Improvements to how taxi licences are awarded in Wokingham Borough have been drawn up - and residents are invited to share their thoughts by Sunday, 5 March.
Wokingham Borough Council wants to continue protecting the public and following best practice, as it has always done, by ensuring drivers and their vehicles remain safe and fit to carry passengers.
It plans to tighten up and build on its existing protections (PDF download), which already include a medical exam, proof of insurance and a check of applicants’ identities, criminal records and right to work.
Drivers must also be trained in disability awareness and safeguarding, which includes spotting the signs of abuse and reporting them to the police.
An updated rulebook to move with the times
The proposed changes would be part of a new Hackney carriage and private hire licensing policy (PDF download) applying to all applications until 2028. Although they include new tests for would-be operators, they also propose removing some requirements that are no longer necessary.
They include sharing information about revoked or refused licences with other authorities and having access to a national register. This means if a driver failed to disclose previous issues elsewhere, they would still come to light. The new policy also requires English language tests.
The dress code sets simple requirements for smart, appropriate clothing and footwear while vehicles wouldn’t be retired after eight years, which means some are scrapped while roadworthy. Instead, they would undergo periodic inspections and emissions checks.
Protecting the public and the planet alike
Councillor Ian Shenton, executive member for environment, sport and leisure, said: “As the local licensing authority, we're here to protect the fare-paying public and will do all we can to keep their journeys safe for them and the environment.
“We already carry out thorough checks on driver, vehicle and operator applications and these proposed changes will add an extra layer of protection to a system that already works well. As well as tightening up our scrutiny of applicants, we're proposing to relax some outdated requirements so there’ll be fewer barriers for the majority of drivers who work within the rules.
“Additionally, the periodic checks will reduce unnecessary scrappage and ensure that all vehicles, whatever their age, aren't having a disproportionate impact on air pollution or carbon emissions.”
Anyone failing to obey licensing rules can incur penalty points from the council or have their license suspended or revoked, or a new application denied. The council prosecutes breaches where appropriate, as well as cases of unauthorised plying for hire, and all penalties can be democratically reviewed on application to its licensing and appeals sub-committee.
Please respond on our Engage Wokingham Borough platform by Sunday, 5 March. Registration is required to verify responses but this is both quick and free of charge.
For help completing the survey or alternative formats, call the council on 0118 974 6000 or visit one of the borough's libraries.
More from Wokingham Borough Council
Stay connected to the communities around you. Enjoy the latest news, updates and highlights straight in your inbox. Subscribe to our Wokingham Borough Connect newsletters now.