Minimum standards for taxi drivers and private hire vehicles could be applied across Wales.

The Welsh Government is proposing to centralise all licensing functions such as enforcement, fee and fare-setting, appeals and prosecutions into one national body away from Wales’ 22 councils.

Another option being consulted on is to introduce minimum standards across Wales but to retain licensing departments at the local authorities.

The changes are being proposed as currently licensing standards are decided by each council and are inconsistent across Wales.

For example there is variation with how local authorities deal with criminal records when considering licence applications for those legally prevented from working with children or vulnerable groups. At present all carry out enhanced DBS checks but six councils do not checked the barred list.

It has led to concerns taxi or private hire vehicle drivers are currently incentivised to apply for licenses in areas where standards are more relaxed – before working in areas whose standards they don’t meet and where enforcement action cannot be taken against them.

Currently council licensing officers cannot take enforcement action against vehicles, drivers or operators licensed in another area.

A Welsh Government consultation document says: “This exposes passengers in different parts of Wales to different standards and levels of risk which is difficult to justify.

“It also undermines local authorities that have taken steps to ensure that their residents can enjoy higher standards, and may irritate both drivers licensed in that area who have made an effort to meet those standards, and those who are unable to obtain a license in that area because they do not meet the higher standards.

“Varying  standards also mean that drivers across Wales bear different costs when carrying on their trade, which again is difficult to justify.

“We believe that the people of Wales are all entitled to minimum standards, regardless of where they live. National standards would represent a minimum threshold, with higher standards permitted if desired”.

The Welsh Government says there is “no good reason” why a council should not be able to take enforcement action against any taxi or private hire vehicle operating it its area – and is proposing to change legislation to allow councils to do this.

There are also proposals to form a national database, or other Wales-wide information-sharing arrangements, for taxi and private hire licensing for safeguarding purposes.

Vale of Glamorgan Council’s Public Protection Licensing Committee has welcomed the Welsh Government’s plans for national minimum standards and data-sharing but called for local authorities to retain their licensing functions.

Councillor Jayne Norman told the committee on February 5 it would be “fantastic” to have a national database but said: “I think we have to retain the local knowledge.”

Councillor John Thomas, leader of the council, said: “I share concerns about Welsh Government taking control of the whole thing.

“It’s important we keep council control of the licensing.”

Councillor Anne Moore said: “We need to take control of what is happening in our area.”

The committee’s recommendations will go to the cabinet before being sent to the council’s scrutiny committees.