On this page:
Advice for the taxi trade - MOTs and Certificates of Compliance - update 1 April 2020
Advice for the taxi trade - update 25 March 2020
Licensing Service update 23 March 2020
Information for licensed premises in respect of enforced business closures - 21 March 2020
Advice to the taxi trade - update 19 March 2020
Advice to the taxi trade 13 March 2020
The Licensing Service office is now closed temporarily and staff are working from home following the Prime Minister's instruction to "stay at home" during the Coronavirus pandemic.
We will continue to reply to email enquiries and answer calls as efficiently as possible, however there may be a delay in responding. The following contact numbers are available between 10am and 4pm for essential enquiries only:
- Taxi licensing - 01253 478570 or 01253 478343
- Licensing Act - 01253 478572 or 01253 478589 or 01253 478397
We are unable to receive applications by post at this time, so please ensure any applications are made either online (where the facility exists via our website) or by email (essential applications only).
Thank you for your patience and understanding.
Due to the Coronavirus outbreak the Council's vehicle inspection depot in Layton is now closed for taxi inspections until further notice. The Licensing Service will allow any vehicles requiring an inspection to obtain an MOT certificate in lieu of a Certificate of Compliance in the intervening period. Government guidance has been issued to MOT testing stations and they have been granted permission to stay open during the current restrictions.
You must inform the Licensing Service once you have had your vehicle tested and an MOT certificate issued in order that we can check the details against the online DVLA database and update your vehicle record. You are not required to produce a copy of the MOT certificate to us. Your MOT will only be valid for licensing purposes until the date your Certificate of Compliance would normally be due.
The Government has today announced a temporary MOT exemption will be granted to vehicle owners from Monday 30 March.
In respect of licensed Hackney Carriage and Private Hire vehicles which are due an inspection:
- Vehicles already booked in for tests this week at Layton Depot are unaffected and will continue to be tested as normal
- Future tests booked in at the depot after next week are to be temporarily suspended - if you have made a booking you will be contacted directly with further information
- If your existing Certificate of Compliance runs out before 30 March and you do not have a booking this week for an inspection at the Council's Depot you will need to get an MOT for your vehicle and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org in order that we can update our records. There are no exemptions for MOTs or Certificates of Compliance that run out prior to 30 March.
- In respect of arrangements from 30 March, further details will be posted on this page once the Government has published its guidance in respect of the new regulations.
It is important to note that vehicles must be kept in a roadworthy condition and that garages will remain open for essential repair work. You can be prosecuted for driving an unsafe vehicle.
Critical worker status
The Department for Transport has posted an update today on the current situation regarding the continued working of taxis and private hire vehicles:
"Taxis and private hire vehicles can continue to work. But the advice is absolutely clear - people should stay at home if possible. That is the way to save lives and protect our NHS. The public should avoid travel unless absolutely essential. The only reasons to leave our houses are set out in the government guidance.
Clearly if absolutely necessary to travel by taxi or private hire vehicle, best efforts should be used to follow the guidance as far as is practically possible, including washing your hands as soon as you get home.
Taxi and private hire drivers should not generally be considered Critical Workers. Those undertaking Home to School transport or the transport of ‘extremely vulnerable’ people may be considered Critical Workers on a case-by-case basis. Critical Workers should also whenever possible make suitable arrangements for their children to stay at home; requests for children to attend school should be discussed with the school.”
Further to Government advice in respect of Social Distancing during the Coronavirus pandemic, the Licensing Service counter in the Customer First centre on Corporation Street is now closed. This measure has been taken to protect staff, customers and the wider community in assisting to reduce the transmission of COVID-19 and is in line with other licensing authorities across the UK.
- The service will continue to operate on a “non-contact” basis by telephone and email.
- Our phone lines are open from 10am to 4pm.
- We request that only essential applications and paperwork is submitted at this time. If necessary, applications can be emailed to email@example.com Once we have reviewed your application we will contact you for payment by credit/debit card as required.
The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Business Closure) (England) Regulations 2020, providing Coronavirus closure powers, came into force immediately from 2pm on Saturday 21 March 2020.
