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..THE NPHTA AT WORK.. PARLIAMENTARY TAXI/PRIVATE HIRE DRIVER AWARD WHAT HAVE WE BEEN DOING?


Since the start of lockdown, we have been campaigning to Ministers, government bodies and agencies, MP’s nationally, press, radio, nationally and locally on all fronts, pointing out the flaws in the current support levels.


Much of this you will have seen in previous PHTM articles over the months, including copies of letters sent to the powers that be.


We have also sent our submissions into the Commons Transport Select Committee defending you all, and have been taking part in several virtual discussions and working groups, all this whilst still offering advice, guidance and support to our national membership, overturning revocations and suspensions, taking part in local licensing committee meetings and consultations regarding policy changes. It really has been non-stop, in fact I think we can hand on heart state that we have been far busier throughout this pandemic than we have ever been.


Let’s break that down a little further since a list is OK, but whilst we believe that the meetings concern everyone, for many of you it is the specifics that matter and you may relate to some more than others.


HMRC


David Lawrie conducted a live interview with HMRC regarding the upcoming “conditionality” changes and how they would affect drivers and operators. This was accurately reported on within the September issue of PHTM but for some reason, falsely reported in other formats where the claim was “the government expect to gain £65 million from the changes from the taxi industry”. This is simply not the case; in fact HMRC stated that they were aware that this would only affect a very small minority. However, I pointed out within the interview that there was a very large section missed within their plans, as was also mentioned by James Button of the Institute of Licensing: “What about vehicle owners”which had been missed from the proposed legislation, which left out all the car hire companies and courtesy vehicle suppliers. HMRC thanked us for the observation and said they would look to address it and include that aspect.


The shortened version is quite simply that local authorities will simply show you where to find the online platform to verify you are registered as self-employed (if you are) or register as newly self- employed. The council will then access their version of the platform to verify registration only (no financial details will be shown) ….that’s all there is to it.


FINANCIAL SUPPORT AND FUNDING


The Scottish government has announced £7 million of funding for aftermarket Covid related devices such as hand sanitizer dispensers, Covid protection screens etc. The best bit is that you can claim back the money spent on such devices dating back to 1st April 2020; a link to the application form and announcement can be found here:-


https://bit.ly/37NmWgz


This is as a result of the work performed by a collaboration of groups where we advised and supported in the background. We are still campaigning in the UK with the hope of achieving something very similar for the drivers/vehicles in England and Wales.


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Within this meeting the main focus was on “certified disability vehicles” (wheelchair accessible vehicles or WAVs as we know them), which raised a very important issue that contradicted their requirements and created a huge clash - this clash is very clear in my mind and very simple!


NOVEMBER 2020


This year was the second annual awards presentation which is run by Cambridge MP Daniel Zeichner, where local MPs nominate their most deserving driver for an award for their outstanding community service, and they all receive certificates. Normally there is a reception in Westminster, but sadly like everything else in the world it was staged on zoom this year!


This event took place on Wednesday, 14 October, 4-5pm this year; we were delighted that our very own Donna Short was invited to speak on behalf of the NPHTA to highlight how much we appreciate the recognition of the hard working members of our industry. The nomi- nees (preceded by the name of each MP who nominated them) were:-


Simon Fell - Lee Smith Chris Heaton Harris - Freddie Fudge Andrea Leadsom- Robert Memery Ian Levy - Brian Wardle Rachel Maskell - Andrew Daniel Mark Jenkinson - Daniel Winthrop Stephen Doughty - Yusef Jama and Paul O'Hara Huw Merriman - Hilary Hannam Paul Bristow - Sajid Hussain Joy Morrissey - Steve Pulham


Thank you to all the MPs for recognising the hard work undertaken by industry, and a huge congratulations to the winner Steve Pulham and to all nominees.


COVID PROTECTION SCREENS


Your very own David Lawrie was asked to provide a 30-minute pre- sentation on the benefits, pitfalls, and best practice on the subject of Covid protection screens, which was very well received (he thinks) by all members of the Institute. In fact James Button stated earlier in the day that it was “a presentation he was looking forward to with great anticipation” following on from his own observation of “how can you socially distance in a licensed vehicle? The simple answer is you can- not, due to the very nature of the vehicle rendering it a confined space, unless you have measures in place such as a dividing screen.”


Within this presentation, we showed some of the very poor examples of shower curtains, and bits of plastic hanging down, and the solid type polycarbonate screens that could block airbags and cause physical harm in the event of a collision. We referred to the TfL mandated MIRA testing and how many other local authorities were simply mirroring this requirement, despite the fact that MIRA by their own written statements declared that they were unaware of ANY other conditions and requirements, and as such would only be test- ing to TfL standards, not to any the standards of any other local authority (remember, TfL is run under a completely different transport act to all other parts of the UK.)


ONGOING TRANSPORT FOR THE RAIL SERVICES


David again attended a zoom conference meeting with the rail service industry about ongoing travel from the taxi and private hire sector in the event of train cancellations or breakdowns.


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