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Folkestone and Hythe District Council Hackney Carriage and Private Hire (Taxi) Licensing Policy Consultation

August 21, 2020 2:16 PM
Originally published by Folkestone and Hythe Liberal Democrats

Black taxi (Vauxford / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0))Folkestone and Hythe District Council (F&HDC) are consulting on our revised Hackney Carriage and Private Hire (Taxi) Licensing Policy. The current policy was last amended in 2012.

The policy sets out F&HDC's approach to licensing of the Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Trade within the District. It serves as a guide to prospective applicants, licence holders and decision makers.

You can view the draft policy at www.folkestone-hythe.gov.uk/consultations

Key Changes

The policy includes a number of changes, some of which reflect the Statutory Standards recently issued by the Department for Transport. Key changes proposed include:

General

  • Format and layout of policy has been overhauled.
  • A commitment to review the policy every 5 years. Proposal from trade process removed.
  • Clear statement that shorter licences will not be granted on a probationary basis. Applicants are not given benefit of the doubt in 50/50 decisions.
  • Decisions to refuse /revoke licences due to safeguarding concerns around risk to children or vulnerable adults will be notified to the DBS service.
  • Inclusion of an enforcement policy specific to taxi licensing.
  • Introduction of a "penalty points" scheme for breaches of licence conditions to promote compliance and act as an "early warning" to licence holders.
  • All licence holders to notify the council of arrests and release, charges or convictions within 48 hours.
  • Revised (and more stringent) policy on approach to applicants and licence holders with convictions and cautions, to reflect Institute of Licensing Guidance and Department of Transport Statutory Standards.
  • Inclusion of a general policy on refunds for surrendered licences.

Drivers

  • Hackney Carriage only driver licence discontinued. Driver licences to be Private Hire only or Dual (Hackney Carriage and Private Hire combined)
  • Removal of a minimum age for drivers (other than statutory requirement to have held a full driving licence for one year).
  • Requirement for new drivers to pass a Driving Standards Assessment.
  • Requirement for drivers to complete an approved safeguarding training course. Transitional arrangements for existing drivers.
  • Applicants failing knowledge test 3 times in 3 month period to wait 6 months before further application accepted.
  • Provision of Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) certificate to tie in with licence renewal. Drivers must sign up to the DBS online update service.
  • Drivers residing abroad for continuous period of 3 months or more within 10 years prior to application to provide certificate of good conduct from relevant embassy (increased from 12 months).
  • Interval for medical certificates for drivers aged 45-65 reduced from 4 years to 3 years, to be supplied as part of a renewal application. There is a proposed transitional process for existing drivers, to align this with licence renewal periods.
  • Condition to notify of any medical condition affecting ability to drive or safety of passengers. Council may require additional medical assessments where reasonably required.
  • Legal Obligations for assistance of passengers in wheelchairs or with assistance dogs clearly set out and incorporated into licence conditions.
  • Condition to issue receipts for payment, where requested.
  • Revision of basic dress code.

Private Hire Operators

  • Operators (including all partners/ directors) to provide a Basic DBS check on an annual basis. (except FHDC licensed drivers registered with the update service) In relation to new applicants, Individuals residing abroad for continuous period of 3 months or more within 10 years prior to application to provide certificate of good conduct from relevant embassy.
  • Operators to maintain a register of staff employed to take bookings/ dispatch vehicles.
  • Operator to see Basic DBS check for all staff employed to take bookings / dispatch vehicles. Transition period for existing operators.
  • Operators to put in place a policy on employment of staff with convictions. Operators to ensure that other operators to whom they subcontract bookings have a similar policy in place.
  • Operators must not dispatch Passenger Carrying Vehicles and licensed Public Service vehicle drivers to bookings without informed consent of hirer
  • Condition requiring premises accessible to public to be covered by public liability insurance.
  • Information on making complaints to licensing authority to be displayed in operators premises accessible to the public
  • Enhanced record keeping requirements concerning vehicles, drivers and booking details. Retention period for records increased from 3 months to 12 months.

Vehicles

  • Revision of age policy in respect of new and relicensed vehicles.
  • Policy not to permit "dual plating" of vehicles
  • Update of vehicle specifications and conditions e.g. relating to LPG conversions, use of Space saver tyres, tinted windows.
  • Introduction of specific policy and conditions for private hire stretch limousines.
  • Inclusion of policy on exemptions from display of plates.
  • Introduction of published "statutory list "of Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles (WAV), which will be subject to requirements of Equality Act 2010.
  • Valid inspection certificates to be maintained for mechanical lifting equipment used on WAVs.
  • Update of advertising restrictions on vehicles.
  • Vehicles to display information about how to make complaint to the licensing authority.
  • Vehicle proprietors (including all partners/ directors) to supply a Basic DBS check on annual basis. ( Except for FHDC licensed drivers registered with the DBS update service) In relation to new applicants, individuals residing abroad for continuous period of 3 months or more within 10 years prior to application to provide certificate of good conduct from relevant embassy (increased from 12 months).
  • Council to be notified if directors/ partners change.

How to comment

You can send comments on the proposed changes by email to licensing@folkestone-hythe.gov.uk or in writing to

Environmental Health & Licensing Team, Civic Centre Castle Hill Avenue, Folkestone, Kent CT20 2QY

The consultation closes on 9th October 2020