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Law Commission: The Taxi Trade’s Challenge.


By Frank Hull

After reading the Commission’s proposals for legislative change to the taxi and private hire trades in this country we can see that its primary interest seems to be in regulation relaxation rather than developing law to benefit all and we do mean all. These include not only those who work the trades and customers but also those who are involved in the administration of both trades this also includes the police; for what is being proposed would prove a nightmare to enforce. In fact we know it will be a legal return to the bad old eighties with cars on any corner of any street across the land that shows some sort of night life activity.

The Commission may know everything about law in this country but we humbly suspect they know NOWT about the everyday practicalities of this taxi trade. We were here in the eighties when the government of the day wanted to use this trade as a stop gap for all of those who had been thrown out of work by its less than popular policies. We understand that this Commission is not politically biased but we are also aware of the caveat on regulation given by the Government at the out start of this exercise. The provincial taxi trade has experienced both de-limitation and de-regulation and witnessed the financial harm suffered by many taxi drivers and their families.

No mention seems to be made to adequate ranking space that we believe should be an obligation on all authorities for the benefit of both taxi drivers and taxi users. With the taking away of an authority’s right to limit numbers the problem of rank space will be another increasing problem for this trade.

This taxi trade has for years been calling for an end to cross border hiring; what these proposals will do is not end this practice but legalise it.

It is stated that few of the proposals will affect the iconic ‘London black cab’. However; we know that the effects of some of these proposals will affect the London trade. The national mini-cab licence will encourage even more mini-cabs into the London scene. No attempt it seems is being made to stop what the London trade has been calling for over recent years. That is, of course stopping the illegal plying for hire that at present is rampant and rising in the capital

Taxis can legally carry out private-hire work. Will this national private-hire licence change the boundaries for provincial taxis? Will some of these be encouraged to seek work in other busier licensing areas? Will this regulation relaxation assist legally in law breaking?

The proposals we have seen will present both trades with big problems and it will not be a case as it was in the eighties of the taxi trade versus the mini-cab trade. We can foresee a free all arising taxi v taxi v mini-cab and mini-cab v mini-cab v taxi.
We must all take up the challenge and try and convince the Commission that it would be better for it to work on improving the legislation governing both trades and leave the workings of the trades to the experts. That is, of course, us who work it!!

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