Recent media comment about draft proposals before Parliament concerning who may drive a private hire vehicle has led to mistaken assumptions amongst the taxi and private hire trade in the city about who may drive a licensed hackney carriage or private hire vehicle.
The legislation and decided court cases are clear - both hackney carriages and private hire vehicles remain licensed at all times, whether or not they are being used for business purposes. The effect of this is that the only person who may ever drive a Southampton licensed hackney carriage is someone who holds a Southampton hackney carriage driver's licence and the only person who may drive a Southampton licensed private hire vehicle is someone who holds a Southampton private hire driver's licence.
Such a person will also need to be insured to drive that vehicle, but merely naming someone, say a spouse or relative, as a driver on the insurance policy for "social, domestic and pleasure" purposes will not permit them to drive unless they are licensed to do so by the city council. In such circumstances, the insurance for that person would be void, as insurance cannot be valid where the conduct is itself illegal.
Please note that, were an unlicensed person to drive a licensed vehicle, for whatever purpose, they would commit an offence under section 46 of the Town Police Clauses Act 1847 (hackney carriages) or section 46 of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 (private hire vehicles). The maximum fine in each case is £1,000.00. Further penalties may be imposed, on conviction, for no insurance.
A enforcement operation by the Licensing Team on 31 January and 1 February 2014 has now resulted in two Southampton licensed private hire drivers being convicted of charges of unlawful plying for hire and no insurance before the West Hampshire Magistrates' Court on 6 June 2014. Both pleaded guilty to the offences.
Yadgar Kurshid was fined £150.00 for unlawfully plying for hire; no separate penalty was imposed for no insurance, but he had 6 penalty points imposed on his driving licence and was ordered by the Court to pay £200.00 costs and a £20.00 victim surcharge.
Davison Tshuma was fined £200.00 for unlawfully plying for hire; no separate penalty was imposed for no insurance, but he had 6 penalty points imposed on his driving licence and was ordered by the Court to pay £200.00 costs and a £20.00 victim surcharge.
The city council will now consider what further action may be necessary against those involved.
At the Licensing Committee's meeting on Thursday 19 September 2013 it was resolved that all licensed private hire vehicles and hackney carriages will be required to be fitted with a taxi camera meeting the specification approved by the Licensing Authority. This will include a panic button to activate audio recording for up to a 5 minute period.
All vehicle proprietors have been notified in writing of this decision and the arrangements for its implementation.
A revised specification for taxi cameras and the taxi camera download policy are available.
Taxi Camera Advice
If your licensed vehicle is fitted with an approved taxi camera, please read this notice and take appropriate action - Taxi camera advice.
If you are considering applying for a new vehicle licence or replacing your existing vehicle, an approved taxi camera will be required in the new vehicle. Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs has confirmed that vehicle proprietors may claim back the net cost of camera installations against tax over one year.
Please read the Vehicle Application Guidance for further information including alterations to prices and a letter sent to all camera fitters clarifying the Licensing Authority's minimum standards for taxi cameras.
Cameras from Brigade Automotive, Pageantry Electronics and VerifEye Technologies are available.
Variation of Hackney Carriage Fares
Requests for variation of hackney carriage fares on behalf of "Southampton's Combined Taxi Trade" and resulting from Associated British Ports' charge for the use of marshalled ranks at Cruise Terminals were considered by Cabinet on 18 March 2014.
Notice of the proposals appeared on page 30 of the Hampshire Independent on 28 March 2014.
Following objections, the table of fares was varied with effect from 28 April 2014, principally in respect of a £1.00 charge for hirings commenced at a marshalled ABP cruise terminal. On 15 April 2014 Cabinet authorised further alterations to the table of fares, which were advertised in the Hampshire Independent
on 9 May 2014. There being no objections, this came into effect on 27 May 2014
It is important to note that fares charged for the hire of private hire vehicles are not (and cannot) be regulated by the city council; in both hackney carriages and private hire vehicles, passengers should always ensure that the basis of the fare has been agreed before the journey commences, especially if that journey goes beyond the city boundary.
The existing and proposed table of fares reflects the law concerning additional charges for the use of credit and debit cards. This is contained in the Consumer Rights (Payment Surcharges) Regulations 2012. The Government's Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has issued guidance on the regulations. It is illegal to charge consumers more than the direct cost incurred by the trader for accepting individual payments by debit or credit card.
Please see the ABP Cruise Ship schedule for the provisional list of Southampton cruise ship movements and ABP's live shipping movements page for the latest updates on all shipping movements in the port. Please note that both these pages are subject to frequent updates.
