Taxis and private hire vehicles: the road to reform - Transport Committee Contents

3  Solving the cross-border hire problems

29. We have concluded that taxis and PHVs should continue to be licensed at a local level, although with national standards relating to matters directly affecting public safety. In addition, local authorities should integrate planning on taxi and PHV issues—such as where to site ranks and whether or not to restrict the numbers of licences issued—into their local transport planning. In this context it is likely to be undesirable for cars or drivers licensed in one district to operate principally in another area. This could undermine local transport plans and be problematic for users if, for example, cars principally designed for rural or long-distance travel were mostly undertaking urban journeys. This is not to suggest that taxis and PHVs must stay exclusively within their licensing districts: consumers often request cross-border journeys and no witness suggested that they should be prohibited.[67] However, local authorities which wish to prevent taxis and PHVs from other districts operating predominantly in their areas should have the option of doing so.

30. We recommend that it should be permissible for taxi and PHV licences to include a condition that the vehicle must principally be operated in the licensing district. A similar provision should also be permitted in relation to driver licences. This would enable licensing authorities to take action against drivers or operators who principally operate out-of-town. In addition, new legislation should permit local authorities to issue fixed penalty notices to out-of-town drivers where there is evidence, for example, that they have worked, or sought to work, for a specified period of time in that district. Local authorities should also be enabled to prosecute operators in other districts which are routinely sending cars to work in their area.

31. Local authorities have different views on the seriousness of cross-border hire issues. We expect that some will decide not to use these powers or will take a light touch approach to enforcement. In some areas, however, it is clear that local authorities are strongly of the view that local control of taxis and PHVs is essential and the powers we have suggested are likely to be welcomed. If these powers are introduced as we suggest they should be accompanied by guidance from the Department about their use. In our view it is essential that local authorities justify their approach to the use of these controls in local transport plans, alert drivers and operators in neighbouring districts to their intention to use such powers; and provide adequate warnings to drivers and operators before issuing fixed penalty notices or initiating prosecutions.

67   For example Qq 21, 131 and Ev 81 paragraph 2.4. Back

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Prepared 19 July 2011