Licensing department update
As you will all be aware, the impact of Covid-19 is making many resources temporarily unavailable. The Licensing department is currently on limited duties and our office is now closed. We can still be contacted via email or telephone.
Any vehicle or driver renewals, including DBS checks that are due, you must contact us via email with all the relevant scanned documentation. Due to the current circumstances, we are unable to take payment for renewal applications however, if you still wish to renew, this payment will taken at a later date.
(Please note: If this payment is not made, we have the right to stop any future renewal applications.)
The latest Department of Transport (DfT) advice for Taxi Drivers
Taxi drivers are still allowed to take fares as normal during the coronavirus outbreak and are seen as an important part of the public transport network. They are crucial for transporting healthcare and other essential employees to their place of work when there are no other means of transport available.
- Try to stay two metres apart, so passengers should always sit in the back of your cab.
- Let passengers handle their own bags and belongings whenever possible.
- Always cough or sneeze into a tissue and dispose of it safely straight away.
- Use disinfectant wipes on seatbelts and door handles between fares.
- Accept card payments and pre-payments, so you’re handling cash as rarely as possible.
- Don’t touch your face.
- Keep soap and water or sanitising gel in your taxi, so you can wash your hands frequently for at least 20 seconds, especially after touching customers’ bags and belongings.
- Never work if you have new symptoms, such as a continuous cough or high temperature.
- If you are collecting passengers from airports or train stations, it is worth checking the travel destinations of potential passengers to protect yourself from possible infection.
Vehicle Testing Update
From 30th March 2020 all taxis and private hire vehicles which would usually require a MOT test will be exempted from needing a test for six months. Vehicles must be kept in roadworthy condition. Further action can be taken if proprietors are found to be driving unsafe vehicles.
Additionally, to the above information, it has also been decided to include Council mechanical tests within the above criteria. Council mechanical test certificates will be extended by six months.
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.