The APPG on Taxis today launched their comprehensive report Lessons from London: the future of the UK taxi tradeafter a three month investigation led by its Chair Wes Streeting MP. It calls on the Government to give the Mayor of London the power to cap the number of Private Hire Vehicles (PHVs) on London’s streets, stop cross border hiring, and set out a robust set of minimum licensing standards for taxis and PHVs across the country.
The pollution and congestion on London’s streets is no long sustainable, with nearly 9,500 deaths each year caused by long term exposure to air pollution and congestion on the rise due to the massive increase in PHVs on London’s streets – now standing at 120,000 according to Transport for London. To limit the increasing numbers of PHVs and improve congestion and air quality, the Mayor of London has asked Government for the power to cap PHVs as part of his recently launched Mayor’s Transport Strategy.
This cap in London will be ineffective without the Government acting to stop ‘cross border hiring’, as PHV drivers could simply avoid it by being licensed in neighbouring authorities such as Watford. Councils across the country are currently unable to effectively regulate who operates in their area due to the Deregulation Act 2015. When Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council tried to institute tough new licensing regulations last year in the aftermath of the child grooming scandal, they found that taxi and PHV drivers could avoid them by being licenced in neighbouring authorities and then legally operating in Rotherham.
The report makes a number of recommendations, including calling on the Government to:
Grant the Mayor of London and any other Mayors or combined authorities who request it, the power to cap the number of PHVs;
Create a statutory definition of cross border hiring whereby a journey must “begin or end in the licensing authority where the licence was issued”;
Consult on statutory guidance for taxi and PHV licensing and set out a robust set of minimum licensing standards for all licensing authorities.