Published on 23rd October 2014
Cheltenham Borough Council is urging people in the borough to only use vehicles that it licenses.
It has emerged that some local private hire companies are exploiting a loophole in licensing legislation.
In law, a licensed private hire operator can only dispatch other private hire drivers and vehicles licensed by the same authority. However, this rule does not apply to licensed hackney carriages. This loophole allows local private hire firms to employ hackney carriages licensed by other councils.
Whilst this practice is lawful, Cheltenham Borough Council is concerned that it may pose a risk to public safety in the town as it cannot give assurances about the suitability or fitness of drivers that it doesn’t license. Also, due to it not being the licensing authority, its enforcement officers have limited powers to investigate and act on complaints or concerns.
Cllr Andrew McKinlay, cabinet member for development and safety, says: “This is about public protection and making sure the people of Cheltenham have confidence that the licensed vehicles they are travelling in are safe and the drivers are suitable to work in Cheltenham.
“We are not suggesting that other councils do not adequately check the suitability of drivers and vehicles that they license, but standards do vary between different councils based on local needs such as local knowledge of the borough and the standard of mechanical testing of vehicles.”
Louis Krog, licensing and business support team leader, continues: “The vehicles that we license must pass an enhanced mechanical test that many councils don’t insist on. Equally our licensed drivers are thoroughly checked and must pass a knowledge test that gives us the assurance that they know where they are going when picking up a passenger and understand their responsibilities in law and as part of their licence conditions.
“We would like to advise local residents to insist on being driven by a Cheltenham licensed vehicle and driver when booking a vehicle through a local private hire firm.”
Contact: Laura Carter, communications officer, telephone 01242 264154, email [email protected]
A Private Hire vehicle is a vehicle that must be pre-booked through a licensed operator.
A Hackney Carriage is a public hire vehicle that can work off a taxi rank or be hailed without the need to book the journey in advance.
People can recognise a Cheltenham Borough Council licensed vehicle by its licence plate. Please see further information and pictures of the licence plates on our website: www.cheltenham.gov.uk/licensing