hassle we are getting from people. We would pay for the magnets ourselves so the council would not have to go to any further expense for this change."
The problem is made worse by the fact that some drivers are allegedly getting their licences through Mole Valley Council and then working in Crawley. By taking this action, they avoid the need to have the stickers on their cars. Current legislation does not prevent cab drivers doing this. The 500 or so cabbies in Crawley, who pay around £300 to get a licence through the council, are becoming increasingly frustrated at the situation. The Mole Valley arrangement is seen as a possible way out, although probably only as a last resort. The vice-chairman of the Crawley Licensed Cab Drivers' Association, Derek Kiernan, confirmed this possibility: "If the council do not listen about the stickers, we will have to go to Mole Valley Council for our licences."
Negotiations between the association and the council have now been underway for around a year but the council is reluctant to back down on the stickers, claiming concerns over public safety. A council spokeswoman said: "We have a very good relationship with taxi drivers in town and we value the high standards that they meet with our council. However, we can't stop other licensing authorities licensing private hire vehicles beyond their boundary. We think it is wrong and we have spoken to other councils to ask them to stop doing this. The decision to bring in stickers was introduced in 2003 when the licensing committee agreed it was the safest way of alerting the people to which firm the cab is from."