Car rules 'unfair to taxi drivers'

Taxi drivers have hit out at new rules set up by a Norfolk council to protect its community car schemes from legal claims. Car schemes, their drivers and operators in Breckland were open to 'unlimited claims' because they were run without any robust checks or rules on drivers or their vehicles, a council was told.

Taxi drivers have hit out at new rules set up by a Norfolk council to protect its community car schemes from legal claims.

Car schemes, their drivers and operators in Breckland were open to 'unlimited claims' because they were run without any robust checks or rules on drivers or their vehicles, a council was told.

To plug the gap, Breckland Council's cabinet agreed new rules and “governance arrangements” to protect their 164 drivers, 22 parishes which operate schemes and the council itself, which funds them.

But David Hixson, chairman of the Breckland Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Association, says car schemes are not legally run and were a direct attack on the taxi industry by taking away business from them


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He said community cars, volunteer drivers, and hospital and ambulance cars were not part of any licensing procedures which “the rest of us who carry fare paying passengers” had to adhere to.

On top of checks on the car and driver, taxi companies have to have public liability insurance, he said, and just to become a driver costs about £500.

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“Since Breckland Council is our licensing authority why are they running community cars at all when they have a fully licensed and vetted fleet on their doorstep,” he said.

A spokesman for Breckland Council said their car schemes were covered by public liability insurance and that properly administered car schemes were not illegal - although added the law was complex and there had not been any test cases to prove Mr Hixson's claim.

He added that they had effectively operated car schemes for 20 years and believed it to be the “best service to meet residents needs at this time”.

“Community car schemes are specifically aimed at those who are not able to afford the cost of a taxi, but need to travel to regular and essential medical journeys.”

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