Leeds City Council has announced they will accept the use of temporary partition screens in both black cabs and standard taxis, without the need for type approval, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In normal situations, the council operates a strict policy on installing screens in both private hire and hackney vehicles. They fund half of the cost when a permanent safety screen is being fitted up to a maximum of £250 per vehicle but each and every screen must be approved before they are allowed to be fitted. In this unprecedented situation however, where driver and passenger safety is paramount, the procedure has been temporarily changed to allow drivers to fit their own screens without being required to submit them to the council committee for approval.
It has been stated that as this is a short-term measure only, these will require to be removed when the crisis is over and the standard approval policy will be put back into place. Councillor James Lewis, deputy leader of Leeds City Council, said: “We have listened to concerns from taxi and private hire drivers and operators about keeping safe during the coronavirus pandemic and have temporarily changed our policy to reflect this.
Of course, it is our preference that each screen is checked and approved by us, but we understand that these are unprecedented times and that there are huge numbers of drivers that need to be given the freedom to act quickly for the safety of themselves and their passengers.
After careful assessment, we are glad to be able to provide that.”
The council has also stated that they still strongly recommend approved permanent screens but the measure to allow the use of temporary screens has been put in place to allow taxi and private hire drivers to act quickly and ensure that additional safety measures are in place to keep both drivers and passengers safe during the pandemic. Throughout the global emergency, it has been reported that taxi drivers are one of the highest risks groups amongst any profession in the UK. Although up to four in five drivers have stayed off the road since the UK lockdown period began, there are thousands of dedicated cabbies all over the country risking their lives each day to transport key workers to and from their roles and help the vulnerable travel to pick up essential items like food and medication. At Cab Direct we fully support Leeds City Council decision to act fast in order to decrease the risks for drivers and encourage safer journeys for passengers travelling by taxi during the pandemic.