Standardised taxi licensing across North Yorkshire is likely to be adopted later this year following a consultation in the region.
Seven borough and district councils are being brought together into a single North Yorkshire Council region on April 1, and a key proposal is to introduce a single hackney carriage and private hire licensing policy from the spring.
The existing seven councils currently have their own hackney carriage and private hire licensing policies. But ahead of the launch of the new North Yorkshire Council, the executive’s members are being asked to endorse a new single policy for the county.
The new policy incorporates the Department for Transport’s (DfT) taxi and private hire vehicle best practice guidance and statutory standards, to ensure that the public continues to be provided with safe and accessible vehicles. It also provides a coherent regulatory framework for the trade across the county.
Council leader, Cllr Carl Les, said: “The hackney carriage and private hire licensing policy for North Yorkshire plays an integral part in demonstrating the new council’s commitment to ensuring that the public is provided with safe and accessible hackney carriages and private hire vehicles.”
“As a single local authority for North Yorkshire, it also ensures hackney carriage and private hire licence holders and taxi operators across the county are treated equally. Following feedback from the trade and the public, some changes to the policy have been made, and I’d like to thank those that took the time to share their views.”
Cllr Les continued: “The adoption of this policy is only the start. No doubt in the future, there will be changes and improvements made as we move forward as a unitary authority.”
About 300 responses were received to the consultation, which ran from October 25 to January 16. As a result, some recommendations have been made. These include removing the proposed five-year age limit of a vehicle for all new licence applications and increasing the maximum age that a vehicle can be licensed to 10 years.
Vehicles up to five years old will require testing once a year; vehicles aged between five and seven years will need two tests per year, and vehicles over seven years old will require three tests per year. All vehicles will also require an MOT.
In the consultation, 45% of respondents disagreed with the proposal to impose no quantity restrictions on hackney carriages. And 60% of respondents agreed that not all vehicles should be wheelchair-accessible vehicles.
But in a bid to encourage more WAVs in the region, age limits will not be applied to designated WAVs, which allows for a wider scope of vehicles to be licensed.
More than 60%of respondents also agreed that all applicants for a hackney carriage or private hire driver’s licence must pass an approved practical driving assessment. And 53% agreed that new applicants for driver and operator licences should be required to complete an approved disability awareness training session before a licence is granted.
Cllr Les added: “It is imperative that every single person using a hackney carriage or private hire vehicle can do so in the knowledge that the vehicle is safe and the driver has carried out the necessary training sessions.
If approved by the county council’s executive on February 7, the new policy will be adopted from April 1, along with a single set of licensing fees for both hackney carriage and private hire vehicles and a maximum set of fares for hackney carriages.