North Somerset Council scales back new taxi licensing rules over driver hardship fears

North Somerset news update on Pro Driver Magazine website

Tighter new rules for taxis in North Somerset have been scaled back after drivers warned they could force drivers out of business.

A plan to ban any car from being used as a taxi once it was ten years old has now been dropped by North Somerset Council’s licensing committee. But plans to lower the age limit from eight years to five at which cars can be first plated as a taxi will still be introduced. New taxis will also have to meet the Euro 6 emissions standards, but as that was introduced in 2014, the policy has effectively not changed.

A proposed ban on cars that had been any form of insurance write off from being taxis has also been dropped, though vehicles that were an insurance write-off for “structural” reasons will not be licensed.

The proposal to stop cars which had been the subject of a Category N insurance write-off from being used as taxis and private hire vehicles had caused particular alarm, as Category N could just be minor superficial damage.

When the draft plan was originally published, drivers warned it could cause either extreme financial hardship or even force drivers into unemployment.

In a meeting of North Somerset Council’s licensing committee on October 31, councillors agreed that the ban on vehicles which had been category N write-offs went too far, as these could often cover minor issues which insurance companies considered too expensive to fix.

But the new rules will still ban cars which have been a category S write-off, due to structural damage, from being used as taxis.

The plans for a 10-year age limit would have brought North Somerset Council into line with neighbouring councils such as Bristol and South Gloucestershire. But committee chair Stuart Davies said this was a policy that was more relevant to cities. Councillors agreed that cars will still be able to be used as a taxi for as long as they continue to pass six-monthly inspections, with no age limit.