TAXI drivers are being consulted on plans to lift a restriction on the maximum age of their vehicles.
Currently, Wirral council’s policy is not to give a vehicle a private hire licence more than eight years after the date of its first registration.
Exceptions are only made if the car is deemed to be in exceptional condition, taking into account mileage, appearance, condition and level of safety features.
Vehicles which are more than six years old already have to apply for their licence to be renewed every six months.
A second consultation has been launched on Hackney Carriage Vehicle Licences and a policy around changing the vehicle on an existing licence.
At present an informal arrangement exists which allows a vehicle to be changed on an existing licence, subject to the replacement vehicle being the same age or younger than the vehicle on the existing licence.
Derek Cummins of the Unite union said the proposed changes signalled a “more pragmatic approach to match this cash-strapped age”.
He said: “There is little doubt that the proposed changes reflect the economic conditions of the last five years with little prospect of it ending anytime soon.
“Not only have drivers seen a fall in customer numbers, but fares rates have remained static for two to three, and this is in the face of an unprecedented rise in fuel, insurance and servicing costs.
“There is little doubt that drivers like a lot of other groups of workers in this country are experiencing a squeeze on incomes, therefore it is hardly surprising that they are reluctant, or simply cannot invest in new vehicles.
“Will it lead to ‘sheds on wheels’ on the streets of Wirral? There is no reason why this should happen. Private hire and taxis have to pass a rigorous compliance test every year.”
Best practice suggested by the Department of Transport is no upper age limit on vehicle age, but twice-yearly testing for vehicles once they are more than five years old.
Councillor Bill Davies, Chair of the Licensing Committee, said: “It is important that the Hackneys and the private hire vehicles that we licence to operate on Wirral’s roads are safe and in good enough condition to provide a good standard of service to residents and visitors.
“The policies that we are consulting on are directly related to this issue and we want to hear people’s views before we make a decision.”
The consultations can be accessed at the following links:
Private hire survey - https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/KJDPRQC
Hackney survey -https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/K9YWLLJ