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OADBY AND WIGSTON:


ROUND THE COUNCILS... GLOUCESTERSHIRE:


CABBIES ‘MUST SPEAK AND WRITE ENGLISH’


Changes to the rules for taxi and PH drivers in Oadby and Wigston borough mean that they must be able to speak and write in English. According to the Leicester Mercury, the new policy came into effect on 1 April, as the council responded to fresh government guidlines. New drivers, and existing drivers renewing their licence, will have to provide proof of their proficiency in English, where English is not their first language. The new policy “requires evidence of an English test up to level 2.” There are other new inclusions including training in recognising “County Lines” criminals. However, the council has decided not to introduce mandatory CCTV cameras inside taxis. The maximum age of vehicles on a first licence application will be lowered from five to four years, although that will not be brought in until April 2022. The maximum vehicle age at the point of an annual licence renewal will be ten years in 2022 and reduce each year, reaching just six years in 2026. Ultra-low emission vehicles will be exempt from the policy. The changes, agreed in March, were finalised after consulta- tion with the borough’s taxi and PH drivers, which resulted in 293 responses, said the authority. The council did not give any information about the contents of the drivers’ responses, but said: “The council has assessed the comments and amended the policy and put measures in place to allow the taxi industry to take appropriate action.”


EAST SUFFOLK: PLANS TO UNIFY FARES TO BE SCRAPPED


Plans to unify hackney carriage fares across the Waveney and Suffolk Coastal areas of East Suffolk look set to be shelved next week after drivers requested the two separate tariff structures remain. The Lowestoft Jornal reports that East Suffolk Council opted to launch a consultation following a licensing meeting last year after councillors suggested the fares should be brought together across the old Waveney and Suffolk Coastal district council areas - the two predecessor authorities for East Suffolk Council. However, consultation responses published in a report set to go before the authority’s licensing committee next week has found the trade is in favour of keeping tariffs separate. The committee was recommended to approve keeping separate structures at its meeting on Monday 19 April.


24 COMMON STANDARDS FOR LICENSING


A joint consultation between licensing authorities across Gloucestershire has been launched to decide on common licensing standards. Currently there are six different taxi and PH licensing policies with each licensing authority setting its own local standards. Having one ‘common standard’ would mean the same high licensing standards would apply anywhere in the county - based on national guidance and best practice to promote public safety and protection - and would reduce unneces- sary administation for businesses operating across district boundaries. The proposed common licensing standards have been devel- oped with support from South Gloucestershire Council. Councils involved in the consultation include: Cheltenham Borough Council, Cotswold District Council, Forest of Dean District Council, Gloucester City Council, Stroud District Council and Tewkesbury Borough Council. Consultation opens 13 April 2021 and will be open for 12 weeks to 6 June 2021. For more information, including on how to respond, visit www.cheltenham.gov.uk/info/21/consultations/944/ licensing_consultations


POWYS: FEES FROZEN AFTER DRIVERS LEAVE TRADE


Taxi licence fees in Powys will be frozen this financial year because of the impact of coronavirus. According to the County Times, at a meeting of Powys County Council’s taxi licensing committee, councillors unanimously backed a recommendation to keep the fees for the current financial year the same as in 2020/21. Senior taxi licensing officer Sue Jones explained that the department had needed to adapt its practises because of the pandemic. She said that many taxi drivers have either left the business or are waiting for better times before renewing their licences. As of January 1, there were 247 licences for PHVs in Powys – 17 fewer than in October 2019. Similarly the number of HCs on January 1 was 117 compared to 164 on October 1, 2019. Ms Jones said: “Obviously 12 months ago everything changed and we had to significantly adapt the processes last year. We had to temporarily stop compliance checks but we will be picking those up again next month.” Ms Jones pointed out that taxis had continued to be operat- ed throughout the pandemic and the various lockdowns. A review will take place later this year in time to implement any changes to fees from April 2022.


MAY 2021


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