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Taxi Licensing Policy: Ashford Borough Council

Taxi Licensing Policy

We have a responsibility to ensure that drivers, proprietors and operators of hackney carriage and private hire vehicles are fit and proper persons to hold such licenses. Accordingly, taxis, their drivers and operators are licensed by the council. Vehicles are subject to mechanical tests and drivers undergo periodic DBS and medical checks.

On 19th April 2012 Ashford Borough Council approved the Taxi Licensing Policy 2012-17. This policy came into effect on 1 May 2012 and contains information about legal requirements, government guidance, council policy, procedures and standards relevant to hackney carriage and private hire licensing. Whilst each application and enforcement measures will continue to be considered on their own individual merits, the Taxi Licensing Policy provides guidance to applicants, existing licensed drivers, proprietors and operators when making applications and renewals.

Key changes to the previous policy include:

Three year driver licences

We can now issue driver licences for up to three years, which will reduce bureaucracy and the cost of a licence to applicants. We need to phase in their introduction so three year licences will be granted to new applicants and to existing drivers when a DBS is due. This will then mean that in future your DBS and licence renewal will occur at the same time. For those drivers who do not require a DBS this or next year (and for those approaching 65 years of age), one year licences will continue to be granted. We will advise you of which licence you can apply for when your renewal is required.

Medical check changes

To try and ensure all requirements are required at the time of your renewal, the medical renewal times have been changed to coincide with the renewal process. After the initial grant of a licence, medicals are required every 6 years for those aged under 45, every 3 years for those between 45 and 64 and annually for those 65 or over. As the frequency of medical assessments has changed, medicals will be required as stated above, even if the driver has a Category C or D classification on their DVLA licence. Also a new more comprehensive medical form has been produced which will help your doctor to check that you meet the required Group 2 medical standard.

Driver standard agency taxi and private hire test

All new drivers are required to undertake the DSA Taxi and Private Hire Driving Test.

Operator licences

Operators can now alter the number of vehicles they are licensed to operate throughout the period of their licence by paying the extra fee, calculated pro rata.

Exemption for plates

We have provided clarification on the exemption for certain private hire vehicles not to display identification plates for certain types of journeys. A new badge system has been developed so that all private hire vehicles are identified as licensed vehicles.

Vehicle age policy

Vehicles will continue to not normally be accepted for licensing, or continue to licensed, after 7 years from the date of their first registration, the criteria for those vehicles which will be accepted for licensing up to 10 years from first registration has changed. Vehicles whose DVLA registration document states the model as “taxi” will now be regarded as purpose built taxis and will be normally be accepted for licensing, or continue to be licensed for up to 10 years. This is subject to the mechanical condition and appearance being satisfactory.

As the appearance and mechanical condition of vehicles reaching the end of the age policy differ considerably, the criteria for extensions have been altered. If vehicles reaching the end of the age policy show no visible defects, dents or blemishes to the external bodywork or internal trim, then an extension will be granted for up to one year and linked to the compliance date. This extension can be extended each year as long as the vehicle appearance meets the above criteria and it passes a compliance test. Vehicle owners are encouraged to contact the Licensing Officer in advance of the expiry of the 7 or 10 year period to arrange for an inspection.

Code of conduct and dress code

The dress code came into effect on 1 May 2012, along with the revised code of conduct that also applies to operators. The aim of both enforceable codes is not to try and tell drivers and operators how to dress and conduct themselves, but merely to deal with unacceptable appearances or behaviour, of which we occasionally receive reports of from members of the public and from other drivers.

Previous convictions policy

The criteria for the granting of driver licences have been tightened up to ensure the Council grants driver licences to fit and proper persons.

Seating policy

The vehicle policy to permit collapsible seats in multi-purpose vehicles has been changed to allow such vehicles to have a greater capacity if certain criteria are met. If you think this might apply to you, please contact us.

Whilst each application and enforcement measure will continue to be considered on its own individual merits, in exercising its taxi licensing functions the Council will have regard to the policy document.

Not withstanding the commitment to review the policy every five years, the policy will also keep its policy under review during each three year period and make appropriate revisions.

Current Taxi Policy 2012-2017 with amendments 14-04-15 (pdf) 896KB

If you require any further information please contact licensing@ashford.gov.uk

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