Updated: Jun 19
Durham County Council's General Licensing and Registration Committee has proposed new licensing laws that would allow new taxi drivers to operate without having to prove their knowledge of the local area.
The new measures, which are set to be approved at full council later this year, would remove the requirement for hackney carriage and private hire driver licence applicants to take a locality test as part of the application process.
According to the council, the decision has been driven by the use of sat navs and smartphones, which have assisted drivers to navigate and find their way around. While critics say the move will lead to a decline in service, the council has stressed that all applicants will still be properly vetted before licences are granted.
The proposed changes are the first major overhaul of the council's taxi licensing policy since 2018, and reflects the growing use of technology in the industry.
According to a report, the General Licensing & Registration Committee (GLRC) said: “Further discussion and debate took place regarding the knowledge and locality tests in relation to hackney carriage drivers.
“Recognising the differences in the way in which hackney carriages and private hire vehicles can operate, Members had previously agreed to remove this application requirement but only for private hire driver licences. As private hire vehicles must be prebooked through an operator this would allow the driver more time in which to plan the route in advance.
“Hackney carriage vehicles may operate from taxi ranks or stands and can pick people up from the street without being pre-booked.
“Recognising the wider use of satellite navigation units in taxis following advancements in technology over recent years, a recommendation to remove the requirement for hackney carriage driver licence applicants to have to sit a locality test as part of the application process was moved, seconded and agreed following a vote.”