Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Licensing Policy
5. Private hire operator licences
The relevant law, (Section 55 of the Local Government (Miscellaneous) Provisions Act 1976) requires that the Council must be satisfied that the applicant is a “fit and proper” person before issuing a private hire operator licence.
In order for you to prove that you are “fit and proper” you must provide evidence of:
- an acceptable Disclosure and Barring Service certificate and/or certificate of good conduct (where relevant)
- knowledge of the relevant conditions and legislation
- knowledge of Child Sexual Exploitation by successfully undertaking an approved course as detailed below at 5.4
- any other information reasonably that the council may need to determine your application
Applications must be made online via the council’s website and all required documents provided. Any forms received without accompanying documentation will be returned to the applicant.
It is your responsibility to renew your licence before it expires and if you have not submitted a valid renewal application before your licence expires you will need to apply for a new licence. (see 5.9 below).
Applying for a Licence
Applications will only be accepted if they include the following:
- A fully completed application form and the correct payment
- One colour, passport sized photograph of yourself taken within the last month prior to the application which conforms to the standards required by HM Passport Office. This requirement is waived if you hold a current driver's licence with the Council
- Public liability insurance (where relevant)
- Employer’s liability insurance (where relevant).
- Evidence of right to occupy the intended premises to be used as the operating centre such as land registry document, a signed lease (or a tenancy agreement with a minimum of 12 months remaining) issued by the freeholder/landlord.
5.1 Licence Fee
All applications must be accompanied by the correct fee. Information about taxi and private hire fees is available here. Licensing fees are reviewed every year and considered and agreed by the council following any required advertising.
5.2 Criminal Record and Acceptable Behaviour
Unless the applicant is a current driver, all applicants for a new licence will have to provide a basic Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) Certificate which is not more than 3 months old. Any information on the Certificate will be considered in line with the council’s Criminal Records and Acceptable Behaviour Policy (at Appendix 4). All licensed operators are required to produce a new basic disclosure Certificate from the DBS on an annual basis.
If you have been absent from the United Kingdom for a continuous period of three months or more since the age of 18, you will also be required to provide a certificate of good conduct from any country or countries where you have lived.
Where existing operators commit offences and/or breaches of licence conditions, the nature and number of incidents will be taken into consideration along with the council’s Criminal Convictions and Acceptable Behaviour Policy when making any decisions about what action should be taken. Complaints or warnings will usually be held on file during any licence or application period and can also be taken into consideration if there is a period when the operator is not licensed. If your licence is revoked for persistent breaches of licence conditions, we would not usually grant another operator licence to you for a period of 3 to 5 years.
The council will not normally issue an operator licence to anyone who does not comply with the minimum requirements set out in the council’s Criminal Records and Acceptable Behaviour Policy (see Appendix 4). Where several minor offences or failures to comply with instructions or requests have been committed, the council will take into consideration any pattern of offending. The council will take all relevant information into consideration when considering an application for a private hire operator licence. You must inform the Licensing Authority in writing within 48 hours if you have been arrested, charged, cautioned or convicted of any offence (including motoring offences) if you have a current licence or if you have submitted an application to renew your licence or for a new licence. You (or someone on your behalf) must also notify us in writing within 48 hours if you have been detained by the police. Fixed Penalty Notices must be reported to the Licensing Service in writing when it is accepted, as opposed to when the driving licence has been updated.
Operators are also required to check that any staff they employ are safe and suitable in terms of any criminal history. In order to achieve this operators will need to require Basic DBS Disclosures from any new member of staff and confirm that they comply with this own Policy for Employing Ex-Offenders. Staff DBS checks should be carried out on an annual basis.
5.3 Knowledge Tests
All new applicants are required to demonstrate knowledge of relevant conditions and legislation.
Knowledge will be assessed principally by interview with Council officers. Operators will be expected to maintain their knowledge and this will be assessed periodically throughout the duration of the licence. New operators may be required to sign certificates of conformity or compliance to confirm they have read the Council's Policy and any related guidance. This requirement may apply to all company directors where the licence applicant is a company.
