This report presents the views and recommendations of the Task and Finish Group’s Chair on taxi and private hire vehicle licensing.
The Ely Standard reports that Ely taxi drivers could be made to wear smart clothes and have more health checks as part of council plans to improve the service
Smart trousers, shirt, shoes and optional tie for men or cravat for women is being suggested alongside a raft of other ideas, including a single colour taxi scheme so that all cabs in the city are silver.
An eight week consultation into the suggestions received just 10 responses from six drivers, two members of the public, a disability group and a council member.
The suggestions are yet to be approved in a meeting of the East Cambs District licensing committee on Wednesday November 8.
If given the go ahead the new rules will come into force on New Year’s Day.
Among the areas looked at were:
• Safeguarding training.
• Dress code.
• A three yearly medical.
• How often cars should be tested.
• A penalty points scheme.
• DBS checks.
A spokesman for East Cambs licensing team said all taxi drivers must complete safe guarding training by the end of next year, new drivers within six months of holding a licence.
A spokesman said: “All existing licence holders will be given opportunities to attend the training free of charge.
“Officers are working with neighbouring councils in an attempt to provide one standard course which will enable drivers to use the training certificate obtained at any participating council to support an application.
One taxi driver said of the one colour scheme said it : “Is a terrible idea.
“The taxi sign is recognised the world over. Tourists will not come to Ely and think, there’s a yellow, green, red car – that must be a taxi.
“At night the one colour scheme will become pointless! Unless the licensing department want us to change the colour to day glo yellow.
“What should be amended is the size of the taxi sign – at the moment there are some really small signs and in the day they are not obvious from a distance.”
The report says that if drivers need more medicals it will mean an eight additional health checks between the age of 21 and 45 and additional three between 45 and 65.
A spokesman said: “Studies have shown that drivers of hackney carriages and private hire vehicles spend large amounts of time in a sedentary position and they have shown that taxi drivers as a group suffer from high levels of chronic disease linked to sedentary lifestyles, poor diet and stress.”
The Institute of Licensing (IoL) has written to the Government to raise concerns about failings in the taxi and private hire licensing system that is putting public safety at risk.
IoL President, James Button, said in the letter:
“We are aware that there is currently much discussion ongoing in relation to the licensing of taxi and private hire drivers, operators and vehicle owners, including the recently established working party by Minister of State John Hayes MP. We are conscious that any discussions must seriously consider the adequacies of current arrangements concerning criminality checks, data sharing and ability of licensing authorities and police practitioners to identify concerns relating to licensed individuals and those seeking to be licensed with a view to maintaining public safety and taking appropriate action as necessary.”
The letter addressed to the Home Office, DfT, National Police Chiefs Council and the chairman of the newly established Taxi and Private Hire Working Group, outlined the result of its member’s survey about the level of checks undertaken, data sharing with the police and other similar issues:
• Less than 25% of respondents consider the current data sharing arrangements are satisfactory
• More than 50% of respondents agreed that changes to the Notifiable Occupations Scheme affected information sharing between police and licensing authorities
• 72% of respondents said that do not receive immediate notifications from the police when a taxi licensee (driver, operator or proprietor) is under investigation, arrested or charged
• 42% of respondents said that the Data Protection Act used as a reason for not sharing information
• A substantial 80% of respondents agreed it would useful would it be to have a single point of contact within the police for taxi licensing issues
Mr Button continued: “The IoL has raised concerns previously with the Home Office in relation to data sharing between police and licensing authorities in relation to taxis. In March 2015, we put on record with the Home Office our concern over the then imminent changes to the Notifiable Occupations Scheme and the proposed removal of Home Office Circular 006/2006 which provided guidance to police forces about the disclosure of convictions and other information in relation to people in professions or occupations which carry additional trust or responsibility (notifiable occupations). In summary, the concern at that point was that the changes would increase uncertainty and inconsistency in data sharing.”
