Star cabbies across Rochdale could be recognised with a special scoring system as part of moves designed to drive up standards in the borough’s taxi trade.
The proposals, which are currently open to public consultation, call for the introduction of an awards scheme which would offer private hire operators a bronze, silver or gold award, or no award at all, according to how they perform in regular assessments.
Licensing staff would look at everything from how the operators support disabled passengers to how many penalty points operators have accrued.
Councillor Jacqui Beswick, Cabinet Member for Licensing and Regulation at Rochdale Borough Council, said: “It’s vital that our taxi drivers adhere to the highest standards because passenger safety is of paramount importance. These proposals will help ensure that our drivers are the best in the business and should help customers make an informed decision about who they travel with. I’d encourage residents to get involved in the consultation and let us know their views.”
To receive a gold award, operators would need to fulfil a range of criteria including having a customer service charter, ensuring drivers complete a full daily inspection of their cab using a check sheet and having a robust system in place to communicate to drivers messages from the police and other agencies.
Firms would lose points for, among other things, failing to cooperate with licensing staff, allowing unlicensed drivers to work for the company and not taking action against drivers following customer complaints.
Stephen Campbell, who runs Heywood-based taxi firm Car 2000, welcomed the move and said “These changes will bring the taxi industry up-to-date. Oldham Council already run a similar star-based scheme and this will really raise the standards for taxi firms across the borough.
“Our customers can be assured that we will be aiming for the gold award and provide a transparent service for our customers.”
Companies would display their rating on their vehicles and at their operating base to help customers decide who they want to travel with.
A second proposal, which is also open to public consultation, would see individual hackney carriage and private hire drivers accrue penalty points for a number of infringements.
Examples of how drivers could fall foul of the rules include unreasonable prolongation of a journey to hike up a fare (4 points), modifying a vehicle without permission from the council (6 points) and failing to behave in a civil manner (1-12 points). Drivers who rack up 12 points or more could be stripped of their license.
People can find out about the proposals in more detail at www.rochdale.gov.uk/consultations and feed their views in writing to Rochdale Council Licensing Section or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org
People can also contact the Licensing Section on telephone number 01706 924 114 for any further information on either of the proposals.
The consultation will end at midnight on 26 January before a final decision is made by the council’s cabinet.
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