Agenda item

Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Licensing Policy Review


The Regulatory Services Managerpresented the Committee with the consultation responses received in respect of the proposed changes to the Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Licensing Policy relating to inspections and Electric Vehicle (EV) requirements.  Member input was sought in finalising the policy statement for publication and implementation.


The council has published a Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Licensing Policy since January 2009.


A report was subsequently brought before the Operational Services Cabinet Committee on 16 November 2021 setting out proposed revisions to these elements of the policy and an associated consultation methodology.


Members requested officers to proceed with the consultation as proposed and bring the results to a future meeting of the Operational Services Cabinet Committee for consideration.


Following the Members approval, the consultation ran for 8 weeks.  This was doubled due to the Christmas and New Year period.


Fifty responses were received, all except one response received from a Ward Councillor, were from licensed drivers and / or operators. 37 of those responses were the same i.e. a response written by one licensed driver was mirrored by 36 others.  129 local licensed drivers, representing some 72.5% of the local trade, did not respond to the consultation. No other formal responses from interested parties were received.


The main concerns and queries to the proposal to move to electric vehicles by 2025 and 2030 respectively that were discussed at the November Committee were:


  • The lack of charging infrastructure currently in place.
  • The limited range of electric vehicles, both in terms of the different makes and models available and the mileage that can be covered on a full charge
  • The cost involved in buying an electric vehicle.


These are all valid concerns and there is an expectation and reliance that as we move forward: charging facilities will become more widely available locally and nationally; the cost of buying electric vehicles will reduce, and; the technology will improve to provide greater journey ranges.  The council is working with colleagues and KCC to install the first dedicated taxi and private hire chargers in the town centre area.  


This is being proposed in support of the council’s carbon neutral commitment. 


If we move forward and the electric vehicle charging infrastructure does not move as quickly as the council expected, we do have the option of reviewing the policy at a later date to accommodate that.  Although the first deadline that is being proposed is April 2025 for all newly licensed vehicles to be electric, if existing drivers change their vehicle prior to that date to another internal combustion engine model then provided it did not become

un-licensable they would be able to continue to use this vehicle until 2030.


The main queries raised to the changes to the vehicle inspection proposals are;


  • Costs that would be involved
  • Whether it would be less safe, less reliable, less convenient and how it would affect licensing enforcement.


The council has committed that the cost of the MOT would not exceed the maximum cost (set nationally).  In terms of safety, the proposed safety and standards inspection will include all the primary safety elements of an MOT and additional compliance checks to further improve standards. There will be no fundamental change to enforcement.


Brookvale Depot is centrally located and all mechanics are highly qualified and approved by both DVLA and Institute of Road Transport Engineers.


The other benefits are the fast, reliable transferrable information between the workshop and the Licensing Team to further enhance public safety which is the sole purpose of the Taxi and Private Hire Licensing regime.


Following questions and comments from Members, the Regulatory Services Manager explained that:


  • The council is confident that enhanced electric charging infrastructure will be in place by 2025.  The Regulatory Services Manager is also part of the Climate Change Working Group and is aware of new technology and infrastructure that is coming on board.
  • The change from petrol / diesel to electric vehicles will happen gradually and the council will need to keep up with the demand.
  • From 1 April 2025, all vehicle licence applications for newly licensed vehicles must be for vehicles that are powered wholly by electricity and from 1 April 2030, all vehicle licence applications must be for vehicles that are powered wholly by electricity.
  • The Licensing Officers can depart from the policy where there are exceptional circumstances e.g. if a vehicle was written off soon after the 2025 deadline and were licensed for petrol / diesel a consideration would be that they could continue with a new vehicle that was the same; however each case would be assessed on its individual merits.
  • If alternatively fuelled zero emission vehicles became available this could be integrated into the policy.  Electric is the only clean source at present. 
  • Cllr Ridgers mentioned that he had attended a meeting recently and there is a Local Authority in East Kent that are boasting that they have 200 electric charging points. 


Resolved that:


1.         Having considered the consultation responses and associated officer comments, Members advised on any relevant amendments and instructed officers to update the Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Licensing Policy accordingly.


2.         That the Portfolio Holder for Operational Services approved the final policy without further need to report back to this Committee.


Supporting documents: