Driver and Vehicle Licences - Coronavirus update

Due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic members of the licensing unit and taxi team are not always present in the office at the moment. The team is working but sometimes 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. 

Adur and Worthing COVID-19 Key Updates:

England moves to Step 4 from 19 July

While cases are high and rising, everybody needs to continue to act carefully and remain cautious. This is why we are keeping in place key protections at step 4 from 19 July:

  • Testing when you have symptoms and targeted asymptomatic testing in education, high risk workplaces and to help people manage their personal risk.
  • Isolating when positive or when contacted by NHS Test and Trace.
  • Cautious guidance for individuals, businesses and the vulnerable whilst prevalence is high including:
    • Whilst Government is no longer instructing people to work from home if they can, Government would expect and recommend a gradual return over the summer.
    • Government expects and recommends that people wear face coverings in crowded areas such as public transport;
    • Being outside or letting fresh air in.

For the latest guidance visit https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus  or www.adur-worthing.gov.uk/coronavirus 

The government, our local authority and public health teams are advising that people continue to wear face coverings in enclosed spaces. We fully support this, and our messaging on face coverings in licensed vehicles remains in place. We highly recommend that passengers who can wear face coverings continue to wear them unless exempt. This is the same recommendation for all enclosed spaces such as shops. As the final details are being worked through, we are going to rely on passengers to continue to act responsibly.

"To continue to keep yourself and customers safe, continue to maintain measures such as thoroughly cleaning your vehicles especially on handles and grab rails , keep the vehicle ventilated with windows open to refresh the air, encourage passengers travel in the rear, wear a face mask, maintain signage that a face covering is required for passengers, maintain approved screening and take payments by card. Let's help to keep each other safe."

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A&W Councils Covid emergency measures to assist drivers & proprietors

A&W Council’s current Covid emergency scheme allowing a Hackney Carriage or Private Hire Driver Licence or Vehicle Licence to be Lapsed has been extended. This scheme allows proprietors/drivers who cannot work because of the Covid pandemic to lapse their driver and or vehicle licence temporarily and then renew on their historic terms after a fixed period subject to certain requirements.

The current scheme required lapsed licence applications for a new licence before the 21st April 2021. This scheme has now been extended and the deadline for reapplication will now be before 30th September 2021.

Full details regarding the scheme can be found at below or contact the Taxi Licensing Team for advice.

DfT Guidance; Coronavirus (COVID-19): safety screens for taxis and PHVs

This new guidance provides advice for drivers, operators and owners of taxis or private hire vehicles (PHVs) who choose to fit a screen or barrier to their vehicle(s) to reduce the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) and can be found at:

COVID advice, guidance and regulation

The Councils’ Public Health & Regulation team continues to provide comprehensive advice and support to businesses, organisations and the community so that businesses can open safely. This includes:

  • Ensuring that businesses and organisations are COVID secure.
  • Ensuring that businesses and organisations comply with Covid restrictions (in conjunction with Trading Standards).

If you have any questions or in need of specific advice do contact the team via:

Covid Information Officers

Adur & Worthing Councils has 3 Covid Information Officers. These should be your first point of contact for enquiries:

They will act as the main point of contact for any Covid-19 related enquiries and complaints from businesses, communities and voluntary groups and will monitor the local community to ensure businesses are Covid Secure whilst engaging with the local community and signposting any relevant and up to date guidance as well as proactively offering advice and support, as appropriate. In addition they will identify sector specific support requirements to enable focussed support to the relevant business sectors liaising with trade and business associations, Town Centre Initiative (Worthing) and with key voluntary sector groups.  

Safely reopening

Detailed advice to support your business is available on the dedicated Covid Business Advice on our website:


Some useful current information regarding COVID compliance is listed below:

Testing information for Residents and Businesses

  • Those with symptoms: Those with symptoms (high temperature / new continuous cough / loss or change to your taste or smell) should book a test by visiting www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test  or calling 119.
  • Community testing (asymptomatic): West Sussex County Council, in collaboration with partners, have had their community testing plan approved and hope to roll out the service this month. The plan will deliver lateral flow testing quickly and effectively to priority groups critical to supporting West Sussex communities and economy, even if they are displaying COVID symptoms. Full details can be found on their website - www.westsussex.gov.uk.

Support available

  • West Sussex County Council Community Hub (COVID 19): is available every day (including bank holidays), providing help to anyone that needs help with food, utilities bills or heating. This is open each day from 8am to 8pm. Visit https://www.westsussex.gov.uk/fire-emergencies-and-crime/coronavirus-covid-19-advice-and-information/community-hub-covid-19/  or telephone 033 022 27980
  • Employment advice and support: we have information and guidance on everything relating to work, including work support, dealing with money, wider wellbeing issues and the opportunity to speak to an employment advisor.
    These resources are online at www.adur-worthing.gov.uk/help-to-work/ 
  • Self-Isolation Payments: £500 self-isolation payments may be available to anyone who has been told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace, either because they've tested positive or are the close contact of a positive case. Further details can be found here.
  • Wellbeing and mental health - for any help in relation to health and wellbeing or help with finances you can access a referral form at this link: https://www.adur-worthing.gov.uk/community-wellbeing/ 
    This page also contains details on mental health and emotional wellbeing.

As always your cooperation is very much appreciated. If you have any questions on any of the above please contact business.covidinbox@adur-worthing.gov.uk 


Covid Support Advice meeting

On Thursday 21st January 2021 we held an online zoom meeting for members of the Adur and Worthing Taxi and Private Hire trades to have the opportunity to receive support and advice on the various financial grants, community and wellbeing schemes available. All Adur & Worthing trade members were welcome to attend and officers from the A&W Business Support Team and the A&W Wellbeing Team were present with A&W Licensing Officers to provide information and advice. 


