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...ROUND THE COUNCILS


ISLE OF WIGHT: RANK DISRUPTION CAUSES ANGER


Taxi companies operating in Newport are up in arms as they are being forced to give up their ranks in South Street for six months, but claim they were only given one weeks’ notice. The Island Echo reports that works to widen St George’s Way over the next 24 weeks means a one-way system will be in operation around Newport resulting, in some road closures. According to Amar Exclusive Taxis, Island Roads and the Isle of Wight Council have failed to consult with the trade about the changes, having only been informed on 2nd March, for works beginning the following week. A temporary rank in St James Street, will result in the loss of a number of spaces and taxi drivers highlight safety concerns due to the narrow street and the fact the rank is to be situated on a corner. They also say that the narrow pave- ment will make it hard to safely side load passengers.


NORTH NORFOLK: NEW KNOWLEDGE AND SAFEGUARDING TESTS


Taxi drivers will soon have to undertake a safeguarding and knowledge test by North Norfolk District Council. According to the Eastern Daily Press, the council is introduc- ing a new version of its Taxi Handbook, which guides the requirements for hackney carriages and private hire vehicles and their drivers across the district. One key update is that cabbies will have to agree to undertake a safeguarding and knowledge test to ensure the safety of both the public and themselves. The revised Taxi Handbook was approved unanimously at a full council meeting on February 24, and came into effect from 1 April. The update was made in consultation with the North Norfolk Taxi Association, which represents more than 50 per cent of all taxi drivers in the district.


TORBAY: TOUGHER LICENSING REGIMES


Taxis and PHVs in Torbay are to be governed by new tougher rules on background checks and criminal behaviour. DevonLive reports that Torbay Council has updated its Taxi Policy to meet new legal standards introduced by the DfT. The updated policy was approved by the council’s licensing committee. A report to a meeting of the committee on Thursday 11 March said the new approach on criminal


APRIL 2021


convictions followed Government changes “aimed at tough- ening up the licensing regime in relation to drivers, vehicle proprietors and operators convictions, as well as taking into account any cautions, warnings, reprimands, endorsable fixed penalties and any other relevant information.” All owners and operators must now have an annual DBS check, and drivers now have DBS checks every six months, as well as six-monthly licence checks. Taxi operators must carry out and maintain records showing that they have carried out a DBS check on any staff involved with booking or dispatching vehicles for their company. All drivers are expected to attend a CSE awareness course within six months of receiving a licence, and that will be brought in as a requirement from May 2, 2022. From the same date, they will have to undertake disability and demen- tia training before being licensed. The committee also approved a move towards bringing in zero emission vehicles. Councillors decided to add the condition for vehicles used with reissued HC licences. Councillors heard that two licences from a total of 169 had been surrendered and could be reallocated. They agreed to add the zero emission requirement and a waiting list process to the policy. Councillors decided to keep the number of hackney carriage licences in Torbay at a total of 169, con- verting six seasonal licences to full-time. That was in line with recommendations following a survey of demand in the sector carried out in 2020 between lockdown restrictions.


TELFORD AND WREKIN: TOUGHER RULES BROUGHT IN FOR CABBIES


Taxi and private hire drivers in Telford will face more regular criminal record checks and have to declare new offences sooner under updated council rules. According to the Shropshire Star, Telford & Wrekin’s licens- ing committee approved an updated policy requiring drivers and operators to inform the council of arrests, charges, convictions or fixed penalties within 48 hours, replacing previous rules which gave them a week. The new measures, coming into force in April, also call for annual DBS checks for taxi and private hire operators and six-monthly checks for drivers. Previous rules only required them every three years. Deputy council leader Richard Overton told the committee the updated policy was based on new DfT standards. The new policy has also added “immigration penalties or offences” to the list of reasons for barring a licence applica- tion or revoking an existing one. Officers have told councillors they would like the govern- ment to impose national standards. Cllr Overton said: “Although we continue to lobby around cross-border hiring, the government hasn’t made any changes at present.”


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