Plans to operate ‘executive’ taxis with tinted windows at Luton Airport blocked by council

PLANS to operate tinted window taxis like limousines from Luton Airport have been dealt a blow by the council.

Addison Lee, who recently won the contract to operate taxis from the airport, had wanted to introduce a fleet of 30 ‘executive vehicles’ which featured tinted windows and would be exempt from the display of licence plates identifying them as a taxi.

But Luton Borough Council’s taxi licensing panel rejected the move on Monday.

It’s a big blow for both Addison Lee, who have said they are exploring an appeal, but also for the airport.

Luton Airport had consistently said that their decision to replace the Luton Hackney Carriage Association with Addison Lee was so that passengers could see an ‘improved fleet of vehicles’.

And although Addison Lee has said that service levels have already gone up, they conceded the council’s decision not to allow the executive fleet was ‘saddening’.

Dr Michael Galvin, head of regulatory affairs with Addison Lee, told Luton on Sunday: “I was more sad than angry at the decision.

“The case we put to the licensing panel was open and honest and presented in good faith, and we felt we had addressed any issues.

“The thought of going to appeal is not something we usually like doing, but we are exploring that process.”

A spokesman for Luton Borough Council said: “The application to relax the conditions in the Private Hire Operators Licence which would allow the company to operate vehicles with tinted windows and which did not display the licence plate and standard signage was refused.

“Whilst there is no express definition of the term ‘Executive Licence’ the Panel did not consider Addison Lee’s operation to fall within such a category.

“The Panel recognises that certain private hire operators undertake contracts which are more akin to a chauffeur driven car, often using prestige vehicles, being contracted to a specific customer or company and often at the disposal of the hirer for extended periods rather than for single journeys.

“The Panel did not consider Addison Lee’s operation to differ significantly from an ordinary private hire service and serves the general public using the airport rather than any exclusive or separately identifiable customer base.

“Given the similarity with other private hire operators and also to the previous hackney carriage provision at the airport, there was no reason to justify departure from the Council’s policy requiring the grant of a licence with standard operator conditions.

“The standard conditions are imposed for the purpose of protecting customers and the wider public who come into contact with private hire vehicles.

” Accordingly, the application to exempt the Operator from the standard is refused and the standard conditions will remain on the licence previously issued.”

Read more at http://www.luton-dunstable.co.uk/