Controversial taxi penalty points scheme to continue despite protests

Taxi meter stock image
Taxi meter stock image

A controversial penalty points system for taxi drivers introduced in November will continue despite protests from the trade.

Points are given to drivers by Aylesbury Vale District Council for contraventions such as failing to wear their identity badge (two points), have a first aid kit and fire extinguisher with them (three points), over-charging (three points), using taxi ranks if they are only for private hire (four points), and not maintaining their vehicle adequately (two to four points).

Once drivers reach 12 points it triggers a ‘review of the driver’s suitability to continue to be licensed’.

The points were first issued during a joint police and council operation on November 15.

However, the district council’s licensing boss Peter Seal admitted that ‘unfortunately it was not well received by a number of members of the private hire trade who, on the night threatened to protest’.

The Aylesbury Private Hire Association wrote to Mr Seal demanding that the points given on November 15 be quashed and the whole system reviewed. They wanted less points given out for each offence and to raise the threshold to 20 points before a driver is considered for suspension.

The letter added: “We do not wish to cause any disruption, or be put in a position where our drivers refuse to work due to the risk of them getting points on their license and ultimately risking or losing their livelihood. The council seem to be of the impression that they can just suspend or revoke a license as and when they feel, without giving any proper regard to causing unemployment or putting an individual in difficulty.”

However, the council has refused to quash the points given out so far and in a report to councillors on the licensing committee, which meets on March 2, Mr Seal says the scheme will continue unchanged.

A total of 80 points had been handed out to taxi drivers up to February 15. The majority was for not wearing a badge in a prominent position. Points for major vehicle defects were given out on three occasions for tyre pressure being below the legal limit and a boot which could not be opened.

No driver has yet totted up 12 points.