The idea that the present government is capable of producing something competent provokes thoughts of a corpulent, pink, grunting beast flying over Parliament (not the current temporary occupant of 10 Downing Street).
But hold the front page – the new consultation on the taxi and private hire industry appears to be thorough, well thought-out and pressing all the right buttons. Clearly the front bench has been kept well away from drafting the document.
Please take part in the consultation. The links to the relevant web pages at the end of this article.
We need as many voices as possible, as this gives everyone in the industry – right down to the drivers – a chance to influence and change some of the more ludicrous policies that local authorities foist upon us.
The ”local” nature of licensing is at the root of the problems. There are 280 licensing authorities, and outside London, there is virtually no consistency in their approach. And in the consultation document, transport minister Baroness Vere states that “consistency” is one of the clear objectives. To some extent, we’re pushing an open door.
In Professional Driver’s view, the whole approach to licensing need to be changed. Instead of 280 councils making up the rules as they go along, we need a national system – just like licensing of buses (PSV) or trucks (HGV).
This would enforce proper national standards – not just minimum standards. Standardised vehicle requirements, standard rules on driver training, vehicle signage, and everything else right down to tinted windows. And standardised costs for licenses, so there’s no advantage in drivers getting plated in Wolverhampton rather than their home town.
Can’t tell if it’s a hackney or a PHV? Put a roof light on the hackney and not on the PHV. Not rocket science, is it.
Of course, for every sensible bit of Government policy, there’s always something else that comes out of Whitehall that brings with it a raft of new problems.
The government’s commitment of £1.6 billion on electric charging infrastructure has been broadly welcomed – but once again, there’s a critical flaw in the plan. Implementation of installing on-street chargers is again being left to our friends in local government, and as we can see with the mish-mash of local taxi/PHV licensing rules, we’re likely to get the same fragmented approach with regard to charge point installations.
Indeed, it’s already happening. While some councils such as Portsmouth and Sutton are embracing the need to provide overnight on-street charging for those who don’t have a drive or a garage, others are ignoring the issue. One major city has told us it will not be doing any on-street installations, and instead will expect motorists to use the charging hubs it is planning to spend all its budget on.
That means poorer people in flats will simply end up paying more for their charge-up than richer folk with a house and a drive. How is this going to encourage the switch to EVs? People will simply stick with petrol or diesel –the 2030 deadline for the end of ICE sales (2035 for PHEVs) means car buyers don’t have to go electric for a good 20 years if they don’t want to.
Again, we’d urge the government to make Infrastructure a national policy, not a local government decision. It needs a full-on regulator to ensure that safe, inexpensive charging is available to urban dwellers regardless of where they live.
On-street and workplace charging should be the priority – the commercial networks such as Gridserve, Ionity and Instavolt, along with petrol companies such as BP and Shell, will make sure the trunk road and motorway infrastructure is in place – because there is good money to be made.
It cost us £50 to add 200 miles of range to a Mercedes-Benz EQS on test – that’s a lot more expensive than the equivalent range in petrol or diesel. And pumping a few gallons takes three minutes, not 30.
Regulation of the taxi and private hire sector and the EV infrastructure market are vitally important issues that require a professional, joined-up approach. Neither should be left to the whims and fancies of local councillors. We need proper national standards and national policies.
How to respond to the Government’s taxi consultation
Full information about the consultation is available here:
It’s important that the industry makes is case for better policies. You can take part in the consultation in a number of ways. The easiest way is to complete the online survey:
Alternatively, you can download the response form and email it once completed to email@example.com
The form can be downloaded here:
Alternatively, you can email your comments directly to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail them to:
Department for Transport
Local Passenger Transport Division
Taxi and Private Hire Vehicle Best Practice Guidance Consultation 2022
Great Minster House
33 Horseferry Road
London SW1P 4DR