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....GMB PERSPECTIVE...


uncovered quite a few private hires who have deliberately removed licence and and livery to predominantly work here. An email to the respective local licensing authority will see these proprietors having to answer for their actions.


Currently I have an ongoing issue with Havant Borough Council regarding its Public Register, as to date it is refusing to have any details of licensed vehicles accessible to the public. It does how- ever have online public access for details of licensed drivers, but not the vehicles. I will give the council its due though because if I wanted to have details of scrap merchants, animal breeders, pet shops and even sexual entertainment venues, then I can tap away and instantly get my kicks in finding out those details.


When I questioned HBC licensing about the lack of public access to details of its licensed vehicles, but if I wanted details of any venue for sexual entertainment it’s there at the tip of my fingers (no pun intended) and at the same time explaining why it is so important for anyone to be able to instantly check if a vehicle is properly licensed under Havant or not, I was very surprised at the reply:


“Currently the public registers for hackney carriages, special vehicles and private hire vehicles are not available on our website as we are having to review the information detailed in them due to data protection requirements.”


Mmmm... so in effect HBC considers that having the registra- tion/licence/make and model of a licensed vehicle could be a breach of data. You really could not make it up! Especially when anyone can look up the details of venues for sex entertainment and animal breeders - not that that I consider these two examples to go hand in though.


So, even though I have laboured the point about the necessity for public safety and the clear and simple fact that other coun- cils have all licensing data on line including TfL, Havant Borough Council thinks otherwise.


Well that reply really got my goat (just keeping the animal theme going a bit) so I lodged a Stage 1 Complaint against Havant Licensing on September 26. On September 28 I received an acknowledgement stating:


“Thank you for your e-mail received today advising us of your complaint concerning licensing Public Register access. All complaints are given serious consideration and are managed in line with our corporate complaints process. Your complaint will be investigated by the Service Manager for Licensing. We will aim to respond to your complaint within ten working days of the date of this e-mail.”


I can only think that Havant Borough Council has not considered my point about public safety as a “... serious consideration” because to date I have not had any further correspondence.


I do have to add that when I have made an enquiry by email about a vehicle I do get a reply but this is usually a few days later which is not very efficient under public safety.


However since then I contacted the Information Commissioner’s Office seeking advice on whether it considered having public


NOVEMBER 2020


access to the details of a council’s licensed vehicles would be a data protection issue and the reply was:


“The data protection legislation does not always prevent an organisation to share details about individuals. However, as the controller for the personal information held in these records, it is up to the organisation to decide whether it would be appropriate to share this information with another organisation.


“Organisations must make considerations when deciding whether it is appropriate to share data. For instance, whether it would pose a risk to the individuals. They would also need to consider the purpose and have a clear objective for sharing the data. We have further guidance in our Data Sharing Code of Practice that can assist organisations with making this decision.”


Well I read that as being it would not be a case of breach of data especially where there is the matter of public safety which must be the number one priority.


I could chase Havant Borough Council up for a response but I am waiting to see how long it will take as I believe that I will need to lodge a Stage 2 complaint.


When it is considered that the DfT recently issued ‘Statutory Standards’ for six-monthly DB checks and most councils now enforcing CSE courses for drivers, we have Havant Borough Council dithering over whether details of its licensed vehicles should be on the Public Register under public access.


It would be interesting to know how many other councils consider public safety to be an irrelevance such as Havant Borough Coun- cil with the lack of accessible information available online, especially when we are in the chaotic situation of licensed vehicles working ‘out-of-sight and out-of-mind’ from respective licensing authorities.


In the meantime, if you are in need of any specific type of ‘Enter- tainment’ in Havant - you know where to look: its on line, but the details of the licensed vehicle which will take you there isn’t.


Andy Peters Secretary GMB Brighton & Hove Taxi Section andy.peters@gmbtaxis.org.uk


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