The IoL is currently leading on a project to develop a national model convictions policy for licensing authorities to consider adopting locally. It has been working with the Local Government Association and the National Association of Licensing and Enforcement Officers on the project and the aim is to consult on the draft document imminently. This project has been undertaken with the sole purpose of providing a potential national minimum standard endorsed by the relevant organisations with a view to raising consistency across England and Wales.
Paul Scully Chair, International Development Sub-Committee on the Work of the Independent Commission for Aid Impact
To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of local authorities in regulating taxi and private hire vehicles.
Local authorities must ensure appropriate standards to support safe and quality services for passengers. However, as part of exercising this duty, any licencing decisions should support open, competitive and functioning markets.
Councillor Martin Mancey has said the council may ban giving new taxi licences to diesel drivers
Taxi drivers would be ‘forced off the road’ if the city council stopped issuing licences to those with diesel vehicles, it is claimed.
Councillor Martin Mancey, portfolio holder for strategic transport, has suggested the Guildhall may consider following London, where mayor Sadiq Khan has said no new taxi licence should granted to drivers with diesel vehicles from January 2018.
But Peter Nilsson, chairman of the Hull Hackney Carriage Association, has warned that would undoubtedly result in fewer taxis because of the extra costs drivers would incur.
He said: “Would our fares go up? Probably not. But I do believe people would not taxi driving, and so there would be fewer taxis on the road. Each taxi represents a business.
Cllr Mancey was speaking ahead of the publication of the Government’s air action plan, which is expected later this month.
He said: “In London, the mayor is saying that no new taxi licence will be issued for diesel vehicles from January. As a council, we have to look at all measures and I would not rule that out.
“If we were to go down a similar path, and it’s a big if, it would certainly not be in January 2018. We would want to hear the views of both Hackney carriage and private hire drivers. We would have have a discussion with them. There would be extensive consultation.”
Cllr Mancey accepted the measure would be met with concern among Hull’s cabbies, many of whom claim they are struggling to scratch a living even without any incoming extra costs.
However, he said this needed to be seen in the context of an estimated 29,000 deaths each year caused by emmisions.
Cllr Mancey said: “From the point of view of taxi drivers, I imagine there will be some concerns because petrol vehicles do less miles to the gallon, potentially increasing overall costs. That may put pressure on fares. But we have to look at the bigger picture – public health.”
He added the council is working hard to encourage people to use public transport.
Despite this, Mr Nilsson has predicted a number of problems should Hull follow a similar path to London, and said the association’s lawyers would invariably be involved.
He said: “Trying to get a petrol taxi is very difficult, because they’re a lot dearer to run than diesel taxis.
“Electric cars? I personally have not seen any that are fit for purpose. You can only go 100 miles on a charge. What do you do if a fare wants to go to Manchester Airport? It just can’t work.
“Hybrid vehicles are very expensive, compared to say a diesel taxi.”
According to Mr Nilsson’s reckoning, there are 170 black cabs in Hull. He believes there are in the region of 1,300 private hire vehicles.
He feels the driving factor behind Hull’s congestion, linked to poor air quality, is “poor road layout” as opposed to traffic volume.
“The roads are not coping with the number of vehicles,” he said. “No-one one knows the roads like taxi drivers. We know how the city works.
“Look at Spring Bank West, Cottingham Road and Bricknell Avenue. There used to be two lanes in each direction. Now there’s one. That’s the reason why our roads are becoming clogged. We’re losing roads.”
Petitioning Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Leader of the Conservative Party Theresa May MP and 1 other
National Campaign Save Taxis & Private Hire from unregulated Uber with TFL Public Inquiry
Please sign the petition and share by email and tweet with as many people as you can.
It would be helpful if people can also email their MP with this article and ask them to support the National campaign for a Public Inquiry into TFL.
Throughout the UK thousands of unregulated Uber drivers have been improperly licensed by Transport for London and are operating illegally, putting the Public at risk. Customers personal security is compromised and road users are exposed to dangerous driving and accidents causing serious injuries and deaths.
