DENBIGHSHIRE’S licensing committee has authorised a consultation to look into allowing older taxi vehicles to continue to be used – if they meet strict maintenance checks.
At a licensing committee meeting this week, councillors were asked to consider reviewing the existing maximum age of taxis – for both new and renewal applications of hackney carriage and private-hire vehicles.
The existing Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Vehicle Policy was approved at the December 2016 committee meeting and came into effect on 1 July 2017 – although there have been a number of small amendments since.
The conditions place an age restriction on vehicles whether new or for renewal, namely that all new to-fleet vehicles must be a maximum of five years old and any in-use vehicle reaching the age of 12 years old must be removed.
At the time of implementation, a period of grace was given for five years for vehicles which had “grandfather rights”, i.e. ‘they were already licensed vehicles and remained continually licensed’.
This grace period was due to end in July 2022.
But in January of this year, officers and committee members received a request from a taxi proprietor urgently requesting that the grace period be extended, due to the pandemic pressures placed on the car manufacturing industry.
Consequently, the committee agreed to extend the grace until July 2023 – with a further review planned.
But at the meeting this week, councillors questioned whether the age of vehicles was important if they were properly maintained.
Cllr Martyn Hogg said if a vehicle was well maintained, it should still be safe to be in use.
“My gut instinct is how well maintained it’s (the vehicle) been,” he said.
“It could have done 500,000 miles, but if it’s been well maintained, it could be, or should be, better than a car that’s done 50,000 miles but has never had a service.
“Has there ever been a serious incident because of a car’s age?”
The licensing officer replied: “Not that we know of. But does that mean because the policy’s in place that there hasn’t been?”
Cllr Bobby Feeley also said: “Cars are so much better than they were many years ago, aren’t they?”
“Mechanics are good, and, as Martyn said, they can go on for many miles now if they are maintained and looked after thoroughly, so whether or not we do need to look at it.”
The committee decided to defer the time limit on ‘grandfather rights’ for a further 12 months until July 2024.
The committee also authorised officers to instigate a consultation process, looking at increasing the maximum age of taxis in use from 12 years and instead introducing a strict maintenance regime.
The consultation will also look at allowing new taxi vehicles to be introduced to the county’s fleet if they are under eight years old – increasing from five years.
Members also agreed to look into approving vehicles over five years old for new licences during the consultation period before the matter will return to the committee in December.