Taxi fare powers stay with council

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WIGAN revellers can continue to enjoy some of the cheapest taxi rides home in the county – despite changes to regulations on cabbies.

The new rules will give greater powers to council officials to work with other authorities but won’t remove their powers to set fares.

Council chiefs will also be able to continue to control the number of licensed taxis allowed to operate in its area, following new recommendation by the Law Commission.

Wigan Council’s director of environment Terry Dunn said the proposals do suggest freeing-up cross-border working for private hire vehicles.

Operators should no longer be limited to using drivers and vehicles from their own licensing area, the report says.

Nor should they be restricted to only inviting or accepting bookings within that licensing area or be restricted to only inviting or accepting bookings within that area.

Mr Dunn added: “Under the Commission’s recommended regulatory framework, licensing district boundaries lose much of their importance in relation to private hire vehicles.

“National standards for private hire, set by the Secretary of State following consultation, will ensure uniform standards.

“This will allow consumers to expect, as a minimum, the same level of safety and quality where ever they are and will remove the incentive for both taxi and private hire applicants to seek licences in an area with less exacting standards.”

The Commission’s draft Bill also defines a lawful private hire booking as one where the pick-up point and destination are recorded by the operator and where advance price information is available on request.

Customers will be able to continue to “approach or hail” a Hackney cabs for a journey beginning there with no need for arrangements in advance.

Although local authorities like Wigan will continue to administer licenses applied for in their area, they will do so on the basis of national standards, pointed our Mr Dunn.

It will have no discretion to vary the criteria for private hire vehicles and drivers licences.

Once licensed, providers will be able to work nationwide and find themselves subject to enforcement action by officers of any licensing authority.

Wigan has regularly topped nationwide for the best value taxis.