Oldham Council say drop taxi age limit to 10 years after report revealed 41% failed condition checks

Members of Oldham's licensing committee have said the option of reducing the maximum age limit of vehicles used by the taxi industry should be reduced from 12 years to 10, after figures revealed 41% of taxis failed condition checks.

Council members criticised local taxi drivers, saying some of them are putting ‘people at risk’ by driving such vehicles.

An annual licensing report, made available for public viewing, showed that since April 2019, 1,044 taxis – 41pc – had failed a vehicle test at the council’s testing station at Moorhey Street.

Reasons for failure included issues with suspension, rear lights, tyre condition and lack of fire extinguishers.

Councillor Graham Shuttleworth told the panel during a licensing committee held virtually on 2 June and published for public viewing on YouTube, he was ‘seriously concerned’ about the condition of some of the vehicles on the road.

Shuttleworth said: “When people are getting into them and vehicles have been used to ferry people and suspension is faulty – these people are at risk, let’s make no bones about it.

“A broken rear lamp isn’t a danger to them, although it’s not appropriate but when suspension on a vehicle is a reason for failure I think we have to look at it quite seriously.”

Shuttleworth continued to stress that the council had worked with the taxi trade to increase the maximum age of vehicles, but only on the basis that conditions would improve, but he went on to say that instead they had deteriorated.

He added: “We need to stop finger wagging with the trade and get firmer with them because I just think this whole situation is totally unacceptable.

“We either need to reduce the age of the vehicle, we need to deal with the drivers, or we need to get those vehicles off the road permanently.”

Also speaking on the findings, Councillor Chris Gloster said: “If we go back two years ago there was quite a hoohah about this extension to 12 years and we said we’d look at it and if there was no improvement we’d again look at what we were doing previously.

“Well quite clearly it’s evidence that there is no change or it’s got worse so therefore we need to revert back to what we did previously.”

Trading standards and licensing manager John Garforth told the panel that a 59pc rate of 2,500 tests was both ‘disappointing and concerning’.

“Some drivers are clearly bringing vehicles unprepared and are using the mechanical test as a way of identifying faults on vehicles,” he said.

“We extended the age of the vehicle that was permitted from ten years to 12 years because we had reassurances from the trade that there would be improvements in the quality and maintenance of those vehicles.

“And quite rightly as members have indicated, that isn’t happening in a lot of cases and we now stand at 59pc pass rate where it has been in the high sixties previously.”

The meeting heard that vehicles in Oldham that are over ten years old are currently tested three times a year, and generally pass upon re-test.

Mr Garforth added that when a decision is made on the Greater Manchester-wide common licensing policies early next year, the age of vehicles across all boroughs would be fixed at ten years old.

The panel concluded that they would gather more information about the condition failures and present them to the trade, with a view to trying to reduce the numbers.

Image credit: Pixabay

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