Somerset taxi firm's legal threat over council's volunteers drivers

A Somerset taxi firm is threatening legal action against the local council over its use of volunteer drivers which it says is doing it out of business.

CJW Taxis in Glastonbury says some drivers working on behalf of Somerset County Council should be licensed.

The government says volunteers can receive 45p a mile in expenses up to 10,000 miles. CJW claims some council drivers get paid beyond that limit.

The council said it was reviewing its volunteer drivers scheme.

A spokesman said: "We have written to all our voluntary drivers this week and plan to discuss the situation with them directly.

"Until those talks have taken place, we have nothing further to add at this stage."

Councils rely on a network of volunteer drivers to take those who cannot use public transport to hospitals, clinics and social functions.

In 2012, there were 241 volunteer drivers working on behalf of Somerset County Council.

Figures obtained by BBC Somerset showed that more than half of them drove more than 10,000 miles a year.

Solicitor Paul Lyon, acting on behalf of CJW Taxis, said: "The Department of Transport has made clear that whilst they support volunteer drivers, a genuine volunteer driver is only one who does not receive any profit from its activity.

"The current use of volunteer drivers by Somerset County Council can lead to an interpretation that a profit is being made."

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