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Private hire frequently asked questions

How can I book a private hire? 

These vehicles cannot be hailed in the street and are not permitted to stand on a hackney carriage rank. There are several operators' premises in Uttlesford whose telephone numbers are widely advertised. The council cannot control the number of private hire vehicle licences it issues, nor can it regulate the fares charged by private hire operators.

Private hire cars are not permitted to wait on taxi ranks or to wait outside premises hoping for a booking. This is illegal and is referred to as 'plying for hire'. We would recommend that you always pre-book your private hire vehicle well in advance of the journey and where possible, agree a fare at the time of booking.

Are private hire vehicles checked?

Private hire vehicles undergo the same strict mechanical testing as hackney carriages. Private hire drivers must also undergo three-yearly medical examinations. A criminal record check will be required upon initial application and then at three-yearly intervals.

How do I know if a vehicle is licensed?

All licensed vehicles must display a valid council issued licence plate on the rear of the vehicle. Drivers must also display a council-issued driver's badge.

The public are advised only to use licensed companies with licensed vehicles and drivers. If you wish to use a private hire vehicle, always pre-book the vehicle first with the licensed operator.

There are some exemptions to the above such as vehicles used for carrying out tasks such as security or government work. These are not required to display plates on the outside of the vehicle but for them to be carried in the vehicle. However only cars meeting a prestigious standard would be considered for an exemption as long as they met the criteria for the work being undertaken.

Safety tips

  • Never get into a car without ensuring that it is the one booked for you
  • Ensure that it displays the correct licence plate and drivers badge
  • Always pre-book your journey
  • Try and agree the fare at the time of booking with the operator

Private hire drivers who illegally ply for hire outside pubs and clubs and pick up customers who are not pre-booked are invalidating their vehicle insurance. If you are involved in an accident in a car that was not pre-booked you will have no claim against the driver's insurance.

Drivers face fines of up to £2,500 for illegally plying for hire. The cost to you as a customer could be much higher if you are injured in an accident involving a journey in a private hire car that was not pre-booked.

If you ever have cause to complain about a private hire driver or vehicle please contact the private hire proprietor in the first instance in an attempt to resolve the problem. If this proves unsuccessful then please contact the enforcement team to discuss the matter further.

How can I become a private hire driver or vehicle licensee?

If you wish to apply for a private hire vehicle or driver licence you can download the forms from the right hand side of this page. Before posting the forms you should contact the licensing team on 01799 510598 to arrange an interview with the licensing officer for a DBS (Disclosure & Barring) check (driver licence applications only). The DBS return can take as long as eight weeks and is outside the control of the council.

Not all vehicle makes and models will meet the vehicle specification so you are advised to always check with the licensing team before committing to purchase a vehicle. A 12-year maximum age policy was introduced on 9 January 2008. Exemptions to this policy are wheelchair accessible vehicles, and vehicles used only for school contracts.

Will tacit consent apply?

Tacit consent does not apply to private hire driver, vehicle and operator licences. Transport matters are not subject to the directive. Licences may not be granted unless the council is satisfied that the driver is a fit and proper person. Tacit consent could override this duty and endanger public safety.