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Taxi driver improvement courses and dress code: New regulations begin for cabbies in Sunderland

New rules and regulations for the Sunderland’s Hackney Carriage and private hire trade have begun.

The City Council oversees and licenses the trade and the new regulations are said to be in line with national and statutory standards issued by the Department for Transport (DfT).

There are 557 Hackney Carriage drivers in Sunderland and 489 private hire drivers.

Councillor Jill Fletcher chairs the council's Licensing and Regulatory Committee that regulates the trade and the first statement of Private Hire and Hackney Carriage Licensing Policy is now approved.

Cllr Fletcher said: "We are working towards a more dynamic, healthy and vibrant Sunderland and our drivers and companies have a role in this too.

"We all recognise and appreciate the valuable role those who work in the trade play in transporting the people of Sunderland and our many visitors, especially during these difficult times.”

The policy sets down eight major objectives. Following the consultation with companies, drivers, residents, Northumbria Police and others, from 1 January 2023 key points in the licensing policy will include:

  • A new Convictions Policy and Assessment of Previous Convictions document relating to the licensing of drivers

  • A new Code of Conduct for licensed drivers and the responsibilities they have towards passengers and residents. It also includes a new 48 hour self-reporting period for any matters, such as alleged offences, convictions, cautions and fixed penalty notices that could have a bearing on a licence, and a new dress code

  • A new Driver Improvement Scheme - existing licensed drivers who accrue more than 6 penalty points and up to 9 penalty points for minor driving offences within a 3-year period will be requested to complete a driver improvement course

  • Changes to the specifications of tinted windows in licensed vehicles. These provisions went live this month and only manufactured body tinted glass will be permitted to be used

  • Private hire operators to assess the suitability of their booking and dispatch staff.

The council has also outlined that as Sunderland becomes a more low-carbon city it aims to only issue vehicle licences to ultra-low, or zero emission vehicles by 2030.

John Gettins, of City Taxis and Chairman of the Sunderland Private Hire Association, said: "We know how we always have to move forward and keep up with changing times.

"This includes how the City Council and councils across the country that regulate the private hire trade must follow and update guidelines and legislation that come from the Department for Transport."

Trevor Hines, Managing Director of Station Taxis (Sunderland) and Regional Secretary, of the National Taxi Association (North East & Cumbria), said: "There are some key points within the new Licensing Policy that the trade has been requesting for several years, such as local authorities sharing information through a National Register of Taxi Licence Refusals and Revocations.

"The safety of children and vulnerable adults is of paramount importance, and a central licensing database should hopefully stop drivers who have been refused a licence or had their licence revoked by one local authority moving to another area to work."

Paula Hough, General Manager of City Taxis, said: "It's great to see active and positive steps coming from licensing at the local authority. The private hire and Hackney Carriage industry are facing enormous pressures at the minute and it's good to see the City Council making efforts to help the industry."


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