Over the next six weeks you have an opportunity to have your say on how Preston City Council (“the Authority”) regulates the activities of the hackney carriage (“taxi”) and private hire trades and comment on proposals to change the way we do so.
The current Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Licensing Policy (“the Policy”) was adopted by the Authority with effect from 1 April 2013. It includes all the policies, procedures and practices the Authority uses to regulate the trades and includes associated documents such as vehicle specifications, licence conditions, guidance, and its penalty points scheme.
This document will examine current policies, procedures, and practices to determine whether they contribute to the overall aim of regulating the trades in a way that maintains and improves public protection and at the same time provides the right environment for business to thrive.
It is also important that the trades are regulated in a manner that is effective, does not create unnecessary burdens and is consistent, transparent, proportionate, accountable, and targeted.
The document includes recommendations made by the Secretary of State for Transport in his guidance document “Statutory Taxi & Private Hire Vehicle Standards” which was published in July 2020 and has considered advice contained in the “Taxi and Private Hire Vehicle Licensing: Best Practice Guidance” issued by the Department for Transport in March 2010 and the Regulators Code issued by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills in April 2014.
It will explore new ideas to achieve improvements for all involved with the trades and the public and the consultation period will also allow all to submit proposals for change.
We will collate and review comments from this consultation and then publish a response for consideration by the Authority’s decision-making body.
The Current Situation
The Licensing of taxis dates from 1847 and for private hire vehicles (outside London) to 1976.
Taxis and private hire vehicles are a vital and integral part of the transport network with an estimated 600 million journeys in Great Britain each year. They are commonly used by younger people, those on low incomes without access to a motor vehicle and women between the ages of 16 and 20 years. They also provide services in situations where other forms of transport are either not available (rural areas and late evenings/early mornings) or for persons with mobility and other disability difficulties.
A taxi is a public transport vehicle that makes available no more than 8 passenger seats, which is licensed to ply for hire at designated taxi ranks or be hailed in the street by the public. Private hire vehicles must have no more than 8 passenger seats available, but they must be hired in advance by the public through a licensed private hire operator.
The Authority currently licences 187 taxis and approximately 450 private hire vehicles as well as 39 private hire operators. It also licences approximately 300 taxi drivers and 660 private hire drivers.
In 2013 the Authority adopted a policy document which sets out how the trades will be regulated in Preston and a commitment to promote the following objectives:
• Protection of the public.
• Establishment of professional and respected taxi and private hire trades.
• Access to an efficient and effective public transport service; and
• Protection of the environment.
The Policy was amended twice in 2019 when the licence period for taxi and private hire drivers was changed from one to three years and the licence period for private hire operators changed from three to five years and the Authority decided to publish and maintain a list of designated wheelchair accessible taxi and private hire vehicles for the purposes of section 167 of the Equality Act 2010.