Taxi Chat

Read the spring edition of Taxi Chat, the council's magazine for taxi and private hire operators.

Taxi Chat is the newsletter for taxi and private hire operators and drivers in the Uttlesford district. If you have any ideas or suggestions for its content, email taxichat@uttlesford.gov.uk.

In this issue

Welcome to the spring edition of Taxi Chat

These are unprecedented times and we're all being affected one way or another by the current coronavirus pandemic - council staff and the taxi and private hire trades are no exceptions.

The first and foremost thing we would like to mention is that the health of yourself, your family and your friends is paramount and we hope everyone is following the government advice and keeping safe.

We have put together a coronavirus page on our website which contains important information about council services.

Regards

Tony Cobden
Environmental Health Manager (Commercial)

 

Useful information

Here are some useful web links to the relevant government guidance. We would please ask that you take the time to read through them if you haven't done so already.

www.gov.uk/coronavirus
www.nhs.uk/coronavirus
www.gov.uk/government/news/government-launches- coronavirus-information- service-on-whatsapp - free to use government information service on WhatsApp which provides official, trustworthy and timely information and advice about coronavirus
• Advice for the self-employed: www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-a-grant-through-the- coronavirus-covid-19-self- employment-income- support-scheme

 

Critical Worker Status

Taxi and private hire drivers should not generally be considered 'critical workers'.

Those undertaking home to school transport or the transport of extremely vulnerable people may be considered critical workers on a case-by-case basis.

Critical workers should whenever possible make suitable arrangements for their children to stay at home - requests for children to attend school should be discussed with the school.
 

Latest guidance from the DfT

The Department for Transport has recently released the following guidance in relation to taxi and private hire driver In summary, taxis and private hire vehicles can continue to work. But the advice is absolutely clear - people should stay at home if possible.

That is the way to save lives and protect the NHS.

Members of the public should avoid travel unless absolutely essential. The only reasons to leave home are set out in the government guidance - see www.gov.uk/coronavirus

Clearly, if absolutely necessary to travel by taxi or private hire vehicle, best efforts should be used to follow the guidance as far as is practically possible, including washing your hands as soon as you get home.

Guidance for staff in the transport sector

The Department for Transport and Public Health England has issued guidance to transport sector workers.

www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-for-staff-in-the-transport-sector/covid-19-guidance-for-staff-in-the-transport-sector

Social distancing in the workplace

We are aware that the taxis and PHV trade are undertaking delivery work - please see the section on 'Deliveries' as well as 'Transport businesses'. Measures contained in the section on 'Use of private vehicles and car pooling' would apply to the taxi and private hire vehicle sector e.g. maintain good ventilation.

www.gov.uk/guidance/social-distancing-in-the-workplace-during-coronavirus-covid-19-sector- guidance#transport-businesses

Insurance for deliveries

Association of British Insurers (ABI) motor insurance members have committed to support taxi and private hire drivers seeking alternative sources of income: licensed taxi or private hire drivers that had hire or reward insurance in place, as of 8 March, will not need to contact their insurer to extend their your existing cover while driving this vehicle to carry parcels, medical supplies, household goods, groceries or takeaway meals during the Covid-19 restrictions. The ABI's commitment will be in place until the end of the Covid-19 restrictions, or until 31 July 2020, whichever is sooner.

Face masks

The UK does not currently advise use of face masks outside of care settings, in line with PPE guidance.

www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about- covid-19/guidance-for-employers-and-businesses-on-coronavirus-covid-19

Cleaning of non-healthcare settings

Public Health England have provided guidance on the cleaning of non-healthcare settings, this is available at:

www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-decontamination-in-non-healthcare-settings

Driver licensing

Medicals - It will remain a matter for licensing authorities whether to issue or renew a taxi or private hire vehicle driver licence. We aware of the current difficulties in obtaining medical examination reports, such as those used for the Group 2 HGV and bus driver entitlements that many taxi and private hire vehicle licensing authorities base their assessments on. As part of its response to the coronavirus pandemic, we are reviewing the position on Group 2 medical assessments.

