Stevenage Borough Council (SBO) has launched an information campaign to make people aware of the benefits of choosing local licensed taxis.
The campaign, which features on posters in local pubs, clubs and other facilities that attract high taxi usage, centres on the safety of some vehicles and drivers operating within Stevenage that are not locally-licensed.
All of the drivers and vehicles licensed by Stevenage Borough Council are regularly checked to make sure they are safe and legally compliant.
The council said it carries out extensive checks including criminal and medical checks to ensure that drivers are fit to be licensed, and all Stevenage licensed vehicles are regularly tested to ensure that they are safe and roadworthy.
Stevenage Borough Council Licensing is responsible for taxi licensing in the town but does not have authority over drivers or vehicles operating in Stevenage but licensed elsewhere.
Although taxi operators from outside the district may not be doing anything illegal, they are beyond SBC’s control and passengers cannot ensure companies outside of the district undertake driver and vehicle checks to the same standards that Stevenage do.
The council is urging taxi users to take Stevenage licensed taxis instead of out of town cars which they cannot regulate.
To better inform passengers of the choices available to them the council has created some guidelines for customers: 'To get home safely you should always ensure that you are using a licensed vehicle with a licensed driver.
'There are two types of licensed taxis, Private Hire and Hackney Carriage. The difference is as follows...
'A Private Hire vehicle is sometimes also referred to as a "minicab" and some private hire vehicles are used for chauffeur or executive hire purposes.
'Private Hire vehicles cannot be hailed on the street or approached by foot on a taxi rank. They must be pre-booked through an operating company only.
'Stevenage licensed Private Hire vehicles display a green plate on the rear of the vehicle showing the Stevenage Borough Council logo, their licence number and the expiry date and green door signs on each side of the vehicle.
'Uber and other companies operate Private Hire Licensed vehicles and journeys should only be booked through their operators.
'A Hackney Carriage or taxi can be hailed on the street or approached by foot at a taxi rank.
'The drivers, vehicles and company running them are required by law to be licensed to ensure public safety.
'Stevenage licensed Hackney Carriage vehicles display a yellow plate on the rear of the vehicle showing their licence number and the expiry date and the Stevenage Borough Council logo.
'Stevenage Hackney Carriage vehicles are also required to display a taxi sign on the roof of the vehicle.
'All taxi drivers licensed by Stevenage Borough Council, whether they are Hackney Carriage or Private Hire will display clearly visible badges that include their photograph, name, licence number and expiry date.
'These badges are yellow and green and must be produced on request by any customer, officer of the council or police officer.
'Beware of touts who ply for business late at night around local clubs and pubs. All will claim to offer the very best price and to look after you personally. They won’t.
'Some will not be properly licensed, may not have the correct insurance or will just rip you off with an inflated fare.
'As you are being lured into what is effectively a stranger’s car, there is also the risk of being mugged or attacked.
'Only use licensed taxis, and if you are unsure avoid using them.
'Book your taxi online, by phone, or in a mini-cab office, never through someone who approaches you on the street. Ask for the name of your driver when you book it too.'
Image credit: Pixabay