CAB drivers in Lancaster have been forced to move the word ‘Taxi’ from their vehicles due to council red tape.
In a move branded ‘just silly’ by the National Private Hire Association (NPHA), Lancaster Council even revoked the license of one driver after she refused.
The driver, who does not wish to be named, then launched a Judicial Review against the council.
It is thought her vehicle had been checked at least five times in the past and the council identified no problems and re-issued her license on each occasion.
Within two hours of the Judicial Review application, a judge removed the injunction on her car, allowing her to work again. The council now has until today, Thursday, to lodge a defence.
Andy Kay, chair of the Lancaster Hackney Proprietors Association (HPA) said: “For the last three years the licensing team has been using a Section 68 notice for everything.
“Section 68 only applies to serious vehicle defects and the only way you can appeal it is with a Judicial Review.
“A couple of the cars put the word taxi on their vehicle, which in my view increases public safety as it makes the public aware of what it is.
“But if the word appears in a certain place on the car, this doesn’t conform with the council’s rules and regulations.
“For signs, the council should be issuing an alternative notice, which gives a right of appeal to the licensing committee and Magistrates Court.
“The council is using excessive powers in order to bully people to do what they want them to, whether it is right or wrong.”
Bryan Rowlands, general secretary for the National Private Hire Association said: “The council has for some time now been making inappropriate use of a section of the legislation.
“We’ve written to them on numerous occasions over the last 12 months and we’ve been ignored. We warned them about the Judicial Review, but they took no notice.
“They’ve licensed these vehicles time and time again, and now all of a sudden it’s not acceptable. All we’re trying to do is evoke some common sense in the situation. It’s just silly.”
Mark Cullinan, chief executive of Lancaster City Council said the council had not changed its policy on signs and did not comment on individual cases.
He added: “It is vitally important that the public is able to recognise that a taxi is licensed and legal so they can be sure that it has undergone the necessary stringent tests that all drivers and their vehicles have to go through.
“Unlicensed taxis do not go through these safety tests and are dangerous.
“In the event of an accident they are not insured and their drivers do not undergo DVLA or CRB checks, as all licensed drivers have to.
“One way to ensure that people know the taxi they are climbing into is licensed is to ensure that they only carry authorised signage.
“This is prescribed by the council and is limited to the council’s sign on the driver and front passenger doors and one other sign on each side of the vehicle. No additional signs are permitted. In this way people can then tell, at a glance, that the taxi is licensed.”