December 9, 2015
Turnbridge Wells Borough Council (TWBC) and the taxi trade in the area are pushing the message out to party-goers to stay safe this Christmas by using licensed taxis or minicabs.
Staying Safe with Licensed Taxis
The boroughs nightlife is at its peak during the festive period as office parties and Christmas nights out influx and, with this, also comes an increase in crime.
After a tipple or two safety might not be front of mind for some people and this is the reason the Council is trying to remind members of the public to be aware of their safety when trying to get home after a night out.
Working in Partnership for a Safer Community
“Using a vehicle not licensed by the council cannot guarantee these fundamental safeguards.”
The council has joined forces with the Tunbridge Wells Hackney Drivers Association (TWHDA) to urge people to get home safe by flagging or booking a taxi.
The Secretary of the Tunbridge Wells Hackney Drivers Association, Toni Conlon, said: “The members of the Tunbridge Wells Hackney Drivers Association are delighted to be working in partnership with TWBC to ensure the safety of the travelling public, not just for the festive period, but for all year.
“We want to make sure that people know that by travelling in a licensed taxi, they can be assured that the vehicle is compliant with council policy, is MOT tested twice a year, the driver has undergone vetting and criminal background checks before being issued with a licence, and that they are fully insured to carry fare paying passengers.
“Using a vehicle not licensed by TWBC cannot guarantee these three fundamental safeguards.”
What’s a Licensed Taxi or Minicab?
A licensed taxi (hackney carriage) or minicab (private hire vehicle) has been approved by the council and is seen to be fit for purpose. The drivers apply via the licensing team and subsequently must pass a disclosure check before being issued a license.
Chairman of the council’s licensing committee, Councillor Bob Backhouse, commented: “Council staff in partnership with Kent Police regularly carry out ad hoc checks on licensed vehicles to ensure they continue to be safe for passengers.
“I would urge taxi users to make sure they know they are travelling in a licensed vehicle.”
What to Look For
There are a few things to be aware of that will give you reassurance that you’re using a legit taxi:
- A licensed vehicle, whether hackney or private hire, will always have taxi plates attached to the outside of the vehicle.
- All drivers should have a council-issued photo ID card on display
- A hackney taxi always has a ‘For Hire’ sign
- Private hire vehicles must be pre-booked and should not ply for trade on the streets
Mr Conlon asked the public to be on the lookout for anyone breaking the rules of the trade and to report anything suspicious.
He added: “We would encourage taxi users to complain, in writing, to the licensing department at TWBC about any inappropriate behaviour by our drivers, including overcharging. Only by complaining can we discourage unwanted behaviour and remove rogue and illegal drivers from our streets.
“TWHDA would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a very merry Christmas and a safe new year.”