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Sub-Contracting Does Not Mean A Private Hire Free-For-All

By Mike Hedges 

Following the introduction of Clause 12 of the Deregulation Bill (Clause 11 in the Deregulation Act) passed into Law on the 1st October 2015, there has been a lot of confusion over the new Clause 55A of the Local Government ( Miscellaneous Provisions ) Act 1976.

We need to understand that Clause 12 is very clear in its intention: 

Any booking sub-contracted from one private hire operator to another (whether within the district, outside the district, to the same company outside the district, to a London or Scottish operator) must be carried out by drivers and vehicles licensed by the same authority as that which has licensed the operator to whom the booking was sub-contracted.

In other words, the same principle applies: 

If all three licences (operator/vehicle/driver) match from the same authority, then that’s lawful.  Both the original operator that took the booking, and the operator to which it was sub-contracted, must keep full details of that booking on both systems.  And most importantly, they cannot just use any licensed private hire driver/vehicle from any adjacent licensing area to do bookings ad-hoc that is clearly unlawful.

Yet there is a lot of confusion over this new clause. As Brighton & Hove News reported about Uber applying for a Brighton Operator’s Licence…

The Uber application could prove unnecessary because of changes to the licensing laws which take effect from 1 October. They allow private hire drivers to operate anywhere in the country provided they are licensed by at least one council.”

This is Completely wrong but its a widely held view of many council licensing committee’s as well as many drivers’ organisations. It particularly applies to Uber who have been busily gathering up operator licenses around the country.

The reason for this is the views that the Law Commission outlined in their Draft Bill. That is exactly what it is – a Draft Bill. It has never been debated and the government hasn’t even replied to it, but many believe that it is law. the Law Commission recommended ‘freeing up’ cross-border working for private hire companies so that operators would no longer be limited to using drivers and vehicles from their own licensing area or restricted to only inviting or accepting bookings within their licensing area. This was achieved through national licensing of private hire, taking control away from local authorities.

An operator licensed in Manchester can only dispatch a vehicle and driver licensed in Manchester to cover a booked job. If the job is sub-contacted to an operator in Salford then that Salford Operator can only use a Salford licensed driver and vehicle to cover the job. The law does not allow the Manchester Operator to dispatch a job to a Salford driver and vehicle. This illegal cross border hiring is happening across the country.

It must be stopped and Unite will be doing all it can to put an end to the unlawful practise.

This article was originally published in the Winter 2015/16 issue of Cab Trade News.

See Also…

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