The LPHCA has written to TfL Director of Licensing Helen Chapman (pictured), demanding an urgent meeting over “unacceptable” new signage requirements and complaints procedures for all private hire vehicles, due to come into force next July.
The new signage rules could see vehicles – even chauffeur cars – festooned with warning signs and compliance notices for CCTV, no smoking, complaints procedures and cyclist warnings. The signs will not be fitted at the operator’s discretion – instead, they will be compulsorily fitted by staff at the NSL vehicle inspection centres when vehicles are being tested.
An open letter signed by LPHCA chairman Steve Wright, Private Hire Board chairman Keith Keen, Chauffeur and executive chair Greg Mendoza and GMB Union regional organiser Steve Garelick, was published on social media, calling for “urgent dialogue” on the issue.
The letter states: “The private hire trade representatives are completely dismayed with the proposals for signage, which would appear to be a requirement for NSL to install multiple signs on the interior and exterior of each private hire vehicle following the inspection.”
The LPHCA letter argues that adding more signage will be counter-productive. “It has long been an accepted view that adding signage to private hire vehicles will confuse the public, narrow the gap between Taxi and Private Hire, and lead to illegal and dangerous activity by those seeking to exploit that confusion. It is clear there is a lot of anger being expressed that we feel will lead to issues for TfL TPH in the future.”
The letter concludes: “At this stage we feel urgent dialogue is needed, so we can calm the industry down and give you time for reflection on what we put forward in the consultation, which, with respect, seems to have been completely ignored.”
Martin Cox of Gerrards Chauffeurs said TfL was failing to recognise that chauffeur operators had different requirements to basic private hire vehicles: “We run vehicles now costing £120,000, and they will from next July look like regional taxis.”
Cox continued: “TfL is standardising Private Hire and we are being downgraded. We need a Chauffeur licence in London. We need to create our own voice, or we just sit on our backsides and become tacky and full of nonsense signs.”