COVID advice, guidance and regulation

A&W Councils Public Health & Regulation team are happy to provide advice and support around COVID-19. If you have any questions or in need of specific advice do contact the team via: 

Taxi Marshals:

For those working in Worthing, you will have seen that the Taxi Marshals had been reintroduced to help focus on COVID safe practices, using specific COVID funding from the Government. 

General information:

As a helpful reminder, the government’s most recent advice remains:

  • Wash hands - keep washing your hands regularly
  • Cover face - wear a face covering in enclosed spaces
  • Get tested if you display symptoms (high temperature / new continuous cough / loss or change to your taste or smell) by visiting https://www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test or call 119.

A range of support is also available locally for those in need:

Business restrictions & support published by HM Government can be found at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/further-businesses-and-premises-to-close/closing-certain-businesses-and-venues-in-england#business-support 

Coronavirus Tier 5 Guidance has been published by HM Government and can be found at:  

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/local-restriction-tiers-what-you-need-to-know#high-alert

Taxi & Private Hire Questions & Answers


Department for Transport Guidance:

Updated - 19th July 2021

The Department for Transport has issued new updated 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. 


Licensing:

Driver Licences

New: To apply for a new Hackney Carriage or Private Hire Driver's Licence or to renew an existing licence go to Drivers: Licensing New Drivers and Renewing an Existing Licence. However, HM government's recent decision to place England into lockdown means that currently we are unable to offer Driver 'Knowledge Tests'. The Council will endeavour to offer these again as soon as the current lock-down restrictions are lifted.   

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) and HM government's recent decision to introduce further new national restrictions from 5th January 2021 A&W Councils have put in emergency measures to assist drivers.

Driver Licence Renewals: For a Hackney or Private Hire Driver wishing to renew the Councils will be issuing licences for a 3 year period in line with the legislation. However, only a third of the fee will be charged at renewal with the two further instalments due at the beginning of each subsequent year so reducing the licence holder's up front cost. The first year licence will be issued at a cost of:

  • Adur Drivers Licence - £90 with two further payments of £90 at the end of the first year and second year.
  • Worthing Drivers Licence - £96 and two further payments of £96 at the end of the first and second year.

Allowing a Driver Licence to Lapse: For a Hackney or Private Hire Driver whose driver licence expires on or before the 30 September 2021 and who currently wishes not to work or cannot because of Covid situation the Councils will authorise the driver to allow his or her licence to expire for a fixed period and will renew after that fixed period subject to:

  • Notifying the Councils' Taxi Licensing Team before the expiry of your intention.
  • Return of the Hackney Carriage or Private Hire driver licence and badge to the Councils' Taxi Licensing Office.
  • The Driver must not drive the Private Hire or Hackney Carriage licensed vehicle during this lapsed period.

On re-application the driver licence application will be exempt from the following current conditions:

  • Driver Knowledge test
  • Child exploitation training
  • Disability training and Driver standard assessment

So the driver will not be required to re-take these. However, the applicant will be required to meet all other current conditions as laid out in the current Adur or Worthing Taxi and Private Hire handbook.

The deadline for application for a new licence from those that have lapsed their licences has been extended to 30 September 2021. Applications received after that date will be treated as a new application and the driver will be required to make an application that meets the current conditions including medical, knowledge test, Child exploitation and Disability training and Driver standard assessment and any other requirement as detailed in the current handbooks. current handbooks.

* Please note that the dates specified will be reviewed as more information on the lockdown becomes available and may be extended if necessary.

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.

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.

Due to the exceptional circumstances being experienced currently with regards to Coronavirus (COVID-19) and HM government's recent decision to introduce new national restrictions from 5th January 2021 A&W Councils have put in emergency measures to assist vehicle proprietors and drivers.

Allowing a Vehicle Licence to Lapse. A&W Councils have introduced an option that will allow a Hackney Carriage or Private Hire Vehicle Licence holder whose vehicle licence is due to expire between now and 30 September 2021 to let their vehicle licence expire for this fixed period and will allow a renewal after that fixed period if they do not want to work or cannot work due to the current pandemic subject to:

  • Notifying the Councils' Taxi Licensing Team of your intention
  • Returning the Hackney Carriage or Private Hire plate(s) and paper licence to the Councils' Taxi Licensing Office.
  • Removing the vehicles roof sign.
  • Removing any distinguishing signs that could lead the public to believe that the vehicle is a licensed taxi or private hire vehicle.

On re-application the vehicle will be exempt from the following current conditions:

  • Disability Access Requirements
  • Rear Passenger Cell Window Tint Level Requirements for the lifetime of the current vehicle but the proprietor will need to comply with the current conditions when or if the vehicle is replaced.

The vehicle must meet at the time of application all other current conditions as laid out in the current Adur or Worthing Taxi and Private Hire handbook including:

  • CCTV is installed
  • Hackney Carriage Insurance
  • Valid Garage inspection report & MOT
  • Any other standard conditions

Applications from those that have been allowed to lapse their licences must be made before 30 September 2021. Applications received after that date will be treated as a brand new application and the vehicle will be required to meet all the current conditions. 

* Please note that the dates specified will be reviewed as more information on the lockdown becomes available and may be extended if necessary.

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 and 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 regularly and follow the latest government safer travel guidance for passengers available on the government website.

Additional Driver and 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 


 

General 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 licensing.unit@adur-worthing.gov.uk and we will get back to you as soon as we can.

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