Information about drivers

If you are a taxi or private hire vehicle driver there are some changes in the law which came into effect in October 2010 that might affect you.

The Equality Act, which was passed in 2010, included some provisions relating specifically to taxis and private hire vehicles (PHVs) and disability.

Certain parts of the Act do not become law until the Government makes commencement orders to bring each part of it into force. The Government brought into force several parts of the Act in October 2010, including some, but not all, of the provisions that are specific to taxis and PHVs. Sections 165 and 167 of the Act come into force on 6th April 2017.

This note describes what happened from October 2010 and after April 2017 in relation to those parts of the Act that are specific to taxis and PHVs, and what the implications are for taxi and PHV drivers.

Duties on drivers to assist passengers in wheelchairs

The Equality Act is due to place duties on the drivers of designated wheelchair accessible taxis and PHVs to provide physical assistance to passengers in wheelchairs. These duties will come into force on 6th April 2017.

The duties will apply to the driver of any wheelchair accessible taxi or PHV which is on the licensing authority’s provisional list of designated wheelchair vehicles (word 65 kb).

If you are the driver of a wheelchair accessible taxi or PHV, it is advised that you find out what the duties are as Havant Borough Council does maintain a list of designated vehicles, and therefore the duties do apply to you.

Before the duties are brought into force, any drivers who suffer from a disability or a condition which would make it difficult for them to provide physical assistance can apply for an exemption from the duties to offer assistance.

If you wish to apply for an exemption you should do so as soon as possible by contacting the Licensing department at Havant Borough Council.

What do I need to do as a driver of a wheelchair accessible taxi or PHV?

If you are the driver of a wheelchair accessible taxi or PHV, the first thing you need to do is establish whether your vehicle is on the list of designated vehicles held by Havant Borough Council.

If your wheelchair accessible vehicle is to be included on the list, you will be required to carry out the duties to assist wheelchair users.

What are the day to day duties of a driver of a wheelchair accessible taxi or PHV?

The duties being placed on the drivers of designated wheelchair accessible taxis and PHVs are:

  • to carry the passenger while in a wheelchair
  • not to make any additional charge for doing so
  • if the passenger chooses to sit in a passenger seat, to carry the wheelchair
  • to take such steps as are necessary to ensure that the passenger is carried in safety and reasonable comfort; and
  • to give the passenger such mobility assistance as is reasonably required.

What does mobility assistance mean?

Mobility assistance essentially means helping passengers who use wheelchairs by providing physical assistance.

If the passenger wishes to remain in the wheelchair, the driver must help the passenger to get into and out of the vehicle.

If the passenger wants to transfer to a seat, the driver must help him or her to get out of the wheelchair and into a seat and back into the wheelchair; the driver must also load the wheelchair into the vehicle.

The driver must also offer to load the passenger’s luggage into and out of the vehicle.

Exemption from duties

The new Act allows for exemptions from the duties on medical grounds or if the driver’s physical condition makes it impossible or unreasonably difficult for him or her to comply with those duties.

It is the responsibility of drivers who require an exemption to apply for one from their licensing authority before the duties come into force; they will have at least six months to go through this process.

The local licensing authority decides if a driver should be exempt from the duties.

The legislation allows a driver to appeal to the magistrates’ court within 28 days if the licensing authority decides not to issue an exemption certificate.

The Department will be printing and issuing to licensing authorities special Exemption Notices which exempted drivers must display on their vehicles in order that passengers will know that the driver is exempt from duties.

When will the duties come into force?

The duties to assist will come into force on 6th April 2017.

Drivers with a medical condition that prevents them from carrying out the duties will be able to apply to their licensing authority for an exemption from October 2010, before the duties come into force.

Guide Dogs

On the 1st of October the duties placed on taxi and PHV drivers and on PHV operators to carry guide dogs and other assistance dogs transferred from the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 to the Equality Act 2010.

Any person who is currently exempt from the duty to carry an assistance dog on medical grounds will continue to be exempt.  

That is because we have made a change in the law so that all existing exemption certificates and all existing exemption notices remain in force as though they had been made under the Equality Act 2010.

Do I have to take a different approach to the carriage of guide dogs?

No. The change was a technical one; the duties to carry guide dogs and other assistance dogs did not change.

I have an exemption certificate which says that it was issued under the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 – do I have to get a new one?

No, you do not have to get a new certificate; the certificate which you have been granted remains valid until its expiry date.

I have a special notice in my taxi/PHV which says that I am exempt from carrying guide dogs and mentions the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 – do I need to get a new one?

No, you do not have to get a new exemption notice; the notice which was provided by the licensing authority remains valid until its expiry date.

I have to be a 'fit and proper person' to be licensed, what does that mean?

Lord Bingham said it means that you must be a safe driver with a good driving record and adequate experience, sober, mentally and physically fit, honest, and not a person who would take advantage of their employment to abuse or assault passengers.  It has also been put another way; that you are a person that a parent would entrust their child to be alone with in a car.

What do I need to provide when applying for a licence?

