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Driver and Vehicle Licences - Coronavirus update

Please read the following information carefully

Due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic members of the licensing unit and taxi team are not present in the office at the moment. The team is working but remotely in accordance the Government's advice.

The Licensing Authority has put in place plans to minimise disruption to businesses and being a statutory function the authority will continue to provide a service though the methods by which it is delivered may change during this period. We will try to minimise disruption but the unprecedented nature of this virus means that we may need your help to achieve this.

Please Note: Licences must be renewed. Do not allow your licence to expire unless you have registered your intention to take up one of the special emergency measures listed below, if you are not able to follow the advice below please contact the licensing office.

Please Note: That the situation is constantly changing and some of the information here may be subject to change. We will do our best to keep you informed but we appreciate your understanding and patience at this time.

Business Support: The government has introduced a range of financial measures to help businesses deal with the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and the Council has compiled a guide to the support that is available for businesses and the contact details of the institutions and organisations that can help you.

Stress, Anxiety and Mental Wellbeing: In the current Coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown many of us are experiencing stresses and concerns never experienced before. If issues are becoming overwhelming there's no shame in reaching out for help if you are feeling stressed, depressed or experiencing suicidal thoughts in some form. If you're not sure of who to reach out to in your community there is an organisation based in Brighton called 'Grassroots' that can provide help. Their 'Find Help Now' pages can guide you in finding a national or local support service that is right for you. 

Road map to working towards a gradual easing of lock down measures

The Department for Transport has issued guidance specifically to hackney carriage and private hire drivers, vehicle providers, private hire operators and licensing authorities on providing transport services safely during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

This includes safer transport guidance for operators and separate guidance for passengers has been published to outline who should be travelling and how social distancing rules should be observed across different points in journeys.

In addition the Government has issued more general guidance for people who work in or from vehicles. Whilst not specific to taxi drivers the information is in parts relevant and the document highlights general precautions drivers need to consider. 

Driver Licences

New: Due to the Coronavirus lockdown we were not in a position to accept applications for new Hackney Carriage & Private Hire Driver Licences. However, we are pleased to report that this restriction has been lifted. To apply for a new Hackney Carriage or Private Hire Driver's Licence go to Drivers: Licensing New Drivers and Renewing an Existing Licence  

Renewing: When renewing a current driver licence we appreciate that it is difficult for some licence holders to obtain medicals due to a reduction in NHS services due to the Coronavirus. Please continue to obtain these through your GP where possible or ask for a copy of the last 12 months of your medical history. The licensing authority's duty is to ensure public safety. Where a medical certificate cannot be obtained the licensing office will assess the renewal application individually on its own merit taking into account a licence holders history and any underlying health conditions. Unfortunately in some cases a licence renewal may not be determined until sufficient evidence is available for officers to make an informed decision.

Due to the exceptional circumstances being experienced currently with regards to Coronavirus (COVID-19) the councils have put in emergency measures to assist drivers.

  • For a Hackney or Private Hire Driver wishing to renew we are issuing a 1 year licence with the option to extend at the end of 12 months for a further 2 years. Effectively splitting the 3 year driver licence cost. The first year licence will be issued at a cost of:
    • Adur Drivers Licence - £90 and the second payment of £180 will be at the end of the first year for the remainder 2 years
    • Worthing Drivers Licence - £96 and the second payment of £192 will be at the end of the first year for the remainder 2 years
  • For a Hackney or Private Hire Driver whose licence expires between now and 31st July 2020 but is self-isolating, furloughed or temporarily not engaged in taxi licensing work you can let your driver licence expire. There are a number of measures you must take:
    • You must inform the Taxi Licensing Unit of your intention.
    • You must not drive a licensed vehicle during this period.
    • If you wish to return to work on or before the 31st July 2020 application must be made for a new licence.
    • When you do reapply you will be exempt from taking the Knowledge test, Child Exploitation and Disability training and Driver Standard Assessment as long as your application is made before 21st August 2020.
    • Drivers must be aware that if you take up this option but fail to reapply before 21st August 2020 you will be treated as a new applicant and you will be required to make application that meets the current conditions including a medical, knowledge test, child exploitation and disability training and a driver standard assessment as detailed in the current handbooks.

