Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Newsletter

Coronavirus - Taxi Licensing Update - 15 May 2020

Licensing Support and Assistance for Taxi and Private Hire Trade - Introduction

As the current situation with the Covid-19 outbreak continues to develop, the council is constantly keeping the matter under review, following government advice and looking at its own business continuity arrangements to ensure we can continue to deliver the service and to enable firms, vehicles and drivers to continue providing vital public transport where it is safe to do so.

We have collated the current advice on taxi and private hire licensing below. Please note that the situation is constantly changing and some of the information may be subject to change. We will do our best to keep you informed but we appreciate your understanding and patience at this time.

Applications

In line with government advice, officers are working from home as much as possible. The offices are closed and you are not permitted to attend the office to drop off any paperwork, payments etc. all appointments and local knowledges test are cancelled until further notice. 

As we are very busy trying to process as many electronic applications as possible, please do not contact us unless it is absolutely necessary. In the first instance, please check the website for any updates or changes to procedures.

Renewal applications will be prioritised by expiry date. We will do our best to process your application as quickly as possible but please bear in mind it will very likely take longer than usual.

If your licence does lapse, you will be unlicensed and you must not drive a vehicle for the carriage of passengers for hire and reward until you have received a new licence.

Please note during this time whilst the offices are closed there will be no reminder letters sent out to Licence Holders.

One Year Licences

Due to Coronavirus and Covid-19 outbreak and the financial impact this may have on the trade, The Authority shall issue One Year Driver Licences between now and the end of August 2020 when we will reassess the situation.

Please be advised that any licensed driver who wishes renew their driver licence for one year between now and until the end of August 2020 must submit a written request for a one year licence, as per the application pack.

Licensing Fee Payment Deferral

To allow some financial ease during the current unprecedented circumstances licence holders of any driver or vehicle licences due to expire prior to the 30 June 2020 may request a deferral of payment of the licensing fee until the 1 October 2020.

The fee payment deferral request must be submitted together with the licence renewal application and all the required documents to renew the licence.

This is only available to those also requesting a one year licence.

See below for specific guidance by licence type.

Hackney Carriage Vehicle Emission Standards – Renewal applications

Due to the current coronavirus pandemic and the delay of the Zero Emission Zone within Oxford City, if you are unable to replace your existing Hackney Carriage Vehicle with one that complies with the current emission standards you may make a request in writing to the Licensing Authority for an exemption of this criteria when renewing the vehicle licence.

The written exemption request must be submitted together with the licence renewal application and all the required documents to renew the licence.

Please note that the existing licenced Hackney Carriage Vehicle must be tested and receive a Certificate of Compliance within 28 days of the expiry of the licence.

New Driver Applications

All new driver applications are cancelled and appointments are not being booked until further notice. All Local Knowledge and Safeguarding Tests have been cancelled until further notice. Those that have already booked will be contacted and will be given first preference when bookings become available again.

Renewal Driver Applications

Please send your application form and required documents to [email protected] using your licence number and full name in the subject line of the email.

Documents that need to be attached to the email are:

  • Completed application form – Page 27 of the Driver Application pack
  • Completed Annual Background check consent form – Page 28 of the Driver Application pack
  • Completed DVLA check code form (case sensitive) – Page 30 of the Driver Application Pack
  • Photograph of yourself if possible (if this is not possible do inform us in your email and we will use the picture submitted on last renewal)
  • Photograph or scan of your passport or other proof of right to work in the UK.
  • Photograph or scan of your DVLA driving licence
  • Photograph or scan of your DBS certificate that you are signed up to the online update service with, please include every page even if they are blank.
  • Optional – One Year Licence request
  • Optional – Licensing fee payment deferral request

Once all documents are received an officer will contact you on the telephone number you provide on the application form to take payment, please have a valid credit or debit card ready (American Express is not accepted).

As per above, Oxford City Council Licensing Authority will accept the current coronavirus outbreak as a reasonable exception from the mandatory three year licence. If you only wish to apply for a one year licence, please include a written request with the documents attached to the application.

For those that are not signed up to the DBS update service, please notify the officers via email. Each application will be reviewed on a case by case basis to consider whether a licence can be issued for a period three months.

Please hold onto your existing driver badge, you are required to continue using the expired badge. On renewal of the licence you will be issued with an authorisation counterpart, allowing you to continue driving with the expired badge. When the council offices reopen you will be posted a new badge via first class post.

Please see above Applications for details regarding one year licences and fee payment deferral.

Medicals

We are aware that drivers may face difficulties with getting medicals done as surgeries are cancelling non-urgent appointments. There has been no official advice from the government and at present we will consider any licences where medicals are expiring on a case by case basis.

If you cannot arrange a medical for your renewal licence, please notify the licensing authority when making your application as a temporary self-declaration may be accepted in certain circumstances.

Any drivers who require annual medicals should bear in mind that they are likely to fall into the category of person who should be self-isolating or more stringent in following social distancing measures. Please see the GOV.UK website for guidance on social distancing and the Shielding pages of GOV.UK for guidance on protecting people who are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19.

New Vehicle Applications

All new vehicle applications are now available again.

You will need to contact the Licensing Team on 01865 252115 to be allocated an “Available Number”, and then you will need to contact the Oxford Direst Services Motor Transport Section, Marsh Road, Cowley, Oxford, OX4 2HH (Telephone number: 01865 252944) to book an appointment for the vehicle to undergo a Certificate of Compliance Test.

If the vehicle passes the Test, the Testing Station will issue a CERTIFICATE OF COMPLIANCE for the vehicle, and issue you with the relevant livery, if required, by the Conditions of Fitness in relation to the vehicle licence.

New or Renewal Vehicle Applications

Please send your application form and required documents to [email protected].

If this is renewal application of your licence use your Licence Number and full name in the subject line of the email.

If this is a new vehicle application use New Vehicle Licence and full name in the subject line of the email. Please provide the model, colour, registration number, passenger seating capacity and CO2 emissions of the vehicle.

Documents that need to be attached to the email are:

  • Completed application form – Page 25 of the Vehicle Application pack
  • Photograph or Scan of the Certificate of Compliance
  • Photograph or Scan of the Valid Insurance
  • Photograph or Scan of the V5 document
  • Optional (renewal only) – Licensing fee payment deferral request
  • Optional (renewal only) – Emission Standards exemption request (HCV)

Please see above Applications for fee payment deferral and Hackney Carriage Vehicle Emission Standards exemption request

Once all documents are received an officer will contact you on the telephone number you provide on the application form to take payment, please have a valid credit or debit card ready (American Express is not accepted).

The vehicle proprietor and licensed drivers are no longer permitted to display an expired licence plate and therefore must comply with the relevant conditions attached to the vehicle and driver licences.  On renewal or grant of the licence you will be posted, via first class, a new vehicle internal and external plate. Once you receive the new plates you are required to return the expired licence plate within 14 days.

The HCV and PHV Plate Drop off point where you must return the expired plate is at:

Cowley Marsh Depot – Oxford Direct Services, Marsh Road, Oxford, OX4 2HH.

When arriving at the Depot you must observe the social distancing protocol, by stopping and waiting in a designated bay, where a tester will then come out and take the plate from you. If there are any issues when you get to the Depot or you cannot see a member of staff please call 01865 252932 and a tester will come out and collect the plate.

Certificate of Compliance Testing

A Certificate of Compliance Test must still be completed with a Certificate issued within 28 days of the licence expiry date in order to renew a licence. 

The Licensing Authority have taken the decision to waive the 6 month interim Certificate of Compliance Test for all licensed Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Vehicles from 30th March 2020.

Oxford Direct Services test centre at Cowley Marsh Depot is open and they are prioritising testing for all licensed Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Vehicles; please note that the Reception Desk at Cowley Marsh Depot has now been closed and all payments for Certificate of Compliance Tests will be required on the phone via card at time of booking the appointment.

Further Information

  • We will deal with complaints and compliance issues as normal.
  • If you have an application pending with us and need to submit additional documents, please do this via email and ensure you include your badge/plate number in the subject of the email to assist us in linking it with your application.

Contacting the Team

  • In the first instance, please use email as a means of contacting us. Our email address [email protected] for application enquires and [email protected] for general enquires these will be monitored throughout the day (between 9am and 5pm) and we will respond as soon as we are able.
  • If you do not have access to email, please call our office on 01865 252565. It is likely that we will not be able to take your call at the time, so please be prepared to leave a message with your name, phone number and the reason for your call.
  • We will endeavour to return any calls and respond to emails within 5 working days.

Precautions for Driver and Passenger Safety

We would like to also take the opportunity to provide advice with a view to protecting you and your passengers:

  • If you are vulnerable either due to your age, suppressed immunity or pre-existing health conditions, please consider whether it is in your interest to work
  • We would recommend you only take bookings for essential trips – such as medical appointments, key workers going to/from work, and people doing food shopping.
  • We would recommend you limit the number of passengers to a maximum of 2 at any one time and would suggest they should both sit in the rear of the vehicle wherever possible.
  • If you believe you may have been exposed to the virus, either through a passenger or anyone/where else, please follow the official advice to self-isolate, particularly if you are displaying symptoms.
  • Regularly clean touch points (such as steering wheel, door handles both inside and outside etc.) with alcohol (minimum 60%) wipes or bleach based cleaning products.
  • Regularly clean the inside of your vehicle with warm water and soap.
  • Consider carrying tissues in your vehicle and a receptacle for disposing of used tissues/wipes.
  • Please wash your hands regularly. As an interim measure, use hand sanitising gel with alcohol of a minimum 60%.
  • If you have an operational office, you should maintain the 2 metre separation distance – including in any passenger waiting area.
  • Read the COVID-19: guidance for staff in the transport sector and the guidance on social distancing

Support

The government has recently put in place measures to support businesses affected by the virus. There are grants and loans available as part of this package. Please follow developments on the government website as ways to access these will be announced shortly.