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New Draft Taxi Licensing Policy - Consultation

Have your say on Craven District Council's new draft taxi licensing policy - we want to hear your views.

On 13 June 2017, Craven District Council's Licensing Committee agreed to a consultation exercise taking place on a new more comprehensive taxi licensing policy.

Craven's last policy was reviewed in November 2012. The new policy has been written to strengthen the licensing regime and give applicants and licence holders a much more detailed overview of their responsibilities either when making an application or when licensed. The main aim of the new policy is to ensure that Craven has a robust policy in place designed to safeguard the travelling public who use the taxi trade and ensure that we can say that the taxi trade in Craven is one of the best in the country when it comes to being ambassadors for the District.

The full document and appendices are available to view to the right of this page.

The deadline for comments to be received is 2 September 2017.

You can comment on the contents by emailing taxiconsultation@cravendc.gov.uk  or by writing to Licensing Consultation, Craven District Council, Belle Vue Square, Broughton Road, Skipton, BD23 1FJ. All responses will be collated and a further report submitted to the Licensing Committee in September 2017 where any amendments will be made to the policy with a view to the new policy being in place from 1 January 2018.

The council is holding two open days on Monday 24 and 25 July 2017 between 10am and 4pm for licence holders and any other person to come and view the documents at the Council Offices and ask any specific questions about the proposals. You will then be able to make any comments to be included in the consultation via the email address provided or in writing as detailed above.

In addition the documents will be available to view at the Council Offices during office hours and upon request they can be posted out.

The documents are quite lengthy, but below is an overview of the major changes which are being considered:

•             One policy document which sets out in detail an overview of Craven's view regarding licensing, what we intend to achieve and gives applicants and licence holder's alike a clear and concise document about what we expect as Licensing Authority as well as what we expect of applicant's and licence holders.

In particular at page 15 it sets out to define the term 'fit and proper' which underpins the whole licensing regime.

•             A much more robust policy in relation to the relevance of previous convictions and other relevant information which sets out in much more detail how the Licensing Authority will take into account previous convictions, cautions and more importantly other information that it sees as relevant to a person's fitness to drive, be a vehicle licence holder or private hire operator. It drills down and describes different convictions and opens the remit by which we can assess a person's suitability to be licensed - it will make a more transparent process and applicant's/licence holders know exactly what we will be expecting as well as members of the public should they have an issue or complaint about a driver or vehicle. This includes a points table giving applicants/licence holders a more clear idea of whether a licence will be granted or when a licence will be revoked.

•             The Private Hire Driver Conditions and Hackney Carriage Driver Code of Conduct have been updated to include conditions around driver conduct such as not engaging in inappropriate conversation with customers - something which is a common complaint received which does not always warrant Police intervention but gives officers a specific condition by which we can challenge driver behaviour and also gives the public an assurance that they can see in black and white that this behaviour is not acceptable.

•             The conditions and code have also included the provisions of the Equality Act 2010 so that even those drivers of vehicles who are not on the designated list are still bound by its requirements - again something the public can see and know they can come to the Licensing Authority about.

•             Requirement that drivers are required to inspect their vehicle before starting work and record this information - again a common issue is problems with vehicles being driven which are unfit due to tyre degradation and it is only when stopped by enforcement or the Police that the driver realises that there is an issue. Again we will have an enforceable condition by which we can challenge a drivers licence validity.

•             Included is a condition around working hours and not using customer or other personal information for anything other than the purpose which it is collected for - a complaint I have come across is where a driver has a mobile number for a passenger to carry out a journey then he/she chooses to text the customer at a later time/date for other reasons.

•             Also included on top of the existing condition around notification of convictions/cautions is a requirement to notify us of arrest for an alleged offence.

•             Code of Conduct when working with Vulnerable Passengers - a new code which will be attached to all licences designed to promote and ensure good safeguarding practice for drivers and staff working with vulnerable passengers in the taxi and private hire trade.

•             Driver Dress Code - to seek a standard of dress that provides a positive image of the trade.

•             Medicals - will be brought in line with DVLA so that a medical is required on first application then on renewal following the age of  45, 50, 55, 60, 65 and then every year thereafter.

•             DBS Checks - to be brought into line with expiry of licence rather than part way through the licence and a requirement that all licensed drivers sign up to the Update Service to allow licensing to conduct checks if necessary during licence period.

•             Qualifications - All applicant's/licence holders to evidence that they have obtained a relevant qualification - BTEC Level 2 Certificate in the Introduction of the Role of the Professional Taxi and Private Hire Driver or equivalent.

•             CSE Awareness Training/Other relevant training e.g. Dementia Awareness - we will look to have a specific training course that can be rolled out to include all new drivers and refresh those already licensed.

•             Specifications for Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Vehicles - so that when proprietors are purchasing vehicles that they know exactly what is required. The condition relating to tinted glass remains unchanged.

No change to age of vehicles licensed proposed but the introduction of emissions standards to Euro Standards 5 as a minimum - applied to all new registrations from 1 January 2011 so all vehicles will meet this requirement - Euro Emissions Standard 6 from 1 April 2020 - applicable to all new registrations from 1 September 2015.

•             Introduces a specific requirement around tyres that a minimum 2.0mm tread depth (1.6mm is the legal depth), advises what 'fit for purpose' means. Also disallows part worn tyres being used on vehicles.

•             Bans any vehicle being licensed if it has been written off as a Category A, B, C or D - checks will be undertaken via HPI to establish whether a vehicle has been written off either before being licensed or during a licence period.

•             Exceptional Vehicle Criteria for licence holders who can apply to have a vehicle licensed which is beyond the age limit specified.

•             Conditions for Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Vehicles - Strengthened to include more around accidents and how a proprietor can obtain a 'hire vehicle'.

•             Requirements for Vehicle Examination - Sets out in detail what the vehicle examiners will be looking for to pass or fail a vehicle.

•             Vehicle Advertisement Conditions - Sets criteria for advertisements on vehicles.

•             Licensed Vehicle Taxi Camera Technical Specification - taxi cameras have not been made mandatory although this is something that members may wish to consider as part of the consultation exercise. A specific set of criteria has been provided to ensure consistency amongst the trade for those who wish to avail themselves of a system.

•             Hackney Carriage Byelaws - unchanged.                              

•             Private Hire Operator Conditions - includes a new condition that only vehicles and drivers licensed with Craven are employed and any staff employed to work on behalf of the business e.g. telephone operators are DBS checked by Disclosure Scotland.

•             Points Based Enforcement Scheme - designed to deal with common infringements rather than prosecution such as failure to wear badge or display plates/door signs. Accumulation of points would be similar to the DVLA with a trigger point for a licence review by the Licensing and Appeals Sub Committee.