Agenda item

Review of Licensed Vehicle Policy: Vehicle Ages and Emissions


The Head of Housing and Health submitted a report that presented a draft of the Vehicle Age and Emissions Policy for consultation.  The Service Manager (Licensing and Enforcement) advised that a primary function of taxi licensing was public safety and, in particular, ensuring the public were safe when travelling in licensed vehicles.


Members were reminded that vehicles should be less than 5 years old when first licensed and there were no clear criteria for exceptional cases.  The Service Manager referred to the Department for Transport (DfT) guidance on whether older vehicles were suitable to be licensed.  He also referred to the testing regime based on vehicle age.


The Service Manager detailed the benefits of reviewing the policy detailed at page 101 of the report submitted.  He invited comments and questions from the Committee. 


The Committee Chairman commented on there being insufficient wheelchair accessible vehicles.  He questioned whether there could be any leeway or understanding regarding vehicle emissions to tackle this matter.


The Service Manager advised that Officers were aware of this and the Authority had offered a free licence for a wheelchair accessible vehicle for the first year and a 50% discount on all subsequent years’ licensing fees.  There had been no take up on this offer in East Herts and taxi drivers had to demonstrate that all older vehicles had been serviced to the manufacturer’s specifications.


The Service Manager confirmed to Councillor N Symonds that there were no electric vehicles licensed as taxis in East Herts.  He emphasised that whilst such vehicles would meet emissions and age criteria, there was no infrastructure yet in place for electric taxis to be charged between journeys.


The Service Manager referred to the Herts 2025 project and a 3 year trial whereby there would be the option for drivers to purchase a vehicle at the end of the trial period.  He also commented that older electric vehicles met emissions standards but did not have the range to be used as taxis.


In response to a comment from Councillor J Jones regarding licensed vehicle policy and encouraging the taxi trade, the Service Manager explained that all taxi licensing operated on a cost recovery basis.  Members were advised that the Council would waive the initial vehicle application fee for any application to licence a fully Electric Vehicle (EV) received between 1 April 2019 and 31 March 2020.


The Committee had a general discussion in respect of start stop technology, emissions testing and exceptions to Licensed Vehicle Policy.  The Service Manager explained that a blanket policy with no exceptions would be unlawful as each case had to be assessed on its own merits.  Older vehicles were tested twice annually and any vehicles with any significant MOT failures would not be licensed.  Councillor G Cutting commented on the possibility of educating motorists in idle free initiatives to reduce vehicle emissions.


The Service Manager stated that taxi driver training included a section on driving economically.  The Chairman commented on the importance of maintaining correct tyre pressures.  In response to a comment from Councillor T Page, the Service Manager explained that there would be a charge for inspecting vehicles over 5 years old from 1 April 2019 where a licence was being sought for the first time.


Councillor K Crofton proposed and Councillor J Jones seconded, a motion that the Committee endorse the draft Vehicle Age and Emissions Policy for consultation and Officers commence an 8 week public consultation regarding the draft Vehicle Age and Emissions Policy.  After being put to the meeting and a vote taken, the motion was declared CARRIED.  Members supported the recommendations now detailed.


RESOLVED – that (A) the draft Vehicle Age and Emissions Policy be endorsed for consultation; and


(B)   Officers commence an 8 week public consultation regarding the draft Vehicle Age and Emissions Policy.

Supporting documents: