Published June 24, 2016 at 16:43
Rossendale Council has recently taken a variety of steps to make changes to the Hackney Carriage/Private Hire application process and address the number of Rossendale licensed drivers and vehicles working in other areas.
Firstly, we have implemented a Hackney Carriage Intended ‘Use’ policy (adopted at 24th February 2016 Council). Any applications for a new hackney carriage vehicle licence where there is no intention to use the vehicle predominantly in the Borough of Rossendale are refused. Since this we have also refined and clarified our Intended Use Policy which means that applicants for a Hackney Carriage Vehicle Licence whose address is beyond a 30 mile radius of the designated point in our borough will not normally be granted as it would be reasonably and defensibly presumed that the vehicle will not be predominantly working in the Borough of Rossendale.
We gather evidence in relation to intended use by working closely with other Local Authorities and we consider revoking licenses where there is clear evidence they are predominantly working outside of the Borough through the intelligence provided.
This policy already appears to be working –in Bradford for example it is reported that the number of RBC licensed drivers has almost halved.
We regularly conduct enforcement activities to ensure robust compliance to our policy not just in Rossendale but also outside of the Borough for example in Manchester, Derby, Leeds, Bradford and Keighley with the Police, VOSA, immigration and other Local Authorities. We are always happy to do enforcement in other areas and respond to such requests.
We now work with local provider to administer a basic skills test for all new driver applicants which includes Maths and English (BKSB Level 1 Functional Skills assessments) tests, together with Customer Service, Licensing Policy and Child Sexual Exploitation awareness training. This will help improve standards for all drivers and ensure continued public safety, which is our aim. We only accept and process applications that have successfully completed these tests. We propose to roll this out for all existing drivers in due course as a pre-requisite to their renewal application.
We are also investigating additional best practice options to add to our application process including; vehicle age/emissions and CCTV in cabs. We will be bringing a report to our Licensing Committee in July seeking approval to start the consultation on these and other options.
Throughout this process we have sought input from a highly regarded, external licensing expert and we are wholly implementing their advice. We will continue to work with them as we move through the consultation process.
Finally, we have a strong Licensing Sub-Committee here at Rossendale and the majority of appeals against their decision not to grant or revoke a licence are upheld by the Magistrates.