Coronavirus (COVID-19) - Advice to Taxi and Private Hire licence holders

Advice to Taxi and Private Hire licence holders 

As the current situation with the Covid-19 outbreak continues to develop, the council is constantly keeping the matter under review, following government advice and looking at its own business continuity arrangements to ensure we can continue to deliver services.

In relation to the taxi and private hire trade, we need to relay the information below. Note please that the situation is constantly changing and some of the information on this page may be subject to change. We will do our best to keep you informed but we appreciate your understanding and patience.

This important update is for all hackney and private hire licence holders – vehicle proprietors, drivers and PH operators. It is important that you read this information as our services will be severely disrupted until further notice due to the impact of COVID–19.

  • Service Disruption and License Renewals - What to do

    From 4pm 24 March, the council offices at Beech Hurst, Andover and Former Magistrates Court, Romsey will be closed to the public.  We will deliver the fullest service possible, and limit disruption to you as service users but, you must help us to do so.

    1. The ability to come into the offices to submit applications is now cancelled with immediate effect.

    2. In the first instance email (licensing@testvalley.gov.uk) should be used for all contact. Do not telephone unless necessary or to make a payment (see 3 below). Please note, it is highly unlikely that any situation will be deemed necessary for face to face contact with you to protect our staff and our customers.

    3. You are advised to allow at least 10 – 14 days and ideally longer before any licence expires and submit your application either by scanning all required documents and emailing them to the above email address OR posting the documents via Royal Mail or delivering them to the Andover or Romsey council offices. If delivering documents by hand please use the letterbox to the side of the entrance doors and do NOT hand documents directly to staff unless you have been given specific instructions to do so. If emailing an application you can phone the main Council number (01264 368000) and make a debit card payment over the phone. If posting applications please include a cheque. NB If you are submitting a DBS application form you cannot send us a scanned copy of the form and ID documents, we must have the original form and documents (the latter will be posted back to you).

    4. We have temporarily closed the facility to apply for new hackney/private hire driver licences. We will not process these applications until further notice, as we rely on face to face contact for so much of the process.

    5. Vehicle licence applications will be accepted as usualYou must submit the application form, licence fee, V5 registration document, MOT certificate and insurance certificate.

    6. With effect from 1 July 2020 we have reintroduced the requirement for vehicles to undergo the usual compliance test at the Portway Depot.  Please telephone 01264 368376 to book an appointment and ensure you follow the instructions provided by the workshop staff. Please note that the inspection fee of £52.00 will now be paid when paying for the licence fee. 

    7. Operator licence applications will be limited to renewals only i.e. no new applications.

    8. Vehicle plates and licences can either be collected from the Beech Hurst offices or sent by Royal Mail. It is imperative that you allow good time for us to do this, and bear in mind staff numbers are severely reduced. You can return your old plate to us by posting it through the external letterbox at the front of the offices if you are able to do so.

    9. Our policy on late renewals remains unchanged, and late renewals are likely to lead to delays and possibly additional requirements. If you have a genuine difficulty please contact us in good time well before your licence expires.

    10. The driver renewal process will remain unchanged. All renewal applications made from 24 March must include all of the documentation usually required. If your application to renew is currently being processed and you have not submitted your DBS disclosure certificate and/or your medical report form then please send it to us by email or post. We will accept copies of medicals and DBS certificates by email as a temporary measure but, you will be only issued with a two month driver ID badge until we have seen the original documents.

    11. Driver ID badges can either be collected from the Beech Hurst offices or posted via Royal Mail.

    12. To be clear, we will only issue new driver ID badges when all requirements have been met. If you cannot meet a particular requirement, e.g. obtaining a medical report, then you will be issued with a temporary two month badge until such time as you have provided all required documentation.

    13. Knowledge test for new drivers are cancelled. We are looking at how we can reintroduce these whilst maintaining safety.

    14. Our service will be disrupted in this manner, until at least the time when Government guidance shows a return to normality.

    15. N.B. We may have to bring in further modifications to our service in due course, if conditions worsen. We are doing our best to continue to deliver our services to you in these difficult times, but bear in mind the difficulties we will face in delivering our service and for you in accessing our service. Please allow more than enough time to deal with service disruption for us when you renew your licences or, need advice from us.

    16. Please check the appropriate pages on our website from time to time where this information will be displayed and kept updated to reflect any future changes.

    17. Please see the Financial Support section if you have licences which are shortly due for renewal and you wish to place those licences on hold.

  • Precautions

    We would like to also take the opportunity to remind the trade of the official advice and the importance of following these for your own, but also your passengers, protection.

    • If you are vulnerable either due to your age, suppressed immunity or pre-existing health conditions, please consider whether it is in your interest to work.

    • If you believe you may have been exposed to the virus through a passenger (or anyone/where else), please consider the official advice to self-isolate particularly if you are displaying symptoms.

    • Regularly clean touch points (such as steering wheel, door handles both inside and outside etc.) with alcohol (minimum 60%) wipes or bleach based cleaning products.

    • Regularly clean the inside of your vehicle with warm water and soap.

    • Consider carrying tissue in your case and a receptacle for disposing of used tissues and wipes.

    • Where possible and practical, please wash your hands regularly. As an interim measure, use hand sanitizing gel with alcohol of a minimum 60%.

    • Read the COVID-19: guidance for staff in the transport sector

    • Do not fit any temporary screen or barriers in your vehicle. Professionally fitted driver screens are acceptable but please check with us first.

    Taxis and private hire vehicles can continue to work. But the advice is absolutely clear - people should stay at home if possible. That is the way to save lives and protect the NHS. The public should avoid travel unless absolutely essential. The only reasons to leave houses are set out in the government guidance.Clearly if absolutely necessary to travel by taxi or private hire vehicle, best efforts should be used to follow the guidance as far as is practically possible, including washing your hands as soon as you get home.

    Taxi and private hire drivers should not generally be considered Critical Workers. Those undertaking Home to School transport or the transport of ‘extremely vulnerable’ people may be considered Critical Workers on a case-by-case basis. Critical Workers should also whenever possible make suitable arrangements for their children to stay at home; requests for children to attend school should be discussed with the school.

    The announcement that from 15 June face coverings will be required while using public transport in England does not cover taxis and private hire vehicles as the trade is already able to require (with limited exemptions) passengers to wear these. Taxi drivers are already able to refuse carriage to passengers where it is reasonable to do so, this might include those that are able but refuse to wear a face covering. Private hire vehicle operators can make the wearing of face coverings a condition of hiring.

  • Financial support

    We are aware that a number of drivers have suffered a significant reduction in work and may decide that it is not currently worthwhile renewing their licences. If any of your licences (driver, vehicle and operator) are due to expire in the next few months and you have decided to stop working until the situation improves, we will ignore any gap between the expiry of your licence and your application and treat it as a renewal rather than a new application i.e. you will be charged the renewal fee and not a new licence fee. If you wish to place a vehicle licence on hold, you should also consider applying to DVLA for a Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN) if the vehicle will be completely off the road. However, please let us know if you wish to take a break from relicensing by emailing us licensing@testvalley.gov.uk 

     If earnings are dropping and you are not currently claiming government support, you may be eligible for Universal Credit to supplement your income. This should be claimed online through the DWP here https://www.gov.uk/universal-credit 

    The government has recently put in place measures to support businesses affected by the virus. There are grants and loans available as part of this package. Please follow developments on the government website as ways to access these will be announced shortly. Government has also announced measures to help self-employed persons.