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PostPosted: Tue Sep 12, 2017 8:28 pm 
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New plan to tackle Liverpool's "dangerous" taxi and private hire system

A new plan is being put forward to tackle what has been described as the “dangerous” state of Liverpool’s taxi and private hire trade.

There are calls for the council to take on more licensing staff to manage the “huge problems” affecting the city’s trade and to bring in a new region-wide approach to taxi standards to avoid having drivers who “can only navigate by app and who cannot communicate the values and places of Liverpool to visitors”.

The plan is being put forward by Liberal Democrat councillor Malcolm Kelly at a meeting of the full council next week. He will call for action to “make the streets of Liverpool, especially those in the City Centre , safe at night.” He said: “It is quite clear that there are huge problems.

“Private hire vehicles waiting for people to approach them as if they were a taxi and then accepting the fare; unlicensed private hire vehicles; uninsured private hire vehicles; dangerous private hire and hackney cabs; hackney cabs from other areas waiting on taxi ranks and picking up fares in the street; parking on taxi ranks meaning that taxis have nowhere to wait for fares.

“There are a number of reasons for this some of which are not in our control. But there are many that are. “That is why our Lib Dem motion calls upon the Mayor of Liverpool to take on more licensing staff and the Mayor of the Liverpool City Region to coordinate the 6 City Region Councils to ensure a common approach and high standards.”

Mayor Anderson has previously suggested the idea of a city-region wide knowledge test and a common licensing standard after hearing complaints of drivers coming in from far afield to pick up fares and not knowing their way around the city.

Cllr Kelly is calling for the Mayor to now “speed up” this idea and create a “common licensing standard, training mechanism and control mechanisms which operate throughout the City Region and combine the Taxi function as one seamless operation in the City Region.” He added: “You might think that we are being over prescriptive in this. Our reply is that taxis and private hire vehicles are an important part of our visitor and leisure attraction.

“We need to have properly trained and licenses drivers in vehicles that are properly maintained and insured. “We want our drivers to be ambassadors for the City, knowledgeable about the city and able to help people. He added: “We do not want people who can only navigate by app and who cannot communicate the values and places of Liverpool to visitors”.

Earlier this year, we carried out an investigation which highlighted a number of the issues taking place in the city centre - including the problem of uninsured drivers illegally plying for trade at various locations. At the time, the council pointed out that it had handed out 250 fixed penalty notices in just the first three months of the year. The council also prosecuted 11 private hire drivers in March for a variety of offences including illegally plying for trade.

The council’s chair of licensing Cllr Christine Banks said: “Most of the 2,163 private hire drivers in our city do obey the law, but we have a specific issue in Liverpool with drivers coming in from neighbouring boroughs to ply for trade illegally because of our vibrant night time economy. “We already run regular operations and issue fines, warnings and prosecutions to hundreds of drivers every year but could do more if we were able to use some of the taxi licensing fees paid to other areas to boost it. “That is why the Combined Authority is looking at introducing a city-region wide licence covering all six boroughs so we can target hot spots.

She added: “We also need the public’s help in only using properly licensed taxis or pre-book “They are placing themselves in danger as they are not insured if there is an accident. And if people do find a driver operating illegally, then my message to them is to please make a note of the taxi’s details and report it to us so we can investigate.”

http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liv ... s-13607531

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