Proposed policy changes for taxi licensing policy
See the changes we are recommending for the taxi licensing policy and find out how to give your comments via our online survey.
How to have your say
The consultation has now closed. Responses will be considered by the Licensing Committee.
Read theand find out about the proposed changes below.
Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Drivers
We recommend the following:
- drivers must sign up to the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) update service. They must have a 6 monthly record check for any new conviction or other information. This is to improve public safety and confidence.
- drivers must 'self-report' any arrest, charges or conviction within 48 hours. The notification is currently within 7 days. We propose to include these measures in the policy changes.
- we have a code of conduct setting out expected standards. This would help improve standards and the service's professional image. This would help us be more transparent if we take action against a driver who falls short of the standards.
- introducing a dress code to improve standards and the service's professional image.
CCTV in licensed vehicles
All vehicles should be fitted with CCTV systems. Councils that have introduced this found it is positive for passengers and drivers.
Please note, in most circumstances, a licensing authority which requires CCTV systems in taxis and private hire vehicles (PHVs) will be responsible for the data.
Licensed vehicle age/emissions
We think it is too soon to recommend removing diesel vehicles or moving to a hybrid or electric fleet. This is due to the cost of vehicles and lack of charging points. We are suggesting a two stage policy:
- vehicles licensed for the first time from 1 April 2021 (or the date when the policy becomes effective) must meet or exceed Euro 6 emission standards.
- all renewal applications from 1 January 2025 must meet or exceed Euro 6 emission standards
- from 1 January 2030 we will only licence hackney carriage and private hire vehicles that are Ultra Low Emission Vehicles (ULEV). This includes new licences and renewals.
'Fit and proper' test for vehicle proprietors
Licensed vehicles are sometimes inspected and found to be in a defective or dangerous condition. We are recommending that action be taken against proprietors who do not maintain their vehicles to a satisfactory standard.
As a licensed vehicle is sometimes a cover for illegal activity, such as moving vulnerable persons and contraband, we recommend introducing a DBS check for proprietors and previous convictions policy.
Private Hire Operators
'Fit and proper' test for vehicle proprietors
We recommend the introduction of new standards for operators, reflecting:
- the important data protection role they will have
- the role in managing their fleet
- that our licensed operators should predominantly use vehicles and drivers licensed by us.
Each operator licence can be linked to one trading name. The exceptions to this are where all trading names clearly relate to the same business. Any operator's mobile app, website or advertising should clearly give the registered operator name in any links. Guildford Borough Council licence details must be clearly shown on the app, website or advert.
If more than one licence is held to include different trading names, the records and contact details for each trading name must be kept separate. Any receipts or customer correspondence must clearly relate to the company the booking was made with.
If an operator sub-contracts the booking, they should tell the customer and fix the price. This applies whether sub contracting a private hire operator or a hackney carriage vehicle.
If operators are using a hackney, they must not charge more than the hackney's metered rate if the journey starts and ends in the relevant district. Operators must keep a record of the sub-contracting and when the customer was told.
Operators must regularly vet all the staff they employ. A record should be kept for each employee. Vetting must include ensuring the staff are fit and proper persons with the right to live and work in the UK.
The operator shall have procedures in place to make sure that:
- all drivers and vehicles have the required licences
- all drivers and vehicles meet the conditions of the licences.
This should include a record of the regular checks done by the operator showing compliance on each licence.
The operator shall have procedures in place to ensure that no bookings are passed to a driver or vehicle without a valid licence, MOT or insurance.
The wording of licence conditions will be improved to make sure that the information a licensed operator must hold should be made available to an authorised officer.
Pick up and drop off locations
The operator shall have safe pick up and drop off procedures in place for customers. This is important in the town centre. Officers often see drivers waiting for, or picking up/dropping off customers in dangerous or illegal locations. These procedures must be reviewed and changed at the request of an authorised officer.
We recommend that private hire vehicles do not have taxi meters.
Vehicles may still use a mobile/PDA device which records the journey and generates a fare based on time and distance.
Operators may still use the hackney carriage fare tariff rates as their own tariff.
If taxi meters are removed from private hire vehicles, customers are more likely to receive a more reliable quote for journeys. Workload for officers would be reduced.
Our current policy allows some vehicles to be 'plate exempt'. This means they do not have to display the mandatory vehicle licence plates or door signage.
Not displaying the plate means it is not clear the vehicle is licensed. The plate exemption should be used only in exceptional cases. This might be where the safety of the customer may be compromised by being seen in a licensed vehicle. We are tightening our policy with a more transparent approach to improve decision making.