SOLIHULL Council’s licensing committee has approved a new policy for taxis to bolster safety for passengers.
The new rules for Hackney Carriage and Private Hire applicants were agreed at a meeting on February 12.
“The reason behind having this policy in place is to ensure the safety of those using Solihull Council licensed hackney carriages and private hire vehicles within the borough.
“As the body responsible for issuing licences that allow people to work as taxi drivers, it is vital that we only grant a licence to those who are fit and proper.
“We have the ultimate test that if it were our son, daughter or other relative using a Solihull licensed taxi driver, that we would be happy for that person to be driving them.”
Licensing officers launched a review of taxis to keep up with advice issued by the Local Government Association (LGA), the membership body for councils.
The LGA had called on councils to strengthen taxis legislation – some of which they say dates back to 1847 and horse-drawn hackney carriages – to improve passenger safety following the proliferation of app-based private hire vehicle companies.
Latest national figures from the LGA show the number of licensed taxi and private hire vehicles in England increased to 291,800 in 2019, an increase of 58 per cent on the 184,500 licensed vehicles in 2005 when comparable records were first collected.
Attributing the nationwide increase to ‘a surge in licensed private hire vehicles,” the body said there was an 83 per cent increase to 221,200 in 2019, from the 120,400 private hire vehicles in 2005.
The number of people licensed to drive taxis and private hires also increased substantially over the same period, rising by 50 per cent, from 242,000 people to 362,000.
But in Solihull, private hire registrations declined from 2039 to 1923 over 2018-19, and taxi registrations declined from 176 to 163 over the same year.
Solihull Council’s last taxi licensing review took place in 2010, when the Department for Transport published best practice guidelines, but the LGA warned that over the last decade legislation has become quickly outdated.