Council and democracy > Agenda item

Agenda item

Review of the Council's Licensing Requirements for Hackney Carriage (Taxi) and Private Hire Vehicles, Drivers and Operators.



            Lee Morgan (Licensing Manager) presented the report, which outlined proposed changes to the council’s policy and Licensing Requirements for Hackney Carriage (Taxi) and Private Hire Vehicles, Drivers and Operators following the publication of the Department for Transport (DfT) Statutory Taxi and Private Hire Vehicle Standards and Welsh Government’s Harmonisation Guidance on Taxi and Private Hire Vehicle Licensing in Wales.  The report also sought Members’ approval of the proposed changes following a period of consultation in respect of Disclosure and Barring Service requirements affecting drivers, vehicle proprietors and Private Hire Vehicle Operators and changes to medical requirements for licensed drivers.


Members were referred to Sections 5.1 to 5.3 of the report which set out the history of the DfT Standards and Welsh Government’s Harmonisation Guidance, with links to both documents included in the report as background papers.  Section 5.4 of the report set out the rationale for adopting the practices advocated in both documents, which mainly relate to increased public safety, consistency of standards across Wales, harmonised enforcement, increased accessibility of vehicles and better standards of customer service.  The Committee were reminded that Licensing have already adopted some of the procedures advocated by these documents, in particular the National Register for Revocations and Refusals (NR3), together with the Institute of Licensing approach to the suitability and fitness criteria of applicants and license holders.  However, Members were asked to note that some of the proposed changes would require the Council’s existing policies to be subject to consultation and amendment.


Members were advised that the DfT and Welsh Government Harmonised Standards had already been circulated to drivers, vehicle proprietors and operators and to the CCBTDA in March and April 2021 to provide an insight into proposals.  A formal 4-week consultation exercise was subsequently undertaken with the trade in relation to matters concerned with changes to Disclosure and Barring Service requirements and changes to Medicals between 11th May 2022 and 11th June 2022.  Details of the subjected matters consulted upon and proposed revisions were summarised at Section 5.7 of the report.  A copy of the consultation document circulated to drivers, vehicle proprietors and Private Hire Operators was attached to the report as Appendix 1.


It was highlighted to Members that one of the significant changes proposed relate to a requirement for 6-monthly Disclosure and Barring (DBS) checks for drivers (which is currently undertaken on a 3-yearly cycle), primarily via the DBS Update Service which will require drivers to sign up to the Update Service at next renewal of their licence.  Provision is also catered for drivers who are unable to join the Update service.  In such instances, drivers will have to provide an enhanced DBS check specifically required for the role of a taxi driver every 6 months.   This will mean that the Licensing Department will be able to bring drivers who do obtain a conviction that does not meet the fitness criteria to Sub Committee far more quickly in order to determine suitability   However, it was emphasised that this would not be an immediate requirement for existing drivers, in that they would only be required to sign up to the service or supply a DBS check when they are due for their next renewal. 


It was noted that drivers that fail to meet the new DBS requirement will l have their licences suspended and will not be able to drive a licensed vehicle.  The proposed amendment to the policy will mean that drivers will no longer be able to undertake their Enhanced DBS check via the Integrated Transport Unit.


A new proposal will also require applicants for hackney carriage and private hire vehicle licences to provide a basic Disclosure and Barring Service check as part of their application to assess their fitness and suitability.  A new proposal will require holders of Private Hire Vehicle Operator licences to undertake basic disclosures of staff who have access to booking records or dispatch vehicles.  New Applicants and existing licensed drivers will also be required to undertake Group 2 Medicals in line with the requirements detailed in Section 5.7 of the report.  The existing discretion afforded to holders of PSV Licences not to provide a medical on grant of licence a hackney carriage / private hire vehicle drivers licence or during the period of licence will be removed.


It was noted that no responses had been received to the consultation exercise and no comments were received from any parties in relation to the proposals put forward.


The Committee were referred to Appendix 2 of the report which contained a revised Caerphilly County Borough Council Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Vehicle Drivers Policy and Conditions detailing the proposed amendments covered by the consultation.  It was noted that any changes to the legislation, particularly in relation to the Taxi and PHV (Disabled Persons) Act, had also been included in the revised Policy.


Members were also advised that a further consultation exercise will be undertaken with licence holders in relation to additional matters detailed within the DfT statutory guidance and Welsh Government Harmonised Standards. This will include items such as licensee self-reporting requirements, cross-border enforcement and requirements placed on proprietors of Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles to ensure drivers can assist a passenger in a wheelchair into and out of the vehicle and correctly secure the wheelchair in the vehicle.


The Taxi and General Committee discussed the report and a Member asked if there was a deadline for the intended further consultation exercise which will address remaining elements of the DfT and WG Harmonisation Standards.  Mr Morgan explained that these particular areas are believed to be the more important matters moving forward but confirmed that the consultation exercise will take some time in order to invite comments and that there is no requirement for these remaining elements to be addressed within a particular timeframe.


A Member asked how the Authority intended to enforce the new requirements on both taxi drivers and vehicle proprietors/operators, and also asked if guidance would be provided to GPs regarding the new medical requirements.  Mr Morgan explained that many of the changes will not necessarily require enforcement, and that it is hoped the trade and licence holders will be supportive of the new requirements and understand why these measures are being introduced.  In terms of the query around medicals, Mr Morgan explained that most GPs in the area have been conducting Group 2 medicals for a number of years (since 2015) as a requirement of the Licensing Authority, and so this is not a new measure, but rather that the changes in the main relate to the applicant now obtaining a Group 2 medical from their own GP or another GP at their registered practice, rather than from a private health provider.


A Member queried the need for the consultation exercise given that the DfT and WG have already set out these new requirements in terms of hackney carriage and private hire vehicles, drivers and operators.  Mr Morgan explained that the DfT and WG Harmonisation Standards are viewed as recommended guidance and that it is good practice for the Licensing Authority to consult on any proposed changes that will impact on either the trade or taxi users across the county borough.  In response to a query around the Council’s Intended Use Policy, Mr Morgan provided some background around the history of this Policy and confirmed that this is no longer a pressing issue for Caerphilly Council due to the range of measures in place as part of the licensing process (including the Intended Use Policy itself and knowledge tests for new applicants).


Following consideration of the report, it was moved and seconded that the recommendations as set out in the report be approved.  By way of Microsoft Forms and verbal confirmation (and in noting there were 12 for, 0 against and 0 abstentions) this was unanimously agreed.


It was therefore RESOLVED that:-


(i)            the content of the report, and the need for the Council to review its existing requirements, policies and conditions of licence in order to comply with Statutory Standards and Welsh Government Guidance, be noted;


(ii)           the changes set out in the report to the Council’s policy in relation to Disclosure and Barring Service requirements affecting drivers, vehicle proprietors and Private Hire Vehicle Operators and changes to medical requirements for licensed drivers, be approved, and the changes to become effective for applications received on or after the 29th September 2022.



The Chair thanked everyone in attendance and the meeting closed at 11.32 a.m.


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