With effect from 1 April 2009, Associated British Ports entered into a renewable agreement with Southampton City Council for the licensing team to issue permits allowing access to ABP's docks land by Southampton licensed hackney carriages. This agreement has been renewed with effect from 1 April 2014, when the conditions were revised; these are with the application form below.
Access to the docks to ply for hire is restricted to those Southampton hackney carriages with permits issued by the licensing team on behalf of ABP. All payments should be made to Southampton City Council via the licensing office at the Civic Centre. These arrangements extend to cover Town Quay. If you have any questions about the docks permit system not answered in the document below, please contact the licensing team on 023 8083 3002.
In April 2010, ABP expressed concerns about the standard of dress of some of the licensed drivers working in the docks. All drivers plying for hire in the docks area are reminded of the need to comply with ABP's permit conditions:
"... drivers will wear appropriate, respectable and clean clothing. Appropriate clothing will include:
- Smart casual trousers, including, at times tailored shorts;
- A short or long sleeved shirt, with collar;
- Appropriate and safe footwear.
The following are deemed not to be appropriate:
- Jeans, jogging suits / pants;
- T shirts and reproduction sports shirts and shorts, flip flops and sandals."
The permit fee increased to £64.80 with effect from 1 April 2014. Additionally, ABP will charge drivers £1.00 for each passenger pickup at a marshalled rank from 1 April 2014.
City Cruise Terminal
Please note that with effect from 17 January 2012, ABP has reversed the flow of traffic on the taxi rank at the City Cruise Terminal, 101 Berth in the Western Docks.
ABP's Town Quay management implemented changes to the arrangements for hackney carriages and private hire vehicles on Town Quay with effect from 1 July 2009. Please see the following for further information:
Restrictions on Docks Access Prior to Ship Arrival
Please note that for security reasons, ABP will not allow licensed vehicles into the docks more than 45 minutes prior to the arrival of a ship. Vehicles will not be allowed to congregate at the dock entrances prior to this time.
Current and proposed road works in Southampton
Please see the map of current and anticipated road works in the city
Station Quarter (North) Regeneration
The Station Quarter (North) regeneration project aims to enhance the built environment and transport interchange around Southampton Central railway station. 5.5 million passenger journeys are made to and from the station every year and the project aims to transform the area into a gateway fit for the city.
The various stages of the project involve the relocation of the taxi ranks on the north (up) side of the railway station during the works, pending its final permanent relocation to the south of the Costa Coffee premises. Please see the latest plan for the temporary location of the ranks.
Itchen Bridge Automation
Please note that the Itchen Bridge toll collection was fully automated from Friday 1 March 2013. The new machines accept the SmartCities card or change. Tokens are no longer accepted and spare tokens can be refunded as credit onto a SmartCities card.
To take advantage of the concessions available to larger Southampton licensed hackney carriages and private hire vehicles, proprietors or drivers will need to be obtain a SmartCities card by completing a commercial concession application. Please also see the guidance on the charging categories for the Itchen Bridge. For details of how the new automated toll collection system works or how to get the SmartCities card, please see the Itchen Bridge page.
Platform Road/Queen's Park
The Council is planning highway improvement works along Platform Road and the adjoining road network to alleviate traffic congestion and help boost economic growth within the city centre and the Port of Southampton.
Public notice has been given of the Traffic Regulation Order setting out proposed changes to parking restrictions in the locality. These initial changes are related to the commencement of work on the southern side of Platform Road. As the scheme progresses, further proposals will follow as other sections of road and off-street parking are affected.
Ruby Road/Deacon Road junction
Please note that the restrictions on entry into Ruby Road from Deacon Road have changed. There is now no right of entry into Ruby Road at its junction with Deacon Road by any motor vehicle. There are no exemptions for buses, hackney carriages or private hire vehicles. The restrictions are clearly signed as "No Motor Vehicles":
Hampshire Constabulary will enforce the restrictions and offenders can expect action to be taken against them.
Variation of various hackney carriage and private hire fees
Notice of proposed variation of hackney carriage and private hire operator fees was published in the Hampshire Independent on 27 September 2013.
Any objections to the proposals in respect of hackney carriage or private hire operator licence fees were required to be sent in writing to the licensing office so as to arrive no later than 25 October 2013. No objections were received, and thus the revised hackney carriage and private hire operator fees came into effect on 26 October 2013.
The location of taxi ranks in the city provided by Southampton City Council as Highway Authority are shown on the council's Geographic Information System.
Please see the Road Works and Closures section above for details of any temporary alterations to taxi ranks.
London Road Night-Time Rank
Please note that the route to the London Road night-time rank must be via Kings Park Road, through the Kings Park Road car park, Asylum Road, Bellevue Road and London Road. The barriers at the exit from the Kings Park Road car park into Asylum Road have been removed.
