Taxi drivers in North Kesteven may face knowledge tests
Taxi drivers in North Kesteven may soon have to sit a London Cabbie-style knowledge test.
North Kesteven District Council’s executive board is recommending the council’s full membership adopts amendments to the way Hackney Carriage licences are granted and the introduction of a test for all drivers of Hackney Carriage taxis and private hire vehicles.
The North Kesteven test will require all new drivers to meet standards of numeracy, literacy and local knowledge to show that they have a good knowledge of the geography of North Kesteven and Lincolnshire in general and an awareness of the rules and regulations that apply to licences drivers.
In addition there will now be a presumption against licensing Hackney Carriages where a significant proportion of business will be undertaken outside of the District
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Currently, while a Hackney Carriage can ply for trade in the streets and at a rank within the area in which it is licensed, it can also operate on a pre-booked basis – like a Private Hire car – both within and outside of its licensing area, anywhere in England and Wales. Private Hire cars can only ever operate on a pre-booked basis, not hired in the street or at a rank.
But Councillor Richard Wright, executive board member with responsibility for licensing, said that by restricting this so that Hackney Carriages could only operate primarily locally would overcome an emerging situation which could compromise the Council’s primary aim in taxi licensing, which was to ensure the health and safety of the travelling public.
He said: “While it’s not unlawful, we are conscious that the ability to apply for Hackney Carriage proprietor’s licences from NKDC without there being any intention to ply for hire within North Kesteven is a barrier to us being able to take effective control. It means that drivers and vehicles can operate in areas at some distance from North Kesteven, taking advantage of a pre-booking exemption.
“We have a duty to ensure licensed vehicles, are safe and suitable and that operators, owners and drivers have proper regard to public safety. That duty can be compromised when vehicles and drivers licensed by NKDC are operating hundreds of miles away,” said Cllr Wright..
“In tandem with the new test, we hope that by restricting the geographic scope of Hackney Carriages to operate primarily within the District and wider Lincolnshire area, we can retain local control and restore public confidence in the safety and standards of protection expected locally.
There will be flexibility and discretion in applying the new rules, the policy change reflects current case law which stresses the importance of retaining local control to promote better public protection
Existing licence holders will be exempt from the new provisions provided they renew promptly ahead of the expiry date.
Within North Kesteven there are 334 individuals holding a combined total of 665 licences – 72 of them being for Hackney Carriages and 213 for Private Hire vehicles, with 324 private hire drivers and 56 private hire operators.
This is being recommended by North Kesteven District Council’s Executive Board to the council’s full membership adopts amendments to the way Hackney Carriage licences are granted and the introduction of a test for all drivers of Hackney Carriage taxis and Private Hire vehicles.