The licensing of hackney carriage and private hire drivers, vehicles and operators is carried out under the provisions of two main acts of Parliament:
The Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976, which regulates both the hackney carriage and the private hire industries; and
The Town Police Clauses Act 1847, which only regulates the hackney carriage trade.
The purpose of these Acts and the licensing of vehicles in general is to provide for public safety when utilising the services provided by these vehicles.
The Council has a licensing policy against which decisions to licence a driver, vehicle or operator are considered. The policy sets out the medical fitness standards that a driver needs to reach, as well as our convictions policy.
In regard to vehicles, the policy advises what standards we expect a vehicle to meet, and the requirements for signage and advertising on the vehicles.
A copy of the policy can be downloaded from the right-hand side of this page.
A vehicle licence enables a vehicle to operate for the purposes of hire and reward and which is necessary for any vehicle, which is to be used as either a hackney carriage or private hire vehicle. If you wish to make a vehicle available for hire and reward as a taxi (pre-booked or otherwise) you will need to apply for either a Private Hire Vehicle Licence or a Hackney Carriage Vehicle Licence.
Only a hackney carriage can be pre-booked and ply for hire on the streets or on Council-nominated ranks. It is illegal for any other vehicle to ply for hire including private hire vehicles, which are often referred to a taxis or cabs.
Once licensed, a Hackney Carriage is always a Hackney Carriage and, as such, can only be driven by the holder of a Hackney Carriage Driver's Licence.
A private hire vehicle is not a "taxi". The only legal method of operation for a private hire vehicle is to accept pre-booked fares. Only the holder of a Private Hire Operator's Licence may accept these bookings, never the driver. The Operator's Licence must be issued by the same Licensing Authority as issued the vehicle licence and the driver licence.
Only the holder of a Private Hire Operator's Licence may accept bookings for a Private Hire Vehicle. The Operator's Licence must be issued by the same Licensing Authority as issued the Private Hire Vehicle and Driver Licence.
Before a Private Hire Operator Licence is granted, the applicant must satisfy the Council that the address from which they intend to operate is suitable and, where applicable, satisfy any conditions that may be attached to the licence in order not to disturb the ambience of the area.
All Hackney Carriage and Private Hire vehicles in South Hams that carry passengers and take money for this service must be licensed by us and every driver that works in these vehicles must also be licensed. They must also wear a photographic identity badge at all times when they are working.
The only drivers badge issued by us is a dual badge which allows drivers to either drive a Hackney Carriage or Private Hire vehicle.
Any person wishing to undertake one of the above licensable activities must obtain the relevant licence(s) before doing so.
All licences must be issued by the same Licensing Authority - i.e., any vehicle licensed by the licensing Authority must be driven by a driver also licensed by the same Authority.