It seems that film stars, VIPs, and prominent politicians visiting Vale don’t much like being wafted around in locally-hired limos – which all have to have the names of the taxi firms displayed on the car-doors.
So negative is the apparent reaction from the great and the good to using hire cars plastered with taxi-firm logos that now Vale taxi-operators are demanding to be specially exempted from council rules requiring them to display such signage on their cars.
The rule that they SHOULD display their company name on the front doors of their cars is laid down in condition 9 of the Vale of Glamorgan Conditions for Private Hire Vehicles regulations. The Vale of Glamorgan Council says displaying the names of taxi firms on vehicle doors is a matter of “public safety“.
However several local taxi licensees have now asked to be exempted from the rule – so that – for example – a luxury Merc actually LOOKS like a pristine luxury Merc and not just a jobbing taxi used for daily school-run contracts and carting outpatients to hospital.
In response, the Vale Council’s Licensing Department wants to develop a “draft policy” on just how it should respond to such exemption requests.
The taxi owners say that in the operation of “executive hire” and “tour operations”, “identification of the vehicle has minimal effect in terms of customer safety and may have a negative impact on commercial considerations.”
Taxi firms say that “media companies and VIPs” don’t want have their image dented by having the utilitarian name of the taxi-firm, or the demeaning word “TAXI”, emblazoned on the front doors.
The Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 gives district councils some latitute what signage has to be – or may not need to be – applied to the driver’s and front passenger’s door. However the current Vale of Glamorgan Council rules say “the proprietor and/or driver shall at all times ensure that there shall be clearly displayed on the centre or upper part of each front door of the vehicle, the adhesive private hire identification sticker supplied by the Licensing Authority. The stickers must be permanently fixed to each door with the identification sticker’s adhesive backing.”
The council says the reason for this is so that members of the public can clearly identify licensed private hire vehicles from both the rear and the sides of the vehicle. The door stickers also clearly advise that the private hire vehicle must be pre-booked and display the licence number.
If the rules were changed – and the door stickers were allowed to be removed – the vehicles would still have to have a window licence in the front, and a licence plate at the rear but, it’s argued, that’s not as naff as sitting in a car with “Taxi” written on the side
However the taxi firms argue that the requirement to have front-door stickers has “commercial implications for the operating business, as it could deter corporate customers from using the service”.
The Vale Council is now proposing that “dispensations” (to permit some cars not to have door stickers) will “not be granted as a matter of course.”
If this policy change is agreed, taxi firms will have to make “a clear case for the dispensation” . The council says “it will normally be the status of the passenger and the executive nature of the work that will indicate whether or not the dispensation should be granted. The high quality of the vehicle being used will be supportive of an application”
If a vehicle with such an exemption is used as part of a School Contract, the exemption “will expire with immediate effect”.