Stoke-on-Trent Council have launched a consultation which could see a number of changes implemented to taxi and private hire licensing regulations, including a twelve year age limit on all vehicles.
Earlier this month, the licensing and general purposes committee agreed to consult on some new changes to the taxi policy.
Below is a list of all possible changes including current policies and reasons for the proposals.
Proposed changes for all drivers
Current policy: Must have attended the safeguarding training.
Proposed policy: Must attend safeguarding training every three years.
Reason for proposed change: Safeguarding training should be regularly refreshed so it is fresh in driver’s minds, every three years syncs with the requirement for school contracts.
Current policy: Must produce an enhanced DBS on application and renewal.
Proposed policy: Must sign up for the DBS update service.
Reason for proposed change: Currently drivers are unable to renew without a current DBS, subscribing to the update system means they can renew immediately and their record can be checked for any changes.
Current Policy: All new drivers must have gained the Btec taxi driver qualification.
Proposed Policy: All new drivers must attend the taxi and private hire driver training course – comprising of safeguarding, disability discrimination awareness, customer service, English comprehension and conditions.
Reason for proposed change: Feedback from drivers and operators is that prospective drivers are struggling with the cost and length of the Btec qualification. Some providers have stopped offering it. Providing the training in house enables us to focus on local issues, such as plying for hire.
Current policy: Drivers must adhere to drivers' licence conditions.
Proposed policy: Drivers conditions have been replaced with a drivers code of conduct.
Reason for proposed change: Legally it is recommended that we have a code of conduct instead of conditions.
Current policy: Drivers are currently dealt with in line with Appendix K, enforcement procedures.
Proposed policy: This has now been expanded to include adoption of the Institute of Licensing’s guidance to determining the suitability of applicants and licensees in the hackney carriage and private hire trades
Proposed changes for affecting all licensed vehicles
Current policy: Must be under seven years of age when first licensed and must be tested every six months once they reach 10 years
Proposed policy: No lower age limit, but upper age limit of 12 years
Reason for proposed change: We removed the upper age limit in 2016, since then the age of our fleet has increased with a 18 year old vehicle currently licensed. An upper limit will ensure that vehicles are newer with lower emissions.
Proposed changes for hackney carriage vehicles
Current policy: Vehicle must be whole vehicle type approval category M1 ‘purpose built’ side loading only.
Proposed policy: Vehicles must meet one of the vehicle type approvals and can be rear loading.
Reason for proposed change: We receive complaints about the larger wheelchair accessible vehicles form the trade and customers. Licensing smaller vehicles will enable more choice, better economic value and assist with air quality.
The consultation will run until 29 May and can be found on the council's website.
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