The meeting between Mr Norman Baker Parliamentary Secretary of State for Transport and Bill Bowling legislation officer of the National Limousine and Chauffeur Association was hopefully the first of a chain of dialogue with the Minister and the DfT, the purpose was to highlight the problems of running and licensing limousines and novelty vehicles throughout the UK.
The lack of consistency between the four hundred and six local licensing authorities, leaving operators with a post code lottery as to the chance of licensing with them was of great concern, as was the inadequacies of the Local government miscellaneous provisions act 1976 as to safety inspections. This coupled with both lack of will and knowledge in many authorities putting limousines in to the "too difficult" category made for a standard that was considered by the NLCA to be unacceptably low.
Changes brought about by the DfT to the PSV requirements seemed to us to be a fairly deliberate ploy to attempt to put all limousines and novelty vehicles under the control of the Local authorities, without first ensuring that there was adequate provisions to do so. Where some local authorities have a good and sensible working relation with limousine operators we are quite pleased and happy to see this continue, but we would appreciate a specific category under the PSV operators license that acknowledges that we are neither a bus or a private hire in the true sense of either.
Our request hinges on passenger safety, where regular inspections coupled with daily walk rounds under PSV achieve a lot in preventing defects and potential accidents. A scheme operated under the watchful eye of the Traffic Commissioners would be easier to police nationally, would take less to alter in legislation, and would fit into an existing judicial system where the TC's already have the power of sanction and removal of an operators license. Under the PHV rules all decisions have to be made, or challenged, in a Magistrate's court as to their efficacy, and this can be long winded and unreliable.
The NLCA has, at the request of Norman Baker, provided more information for them to research in order to progress further. Although it is very early days we are encouraged by the response and positive attitude of Mr Baker, and for the first time in many years we feel that we are not pushing against a locked door, or at least not one that is bolted shut.
This notice will be updated as an when new info comes in.
National Limousine and Chauffeur Association