Towns and Cities are gridlocked with congestion which is causing toxic air pollution (putting drivers, cyclists and pedestrians at risk) which has increased because Transport for London have issued thousands of Private Hire Licenses to Uber drivers without proper background, medical or insurance, checks who then operate illegally throughout the UK, ignoring traffic regulations and road signs causing accidents and traffic chaos.
TFL have made many improper decisions in relation to Taxis and Private Hire including the issuance of 2500 Private Hire Licenses each month without proper checks and the London Taxi Age limit and previous failed emissions strategies which have not complied with Public Law.
TFL is a Public body who receive £11 billion a year in taxpayers money yet are accountable to no one;
There is an urgent need for a Public Inquiry to expose the improper decisions which do not comply with Public Law and have resulted in injuries and deaths.
There should be an immediate suspension of TFL Private Hire License Applications and the Uber Operators License pending that Public Inquiry.
This petition will be delivered to:
- Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Leader of the Conservative Party Theresa May MP
- Chris Grayling MP
The suspension comes after Knowsley Council removed the ‘street knowledge’ test and there was a spike in applications
The issuing of new taxi licences in Knowsley as the council struggles to cope with a deluge of applications.
The move follows changes to the licensing process which some critics say have made it too easy to for people to qualify to drive a taxi – specifically removal of the ‘street knowledge’ section of the application.
Also it is no longer a requirement for a Hackney cab or private hire driver to live in the area where the licence is issued.
Taxi drivers in Merseyside have been speaking out over the issue claiming would-be drivers are ‘scamming’ Knowsley Council by going into the borough applying for a licence and then going to Manchester or Liverpool to ‘work for Uber’ because they don’t have to have ‘ street knowledge to get a licence in the borough.
Now Knowsley Council licensing bosses say they “intend to look into the reasons for the increased numbers, which may include a review of existing policies to ensure that they remain robust and fit for purpose”.
A statement on the authority’s website said: “The current rate of applications is not sustainable as the council’s licensing service simply has not currently got the resources to manage and regulate the increasing level of drivers, particularly if some of these drivers have no intention of operating within in the Knowsley area.”
For a taxi licence in Knowsley applicants must pay £49, show you ”are a fit a proper person’, pass a DBS and DVLA check, a medical and have been driving for 12 months.
Once you pass the checks applicants must complete the Level 2 Certificate in the ‘Introduction to the Role of the Professional Taxi and Private Hire Driver’ (QCF), which doesn’t include a ‘street knowledge’ test, before you are licensed to drive and take a driver skills assessment with council officers.
The temporary suspension is expected to last ‘no longer than 14 days’ and the council said “they would like to apologise for any inconvenience that this may cause but it is felt that this is a necessary measure at this time”.
A Knowsley Council spokesperson said: “The volume of taxi licensing applications received has significantly increased recently.
“In December 2016, we received twice as many applications as we would normally expect and we are not resourced to process and regulate this many applications.
“As a result, we are reviewing our processes and the reasons for the increase in applications. This is anticipated to take a few weeks and whilst this review is being undertaken, we have introduced a temporary suspension of any new licenses being processed.”
A CALL has been made for a ‘taxi queuing system’ to be put into place across the whole of Scunthorpe, following its success at the town’s train station.
The suggestion has been made by the chairman of the Scunthorpe and District Taxi Association and follows a case heard by North Lincolnshire Council during which one driver narrowly avoided losing his licence, following an incident at the station.
Abul Sadar, 64, appeared before a licensing sub-committee after he amassed 12 points on his DVLA Driving Licence for speeding and was pictured driving his taxi at Scunthorpe Train Station without his Hackney Carriage licence plate.
Mr Sadar – who pays the £500 annual payment needed to operate at the station – said that he was having his plate replaced and was at the station to meet a friend who supplies him with eggs and honey.
