Anger from taxi groups as Minister says “More time should be taken” over Welsh taxi law reform propo

Officials have announced this week that “more time should be taken” to finalise new Welsh taxi law reform proposals.

Stephen McCaffrey, a regulatory defence barrister specialising in taxi and private hire, reported that a recent consultation shows a resounding ‘no’ for the proposal to consolidate taxi licensing under a single authority.

The Welsh Government consulted, amongst other matters, on its preferred proposal ‘to redirect all of the existing taxi and private hire vehicle (PHV) licensing functions away from local authorities and into a national licensing authority’. A resounding 83% of respondents said no.

According to the response report: ‘Most responses from local authorities disagreed with this proposal. They commented that further clarification is a required on how the JTA would work and felt that insufficient research had been undertaken. Many also commented that such a proposal would mean the potential loss of local knowledge.

‘Responses from taxi operators including the Cardiff Hackney Alliance also disagreed with this proposal and commented that local knowledge is important and centralised administration could cause unnecessary delays. However, there was some support for the proposal from the industry.’

Other proposals included:

  • 99% support for the introduction of national standards which will apply to all taxis and PHVs in Wales

  • 96% support for the proposal that a local authority be able to revoke or suspend a licence relating to any vehicle operating in its area, even if it did not issue the original licence

  • 99% agreement with the proposal to create a database or make other arrangements for relevant safeguarding information to be shared.

The report’s publication comes in the same week in which the Welsh Assembly confirmed that there will be a delay until the next Assembly elections in 2021.

The First Minister, Mark Drakeford said in a statement on the Legislative Programme: "The White Paper also sought people’s views about a series of proposals to modernise the licensing system for taxis and private hire vehicles to respond to this rapidly changing market.

“Aspects of those proposals received clear support, but they also produced ideas, from the industry, from trade unions, from local authorities, to go further in addressing the challenges faced by the industry. These further ideas, coupled with developments at a UK level, have led us to conclude that more time should be taken to finalise our approach to taxis and private hire vehicles..." Commenting on the news driver representative group Taxi Drivers of Cardiff said via Facebook: “We'd go further than say I'm disappointed, we're annoyed that the Welsh Government have neither the bottle, the backbone whatever you want to call it to take the difficult decisions and make them their own, show foresight so the rest of can see what trailblazers we are in Wales... instead let's just wait and see what they do in England... I dont know why, but I expected better!”

Image: Wiki Commons (CC0)

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