Welsh Government have today announced the launch of the ‘Guide to Harmonisation of Taxi and Private Hire Vehicle Licensing in Wales’.
Whilst the Welsh Government admit that new taxi licensing legislation is needed to address bigger issues within the taxi and Private Hire Vehicle (PHV) industry, it is hoped that the Guide published today will begin to build solutions to some of the problems and provide a number of ‘quick fixes’.
Some of the problems include safety concerns for both drivers and passengers, inconsistent licensing standards across local authorities, issues with cross border hire, inconsistent customer service, and public confusion around vehicle types and fare structures.
The new Guide will aim to encourage a more ‘aligned approach’ to taxi and PHV licensing across Wales with an emphasis on:
Improving public safety
Providing more consistent licensing standards across Wales
Facilitating effective enforcement
Improving customer service
Improving customer accessibility.
Ken Skates, Minister for Economy, Transport and North Wales, said in a cabinet statement: “We have today published taxi and private hire vehicle (PHV) licensing guidance for local authorities. A ‘Guide to Harmonisation of Taxi and Private Hire Vehicle Licensing in Wales’, has been produced jointly between the Welsh Government, the Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) and representatives of local authorities across Wales via Public Protection Board Wales.
“We recognise that taxi and Private Hire Vehicles (PHVs) are a vital form of public transport. They deliver a practical, direct transport solution and provide an essential service to people living in rural communities where other forms of public transport may be insufficient; to the night-time economy - supporting many of our hospitality businesses and to passengers with disabilities, as well as playing an important role in facilitating social inclusion.
“The current Taxi and PHV licensing legislation is outdated with the main framework dating back to 1847 and 1976. This framework has resulted in inconsistent policies, standards and licence conditions across local authorities in England and Wales. Taxi and PHV regulation is a devolved matter under the Wales Act 2017.
“There are a number of problems associated with the current licensing legislation, which include safety concerns for both drivers and passengers, inconsistent licensing standards across local authorities, which contribute to problems of cross border hire, inconsistent customer service and public confusion around vehicle types and fare structures.”
Skates added: “Proposed recommendations within the Guide include standardised licence conditions and local authority collaboration on cross-border enforcement.
“The development of the Guide took into consideration that further legislative change would be needed to fully address the challenges associated with the existing licensing regime. Although this Guide offers a number of improvements to the current licensing standards across Wales, there is limit to the measures that could be included due to the vast differences in the licensing policies across Wales. The effectiveness of the Guide is also dependent on widespread adoption of the recommendations, without amendment, by local authorities across Wales, in order to achieve the consistent approach.
“Work has already begun on developing taxi and PHV licensing legislative proposals, which are focused around four key areas: safety, equality, environmental standards and the customer experience. We will create national licensing standards for drivers, vehicles and operators, with an emphasis on maximising public safety and professionalising the industry. The Guide is a stepping stone towards national licensing standards and professionalisation of the industry.
“We thank the WLGA and local authorities for their valuable contribution to the Guide. We will continue to work together closely to monitor adoption of the recommendations within the Guide and to continuously improve the approach to taxi and PHV licensing across Wales.”