How to renew

Scan or photograph your completed application form and driving licence check code and:

  • email to taxi.licensing@adur-worthing.gov.uk
  • or post by hand or send by post - place the completed forms in an envelope and mark to the attention of:
    Taxi Licensing, Portland House, 44 Richmond Road, Worthing, BN11 1HS 

On receipt and processing of your application you will be telephoned to make a payment over the phone.

Credit and Debit cards must not be scanned and sent to the licensing office, an officer will be in touch to process a payment over the phone; however; there may be a delay in this part of the process but this will not affect the renewal of your current licence.

The application will be processed and your licence & receipt will be sent to you by email and the badge will be posted at a later date.

Please wear your expired badge until you receive a replacement and ensure you have your licence certificate with you either in paper or digitally should it be required.

* Please note documents posted will be scanned and stored securely until they can be returned.

Vehicle Licences

If your application is to renew the vehicle licence then you will have to meet all of the requirements for the licence to be issued. This is to ensure that the vehicle is in a road worthy condition and is compliant with legislation and the conditions of licence.

Due to the exceptional circumstances being experienced currently with regards to Coronavirus (COVID-19) the councils have put in emergency measures to assist hackney carriage and private hire vehicle proprietors.

Option 1: For a Hackney or Private Hire Vehicle Proprietor whose vehicle licence expires before the 31st July 2020:

  • For a Hackney or Private Hire Vehicle Proprietor whose vehicle licence expires between now and 31st July 2020 but whose vehicle is not being used because the driver is self-isolating or furloughed etc. you can let your vehicle licence expire. There are a number of measures you must take:
    • You must inform the Taxi Licensing Unit of your intention
    • You will be allowed to SORN your vehicle
    • You will be allowed to remove Private Hire or Taxi Insurance
    • You must not use the vehicle as a licensed vehicle
    • As long as the vehicle is not older than 10 years old from the first date of registration you will be able to apply for a new vehicle licence
    • Proprietors taking up this option but who fail to reapply before 21st August 2020 will be treated as a new applicant and you can apply with your current vehicle, but it will be required to meet all of the current conditions of licence as detailed in the current Taxi and Private Hire Handbooks

Option 2: For a Hackney or Private Hire Vehicle Proprietor whose vehicle licence expires after the 31st July 2020:

  • For a Hackney or Private Hire Vehicle Proprietor whose vehicle licence expires after 31st July 2020 but whose vehicle is not being used because the driver is not working because he or her is self-isolating or furloughed etc. you can SORN your vehicle and take it off the road. There are a number of measures you must take:
    • You must inform the Taxi Licensing Unit of your intention
    • You must not use the vehicle on the road
    • Your licensed vehicle can be SORNed up until the 31st July 2020
    • You will be allowed to remove Private Hire or Taxi Insurance
    • Proprietors taking up this option must get the vehicle taxed and have Taxi or Private Hire Insurance in place by 1st August 2020

Please Note: That we are constantly reviewing our policies and procedures as the Covid-19 situation changes and some of the information here may be subject to change. We will do our best to keep you informed but we appreciate your understanding and patience at this time.

Business Support: The government has introduced a range of financial measures to help businesses deal with the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and the Council has compiled a guide to the support that is available for businesses and the contact details of the institutions and organisations that can help you.

How to renew, replace or apply for a new vehicle licence

Due to the current circumstances, caused by the Coronavirus, we have put in place procedures to try to protect drivers and officers and minimise the risks of contamination to either party whilst inspections are carried out.

If a vehicle inspection is required please contact the Taxi Licensing Team by email or phone and you will be given a date and time at which to attend the licensing office. 

You must not attend the licensing office if: 

  • You have a temperature, a new continuous cough and a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste
  • You have lived with, or been in contact with someone, within the last 14 days who has symptoms of coronavirus or who is experiencing the above symptoms

To ensure officers can carry out the vehicle inspection safely it is important that you follow the advice below:

  • Scan or photograph your completed application form, insurance certificate, MOT, garage inspection and vehicle registration document - V5, proof of road tax. Then 2 working days before your appointment email these to: taxi.licensing@adur-worthing.gov.uk 
  • Alternatively you can post by hand or send by post. Please place the completed forms in envelope and mark to the attention of: Taxi Licensing Team, Portland House, 44 Richmond Road, Worthing, BN11 1HS
  • If you are unable to scan or post all or some of the documents then when you attend the appointment place the documents in the boot of the vehicle for collection by the officer

Credit and Debit cards must not be scanned and sent to the licensing office, an officer will be in touch to process a payment over the phone.