5.4 Child Sexual Exploitation Training
The council is committed to keeping children and vulnerable people safe and it is important that all licensed operators are aware of safeguarding issues. It is therefore a requirement that all operators are properly trained so that they can protect people who may be in danger of being abused or exploited.
Any existing operators who have not yet been trained will have to attend the training course within 12 months of this policy being adopted. Refresher training will also be required for all operators every 3 years.
5. 5 Trading Names
Only trading or business names which have been authorised in writing by the Licensing Service can be used. This requirement includes any names used on promotional material, advertisements, website information or any other written documents.
To prevent confusion to the public, trading names will generally not be authorised if they are actively being used by a company in an adjoining authority and, in these circumstances, any trading names would not then normally be authorised until they had not been actively used for a period of at least 18 months. Trading names will only be authorised or retained where there is evidence that they are actively used by the operator. Trading names can also be removed in appropriate circumstances.
5.6 Company Applicants
Applications can be made in the name of a company. In these circumstances all company directors must be named on the application form. Any director who does not hold a valid operator licence at the time of application will be required to demonstrate knowledge of the relevant licence conditions and legislation to the Council's satisfaction and undertake the child sexual exploitation training referred to above. All directors must be considered to be “fit and proper” persons in order for a licence to be issued to the company. As part of this process valid and appropriate identity documents will be required to be provided.
Any changes to directors during the licence period must be notified to Licensing Services in writing within seven days of the change. Any new director will also need to be considered a “fit and proper person” to undertake the role and will have to demonstrate knowledge of the relevant licence conditions and legislation to the Council's satisfaction, undertake the child sexual exploitation training and submit a DBS Disclosure application within two months of the notification.
If the new director fails to comply with these requirements the council will consider taking formal action against the operator licence.
To make sure that we can carry out any necessary checks or enforcement, the council will not issue an operator licence to anyone whose operating centre or intended operating centre is outside of the council’s area.
If you do not own the premises you will have to provide evidence, such as a signed lease or a tenancy-at will with a minimum of 12 months remaining) issued by the freeholder/landlord that you have a right to use the building as an operating centre. The premises must also comply with the operator licence conditions.
You will need to provide details of a landline telephone number along with evidence that the bookings are made via the operating centre. Only telephone numbers which have been approved in writing by the council can be used for the acceptance of bookings.
Public liability insurance will be required if members of the public are permitted to visit the operating centre and the operator is responsible for the safety and behaviour of any staff that they employ or use.
Specific conditions may be placed on operator licences depending on the circumstances and these may include measures to prevent noise and other nuisance to local residents or other businesses. Drivers and members of the public will not usually be allowed to visit operating centres in residential areas and no more than two licensed vehicles would usually be permitted to visit or be kept at premises in these areas.
Any changes to the operating centre must be approved in writing by the Licensing Authority before they are implemented.
5.8 Planning Permission
You may also need to obtain planning consent to operate private hire vehicles from your proposed operating centre. Before you submit your application for an operator licence you are strongly advised to contact the council’s Planning Department to confirm whether you also need to apply for planning permission. Operating private hire vehicles without any required approval could result in action being taken against your licence.
5.9 Renewal of Licences
It is your responsibility to ensure that your licence is renewed before it expires. The council will not accept a renewal application after your licence has expired and you would be required to submit an application for a new licence.
If you submit a new application in these circumstances within three months of the expiry of your previous licence you will not, however, be required to undertake child sexual exploitation training (unless you are due to take refresher training).
5.10 Rights of appeal
If we are considering refusing your application or suspending or revoking your licence you will usually be invited to attend a meeting with an officer of the council to discuss our concerns and to give you the opportunity to respond. If you don’t want to attend a meeting you will be given the opportunity to provide your comments in writing. The final decision about what will happen with your licence will then be made by a senior member of staff in line with our decision making process which is set out at 6 below.
If your licence is suspended or revoked or your application is refused you have the right to appeal to a Magistrates Court and you must do this within 21 days from the date of which the letter confirming the council’s decision is served on you.