National Licensing Week highlights the work to ensure your taxi is safe and legal

The phrase "Can I book a taxi please?" is very commonly used, but do you know how much work goes on behind the scenes by Licensing Teams across the country to ensure your taxi is safe and legal?

As part of National Licensing Week, South Somerset District Council's (SSDC) Licensing Team are helping residents better understand the work involved in ensuring taxi vehicles are legal and drivers have the correct licence to carry out their job.

 

In South Somerset, there are 337 licensed taxi drivers and 291 licensed taxi vehicles. All of these vehicles and persons must be issued a licence administered by the Licensing Team at SSDC.

 

Before SSDC will consider an application for a joint Hackney Carriage / Private Hire driver's licence, an applicant is required to provide the following documentation:

  • Full driving licence (including any counterpart);
  • A signed data protection mandate to allow a check of your driving licence;
  • Knowledge Test pass certificate;
  • Driving Standards Agency (DSA) pass certificate or SSDC equivalent;
  • Completed medical questionnaire;
  • Disability Awareness Course pass certificate;
  • Fully completed DBS application form with supporting documents;
  • Certificate of good conduct;
  • Passport-sized photograph.

 

All of the above is checked with the application by Licensing Officers at SSDC and the Council issued driver's badges allow the holder to work in both capacities as a hackney carriage and/or private hire driver.

 

As part of National Licensing Week, SSDC recently invited a local journalist, Claire Herbaux, from Somerset Live in to take the South Somerset Taxi Driver Knowledge Test. Needing to obtain a 75% pass rate in each the five different categories, Claire failed the test. This helped to highlight that the Knowledge Test in South Somerset is a robust test which requires those who take it to have a good understanding of the relevant legislation and knowledge of the local area.

 

Throughout the year, taxi drivers are spot checked to ensure they have the right documentation and their vehicles are safe and legal to drive on the road. The check involves a basic mechanical check by a trained officer. The vehicle is also checked to ensure it is complaint with the conditions of the licence such as no-smoking signs erected, fare card on display, roof sign visible, licence plate securely fixed and that the vehicle is clean and tidy inside and out.

Remember these guidelines about council licensed taxis:

  • Hackney Carriage Vehicles have a white sign attached to the rear of the vehicle displaying the vehicle plate number and also have a plate displayed in the front window;
  • Hackney Carriages can ply for hire from designated taxi ranks and can pick up passengers who flag them down;
  • Private Hire Vehicles have a yellow sign attached to the rear of the vehicle displaying the vehicle plate number;
  • Private hire Vehicles also have yellow door signs on both sides;
  • Private Hire Vehicles can only be booked in advance through an operator.

NEVER get in to a taxi that does not display an appropriate plate at the rear. It is not insured and may not be licensed. Ensure that the driver is displaying a council approved driver's badge. For your own safety, always take a council licensed vehicle - the driver and vehicle have both been vetted.

Always ensure the meter is used in a hackney carriage. The meter shows the maximum by law that can be charged for the journey from pick up to drop off. Operators are perfectly entitled to charge below this but cannot charge more.

Councillor Angie Singleton, Portfolio Holder for Licensing at SSDC said, "There's a vast amount of paperwork, administration and checks that go into taxi licensing. Our Officers do a fantastic job in ensuring that drivers and their vehicles are legal for the job they carry out across the district. There are obvious signs such as a vehicle plate number and a drivers badge being on display that shows the vehicle and driver are legal and that our Officers have carried out the right checks".

South Somerset District Council's Licensing Team have a very helpful section on the SSDC website at www.southsomerset.gov.uk/licensing that gives details of the process on how to become a taxi driver and also the application for the licence and licensing of Private Hire and Hackney Carriage vehicle.