Mr Sadar told the licensing committee, “I went to see my friend because I get my eggs and honey from him. I went to see him for eggs or honey, not for a passenger.”
Mr Sadar said he would never consider picking up a passenger without his plate.
He said: “I can categorically say that they told me to pick up the plate from the office and said to come back a few hours later and this is what happened.
“I thought I had a bit of time, somebody took my picture and that was it.”
“I doubt very much it (his licence) will be renewed.”
A spokeswoman for North Lincolnshire Council said: “Mr Sadar appeared before the Licensing (Miscellaneous) Sub-Committee because he had amassed 12 points on his DVLA Driving Licence for speeding.
“All of these points were for excess speed. Although the Magistrates’ Court had not removed his DVLA Licence, the council is in a position whereby the licence needs to be considered to determine if he is a fit and proper person.
“In addition, we had received a complaint that Mr Sadar had been sat plying for hire on a Hackney Carriage Stand without the rear licence plate attached to the vehicle.
“Mr Sadar claims he went to the station to talk to a friend, but he parked his vehicle on a Hackney Carriage Stand and thus was plying for hire.
“Hackney Carriage stands are there for one purpose only – they cannot be used to park a vehicle, even if it is a Hackney Carriage.”
“As for renewing his licence, should he have 12 points on his Hackney Carriage/Private Hire Driver’s Licence we would refer him back to the committee. As he has four points, this will not have an impact.”
Mr Sadar blamed competition among taxi drivers for the incident and would like to see a the amount of Hackney Carriage licenses limited.
He said: “We have to work 18-19 hours a day. People try to make a living but it is very difficult, there are many drivers.”
Chairman of the Scunthorpe and District Taxi Association, John Fleming, 73, said: “Any driver can pick up a passenger at the station with a booking, but they can’t park there and pick up passengers without paying the £500 permit.”
Mr Fleming said he suggested introducing the queuing system at the train station three years ago.
“We agreed to put in a first come first serve service.
“If a passenger doesn’t go to the front of the queue we have to point them to the front. We would tell them to go to the first taxi.
“I would like to see the queue system at all ranks in Scunthorpe. We’ve had it for three years at the station and it works.”
“We would be happy to see the council limit the amount of Hackney Taxis, but if they are going to do it they would have to give people notice and introduce it gradually.”
“Some days you can be really busy and some days you can be really quiet but that is the nature of taxing.”
“I am sure most of the organisations would agree with him (Mr Sadar). We would definitely agree on a limit but you can’t just do it tomorrow.
“We would be quite happy to raise it with the council but we have to be realistic.
“You take the good with the bad.”
The spokeswoman for the council said that it can look at restricting the amount of hackney carriage licences issued, but an independent survey -which would be carried out every three years – would cost drivers a significant amount of money.
She said: “We would need to carry out an unmet demand survey every three years at a cost of about £30,000.
“This would be paid for by the Hackney Carriage trade. We cannot restrict private hire vehicles or drivers of either type of vehicle.”
Read more at http://www.scunthorpetelegraph.co.uk/
Councillor Mick Barker believes the council has improved its licensing of taxi drivers over the last few years and does not want to see the system change.
Any changes made to Derby’s taxi licensing system will be quickly reversed if the Tories are voted into power, a leading Conservative councillor says.
Oakwood councillor Mick Barker responded to claims by Labour’s Baggy Shanker that the licensing process must be changed to protect vulnerable people, including children, following the revelations of child abuse in taxis in Rotherham.
Mr Barker argued the council had tightened its procedures since the problems in Rotherham were brought to light in the Casey report last year.
Derby City Council is seeking public views on its taxi licensing regulations following the publication of a public interest report that exposed failings leading to licences in Derby being awarded to criminals who were not “fit and proper” to obtain a badge.
The authority says it aims to take licensing power away from councillors and put it in the hands of council officers, who would operate a points-based system when handing out licences.
