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Minicabs taken off road in signs dispute
Eight minicabs have been taken off the road in the last month for not displaying new mandatory door stickers which show the name of the private hire firm and that the vehicle can only be pre-booked.
The enforcement action by Bradford Council follows changes which were agreed in April last year.
The Council initially gave operators until the beginning of December to comply and allow time for the new permanent decals to be designed and fitted, which was then further extended by a month until January this year.
Council bosses believe it is important that the public should be able to easily recognise the specific firm they are using, and that they are less likely to flag down private hire cars, which is illegal, if they clearly state they are “Pre Booked Only”.
But a petition signed by more than 350 drivers has now been gathered objecting to the permanent nature of the stickers, which they claim will damage paintwork, incur additional cost and be of no greater advantage to public safety.
The new rules state that private hire vehicles must: l display side decals of a maximum A3 size and minimum of A5 which are fixed on either each front or rear doors l the decals must indicate the name of the private hire operator and the words PRIVATE HIRE and PRE BOOKING ONLY l the decals must also be approved by the Council’s hackney carriage and private hire service and comply with the Council’s advertising policy.
In a report, Carol Stos, the Council's fleet and licensing manager, states that other neighbouring authorities operate similar policies and that permanent stickers were much cheaper than the magnetic variety.
They also found that the use of permanent stickers minimised the chance of a vehicle being suspended for failure to display the required stickers, and the magnetic ones were much more likely to be lost, stolen or forgotten.
“The petition has caused confusion amongst the private hire trade through promulgation of factually incorrect information,” she states in the report.
“In the interest of fairness, the licensing department therefore decided that as long as an approved door sticker was displayed, permanent or magnet, then enforcement action would not be taken until the petition was resolved at committee.
“Since February 6, eight vehicles have, however, been suspended for not displaying a door sticker.
“The introduction of door stickers was thoroughly and reasonably justified and fully compliant with Council procedures, “Her report adds. “Officers believe the petition to be a means to raise underlying issues. Compliance with the requirement to fit permanent door stickers is both a positive and safety orientated change which benefits the public, operators and ultimately drivers by advertising their services.”
Khurram Shehzad, the chairman of the Bradford Private Hire Liaison Service, which was set up in 2011, told the Telegraph & Argus that he had been in regular consultation with the Council over the issue.
He said that some of its members preferred the permanent stickers, while others favoured the magnetic type – such as those that may work for more than one operator.
As such, they had received an undertaking from the Council that either type would be acceptable, but this had been put on hold pending the consideration of the petition.
“We are not against the stickers themselves, we would just prefer there to be the option of either permanent or magnetic ones,” said Mr Shehzad.
Members of the Council’s regulatory and appeals committee will be asked to decide whether to enforce the requirement for private hire vehicles to display permanent door stickers, allowing the short term use of magnetic stickers on replacement and local vehicles following breakdowns and accidents; or to amend the policy to allow the use of magnetic door stickers as well as the permanent type.
The meeting takes place Bradford City Hall on Thursday from 10am.