Council could set one of the highest bars in the country with new taxi licensing policy

20 October 2017

A new taxi policy published by a local council has recommended setting one of the highest bars in the country that drivers and vehicles must pass before being granted a licence.

The draft policy published by South Cambridgeshire District Council puts the safety of people using taxis at its heart and makes it clear that anyone with a previous serious criminal conviction will not be granted a licence.

Along with one of the most stringent policies in the country on who will be granted a licence, the Council is also looking to make it even easier for wheelchair users to use cabs.

Under the rules of the new policy all Hackney carriages – taxis that do not need to be pre-booked – need to be fully wheelchair accessible. This would apply to all new and renewed licences.

Other changes in the Council’s draft policy, include:

  • the introduction of safeguarding training so all drivers can more easily spot and report any concerns relating to their passengers’ wellbeing
  • more frequent medical checks for drivers – current policies already set the same checks as a HGV driver
  • a knowledge test for all applicants to make sure they have a good understanding of the area, places of interest and English and maths.
  • one of the tightest convictions policies in the country

The Council committed to a review of the licensing policy at the beginning of the year to make sure it continues to meet the needs of local people.

The review is the first the Council has done since national deregulation of taxi licensing took place in 2015. Deregulation meant longer licences for drivers and operators as well as the ability for operators to work across district boundaries and sub contact to other firms.

The Council’s Licensing Committee will consider the draft policy on Friday 27 October. The committee will be asked to suggest any final changes before the Council consults the taxi industry and local residents on the policy.

The consultation is planned to take place between 1 November to 31 December.

Cllr Mark Howell, South Cambridgeshire District Council’s Cabinet Member for Environmental Health, said: “The safety of local people is vitally important and the draft policy our Licensing Committee will be considering sets one of the highest bars in the country for both vehicles and drivers. The changes we are suggesting are not just about making sure we have a fleet of high quality professional drivers to serve our communities, but also equipping them with the knowledge to identify any safeguarding issues they might become aware of with their customers.

“It is important to remember that this is a draft and not set in stone. We are suggesting a robust policy for our Committee to consider and then we will be consulting with the taxi industry and residents. It is vitally important we have a policy that reflects their needs so please make sure you have your say during November and December.”

The Council currently licences just over 1,000 taxis with around 90% being private hire vehicles that must be pre-booked.

The draft policy to be considered by the Council’s Licensing Committee is available by visiting http://scambs.moderngov.co.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=414&MId=7161&Ver=4