The Local Government Association has published a handbook for councillors in England and Wales on taxi and private hire vehicle (PHV) licensing.
The handbook, which can be viewed here, is intended to be used as a starting point to explain some of the difficulties that can arise in this area of business regulation. It was not a replacement for training provided by a councillor’s own authority, the LGA stressed.
The handbook covers:
- The regulatory framework for taxis and PHVs: legislation; differences between taxis and PHVs; councils’ role in taxi and PHV licensing in England and Wales; the Department for Transport’s role; strengths and weaknesses of the current system;
- The role of councillors: councillors and the council’s regulatory/licensing committee; training of councillors;
- The ‘fit and proper’ person test: PHV operator responsibilities; monitoring complaints; scrutiny;
- Public protection and enforcement: partnership working; managing cross border hiring; protecting vulnerable people; installing CCTV in cabs;
- Special considerations: driver training – disability awareness; quantity restrictions; stretched limousines;
- A checklist for councillors;
Writing in the foreword, Cllr Tony Page, LGA Licensing Champion, Safer and Stronger Communities Board, said: “As elected members, we are responsible for ensuring the public travel safely and receive a good level of service, and that our systems attract good, reputable drivers.
“Our critical responsibilities in licensing these drivers and vehicles have been highlighted by recent examples of licensed vehicle drivers and or operators being involved in the sexual exploitation of children.”
He said drivers must command the highest level of confidence before they can be entrusted with the responsibility of providing transport for children, the elderly and disabled users.
“It is essential that we take seriously our responsibility to determine whether someone is a ‘fit and proper’ person to hold a licence,” Cllr Page said.
However, he warned that the existing licensing system was outdated and needed urgent reform.
“One of the main pieces of legislation dates from 1847, which means it predates even the earliest motor vehicles, let alone online and mobile booking apps,” Cllr Page said.
He added that the LGA was lobbying for a Taxi and PHV Licensing Reform Bill which would modernise the governance system for taxis and PHVs and better protect passengers from the many and varied risks which now exist. “Until then, it is incumbent on us to do the best we can with the tools at our disposal.”