Currently all taxis and private hire vehicles older than eight years are considered unfit for licensing and not fit for operating. The new proposal being considered by Councillors might increase the age limit or remove it altogether.
This could mean that taxis and private hire vehicles older than eight years, but in good running condition, will be allowed to operate in Poole. “By relaxing the age restriction on taxis and private hire vehicles, 38 people will be able to keep their livelihood. Once a car is decommissioned because it is considered unfit for the road, the owner cannot often not afford to buy a new vehicle,” says John Boucher, representative for Poole Private hire union.
The concerns raised by Poole’s Taxi License Office included the impact on air quality in Poole due to old cars driving on the roads, new cars having better safety features and the fact that there has not yet been a study conducted on the impact of traffic congestion on the air quality of Poole.
The odd part of the licensing structure in Poole, which caused concern to some councilors was the fact that wheelchair accessible vehicles (WAVs) were allowed to operate in Poole for 10 years. “This is an absurd distinction to have and suggests that the issue of safety for one set of vehicles is not an issue for another set of vehicles, even though they are older,” said Lib Dem Councillor Philip Eades.
While Poole has a rigid taxi licensing structure in place, Bournemouth has no such restriction on the age of its taxis and private hire vehicles. “Cars that surpass the age limit in Poole, register themselves in Bournemouth and start picking up passengers in Poole. This does not address the concerns of safety of passengers or impact on air quality in Poole,” he added. However, Councillor Tony Trent did not agree with having old vehicles operating on the roads.
The matter will be taken up at the next full council meeting.