Keep safe on your taxi journey in Newark and Sherwood
PASSENGERS using taxis in Newark and Sherwood are being warned to put safety first while saving money by supporting local cabbies.
Issues of over-charging and whether out-of-district operators’ vehicles are road-worthy have become a concern for Newark and Sherwood District Council’s taxi inspectors.
The council is responsible for taxi licensing in the district but does not have authority over cabbies and their vehicles who are not licensed by the district council.
This means inspectors cannot, for example, stop a taxi to check on the condition of the vehicle or verify the driver’s credentials.
Deregulation in 2015 brought changes to the taxi trade meaning that a private hire driver does not have to live or operate in the local area that grants his or her licence. This has led to an influx of out- of-town vehicles competing against NSDC licensed vehicles and threatening their livelihoods.
Alan Batty, the council’s public protection business manager, said: “Although taxi operators from outside the district are not doing anything illegal by working in Newark and Sherwood, they are beyond our control and passengers will find that they will be charged considerably more for a journey than if they use a taxi firm that is licensed in Newark and Sherwood.
“As a licensing authority, we do not know these out-of-town firms and we won’t have inspected their vehicles or checked their drivers as we do not have the power to do so.
”Our advice is that when booking, make sure you use a Newark and Sherwood District Council licensed taxi. Check with the driver if necessary as this not only supports local trade, people need to be aware that not all licensed drivers/vehicles go through the same safeguarding and safety checks that NSDC carry out. Please also check out the fare before you agree to proceed with your intended journey.”
The council is responsible for licensing Hackney carriages, private hire vehicles and their drivers who must have enhanced DBS (Disclosure & Barring Service) checks and be registered with the DBS Update Service which allows the authority to check a driver’s record at any time.
Regular DVLA checks are carried out on all drivers as well as medical assessments to ensure that they are “fit and proper” to hold a licence. Cabbies, whose standard of driving is checked by a local driving instructor, must also sit a knowledge test which includes the following areas:
- Highway Code
- Customer care
- Laws and conditions
All drivers attend a mandatory safeguarding course giving advice on who to contact if they have safeguarding concerns. This is practise across Nottinghamshire as a result of child sexual exploitation cases elsewhere in the country.
Taxis (Hackney carriages) can be pre-booked or hailed in the street and sit on taxi ranks while private hire vehicles cannot sit on a taxi rank or be flagged down. These must be pre-booked by telephoning the operator in advance and local licensing authorities have no power to set fares. People using private hire vehicles should agree a fare (or rate per miles) with the operator when booking a journey.
All taxis are fitted with a meter which is set to Newark and Sherwood District Council tariffs and cannot charge more than the metered fare but can charge less. There is an age policy for vehicles which means they must be under five years old when first licensed (this is changing to under four years old from September) and not more than eight years of age on renewal. Wheelchair accessible vehicles must be under seven years when first licensed and not more than 12 on renewal.
All NSDC licensed cars are tested for their roadworthiness every six months to ensure that they are safe to carry fee-paying passengers. Hackney carriages have white plates displaying their plate number, how many passengers it can carry and the expiry date. They also have roundels showing the NSDC logo which is displayed on the side of the vehicles. Private hire vehicles have yellow plates showing the same information. Both have internal plates that are displayed on the front window of the vehicle. All licensed drivers wear their council-issued driver’s badge in a position so that it is plainly visible.
If you have comment/complaint regarding taxis operating in NSDC then please let us know on 01636 655000 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org - if they are not licensed by us then we will pass the complaint over to the relevant licensing authority.