Milton Keynes Private Hire and Taxi Changes Provoke Concerned Reaction

27 Jul

According to Councillor Hannah O’Neill of Milton Keynes Council and Andrew Parkes, a Labour Parliamentary candidate for Milton Keynes South, the proposed changes to taxi and private hire regulations in the region could place locals at risk.

The Government’s Deregulation Bill, which is to be voted on by MPs on June 23, will allow people without a minicab license to drive it when it is ‘off duty’. The Bill will also end annual driver’s license checks and enable minicab drivers to subcontract bookings to firms in other regions.

Even local taxi drivers have backed protests against the Bill while industry bodies, unions and campaigners from different organisations have also joined the fight. These groups believe local councils will not have the power to enforce the Bill’s changes in a safe manner.

Fears Of Increased Crime

According to the Suzy Lamplugh Trust, a group that campaigns for better personal safety, allowing anyone to operate a private hire vehicle or taxi means sex offenders will have a better opportunity to prey on vulnerable women than ever before. The Local Government Association weighed in by saying these Government proposals need to be withdrawn immediately for the sake of passenger safety.

The Labour party has already vowed to vote against the Deregulation Bill and Parkes said that currently, minicab drivers in Milton Keynes have undergone medical and criminal background checks with the local council. He pointed out that if the Bill goes through, these checks will be a thing of the past and any member of the public will be allowed to drive an off-duty minicab.

Parkes also said he knows lots of people within Milton Keynes who rely on minicabs and taxis to get home safely. Many of these individuals are women and the elderly but if the Bill is passed, it is likely that there will be an increase in rogue drivers operating on the roads. He concluded by saying the Government needed to abandon their plans and ensure passenger safety is their first concern.

The Labour Shadow Roads Minister, Richard Burden, said that the Government’s proposals are poorly planned and believes bad consultation is one of the reasons. He also stated that public safety is being put at risk because people will not know if the driver of the minicab is actually licensed. There is a chance the cab will be driven by an ex-convict and it is even possible for those convicted of sex crimes to get behind the wheel and pretend to be a minicab driver.

Burden concluded by saying that unions, councils, safety charities and the private hire & taxi trade are all against the Deregulation Bill. He is angry that ‘out of touch’ Ministers are refusing to listen and insist on placing people at risk. In a few days time, we will know if the Bill is passed or if common sense prevails and it is quashed.

Relaxation Of Private Hire Taxi Driver Checks Leads To Fears Of Rape

27 Jul

According to a number of police chiefs across Durham, Cleveland and Northumbria, plans to reduce taxi driver red tape could lead to an increase in the number of sex attacks reported in the region. The police chiefs of the aforementioned regional forces have joined together with other groups to condemn the plans. At present, changes could be made due to the Deregulation Bill which is going through parliament and most police chiefs are against the idea.

A notable exception is Julia Mulligan, the North Yorkshire commissioner, as her name does not appear on a list of police and crime commissioners (PCC) to have backed the campaign against the new plans. The campaign is being led by Tony Lloyd, Greater Manchester PCC.

As well as the police, licensing officials, the taxi trade and a host of groups that work with victims of sexual assault and rape have backed Lloyd’s campaign. At this moment in time, you cannot operate a private hire vehicle which is marked unless you are a licensed private hire driver. This means drivers are often re-licensed and there are restrictions when it comes to driving vehicles across local authority boundaries.

A Dangerous Change

However, the Deregulation Bill would change all that and would lead the prospect of a complete free-for-all when it comes to driving private hire vehicles. Effectively, it will be possible for anyone to drive a private hire car when the registered owner is not using it.

According to the Government, this new plan allows families to avoid running a second car thus saving them money. Yet critics of the Bill point out that drivers of the cars could lie about who they are.

Durham PCC Ron Hogg said the existing system in Durham and Darlington is designed to reduce the risk of passengers being harmed while in a taxi. He believes the removal of these restrictions will only place members of the public in unnecessary danger. Northumbria PCC Vera Baird said the new Bill means people can no longer feel safe in taxis. She said that while cutting red tape is always a good idea, it should not come at the cost of people’s safety.

Cleveland PCC Barry Coppinger said that more time needed to be taken to look at the new plans in detail. He doesn’t believe it is necessary to take risks with safety.

Cardiff Bus Lanes To Be Used By Private Hire Cabs And Bikers

27 Jul

In the city of Cardiff, traffic congestion is a major issue and this leads to frustrating delays for those on motorbikes and passengers in private hire taxis. As a result, city councillors have decided to allow motorbike users and private hire taxis to avail of the city centre’s bus lanes. It will be a 6 month trial period initially as the city council waits to see if it is an idea worth persevering with.

According to the cabinet minister for transport, planning and sustainability, Ramesh Patel, motorbikes and scooters cause less congestion than cars and this new plan will encourage people to start using these forms of transport. If the trial is a success, it is likely to become a permanent arrangement.

How To Cut The Cost Of Your Private Hire Insurance

18 Jul

Those who operate a private hire company are all too aware of the rising costs associated with owning a fleet of vehicles. Along with the rising cost of petrol, car insurance premiums have skyrocketed in recent years. According to the AA, the average insurance premium was over £740 per annum in the UK in 2013. Clearly, this is too high for the average private hire firm so here are some clever ways to cut the cost and put more money in your pocket.

Add Another Driver

It is one of the simplest and most relevant ways to cut the cost of private hire insurance. Many people believe the other driver must be older and more experienced but this isn’t always the case. We have heard stories of people saving up to £200 a year by adding less experienced and younger drivers to their policy. Apparently, adding a driver with an ‘endorsement free’ driving license can shave pounds off your insurance and even the profession the extra driver is engaged in can save you money. For example, a teacher would probably receive cheaper insurance than a journalist all other things being equal.

Don’t Add Modifications

Modifications such as bodykits and alloy wheels are often associated with younger drivers and having them on your private hire vehicles could increase your insurance by several hundred pounds a year in some cases. Such additions tend to add extra speed to a car and this is automatically equated with danger by insurers.

Seek More Qualifications

One of the most pertinent qualifications to take on is the Pass Plus scheme which is designed to help new drivers become safer and more confident. It is a total time investment of 6 hours though it is important to note that not all major insurers take it into consideration. Of those that do, Churchill, Endsleigh and AA would be the best known and these insurers offer discounts if you have the Pass Plus qualification.

Pay Annually

While this may play havoc with your private hire firm’s cash flow, paying your insurance annually should save you a substantial amount of money. Clearly, it isn’t easy paying a five figure sum all at once for dozens of vehicles but if you can achieve this, the savings could be mindboggling. The APR charged by insurers for monthly payments is eye-watering; over 30% is normal and some companies charge over 50%!

Increase Your Excess

No matter what insurer you deal with for private hire insurance, there will be a mandatory excess charge involved. This is the amount of money you have to pay up front if you make a claim. There is the option to pay additional voluntary excess because clearly, insurance companies are happy if they don’t have to pay out the full amount.

The more you agree to pay in voluntary excess, the lower your insurance quote will be. Make sure you only agree to pay what you can afford; the last thing you want is to be hit with a bill for £800 after an accident.

Add Security Features

This really should be a given for those driving private hire vehicles anyway since they are often the target of theft or vandalism. Adding features such as an alarm and/or immobiliser will not just give you peace of mind, it will cut the cost of your insurance. Insurers also charge less if your car is parked in a secure facility or garage as opposed to being parked in the street when not in use.

Don’t Assume Third Party Is The Cheapest

Believe it or not, third party can cost more than fully comprehensive insurance despite offering a far lower level of protection. Actuaries set insurance rates and since their job is to determine risk, they normally decide that third party buyers are a higher risk than drivers seeking fully comprehensive insurance.

Every single application for private hire insurance is treated differently. The quote you’re offered depends on the assessment of your risk focus and the pricing model which determines the kind of customer insurers want to attract in the first place. Therefore, you should shop around for all types of insurance on

Protect Your No Claims Bonus

Having a no claims bonus built up over a long period of time is one of the best ways to get a major discount on your insurance. While the option to protect your no claims bonus is normally an added extra on a fully comprehensive private hire insurance policy, it is well worth paying for if you have several years built up.

In some cases, it is possible to get discounts of up to 70% which equates to several hundred pounds. Be sure to check your policy carefully because there are varying definitions of the kind of accidents that have an impact on your bonus.

Drive Less

Of all the tips, this is undoubtedly the hardest one for private hire insurance companies to follow. You could restrict the length of journey offered by your business as a means of cutting the annual mileage. Is it worth it? Fewer miles means less income but there are savings associated with travelling less.

Reduce your existing annual mileage by 5,000 miles and you may save up to £100 a year. No matter what else you do, be honest about your mileage claims because inaccuracies could cost you dearly.

Ignore Minor Accidents

It usually pays to fork out for small incidents yourself. Even if the accident isn’t your fault, a minor claim identifies you as a risk and the excess and premiums rise rapidly. You are affected even if you tell the insurer without making a claim. You have no legal obligation to inform your insurer of an accident so if it can be paid for by you, do it and keep your insurance rate down.