The regulations provide a criminal sanction (unlimited fine) and enforcement powers to ensure the closure of licensed premises such as restaurants, cafes, bars, pubs, cinemas, theatres, nightclubs, bingo halls, concert halls, casinos, betting shops and other premises such as leisure centres. Exclusions include food and drink take-aways, cafes in hospitals, schools and hotel room service. Please note that although room service is permitted, any hotel breakfast room, dining room, hotel restaurant or hotel bar must remain closed. Bars in private members' clubs must also remain closed. The Government will review the need for these restrictions every 28 days.
Following on from the COVID-19 update published below on 13 March we have seen a number of key developments from the Government affecting people all across the country. This is an unprecedented situation that is evolving on a daily basis with Government advice constantly being updated. Blackpool Council, as well as all Councils across the country, are responding to Government updates as soon as they possibly can. The Council continues to react to Government advice and the Corporate Leadership Team are working hard to ensure that decisions are made in the best interests of its residents and service users and that they are made without delay.
The Licensing Service recognises that the current situation impacts upon the Hackney Carriage and Private Hire trade. In terms of maintaining applications, both existing and new applicants, we are doing everything we can to ensure that drivers, proprietors and operators can continue to operate safely during these challenging times. We should all continue to follow Government guidance on how we all can reduce the risk of infection to ourselves and others, as well as ensuring we follow advice regarding self-isolation where necessary.
We recognise that many of you will be concerned about how your licences may be affected if you are unable to fulfil a required medical assessment or if your vehicle is due to undertake a "pit" inspection. We are aware that all routine appointments at GP surgeries have been cancelled and it may be possible that at some point in the future the Council's vehicle maintenance depot in Layton is unable to remain operational in light of current events. Therefore, we have put a plan in place which ensures that, in the short term at least, these matters will not impact on your ability to remain licensed. These are as follows:
- In the event that the Council depot was to close and "pit" tests are unavailable, we will allow standard MOTs in place of a valid Certificate of Compliance in the intervening period.
- With immediate effect, existing drivers who would normally be due to produce medical evidence of fitness to drive are NOT required to do so until further notice.
Drivers are reminded that tyres with a tread depth of under 2mm should be replaced as soon as practicable in line with Council policy.
These measures have been implemented with knowledge of Government advice available at the time of writing. It is important to note that as Government advice changes we will look to adapt to the situation as soon as possible.
The Licensing department currently remains open for business, albeit working on a skeleton staff basis. Anyone seeking assistance from the service is encouraged to do so via phone or electronic means rather than in person. Please note there may be a delay in responding to your enquiry, and we would appreciate it if you would refrain from contacting us with non-urgent enquiries in order that we can concentrate on processing applications in order to keep the trade "on the road".
The advice in relation to COVID-19 (Coronavirus) is changing constantly as is the position in relation to the number and severity of reported cases. As a result we're monitoring and regularly reviewing the situation and responding accordingly.
It is important to take advice and guidance from Public Health England (PHE) and Government websites and not from social media websites. Following the advice of Public Health England, Blackpool Council is providing the following guidance to taxi and private hire drivers to help prevent the catching and spreading of Coronavirus.
Drivers are encouraged to:
- Always carry tissues and use them to catch coughs and sneezes
- Dispose of used tissues in the bin as soon as possible
- Wash hands thoroughly and regularly with soap and water, or use sanitiser gel, to kill germs
- Clean surfaces regularly with sanitising wipes or spray to get rid of germs
We advise all taxi and private hire drivers to follow these simple and sensible steps at all times and particularly in the wake of the outbreak of Coronavirus. We would also encourage licensees to take sensible and routine precautionary measures. Taxi drivers should regularly clean card payment devices, seatbelt buckles, door handles and other surfaces that customers may touch. Licensees who share a taxi or private hire vehicle with other drivers should regularly clean the steering wheel and instruments.
Public Health England have published information for employers and businesses and staff in the transport sector which includes guidance on facemasks.
Public Health England is the lead agency and is providing regularly updated information for the public on the outbreak of Coronavirus, including the current situation in the UK and information about the virus and its symptoms.
If you are worried about Coronavirus, have a cough, temperature or shortness of breath and have been in physical contact with someone from an affected area then the NHS advises you to:
- Stay indoors and avoid contact with other people as you would with the flu
- Call NHS 111
We would expect all private hire operators to fully cooperate with any enquiries they may receive from Public Health England or any other relevant agencies.
Whilst the above advice is current at the time of writing, please regularly check the Public Health England and NHS websites for updated information.