Do not queue in Bellevue Road beyond Asylum Road nor effect U-turns, especially in London Road.
Airport drop off / pick up arrangements
BAA arrangements for dropping off and picking up passengers from the terminal at Southampton Airport require that passengers to be dropped off or picked up from the designated area within the short-stay car park. There is no vehicular access to the area immediately in front of the terminal building.
For further information, please see BAA's February 2012 letter and the BAA Southampton Airport web site
Amendments to airport parking arrangements - February 2013
Please see the letter from Southampton Airport explaining further changes to parking arrangements at the Airport implemented on 11 February 2013. Please note that the city council has no involvement in these matters and any responses should be sent direct to Southampton Airport.
Crime prevention advice
Road Safety Advice
Bedford Place / Carlton Place junction - advice for licensed drivers
Advanced stop lines - advice for licensed drivers. Complaints have been received that licensed drivers are failing to obey the law in respect of advanced stop lines and are endangering cyclists as a result. Please see the note for further information
Please see the note of issues arising from a compliance operation carried on out 20 May 2011 by the Licensing Authority. These relate principally to the lawful calculation of hackney carriage fares, especially in relation to "boundary charges", and allegations of plying for hire by private hire drivers.
Driver Conduct at Ranks
The Licensing Team has received complaints concerning the behaviour of several licensed drivers at the hackney carriage ranks in the city. Please be advised that bad language, wolf-whistling and any type of offensive behaviour or public nuisance at the ranks is wholly unacceptable and reflects poorly on the trade as a whole. Should further complaints be received, appropriate action will be taken against individuals in line with the council’s Licensing Enforcement policy.
Complaints continue to be received about drivers carrying out U-turns, in particular from the London Road night-time taxi rank. This is an extremely dangerous manoeuvre which calls into question the fitness of individual drivers to hold licences. In future identified individuals will be liable to have their licences suspended or revoked if the practice is repeated.
Fitness of vehicles
On 23 May 2012 the Licensing Team conducted an operation to check the fitness of licensed hackney carriages. The majority of the randomly selected vehicles inspected did not meet the required standards and those vehicles were suspended pending rectification of their defects. Please see the note of the findings, together with some example inspection sheets for the vehicles concerned.
On 30 November 2012, the Licensing Team, together with Hampshire Constabulary, conducted a further operation in respect of private hire vehicles; a number of defects were found an action was taken by both the Licensing Team and the Police - a note of the findings is available.
As part of an operation by the Licensing Team on 5 October 2012, a Southampton licensed hackney carriage driver was caught applying a fixed fare in excess of the prescribed table of fares for a journey within the city. As a result of this, prosecution of the driver is being considered. It is important that all hackney carriage drivers realise that prosecution for overcharging is a realistic consequence, which would lead, on conviction, to consideration being given as to that individual’s fitness to hold a licence.
All hackney carriage drivers are reminded that the amounts shown on the prescribed table of fares represents the maximum which may be charged for a journey or the part of a journey within the city boundaries and cannot be exceeded; drivers should therefore ensure that the meter is used for every such journey so as to assist in ensuring that no offence is committed.
It is not good for the reputation or the income of the Southampton taxi trade for such incidents to occur. The Licensing Team will continue to carry out tests to ensure driver and operator compliance with the law and licence conditions. We welcome the continued support of individuals in the trade to ensure public safety in Southampton.
Safety in the Docks
On Friday 19 October 2012, safety officers from Associated British Ports conducted a speed check within the docks estate. A total of seven taxi drivers were caught exceeding the 30 mph speed limit. On this occasion ABP, has asked only for the drivers concerned to be warned as to their conduct.
Letters have been sent to each of the seven drivers advising that not only do they risk the suspension of their docks permits, but that consideration, might in future, be given as to the suspension of their hackney carriage drivers’ licences on public safety grounds. Please be advised that there is a 30 mph limit throughout the docks’ estate, which must be adhered to.
At the same time, Licensing Enforcement Officers visited the docks and railway station to check on various aspects of the taxi trade. It was pleasing to see that the majority of drivers were well presented, courteous and helpful.
Sadly some let the side down. Two drivers were sent out of the docks to change, as they did not meet ABP’s dress code. Another driver gave poor customer service by delivering an elderly couple to the wrong side of the railway station and then charging the full fare for driving to the correct side. Why should a customer pay for your mistake?
Finally, given the results of a recent compliance operation, it was noted that drivers were using meters for journeys within the city; there were some twitching fingers hovering over the meter at the terminal, as drivers considered when to start it, but all we observed waited until all their passengers had been loaded.
