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The Realities of Taxi Licensing in Derby

August 24, 2019 4:45 PM

Derby has about 270 licensed Hackney taxis (currently yellow) which can be flagged down or found on taxi ranks. They can also do pre-booked work. Derby also has about 1000 Private Hire vehicles which can only do pre-booked work. There are also quite a number of hackney taxis licensed by other councils that do pre-booked work in the city. Derby City Council has no control over those "outside" vehicles. They are allowed to work outside of their licensed area due to a legal loophole.

Derby has an ageing fleet. Most Hackney taxis are between 10 and 17 years old, and most Private Hires are between 5 and 15 years old. The vast majority are diesel. There are real concerns about pollution levels from these vehicles, and their overall condition.

The Hackney trade in Derby is no so buoyant as eg in Nottingham. Also, Derby doesn't restrict the number of Hackneys, unlike in Nottingham. So, Derby drivers don't make as good a living as their counterparts in Nottingham.

The intention of Derby City Council to improve the Hackney taxi and Private Hire fleets in the city is right and is supported by the Liberal Democrats. The question is: how to do this without having unintended consequences.

The proposal that went to Licensing Committee on 22nd August to require all Hackney taxis to be a minimum of Euro 6 diesel (manufactured after September 2015) sounded good - in theory. The reality is that many Derby drivers couldn't afford to buy a £60,000 vehicle within the next 16 months. So, what would happen? Many of them would get their existing vehicles (or slightly newer ones) licensed by another council, and then continue to work in Derby doing Private Hire work. See the reference above to the legal loophole. The outcome would be very little, if any, improvement in emission levels, and a loss of control by the City Council over much of the current Hackney taxi fleet.

The taxi trade themselves had made a counter-proposal that they would be willing to go to the Euro 5 standard within a short timeframe. This would have meant Hackney taxis no older than 2011/12 being licensed in Derby. This would have meant the vast majority of the current Hackney fleet being changed for newer vehicles. There is a second-hand market in Euro 5 taxis, so drivers could expect to be able to buy one for about £10,000.

This is why the Lib Dem councillors on the Licensing Committee proposed that all Hackney taxis in the city should be Euro 5 compliant by 1.9.2020, and then be Euro 6 compliant by 1.1.2025. This was voted down by both Conservatives and Labour.

The proposal that passed was that Hackney taxis must be Euro 6 compliant by 1.1.2025. This is unsatisfactory as it still leaves an aged, polluting fleet on the road for some years.

The Lib Dems see the committee decision as unfinished business. A Euro 5 requirement is needed in the short term to get the worst polluting vehicles off the road, at a cost that the trade can afford. Councillor Ruth Skelton has already asked that the issue of Euro 5 be put on the next committee agenda.