Offers of assistance from the trade

We have received many offers of assistance from the trade, to co-ordinate the offers and assistance needed we are requesting that all offers of services be directed to: www.gov.uk/coronavirus-support-from-business; this will help us to ensure all such offers are received by the correct team leading on a particular issue and responded to quickly.

Assisting the trade

The Self-employment Income Support Scheme will allow you to claim a taxable grant worth 80% of your trading profits up to a maximum of £2,500 per month for the next 3 months. This may be extended if needed. More information on the scheme is available at: www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-a-grant-through-the- coronavirus-covid-19-self-employment-income-support-scheme

The above is perhaps particularly relevant to the taxi and PHV trade but it is part of the measures announced, e.g. changes to Universal Credit - more info is available at: www.gov.uk/government/publications/support- for-those-affected-by-covid-19/support-for-those-affected-by-covid-19

Assistance for businesses

The Chancellor has set out a package of temporary, timely and targeted measures to support public services, people and businesses through this period of disruption caused by COVID-19. More information on the measures is available at: www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses- about-covid-19/covid-19-support-for-businesses
 

How has the Licensing Team been impacted?

The Licensing Team has had to make a number of adjustments to its practices and procedures in order to maintain a continued efficient service.

We apologise there may be a degree of inconvenience in a small number of circumstances, but please be assured we doing our very best to offer the best service possible during these difficult times.

Please follow the web link below for up to date service amendments within the Licensing team - see www.uttleford.gov.uk/licensing

The major changes are:

• New driver applications are not being accepted at present. Any received applications will be rejected. This is due to the inability for medicals and proficiency tests to be carried out.

• Driver licence renewals are being accepted. Driver medicals have been postponed for 6 months. Badges can be collected from the UDC office on designated days or can be posted to your home address at your risk.

• New and renewal applications for vehicle licenses are being accepted. There are no changes to the procedure or the requirements for such applications. Vehicle plates must be collected from the UDC office on designated days.
 

 

News from the Licensing Team

A few changes have come into effect since 1 April 2020, namely the vehicle emission policy and 365 day licenses.

• The vehicle emission policy can be viewed on the council website. Only new vehicle applications will be affected, however by 1 April 2021 the new standards will apply for renewal applications. We would strongly advise you familiarise yourself with these requirements so that you can put any necessary plans in place.

• 365 day licenses apply for all new driver and vehicle licence applications, whereby the licence duration will now be for the full term in accordance with the date it was first issued. For example, a driver licence issued on 5 April 2020 will expire on 4 April 2023.

• We now only accept electronic applications. We will no longer accept paper applications

• We will shortly be testing fully web-based applications

• We would encourage all operators to email their drivers private email addresses to licensing@ uttlesford.gov.uk. This will help us move to a fully electronic service

 

Compliance and enforcement in 2020

Here the statistics of the compliance and enforcement activities carried out by the Licensing team so far this calendar year:

• One driver revocation as a result of being convicted for driving without insurance

• One driver revocation as a result of being convicted for driving under the influence of alcohol

• Two drivers have been ordered to complete a driving proficiency course as a result of substantiated complaints into their standard of driving

• One driver suspension as a result of a new medical condition

• There have also been several other driver, vehicle and operator compliance/enforcement activities that did not result in suspensions or revocations. This includes but is not limited to:

• An investigation into whether a UDC licensed operator was legitimately operating from their registered base

• Upon receiving a report that a vehicle may not have been in a roadworthy condition, the proprietor was requested to bring the vehicle to the UDC officer for inspection

• An investigation into the conduct of a driver towards a member of public. The driver was interviewed by officers but the complaint could not be substantiated, however it has been recorded against the drivers file for future reference

Once the service is back to full capacity there will be an increase in the amount of compliance visits undertaken by Licensing officers for operator licenses.

We will be checking that the relevant legislation and conditions and being adhered to, and those in breach may have their licenses revoked in the most severe instances. We would ask that all licensed operators take the time to review their working practices so that our inspections can be passed successfully.