But Mr Barker, a vice chair on the council’s Taxi Licensing Sub Committee and former Metropolitan Police officer, believes the council has made great strides to eradicate the problems highlighted in the report, published by auditors from Grant Thornton in June. He said: “It has been my passion to make our licensing one of the most robust systems in the country. We’ve been very robust over the last few years and have forced through a very strict licensing regime in Derby and I do not want to it reduced back down to a smaller number again.
“When we get voted back into power, we will convert it into what we believe is the right system and that is the system we have in place now.”
Currently, taxi licensing is operated as a committee system with 15 members. Meetings consist of five members making panel decisions on applications, suspensions, disqualifications and appeals.
A public consultation runs until Monday with two options. The first would see a similar system implemented but with panel meetings held and chaired by a council officer. The decision to approve an application would be made by the officer based on the principles set out in the sub-committee member guidelines.
The council’s preferred second option would see the Derby points system introduced and the committee scrapped, with no introduction of an officer panel. Any applicant with 12 points on their licence would be refused, with existing drivers having their licences revoked if they accrued that total.
Anyone convicted for a sexual offence such as rape, sexual assault or child sex offences, threats to kill or acts of terrorism carry an automatic refusal or disqualification.
However, assaulting a police officer, for example, would carry an automatic refusal if committed within the last four years but would earn six points if committed in the previous five years.
Mr Barker says he was still more concerned by the number of out-of-town taxis working in the city than the situation at the council, as the authority is powerless to stop and check drivers or their cars licensed by other authorities. This is because the law states any driver with a Hackney Carriage licence can operate as a private hire taxi anywhere in the country.
The Derby Telegraph revealed last month how almost half of the city’s cabbies were licensed by authorities outside of the city – some as far away as Rossendale in Lancashire.
Mr Barker said: “If you’ve got a dangerous vehicle on the road, it’s dangerous regardless of how good the driver is at the wheel. That puts people at risk and we cannot check those vehicles. That power lies with the police and officers from the council that gave them their licence.”
To have your say on the consultation, visit the Derby City Council website by clicking on this link.
Read more at http://www.derbytelegraph.co.uk/
A taxi drivers’ union is planning to take legal action against Dundee City Council in a row over wheelchair accessible vehicles.
GMB Scotland has made the decision amid a three-year dispute with the council.
The current system — which the GMB describes as a “two-tier workforce” — requires some drivers to buy wheelchair accessible vehicles, which start at £19,000, whereas other drivers are allowed to buy a vehicle from as little as £1,000.
GMB officer Drew Duffy said: “Dundee City Council seem to be happy with this two-tier system — all we want is a level playing for all taxi drivers.
“We have drivers who were operational prior to changes in 2003, who could purchase any vehicle. Then after Dundee City Council changed their policy on new taxi operators, drivers had to purchase wheelchair accessible vehicles.
“The problem is some of these drivers, prior to the changes in 2003, have now retired but their badges are still active.
“Their vehicles are operating in the city driven by other drivers, so they don’t have to adhere to the changes in the law. I believe this represents around 40% of the taxi drivers in Dundee.”
Licensing committee chairman Stewart Hunter said he understood the frustrations of the taxi drivers but insisted the committee has to decide what is best for the public.
He said: “We have a policy at the moment where the fleet is mixed. I understand their frustrations because it is costing some drivers more than others to buy vehicles.
“But our focus, first and foremost, is what is best for the Dundee public and they want a mixed fleet. We had a consultation around four years ago with disability groups, which the taxi liaison group were present at. We tested out a series of different vehicles and it was apparent that not all passengers were able to access a disabled vehicle which is why we decided to operate a mixed fleet.”
But Drew said: “I would argue that Edinburgh and Glasgow already operate a service where all taxis are wheelchair accessible so I can’t understand why we can’t. We have a date set in November for the case but I hope we can reach a decision prior to this. All we ask is the council to review the system currently in place.”