Cross border taxi and private hire hiring is currently one of the ‘largest issues surrounding licensing’ at Wakefield Council according to its latest licensing policy draft.
The policy goes on to say that the licensing authority will continue to lobby the Government in a bid to prioritise the issue and apply national minimum standards to licensed drivers.
Cross border hiring is a common term used 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.
In the latest Wakefield Council Licensing Policy draft presented, it states: “The issue of cross-border hiring is currently one of the largest issues surrounding licensing that the Council has.
“This policy sets a high standard for those who are licensed by this authority, and aims to implement a fair but robust process.
“However, if an application is refused by this Council, any other authority in the country may license a driver, based on the same information, but assessed against a less robust or differing criteria. Once this driver is granted a license, he/she will then be able to lawfully operate across Wakefield and potentially in other areas of the country, despite being refused a license by this authority.
“The Council believe that this poses a significant risk to this policy, and undermines the licensing objectives that this authority has set. This national issue poses risks to the protection of the public, the safeguarding of children and the vulnerable, the prevention of crime and disorder, and the safety and health of the public.
“The Council recognises its responsibility and will use all opportunities to protect the public, particularly children and the vulnerable, against this issue. The Council will continue to lobby Government to prioritise this issue and apply national minimum standards to licensed drivers.
“The Council will continue to work in partnership with the locally licensed trade, its neighbouring authorities, West Yorkshire Police, local businesses and local people towards the promotion of the aims and objectives of this policy.”