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‘CROSS BORDER’ HIRING: The challenges taxi and PHV authorities face detailed in new handbook

Updated: Aug 1, 2021


The premise of taxi and Private Hire Vehicle (PHV) ‘cross border’ hiring and the challenges Local Authorities face on the topic has been detailed in a new handbook for councillors.


The new handbook called ‘Councillor Handbook: Taxi and PHV Licensing’ aims to help councillors understand more of the key issues concerning taxi and Private Hire Vehicle (PHV) licensing.

In areas of complex regulation the handbook provides readers with a starting point explaining some of the difficulties that can arise when it comes to licensing. Whilst the handbook is primary produced for Councillors, it does provide good insight for anyone working in the industry to better understand why licensing authorities make the decisions they do.

One of the most contentious topics within the taxi and PHV industry remains the managing of cross border hiring.


Here the Local Government Association (LGA) not only describes the premise of cross border, but also explains some of the challenges they face. The handbook even goes as far to say issues will not be resolved until the Government brings in changes to legislation and give councils powers to enforce against drivers and vehicles operating in their areas.

The handbook states: “Cross border hiring is a term to describe when a taxi is lawfully used for PHV purposes in a district outside which it has been licensed to operate. This is a problem in many areas because there are disparities in conditions on licences; a prospective driver in one council district may apply to be licensed as a driver in another district because there are lower standards in driver testing, cheaper licence fees or less rigorous/fewer pre-licence checks. The term ‘cross border’ is also used when a PHV in one district picks up a passenger from another district. This is legal, provided either that the driver, vehicle, and operator are all licensed by the first district; or that the operator sub-contracts the booking to an operator licensed in another council area. This practice has become increasingly commonplace with the growth of app-based operator models.


“This is also problematic, because when a taxi is being driven for PHV purposes in another district, the local council has no powers to intervene if the driver contravenes any condition of the licence or provides a poor service to the passenger; all that can be done is to write to the authority that issued the licence, where this is known. This practice is also unfair on the trade in the local area, as they may face competition from drivers who may have paid cheaper licence fees or undergone less rigorous checks elsewhere. These safeguards are rarely visible to consumers, who therefore cannot make an informed decision to use the more heavily checked and therefore safer, albeit more expensive, option.


“Ultimately this issue will not be resolved until the Government brings in changes to legislation and give councils powers to enforce against drivers and vehicles operating in their areas. However, as a councillor you have an important role to play to ensure that your local authority is not having a detrimental impact on other authorities and their communities.


“Importantly, you should be asking your taxi and PHV licensing service whether they have a high enough standard of conditions (see councillor checklist) and ensure that the council has reviewed its polices in line with the DfT’s statutory standards.

“One option that is available to support enforcement action against licensees from outside their area is joint authorisation of officers from other authorities. This allows councils to authorise officers from other councils to use enforcement powers on their behalf and subsequently allows those councils to then take action against vehicles which are licensed by the other authority when they cross over council boundaries.

“This practice has been recommended in the statutory standards.”

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