Taxi and Private Hire licence holders

As the current situation with the Covid-19 outbreak continues to develop, the council is constantly reviewing how we deliver our services. The council are following government advice and looking at our own business continuity arrangements to ensure we can continue to deliver the services.

In relation to the taxi and private hire trade, we are striving to keep you up to date on any changes that might affect licence holders. The situation is constantly changing and the information below may be subject to change, and will be updated accordingly. We will do our best to keep you informed but we appreciate your understanding and patience.

This important information is for all hackney and private hire licence holders - vehicle proprietors, drivers and PH operators. It is important that you read this information as our services will be severely disrupted until further notice due to the impact of COVID-19.


GOV.UK COVID-19 Guidance

The most up to date guidance from gov.uk; published 12 May 2020.

Precautions

We would like to take the opportunity to remind the trade of the official advice and the importance of following these for your own, but also your passengers, protection.

  • If you are vulnerable either due to your age, suppressed immunity or pre-existing health conditions, please consider whether it is in your interests to work.
  • If you believe you may have been exposed to the virus through a passenger (or anyone/where else), please consider the official advice to self-isolate particularly if you are displaying symptoms.
  • Public Health England have provided guidance on cleaning and waste disposal to limit coronavirus transmission. Some of the key points are:
    • Regularly clean touch points (such as steering wheel, door handles both inside and outside etc.) with alcohol (minimum 60%) wipes or bleach based cleaning products.
    • Regularly clean the inside of your vehicle with warm water and soap.
    • Consider carrying tissues in your car and a receptacle for disposing of used tissues and wipes.
  • Where possible and practical, please wash your hands regularly. As an interim measure, use hand sanitizing gel with alcohol of a minimum 60%.
  • Wearing a face covering is optional and is not required by the law. If workers choose to wear one, it is important to use face coverings properly and wash hands before putting them on and taking them off. Use the guidance on face coverings.
  • Read the COVID-19: safer transport guidance for operators

Cheltenham Borough Council - All Taxi and PH Licences

From 24 March, the Municipal Offices are closed to the public. We will deliver the fullest service possible, and limit disruption to you as service users; but you must help us to do so. Open sessions are now cancelled with immediate effect.

In the first instance, email (licensing@cheltenham.gov.uk) should be used for all contact. Do not telephone our offices unless absolutely necessary.

You are advised to submit any application online with at least 7 - 10 days notice. (Bear in mind that you can submit your renewal application and payment prior to having all of your documentation). All paperwork can be scanned and submitted with your application, or sent to us by email at licensing@cheltenham.gov.uk.

Our policy on late renewals remains unchanged, and late renewals are likely to lead to delays and possibly additional requirements. If you have a genuine difficulty please contact us in good time before your licence expires.

If you are due to renew any driver or vehicle licence and may not be able to do so due to financial hardship, please contact us by email to discuss your situation (licensing@cheltenham.gov.uk).


Cheltenham Borough Council - Vehicle licences

If you are due to provide us a 6 monthly MOT/ fitness test or you are due to renew and you are not working due to the crisis- please contact us by email at licensing@cheltenham.gov.uk.

MOT and fitness testing

From 01/06/2020, we expect you to produce your MOT/ fitness for all applications and to satisfy the 6 monthly test requirement for older vehicles, as detailed below.

Central government extended the expiry of MOTs by 6 months in response to the virus crisis.

However, vehicles licensed by Cheltenham Borough Council as taxis or private hire vehicles must be held to a higher standard than cars used privately. Licensed vehicles are subject to being driven more regularly, under more demanding and intensive conditions and with much higher mileage than the average private car. These variances are likely to be more significant given the current restrictions on movement for the public.

Update 12 May: Both Ubico and Swanbrook are now taking bookings for MOT and Fitness Tests. You should NOT turn up to either premises without an appointment. We have emailed all the Trade about the new arrangements on 12 May. Please contact us for further details: licensing@cheltenham.gov.uk

Update 15 May: We are now able to take our service back to a more normal footing. As such, the MOT and Fitness modifications we detailed in March for vehicle renewals, 6 monthly MOTs and new applications will not be extended past 31/05/2020.

Vehicle renewals:

For all vehicle licence renewals that expire from 01/06/2020 we require a new MOT/ fitness test to be passed before we will renew the licence.

For vehicle licences that expire before 01/06/2020 we will honour our commitment made in our update on 27/03/2020. We will renew your licence without a new MOT/ fitness test, provided an online check identifies your vehicle is covered by the government extension (provided all other requirements are met). You must produce a new MOT/ fitness test within three months of the licence issue date, and in all cases we expect you to obtain a new MOT/ fitness test as soon as you can.

Once we receive a completed application, we will issue your 'paper' licence via email. We will issue all vehicle plates by post. It is imperative that you allow good time for us to do this, and bear in mind staff numbers working in the Municipal Offices are severely reduced.

Once you have received your new plate, you can return your old plate to us by posting it through one of the external letterboxes at the front and rear of the Municipal Offices, if you are able to do so, otherwise please keep them until we are able to restart public facing services. This is a temporary measure whilst the council responds to the current crisis.

