I'm joining a cross party group of MPs in calling for new rules to tackle cross border hiring and introduce national minimum standards for licensing across the country.
Some private hire vehicle (PHV) drivers have been exploiting the sub-contracting clause in the Deregulation Act 2015, which effectively allows them to be licensed by one local authority and operate in the area of another – known as cross border hiring.
In such cases, local licensing authorities are left with no control over which drivers operate in their local area, ultimately leaving them unable to protect passengers and the public. This was seen with the most damaging impact following the Rotherham child sex abuse scandal, where PHVs were used to groom and transport victims. Despite the Council’s efforts to introduce mandatory CCTV in all taxis and PHVs, drivers simply obtained a licence from a different authority without this requirement, and continued to operate in Rotherham.
In order to address this problem and ensure that cases such as this never arise again, both a statutory definition of cross border hiring – such as a journey must begin or end in the drivers’ area of licence – and national minimum licensing standards must be brought into force together.
Local authorities should have the right to introduce the licensing requirements that they consider necessary to protect their residents. Such a definition would prevent operators who have been refused a licence by one local authority continuing to operate in that area having been licensed elsewhere.
The All Party Group on Taxis has written to the Secretary of State and I will keep you updated when we get a reply.