The purpose of licensing drivers, vehicles and operators is to provide the travelling public with a safe, comfortable journey in cars that are maintained to a high standard and driven by competent trustworthy and medically fit drivers who always behave in a civil and orderly manner.
Applicants for driver licences are required, in law, to be “fit and proper” persons. For this purpose Darlington Council requires applicants to undertake the following:
- Driving Standards Agency (DSWA) taxi test
- Medical undertaken to Group II standards at application, then every 5 years from 45 years of age and annually from 65 years of age
- Enhanced Criminal Records Bureau check at application and then every 3 years.
- Knowledge test which includes questions on licensing legislation, Highway Code, route knowledge and in the case of hackney carriage drivers, taxi ranks and tariffs.
The law requires applicants to have held a full driving licence for a minimum period of 12 months. Applicants who hold licences issued outside of the United Kingdom are required to obtain a D9 form from DVLA Swansea. Drivers with points on their licences may be referred to the Council’s Licensing Committee for a decision about their application or licence.
Taxi drivers are exempt from the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act and, therefore, offences are never “spent” and must be declared. Applicants with convictions may be referred to the Council’s Licensing committee for a decision. You may find it helpful to discuss any convictions with a member of the Licensing team prior to making an application. Such discussion will be carried out in private and will remain confidential.
Applicants for operator licences are also required, in law, to be “fit and proper” persons. For this purpose, if an applicant does not already hold a taxi driver licence the Council requires applicants to produce a police check or basic disclosure that is no older than one month. All applicants for operator licences must have operating premises within the borough of Darlington.
Applicants for vehicle licences are subject to a range of Council policies including a requirement that a hackney carriage must be red in colour and a private hire may be any colour but red. Vehicles must successfully undertake testing with VOSA at application and mid way through the annual licence. In addition there are restrictions on the age of vehicles – currently all vehicles must be under the age of 3 years at first application and cannot be licensed after the 6th anniversary of registration (unless either a purpose built vehicle such as a London Cab) which may be licensed until 10th anniversary of registration or a vehicle that meets the “exceptionally well maintained” criteria which may be given an additional year of licence.
A new Private Hire and Taxi Licensing Policy has been approved by Darlington’s Full Council for implementation on the 1st January 2021
There have been several changes to the policy which include:
- New age policy for vehicles
- Requirement to subscribe to the DBS update service
- Increased in times criminal convictions will be relevant to applications
- Change to the window tint requirements
- Allow no-structural ‘write offs’ to be considered
- Only electronic payments will be acceptable
- Restrictions to advertising
You are advised to contact the licensing department should you have any queries over how the new policy may affect your application.