When attending your vehicle inspection please ensure:

  • The vehicle's fire extinguisher and first aid kit are laid in the boot in clear view for the officer to access
  • You arrive on time and no earlier than 5 minutes before or after the start of your allocated time slot
  • You attended on your own
  • Park your vehicle in the designated taxi inspection bay located at the side of the Assembly Halls, Stoke Abbott Road, Worthing
  • Once parked in the designated inspection bay:
    • Stay with the vehicle
    • Ventilate the vehicle by opening all windows
    • Telephone 01273 263144
  • You will then be asked a number of appropriate questions over the phone regarding:
    • Your current state of heath and whether you are showing any Covid-19 symptoms?
    • When the vehicle's interior was last cleaned?
    • When was the vehicle last used to carry passengers?
    • When sanitisation of surfaces in the vehicle, including door handles, dashboard etc. was last carried out? 

It is important to note that an unfavourable response to any of the questions above and staff may be instructed not to attend.

For everyone's safety when conducting any vehicle inspection members of the Taxi team will maintain minimal contact with the driver and the vehicle. Where possible a 2-metre gap should be maintained between the officer & driver throughout.

The member of the Taxi Team and the Licence holder may wear appropriate PPE for example:

  • Disposable gloves
  • Face masks
  • Face Shield
  • Goggles

To maintain self-distancing we have put in place the following recommendations/requests:

  • If you have to get out of the vehicle, or are asked to, please stand and wait in the area indicated and marked with a cone.
  • Maintain a suitably distanced from the vehicle whilst the inspection is carried out.

During the Appointment/Inspection the Officer may:

  • Collect any or all documents from the vehicle if not received digitally or by post
  • Verify documents as required
  • Take a telephone contact number so fee payments can be taken over the phone
  • Required you to leave the vehicle and wait in the designated zone
  • Check the fire extinguisher, first aid kit and meter where applicable
  • Apply any required signage to the vehicle where appropriate
  • Deposit your documents and licence in the boot of the vehicle

We will attempt to get the appointment carried out as quickly and efficiently as possible but please be aware that due to movement restrictions within the council buildings appointments may take longer than normal - Please be patient with us!

Please note documents posted will be scanned and stored securely until they can be returned.

Please Note: Licences must be renewed. Do not allow your licence to expire unless you have registered your intention to take up one of the special emergency measures listed above, if you are not able to follow the advice please contact the licensing office.

COVID-19 prevention advice for Taxi Drivers

This document includes the latest advice from the government. However, this information is frequently changing and being updated. Please check and follow the latest government advice available on the government website.

Additional Driver & Passenger Protection

We are aware that drivers are taking additional steps to protect themselves and their customers during the COVID-19 pandemic including putting in place thorough cleaning regimes for their vehicle interior surfaces, where possible using EPOS machines rather than cash and providing disinfectant wipes after each journey. Drivers have also been encouraged to have and use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60 per cent alcohol in their cars.

In addition to the standard precautions that taxi drivers should be taking during the Covid-19 outbreak there are a number of new products that have been launched to help Taxi Drivers further protect themselves and their passengers during the pandemic.

Those Drivers that want to continue working in their licensed vehicle may wish to consider installing a temporary shield between the front and rear passenger compartments for added protection. There are a number of different such products on the market some of which can even be fitted to saloon vehicles. We are aware of a number of local suppliers and installers.

If you decide to install such equipment you are advised that you must:

  • Provide details of the shield and how it will be fixed to the licensing office for approval
  • Notify the licensing office that you have:
    • installed a shield
    • provide vehicle and plate details
    • photographs of the installation
  • The shield can only be placed to separate the front and rear of the vehicle and should not separate the front passenger from the driver seat
  • Check that your insurance will not be invalidated due to the vehicle alteration and obtain confirmation from your provider in writing
  • Ensure that the shield is securely fitted to avoid passengers getting tangled or tripping
  • The installation must not interfere with the safety features in the vehicle

Drivers should note the fitting of such equipment is at the drivers and proprietors own risk. The installation details listed above should be sent to:  taxi.licensing@adur-worthing.gov.uk 

Advice

I hope the information provided will assist you during these difficult times but if you have any questions then please do not hesitate to contact us at the email address above and we will get back to you as soon as we can.

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