Agenda item

North Northamptonshire Council - Taxi and Private Hire Policy


The annexed circulated report of the Assistant Director, Regulatory Services was received to seek approval to the North Northamptonshire Taxi and Private Hire Policy to be formally adopted by North Northamptonshire Council.


Appended to the report were the following:


Appendix 1    Draft North Northamptonshire Taxi and Private Hire Policy

Appendix 2    Consultation responses

Appendix 3    Officer comments on consultation responses


The Interim Environmental Health Lead, Amanda Wilcox, presented the report to committee.  She explained that there had previously been four separate policies for each of the sovereign authorities which needed to be harmonised into one policy for North Northamptonshire.


The new policy would reflect current legislation and guidance and takes into consideration the future and climate change and emission control requirements.


The Policy would enable a consistent approach to all decision making for the Licensing and Appeals Committee and would be the subject of a review two years after it take effect, though it could be reviewed during that period if required.


The policy considered the best practices in each sovereign area to ensure that standards were high, and the safety of the public was paramount.  The needs of the licensed trade had also been considered.


The draft policy had been the subject of a consultation for a period of eight weeks and fourteen responses had been received and fully considered.  Where deemed to be possible without compromising public safety or standards, the consultation responses had resulted in changes to the policy.


The main areas of concern were as follows:


·         Age limits on licensed vehicles;

·         Testing regime for drivers;

·         Fold down seats in vehicles;

·         Emission Standards.


The report further detailed the responses from officers to these concerns.


Mrs Wilcox referred to the concern about the cost of moving to zero emission vehicles, which was referenced within the policy as a two-stage process to help meet the authority’s climate change target.


In view of the feedback and concern received it is recommended that the first stage be removed from the policy.  This is detailed below:


“From 2025 no new application would be accepted for vehicles fuelled only by diesel or petrol and all new vehicle licence applications were required to be zero emission vehicles”.


This would mean that the authority would require zero emission vehicles from 1 January 2031, with all licences for non-zero emission vehicles expiring on 31 December 2030.


The chair thanked Mrs Wilcox for her report and opened it up for debate.


One area of concern raised by members related to the number of drivers who did not speak English well and could not read English and asked whether the policy insisted that they should be competent.


Mrs Wilcox clarified that Part 1 of the policy made reference under Drivers Training to drivers being proficient in the English Language both oral and written.


It was considered that the cost of hybrid or electric vehicles would be considerable and that it would be wise to remove Phase 1 from the policy as this would give drivers time to change and programme in the cost of replacement vehicles by 2031.


A question relating to the cost of the training was raised with a suggestion that this be programmed to enable the maximum number to attend at a reduced cost. 


The officer clarified that the training would have to be self-funded and the cost covered by the applicant.  The council would, however, do what it could to support applicants to keep the costs down whilst maintaining the highest standards.


The committee commented on the need for enough charging points to be in place for those running electric vehicles. It was considered that all new homes should automatically have charging points installed to encourage the purchase of electric vehicles. It was also noted that a long journey would result in the vehicle having to be charged and then being out of action during that period.


Officers clarified that more infrastructure was being put in place and a programme to install more electric vehicle charging points (EVCP) across North Northamptonshire was being carried out independently.  It was also noted that charging times varied considerably depending on output and that a variety of charging points would be installed.   


Reference was made to vehicles with fold up seats with many commenting that they had owned vehicles with this provision themselves. Officers were asked of the number of vehicles that would be affected.  Officer’s did not have the information to hand but commented that the vehicles would still be able to be used, but with limited capacity and not for the additional passengers. The reason for this was to ensure that someone could safely access the seat and could also exit the vehicle safely regardless of any disability.  


With regard to ensuring that those driving vehicles were fit and proper persons how would the council know who hadn’t been the subject of DBS check?


Mrs Wilcox clarified that all drivers would be required to undertake an enhanced disclosure through the Disclosure and Barring Service, along with the Adult and Child Barred lists.


Confirmation was sought on whether all drivers needed a ‘knowledge test’ for each of the areas in North Northamptonshire.  It was clarified that this would not be necessary as long as they knew the main trunk roads and had a general awareness of the area, although knowledge tests for the relevant zone would still be required for new Hackney Carriage driver applicants.


Officers clarified that new guidance packs would be issued to all drivers to assist them with understanding the new policy application requirements.


Councillor L Lawman proposed the recommendation within the report, and this was seconded by Councillor Hallam.   On being put to the vote the motion was declared carried.


 Resolved that:


(i)            The consultation responses and officer comments thereon be noted;

(ii)            It be recommended to the Executive that the Policy and Appendices thereto be adopted by North Northamptonshire Council, with the recommended review period of two years;

(iii)           It be recommended to the Executive thatthe Policy take effect from

1 April 2023.



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