To receive a report regarding driving qualifications for new (and existing) Hackney Carriage and Private Hire drivers.
The Committee had before it a report* from the Director of Corporate Affairs and Business Transformation regarding driving qualifications for new and existing Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Drivers. The Lead Licencing Officer explained that Mid Devon District Council required all new Hackney Carriage and Private Hire drivers to complete a Driving Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) Driver Assessment as part of the application process. Existing drivers were sometimes required to take this test if there had been concerns about their standard of driving.
The officer explained that the DVSA had recently notified the licensing authority that this test would be withdrawn from 31 December 2016, although it appeared from the relevant website that bookings could no longer be made. As a result, the licensing authority needed to research and establish suitable testing alternatives.
On behalf of a number of Councils, the Local Government Association had raised concerns with the Department for Transport over the short period of notice given for this decision. It was initially hoped that this would lead to a temporary extension of the existing qualification, however it did not look like that would now be the case.
In order to ensure that the licensing process could carry on with as little disruption as possible, especially to new applicants, it was important that alternative options were put in place as soon as possible
The report suggested that, in the absence of a single recognised qualification provided by a national government agency, the Council maintained a list of appropriate driving qualifications which it considered to be suitable for licensing purposes. Applicants for new Hackney Carriage and Private Hire driver’s licences would then be required to select from this list and pass a relevant qualification as part of the application process. Similarly, those existing drivers required to take a qualification for enforcement purposes could choose from the list.
It was further suggested that the maintenance of such a list, including the addition and removal of qualifications, be delegated to the Public Health and Professional Services Manager and the Lead Licensing Officer. This would allow the list to be updated faster and help to ensure that in future, delays were kept to a minimum should the qualifications available be altered.
Discussion took place regarding:
· The possibility of specifying a qualification that met the required standard and asking agencies to provide testing for that qualification;
· It was believed that DVSA instructors were being used by new providers;
· Disappointment in the limited amount of notice given by the DVSA;
· The possibility of using the Fire Service who were running driver instructor training and could be in a position to run tailor-made courses.
It was RESOLVED that;
a) All applicants for a Hackney Carriage/Private Hire driver licence be required to produce evidence of successful completion of a driving qualification which was included within a list of acceptable qualifications maintained by the Council (replacing the previous requirement of the DVSA taxi driver assessment).
b) That authority to establish a list of acceptable qualifications be delegated to the Public Health and Professional Services Manager and the Lead Licensing Officer. This would also include the authority to add, amend and remove qualifications from the list.
(Proposed by Cllr R J Chesterton and seconded by Cllr P H D Hare Scott)
Note: a) Report * previously circulated and attached to signed Minutes.
b) Cllr Mrs F J Colthorpe declared an interest as she was a Member of the Fire Authority.