Since the Deregulation Act 2015 was introduced and put into effect at the start of October 2015, Taxi and Private Car Hire Licensing in Leeds and in other West Yorkshire counties have seen a number of negative outcomes from it two years on.
By Shin Yiing Lee
Under the revised legislation, subcontracting was made possible between operators, allowing taxis and private hire vehicles to operate across the whole of England and Wales. This resulted in an increase in cross-border operations, and passengers may also end up with a driver from an operator different to which they placed the booking with.
Leeds City Council’s Taxi and Private Car Hire Licensing has been working with West Yorkshire regional authorities to reduce cross border operations of drivers that have been licensed and suspended by neighbouring authorities.
“You might well have a vehicle that looks like it’s legitimately good because it’s licensed by another authority but that driver may have been suspended,” said Andrew White, from Taxi and Private Car Hire Licensing, Leeds. “They can say that they’ve just been subcontracting.”
In the Licensing Committee meeting on 3 April 2017, it was revealed that 20 Transport for London vehicles have been spotted operating in Leeds over the last 6 months.
Councillor Graham Hyde said: “If you go into Leeds on a night, you can see taxis coming from all over England to Leeds, and all over the place.”
These issues have been said to be a direct consequence of the change in legislation by the Deregulation Act 2015 and “it’s only going to get worse”, Councillor Hyde adds. “We really need to write to the national authorities about these changes, because all it needs is a couple of young people to get killed to become a national statement.”
According to John Mulcahy, Head of Elections, Licensing and Regulations, information regarding revoked and suspended drivers is being shared across West Yorkshire and York authorities, and joint operations are also being carried out in the city centre. “We’ve also had enforcement officers from Rossendale working with us in the city centre, looking at their vehicles as well.”
Mike Utting of Streamline Telecabs said: “Well, anybody that’s running a job out illegally or running a vehicle that’s not licensed is a danger to the public and is also uninsured. If a person’s license has been revoked by the council, they must have thought it necessary after having done the necessary checks.”
Passengers and citizens have been urged by Leeds City Council to report any unregistered or suspended taxi drivers they see to the Taxi and Private Hire Licensing team. All drivers should be prepared to show their badges, and passengers have the right to request to see it.