6 month MOT/fitness tests:

From 01/06/2020, we will enforce the requirement for a 6 monthly MOT/ fitness test in the usual way.

  1. If your 6 monthly test is due before 01/06/2020, you have until that date to pass your 6 monthly MOT/fitness. From 01/06/2020 we will suspend the licence if you have not provided a new MOT/ fitness test pass.
  2. If your 6 monthly test is due after 01/06/2020 you must provide a new MOT/ fitness test before the due date shown on your licence. We will suspend the licence if you have not provided a new MOT/fitness test pass.

New vehicle applications:

With immediate effect (from 15 May 2020) we require all usual requirements to be met when we consider a new vehicle application, and this includes passing the MOT/ fitness test.

We are only accepting applications for vehicles that are already on the approved list of vehicles. We cannot measure new vehicles currently, so any other application will not be determined until government guidance is relaxed considerably. Please submit your application with as much notice as possible before you wish to use the vehicle.

You must submit your documents as part of your online application, or by email to licensing@cheltenham.gov.uk

  • invoice or bill of sale for the purchase OR a photo of your V5 log book
  • a copy of your vehicle insurance that is valid for the start of your licence,
  • a copy of your meter calibration certificate (Hackneys only)
  • certification of M1 use (we can accept the V5 for this purpose if stated on it)
  • A new MOT and Fitness Test.

Once we have received all the above, we will issue your 'paper' licence by email. We will prioritise the issue of plates for new applications, but there will still be delays in issuing them. However, you will be permitted to drive the vehicle as a hackney carriage or private hire vehicle once we have issued your licence by email.


Cheltenham Borough Council - Driver licences

Driver licence renewals

Between March 2020 andSeptember 2020, some drivers were issued interim 6 month licences as they were not able to provide Medicals and Enhanced DBS certificates. We are contacting all these drivers to confirm outstanding documents. These drivers must continue to carry their existing badges, new badges will be issued once all supporting documents have been provided.

From September 2020 we expect all drivers to provide all the supporting documents before we issue their renewal. Our new online DBS process will assist with this, we will confirm the steps in this process after we have received your renewal application.

New driver applications

We closed the facility to apply online for new hackney/private hire driver licences between 24 March 2020 and 10 August 2020 as we had to cancel our local knowledge and safeguarding courses. We are now accepting new driver applications again, and our virtual safeguarding training and local knowledge tests are now available to book by email.

Insurance for undertaking deliveries

Association of British Insurers (ABI) motor insurance members have committed to support taxi and private hire drivers seeking alternative sources of income. Licenced taxi or private hire drivers that had hire or reward insurance in place, as of 8 March, will not need to contact their insurer to extend their your existing cover while driving there licensed vehicle to carry parcels, medical supplies, household goods, groceries or takeaway meals during the Covid-19 restrictions.

The ABI's commitment will be in place until the end of the Covid-19 restrictions, or until 31 July 2020, whichever is sooner.

Find out more.


Support and financial assistance

If you are due to renew any driver or vehicle licence and may not be able to do so due to financial hardship, please contact us by email to discuss your situation (licensing@cheltenham.gov.uk).   

Self-employed income support scheme

The self-employment income support scheme will allow you to claim a taxable grant worth 80% of your trading profits up to a maximum of £2,500 per month for the next 3 months. This may be extended if needed.

The scheme is now open. However, when you check whether you are eligible for the scheme, the system will confirm from what date and time you may apply.

You will need your self assessment unique taxpayer reference (UTR) and national insurance numbers to check this information.

There is a video available on Youtube explaining the scheme.

The licensing team are unable to answer any questions about this scheme and you must direct your enquiries to HMRC.

The links given above are genuine, but please exercise caution when accessing information about this scheme online, try to ensure any other websites/sources of advice are genuine and be cautious if you receive unsolicited emails purportedly about the scheme, as fraudsters may seek to take advantage of the public.

The above is perhaps particularly relevant to the taxi and PHV trade but it is part of the measures announced, e.g. changes to Universal Credit - more info is available at on Gov.uk.

Assistance for businesses

The Chancellor has set out a package of temporary, timely and targeted measures to support public services, people and businesses through this period of disruption caused by COVID-19. Find out more information on the measures.

Offers of assistance from the trade

We have received many offers of assistance from the trade, to co-ordinate the offers and assistance needed we are requesting that all offers of services be directed to: www.gov.uk/coronavirus-support-from-business; this will help us to ensure all such offers are received by the correct team leading on a particular issue and responded to quickly.


Licensing committees and decision making

A temporary change to some delegations are been agreed to enable the council to continue to deal with matters that would normally have been referred to councillors. This include the ability for the chief executive to make urgent policy decisions, officers to make decisions but in consultation with councillors.  Some of the measures announced in this communication will require technical changes to the council's licensing policy and we will rely on the change of delegations to quickly enact these.  Where these changes are made, we will do our best to communicate these to the trade as soon as possible.  You can read the report on the council's website.

Other

  • Online forms - please refer to our guidance if you are having difficulties with these: