Cardiff council shares taxi trade ‘dissatisfaction’ with cross-border rules calling for government change

Cardiff Council must work with the local taxi trade and its unions to tackle the current problem of cross-border hiring.

At a council committee meeting last week, one councilor, Huw Thomas, shared the council’s “displeasure” with the rules, which he said “underscore all business activity”.

Representatives of Unite Wales Taxi Branch Cardiff Hackney Alliance are said to be delighted that the council has finally understood the issues facing the trade after a recent meeting last month.

Labor councilor Huw Thomas told the September council committee meeting: ‘I was at a meeting with trade and union (Unite Wales) last Friday. Recognizing that one of the issues that underpins all business activity, especially in the city right now, is the border issue.

“In relation to Cardiff Council, that’s certainly an issue we’re not happy with as well and we want to work with the taxi industry and the Welsh Government. The answer to that is the Welsh Government needs to fix it.

A spokesperson for Unite Wales said via social media: ‘The cross-border border is finally recognized and on the agenda in Cardiff.

“All licensing authorities should act on this now. Denying it’s a problem is not an option. Unite Wales has been pointing this out for years. Talk to us.”

One of the concerns of Cardiff’s taxi industry is the oversubscription of taxis working in the Welsh capital. There are on average 5.3 taxis and PHVs allowed per 1,000 people living in Cardiff, which is one of the highest rates in Wales, but on par with other major cities in the UK. In nearby Newport, however, the number of licensed taxis and PHVs exceeds 6.7 per 1,000 people, suggesting that cross-border migration from Newport to Cardiff is pushing the numbers beyond what is required and saturating working levels.

What is cross-border hiring?

Cross-border hire is a common term used to describe when a taxi is legally used for private hire vehicle (PHV) purposes in a district outside of which it has been licensed to operate. This is a problem in many areas because there are disparities in license terms; a prospective driver in one council district may apply to be permitted to drive in another district because of lower driver examination standards, cheaper license fees or less stringent/fewer pre-licence checks.

The term “cross-border” is also used when a PHV in one district picks up a passenger from another district. This is legal, provided the driver, vehicle and operator are all licensed by the First District; or that the operator subcontracts the reservation to an approved operator in another municipality. This practice has become increasingly common with the growth of app-based operator models.

Notably, Transport for London (TfL) has also urged the government to “address the problems caused by cross-border hiring” as part of its response to new proposals for taxi and private hire vehicle (PHV) guidance.

After a long wait and much lobbying, the government has recently completed a 12-week consultation to update vital taxi and PHV advice provided to local authorities to better cope with new digital ways of working following the rise of carpooling services.

A series of new recommendations were made covering just about every hot topic impacting the taxi and PHV industry at the moment, but interestingly the cross-border hiring rules were not covered.

The Department for Transport (DfT) first issued best practice guidance to licensing authorities in 2006 and these were updated in 2010. It is now recognized that much has changed in the taxi and PHV industry since then and now is the time to update the guidelines. to ensure that it reflects new ways of working, new technologies and feedback from interested parties.

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