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Council's decision to place responsibility on minicab drivers for vehicle signage criticised by ADCU

Updated: Feb 13, 2022

Image credit :ADCU

The App Drivers and Couriers Union (ADCU) has hit out at the decision by Milton Keynes Council to shift the responsibility for private hire vehicles to display signage from the operators to the drivers themselves.

A spokesperson for the ADCU says that the move comes after the Council "admitted in its report that licensed private hire operators had often failed to provide the required signage to identify the operator under the current rules".

They added: "The council has failed abysmally to enforce the law against licensed operators and rather than do so they’ve decided to abandon the existing rules altogether and shift the burden to minicab drivers instead. Now minicab drivers will be required to pay for a supply of the new Milton Keynes council branded signs and will be prosecuted if they are not displayed."

The ADCU believes that the new signage policy, which purports to protect the travelling public, will have exactly the opposite effect.

They say this is because signage like that proposed by the council has been found to be confusing to passengers who are likely to think the vehicle is a hackney carriage vehicle which can be hailed or booked immediately on the street whereas private hire vehicles must be booked in advance otherwise the journey is uninsured and illegal.

As a result, private hire drivers could be more likely to be approached by passengers demanding instant travel or booking. Late at night this can cause danger for the driver who must refuse travel to anyone who attempts to make an instant booking in this way.

The ADCU has stressed that the new signs undermine the clear two-tier distinction between the taxi and private hire markets which operate under different legislation and regulation. Taxis can be hailed for instant hire whereas private hire vehicles must be pre booked in advance. The signage could risk blurring the lines between the two in the eyes of the consumer.

A spokesperson continued: "It is for these reasons that such signage is strictly banned by Transport for London, the nation’s largest licensing authority.

"The licensing committee of Milton Keynes council has come to the complete opposite conclusion to Transport for London and claim to know better than the professional driver community in Milton Keynes and one of the largest private hire vehicle licensing authorities in the world."

The ADCU believes the new rules also weaken potential worker rights claims by removing the requirement to display the operator employer signage in lieu of council signage.

The requirement for display of signage, brands and uniforms are often a key test in determining an employment relationship. The ADCU says the council’s "refusal to enforce existing rules" on signage while transferring the cost and burden to workers is fundamentally unfair and a betrayal, claiming that the Council is "bending over backwards to serve the interests of off-shore profiteers like Uber and Bolt, while punishing tax paying residents trying to make a living working in the industry on the heel of a pandemic".

Yaseen Aslam, President of the App Drivers & Couriers Union and lead claimant in Aslam v Uber, said: “The Milton Keynes Council licensing committee has made a grave error with this decision which places passengers and drivers at risk while letting fat cat bosses off the hook.

"Passengers are more likely to approach private hire vehicles without a proper booking as a result of this intervention when the opposite should be the objective. Once again the council has transferred more risk and cost from off shore operators and placed the burden on local working drivers who often earn less than the national minimum wage.

"Meanwhile, the council has licensed operators who insist they are not a party to a contract for travel they insist only exists between the driver and passenger. This arrangement is a clear violation of the laws the council has a duty to enforce and represents an unacceptable risk to passengers. I sincerely hope the council over rules the licensing committee when this matter comes before them in due course.”


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