Please keep thinking “customer service” to improve the reputation of your trade and bring the trade more business.
Hackney carriage and private hire vehicle and driver conditions – Report to Licensing Committee 26 August 2009 - approved with minor amendments.
Please see Southampton City Council's statement following an appeal hearing in the Southampton Magistrates' Court concerning the vehicle licence condition requiring the fitting of taxi cameras.
6 Month MOTs
All vehicle proprietors are reminded that, from 1 September 2010, their licence conditions require that any licensed vehicle (over two years old) has an MOT test six months after its last licence renewal. The test must be carried out no earlier than seven days before and no later than seven days after the six month anniversary at an MOT test station. The last licence renewal reminder made this clear and indicated that no further reminders would be issued.
Failure to obtain an MOT certificate and submit it immediately to the licensing office will result in the suspension of the vehicle licence until the matter has been rectified.
BTec and Driving Assessments
Information for prospective and existing drivers about BTec and driving assessments
The Equalities Act 2010 received Royal Assent on 8 April 2010, but not all of the Act has been brought into force. In particular, sections 160 to 173 of the Act will affect the hackney carriage and private hire trade, although the timing and precise impact of some of the provisions is, as yet, unclear. Consultation by the Government and draft regulations are awaited.
The legislation replicates some of the requirements previously contained in the Disability Discrimination Act 1995. In addition, the legislation gives the Government powers to prescribe a specification for wheelchair accessible taxis and to specify the proportion of licensed hackney carriages in each authority’s area which must be wheelchair accessible.
For further information, please see sections 160 to 173 of the Equalities Act 2010 and pages 113 to 121 of the accompanying Explanatory Notes. As and when the Licensing Team receives any indication of further implementation of the legislation, it will be published here
The Department for Transport has issued guidance on those parts of the Equalities Act 2010 which came into effect in October 2010. These deal with assistance by drivers to wheelchair users and the carriage of assistance dogs, replicating the previous duties under the Disability Discrimination Act 1995.
Further information about the identification of Registered Assistance Dogs is available here (click on the logo).
Consultation meetings are held between the representatives of recognised trade bodies and the city council at regular intervals.
A further meeting has been arranged for 25 October 2012.
South West Trains has requested that cruise ship passengers are dropped off at the Blechynden Terrace entrance to Southampton Central railway station, because the booking hall and ticket office on the Western Esplanade side of the station are not equipped to deal with a large influx of passengers - letter from SWT.
South West Trains has expressed concerns about over ranking on the Western Esplanade (south) side of Southampton Central railway station, which is causing obstruction to other legitimate users, especially when rail replacement bus services are in operation. A notice to drivers explains the issues.
If, as the driver of a Southampton licensed hackney carriage or private hire vehicle your vehicle receives a penalty charge notice (parking ticket) in the city, please do not contact the Licensing Team, as we are unable to intervene. Please follow the link below if you wish to pay or challenge a penalty charge notice:
Please note that you will need both the vehicle's registration number and the penalty charge notice for this processes.
The city council, as licensing authority for hackney carriages, has a legal duty to commission independent periodic surveys of unmet demand for hackney carriages, usually at no more than three year intervals, so long as it wishes to restrict the number of hackney carriage licences issued.
Because the provisions of the Equalities Act 2010 relating to hackney carriages have yet to be implemented by the Department for Transport and the current policy of the licensing authority to continue to restrict the numbers of hackney carriage licences issued, a further survey was conducted on behalf of the city council in the autumn/winter of 2011/12.
Halcrow Group Ltd.’s latest report on its survey into unmet demand within Southampton was considered by the Licensing Committee at its meeting on 14 June 2012 and, having been made aware of existing government guidance and the body of case law, determined that there was no significant unmet demand for the services of additional licensed hackney carriages in the city.
Subject to any changes in the law or guidance in the interim, a further survey will need to be carried out within three years.
VOSA and licensing authorities continue to take action against limousine operators who are neither licensed for private hire (eight passenger seats or fewer) or as restricted PS Vs (more than eight passenger seats). VOSA acquired new powers to seize unlicensed vehicles in 2009, and used those powers in July 2010 to seize two unlicensed limousines from an operator in Carmarthenshire.
Following the seizure of the unlicensed vehicles, they were found to be unsafe, and after all avenues of appeal had been exhausted, their vehicles were crushed and shredded in March 2011. Please see the VOSA statement about this and a YouTube clip of the vehicles being crushed.
The Office of Fair Trading has issued guidance on competition law compliance for the taxi and private hire trade in relation to agreements on fare levels. Please follow the links below for further information: