November 17, 2017
There has been concern among taxi drivers that their livelihoods will be under threat from changes in regulations by Cheltenham Borough Council. It is proposed that hackney carriage drivers will be instructed to upgrade their cars to Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles (WAVs) or a purpose-built taxi. At the moment, only new licence applicants must have a vehicle that meets these demands.
The Council consider that the rule changes will bring all taxis under the same licensing regulations and bring more protection to the public.
Removing ‘Grandfather Rights’
Under current regulations, anyone who has bought a hackney licence can carry that licence to another saloon car. This is part of a historic arrangement known as ‘Grandfather Rights’. There are concerns that a substantial amount of money will be wiped off driver’s businesses as anyone who buys a purpose-built vehicle gets their plate for free. Drivers say that they have no objection to buying more environmentally friendly vehicles, indeed this trend has been underway. The step of purchasing a purpose-built WAV could cost as much as £35K and some drivers believe it will be difficult to realise a return on the investment.
Improving Customer Accessibility
The Council consider that the rule changes will bring all taxis under the same licensing regulations and bring more protection to the public. Part of the rationale is to bring taxis in line with the Equality Act 2010 in order to allow wheelchair bound customers equal access to taxis.
Reasonably Priced WAVs
There are new Euro 6 compliant WAVs on the market from around £19K, a sum of money that is in the same ballpark as an upper medium saloon. Running costs of such vehicles are also very reasonable. There are also a wide selection of pre-owned vehicles that can qualify for the new regulations from around £12K. Consultations between Cheltenham Borough Council and local taxi trade are on-going, it is hoped that the best possible outcome is reached for drivers and customers.