Loughborough’s MP, who took the fight of local cabbies to the floor of the House of Commons, has hailed proposed changes to the licencing of private hire vehicles and their drivers as ‘a significant step in the right direction’.
Nicky Morgan, Member of Parliament for Loughborough, was contacted by a delegation of local drivers in late 2017 about changes to private hire licensing rules which had meant rogue local authorities could licence far more cabs than were needed in their area, often with lower safety standards, only for drivers to ply their trade in other areas whilst at the same time being effectively immune to council checks.
The process known as ‘cross-border’ licensing, designed to ease passenger journeys across the local authority boundaries, has instead lead to a small number of councils using licensing rules to generate revenue. One authority in the North West of England has reportedly taken the opportunity to licence a driver for every 19 local residents with a majority seeking to base themselves in nearby cities.
At the same time drivers based in authorities, including Loughborough, where high standards have been maintained have reported reduced work and an increase in complaints from passengers who have unwittingly used private hire vehicles licensed by other councils.
Proposed changes announced by Nusrat Ghani MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State in the Department for Transport, will see the adoption of national minimum standards for both taxis and their drivers; national enforcement powers for local authorities to check on drivers from other areas; and a national database of licenced drivers to ensure applicants are ‘fit and proper’ to take on the job.
Nicky said “The changes proposed by the government are a significant step in the right direction.”
“The safety of passengers is paramount and ensuring vehicles and drivers are safe and open to checks, wherever they happen to be working, is a minimum standard that we should expect when we get into a private hire vehicle.
Pasquale Corbinzolu, representing Loughborough taxi drivers, said “We very much welcome the government’s proposals to introduce national minimum standards for drivers, they will undoubtedly be helpful in improving the safety of passengers, especially the most vulnerable.
“We need the Government to address all of the problems created by cross border licencing; including the impact it has on clean air targets, the wider environment, and the livelihoods of private hire drivers. The proposed changes are a step in the right direction, but there is still more to do.”
The changes proposed by government are subject to consultation until 22 April 2019 and you can contribute your thoughts by visiting: https://www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/taxis-licence/