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Council Toughens Safety and Efficiency Rules for Taxis

Published on: 14 Apr, 2021
Updated on: 16 Apr, 2021

The teal livery on taxis licensed by Guildford Borough Council.

By Martin Giles

Passengers of taxis and private hire vehicles travelling in Guildford will now be safer, the council says, following the update of licensing policy to improve standards and make services more efficient.

All drivers will now need to be checked by the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) every six months, all licensed taxis will be fitted with CCTV and training and vetting will be improved for private hire operators. The changes follow new rules set by the Department for Transport.

Mark Rostron, who has spoken on behalf of Guildford taxi drivers over many years, objected to the continuing policy of a mandatory green livery on taxis licensed by GBC.

He said there was no public safety reason for it and it was really for “council branding”, claiming those words had been removed from some reports. A council officer’s statement that the reason was included in government licensing standards was untrue, he said.

As a result, said Mr Rostron, the livery policy was “ultra vires”, outside the council’s statutory powers.

“The actual choice of livery colour was the result of a secret, unauthorised meeting attended by four councillors and four officers who didn’t keep any minutes and the associated emails have all now been destroyed,” he added.

Mark Rostron (photographed in 2016)

Mr Rostron asked councillors to consider the matter seriously, advising them to make further checks before agreeing the policy or it could turn out to be very expensive “for your good selves”.

But councillors were assured by James Steel (Lib Dem, Westborough), lead for Environment, that officers had made all the necessary legal checks.

And he pointed out that the Guildford livery was intended to allow customers to identify properly licensed cabs but Cllr George Potter (Lib Dem, Burpham) observed this put them at a financial disadvantage to mini-cab drivers.

Ian Doyle, director of Service Delivery, said: “This updated policy will help improve driving, vehicle and operator standards in our borough and will help make passengers feel safer.

“As a local authority, we are responsible for ensuring safe travel through well-regulated services in our borough.

“We want to set standards which are among the highest in the country to ensure all passengers feel safe when travelling in a taxi or other private hire vehicle. These measures will both protect the people and build public confidence in our services.“

There will also be stricter vehicle emission standards to help reduce air pollution and improved maintenance, helping to ensure vehicle safety.

Mr Doyle continued: “Taxis are one of the main methods of transport for those travelling to and from Guildford in the evening, especially at weekends, and we want to make sure all passengers feel protected and safe.

“Guildford remains the only town in Surrey with a Purple Flag for the quality and safety of its nights out.

“We look forward to seeing our residents supporting our pubs, bars and restaurants again and enjoy returning to our stunning historic town as coronavirus restrictions ease. Please continue to be considerate to one another and make sure you use only Guildford-licensed taxis and private hire cars.”

“The Guildford Town Purple Flag Partnership Group (GTPFP) is led by us and our Business Improvement District, Experience Guildford, and is supported by a broad range of organisations including Surrey Police, the Safer Guildford Partnership, Street Angels and Guildford Pub Watch.”


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Responses to Council Toughens Safety and Efficiency Rules for Taxis

  1. Martin Elliott Reply

    April 14, 2021 at 10:14 pm

    I believe other towns, wanting to differentiate taxis, introduced compulsory colours schemes.
    However, none were as radicle as Guildford.

    I remember Brighton having contrast green bonnets and boot/hatch lids.

    Even more eye-catching and far less financially penalising on purchase and disposal of the vehicles.

    Yet I remember the policy virtually being presented as a faits accomplis having been agreed by the Licencing Committee chairman and council officers.

    So much for council the promises of openness and honesty if records of that period of the Licensing Committee business have been deliberately erased.

  2. John Lomas Reply

    April 14, 2021 at 11:15 pm

    What, might I ask, is being done to check the driving standards of these drivers. The ordinary driving test is only a basic capability test.

    DVSA no longer conduct their Taxi Driver Test. And if council employees are checking the taxi drivers how are they qualified to do that?

    There are some people out there who have the necessary skills to advise, they are Grade A DVSA Approved Driving Instructors or as an alternative, there are the examiners used by ROADAR the ROSPA Advanced Drivers and Riders organisation.

  3. Paul Jarvis Reply

    April 15, 2021 at 9:39 am

    I’m all for updating requirements for safety but were there actually any safety concerns with the previous rules to require these changes? Seems that taxi drivers are getting more and more requirements whilst the likes of Uber are getting more and more prominent in Guildford.

    These issues were raised in the discussion along with stories of taxi drivers being put out of business due to the ever-increasing licence requirements. Yet, it was still voted through without much thought for the potential lost livelihoods.

    • Simon Carter Reply

      April 16, 2021 at 1:50 pm

      Spot on.

      I am all for improving standards but unless apps such as Lyft and Uber are also held to account then they will continue to pillage the taxi trade.

      Does anyone really think Uber will keep low prices once they have killed off their competition? This company is continually making a loss, underpaying drivers and their tax bill to help them eventually destroy the standards that Guildford council want to keep.

  4. John Perkins Reply

    April 15, 2021 at 6:25 pm

    Taxis in Germany are all cream coloured, which makes them easy to spot. They are also all Mercedes, though surely not by law, as that would be an illegal subsidy, would it not?

  5. Andrew Cox Reply

    April 16, 2021 at 6:57 pm

    In the early 1990s Guildford taxis all had to have the same roof signs to show that they were Guildford licensed taxis to make the public feel safe. Now they all have to be the same colour at a cost to the owner of approximately £1,500 to make the public feel safe. This cost has to be borne every time a driver replaces their taxi.

    Now they are being told they will have to have CCTV in their cars as well. I have been a taxi driver in Guildford for 32 years and really do not know of any safety issue problems. We are all DBS checked every three years.

    GBC seems to have a “do as you are told” attitude towards the taxi trade, no other neighbouring authority seem to act this way.

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