In view of a recent investigation, we would also like to emphasise that for an operator licence to be lawful and valid, the bookings taken for private hire work must be conducted from the location stated on the operator licence. If it is found that there is no operating office from the location specified, that licence will be revoked without further warning and further legal action may follow. If this applies to anyone reading this edition of taxi chat, we would advise you consider surrendering your licence to us at the earliest opportunity and look to re-license in the relevant licensing authority area.

There will also be an increase in the volume of driver and vehicle licence compliance inspections being undertaken around the district, including all ranks and Stansted Airport. We would again advise that vehicle proprietors and all drivers familiarise themselves with their licence conditions as action will be taken against anyone found to be in breach. We would not wish to go down this route with any of our licence holders and hope you all will continue to be fully compliant with your conditions, but we will not hesitate to enforce when required.
 

Consultation processes to be launched shortly

We will shortly be launching a number of consultation processes. Our aim is to always improve public safety in Uttlesford. These may include:

• Mandatory for all drivers to use the DBS update service - please see www.gov.uk/dbs-update-service

• Improving our DBS and driving license procedures by using a fully online service. There will be no need for face-to-face visits to attend Saffron Walden to complete these

• The use of the NR3 database which is used by a number of councils to hold details of revoked drivers. For more information please seehttps://local.gov.uk/topics/licences-regulations-and- trading-standards/national- register-taxi-and-private- hire-licence

• Enforcement policy using points based system which a number of councils already use effectively

• Improvement of vehicle signage internal and external to improve public safety
 

New staff

There have been a number of changes to Licensing staff since the last edition of Taxi Chat in the summer of 2019.

Amanda Turner and Matthew Chamberlain have left the team but there has also been an addition of five new members, some of whom started in 2019 so may already be more familiar.

• Russell Way is the new Licensing and Compliance Manager
Email: rway@uttlesford.gov.uk

• Steve Mahoney is a new Senior Licensing & Compliance Officer - leading on the processing side of the team
Email: smahoney@uttlesford.gov.uk

• Jamie Livermore is a new Senior Licensing and Compliance Officer - leading on the compliance and enforcement side of the team
Email: jlivermore@uttlesford.gov.uk

• Joanne Jones has been redeployed to the compliance and enforcement side of the team as a Licensing and Compliance Officer and works alongside Jamie specifically on those matters Email: jjones@uttlesford.gov.uk

• Karen James is a new Licensing Support Officer
Email: kjames@uttlesford.gov.uk

• Kelly Jenkins is a new Licensing Support Officer
Email: kjenkins@uttlesford.gov.uk

Licensing Team contact details

Email: Licensing@uttlesford.gov.uk

General Licensing Telephone: 01799 510510

Enforcement Licensing Telephone: 01799 510326

Address:
Licensing
Uttlesford District Council Council Offices
London Road
Saffron Walden
Essex
CB11 4ER
 

Safeguarding

We would like to extend thanks to the Uttlesford private hire operators who attended the recent voluntary safeguarding training events held at the UDC offices and delivered by our Community Safety team.

Know the signs to spot

We hope to host future sessions in the months ahead when it's once again practical to do so, and we would invite any other operator who was unable to attend the held previous sessions to come along. The feedback we received was extremely positiveand the importance of identifying and reporting safeguarding related matters in th e taxi and private hire trade was very much recognised.

Sadly, cases involving the exploitation of children and vulnerable people is a growing trend in the UK and public transport is a key method criminal gangs use to successfully conduct their activities, particularly in respect of the illegal drug trade/county lines.

Drivers of taxis and private hire vehicles therefore play a significant role in helping to identify potential safeguarding concerns and reporting them promptly to the correct authorities. 

Uttlesford will be introducing mandatory safeguarding training for drivers in the near future - details of which will follow at a later date - and this should be looked at as a positive on all accounts and it will provide you with the required knowledge and information to help reduce the exploitation that we unfortunately see and hear about too often.

We will be seeking improvements in our partnership work with operators in this key area of work.

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