A DBS check, a HBC-approved medical report, a full driving licence (held for at least 12 months), date of knowledge test, 2 passport sized photos, a completed IDS mandate and a completed application form (which requests the names and addresses of 2 references).  Full details are provided in an application pack obtainable from the Licensing Department, in person or by post.

Any applicant unable to provide a full 5 year address history in the UK must provide a Certificate of Good Conduct from their Embassy or Home Country Police and a Home Country Traffic Police Record, with English translation where necessary, to complete a total 5 year history.

We require evidence of right to work in the form of:- UK/EU passport (current or expired), EU ID card, Non EU passport with appropriate visa or full UK birth certificate with official document containing National Insurance number.

HBC is required to ensure that licence holders are 'fit and proper' to hold licences.  Part of that procedure is an initial and then periodic checks for any criminal record held or acquired over the time you are licensed.  The only organisation permitted to do this is the DBS who set their own fee.  The council has no control over this matter.

May I use my DBS check and medical obtained elsewhere?

You may be able to, the Licensing Officers will be able to give more specific advice as cases can vary.

Why am I required to complete an IDS mandate?

Under Health and Safety and Duty of Care requirements, local authorities are obliged to check that all hackney carriage and private hire drivers are correctly licensed to drive.  HBC have outsourced the process to IDS in order to minimise the opportunity for data fraud.  IDS will request your current endorsement and licence category information from the DVLA.  HBC considers this check helpful in establishing whether a driver is a 'fit and proper person'.  A full set of IDS frequently asked questions are supplied in the initial driver application pack.

About the written Knowledge test

The public have a right to expect that, when they get into either a taxi or private hire vehicle, the driver will know how to get to the destination. After all, they are paying for that level of service.

All applicants will have to pass the knowledge test in order to obtain a HC/PHV drivers licence no matter what type of work you are intending to undertake (including airport, executive etc). 

The knowledge test consists of two parts.

Part One 

  • Route questions - are questions about the quickest route ( in distance) from one location to the other.  Applicants will need to know the road names that they would take during the journey.  An example would be to show the quickest route from the Council Offices to Havant Bus Station.
  • Locations - The names of places are given along with the choice of four road names.  The applicant has to select the correct road name for the given location. An example would be Havant Bus Station - Elm Road, Elm Street, Elm Lane or Elm Grove.
  • Rules and regulations - These are multiple choice questions about the conditions regulations and laws governing the hackney carriage and private hire trades.

Part Two

  • Map Locations - The names of schools, pubs, hotels, libraries and other places of interest are given and the applicant has to mark on a map where they think these locations are.
  • Area locations - The names of areas and villages are given and the applicant has to decide whether they are inside the Havant Borough Council are or not by circling 'Yes' or 'No'.
  • Simple Maths - These are a few, very basic maths questions. An example would be - a fare comes to £3.50 and the customer gives you a £5 note.  How much change to you give them?
  • Highway code - The applicant is given pictures of road signs appearing in the highway code and has to identify their meaning.

The current fees can be found on our Licence Fees page.

The pass mark is 80% and the number and wording of the questions varies from test to test. Should the applicant fail the test at any stage, this fee is non-refundable. The fee for re-tests is charged for each subsequent attempt.  These are also non-refundable.

When attending to take the knowledge test, applicants should bring a form of photo ID (Photocard driving licence - both parts, passport, ID card) and the fee.

Please remember that the destinations and questions cover all areas of the borough.  That is Havant, Waterlooville (including Weacock, Cowplain and Purbrook), Bedhampton, Emsworth and Hayling Island.

The in-car driving assessment

As a professional driver, you will have a special responsibility to ensure that your passengers have a safe, comfortable and enjoyable journey therefore we ask initial driver applicants to sit an in-car driving assessment conducted by the Blue Lamp Trust.  Please contact The Blue Lamp Trust for further details about the in-car taxi assessment on 0333 700 0157; all assessment bookings can be made via their website. The licensing department will need to be informed of the test date.

How long does a licence last?

3 years from the date of issue.

Must I wear my badge?

Yes, customers expect to see a driver is licensed not only when they are in the car but also when they call to collect their passenger.  It is a matter of public safety and reassurance.

May I use my car horn to let customers know I have arrived?

No, the unnecessary use of a vehicle horn is a criminal offence and contrary to the council's code of conduct for drivers.  The use of horns is a source of complaint to the Council from residents who readily identify licensed vehicles.

Do I have to accept bus tokens?

Not necessarily, however, as private hire drivers work for an operator, it is the operator who should determine the company policy, not the driver or vehicle proprietor.

Can I stop at a 'taxi rank'?

Only if you are driving a Hackney carriage and are with the vehicle. Private hire drivers are not permitted to stop at a 'taxi rank'.

May I take bookings on my own behalf?

Hackney carriages can but private hire vehicles cannot - all their bookings must go through a Havant licensed operator.

May I drive for a company in another local authority area?

No, all 3 licences - driver, vehicle and operator - must be issued by Havant; however you may hold driver's licences for several areas.