A new policy about taxis in Darlington is to go before Full Council for approval following a public consultation.

Local residents, businesses and visitors to Darlington were invited to share their views on proposed changes to the way taxis and private hire vehicles are licensed and operated.

A revised draft Taxi Policy has now been prepared and considered by members of Darlington Borough Council’s Licensing Committee, who have now submitted it for approval by Full Council.

If approved, the new policy will come into force from 1 January 2021.

Councillor Brian Jones, chairman of Darlington Borough Council’s Licensing Committee, said: “The key aim of the policy is to ensure the safety and welfare of the public, encourage environmental sustainability, and ensure efficient taxi and private hire services in the borough”

He said the council has sought the views of residents and the taxi trade when drawing up the revised policy and have taken those comments on board.

“We want to ensure those using the taxis and private hire vehicles operating in the borough feel safe and comfortable and that they meet all the standards required”, he said.

Jones added: “We’re also looking to streamline the application process to make it easier for drivers and operators and the proposed changes will provide clarity for the licensed trade and ensure the licensing regime will continue to protect the traveling public.”

The revised policy has taken into consideration the Department for Transport’s Statutory Taxi and Private Hire Vehicle Standards that was published in July this year.

Key amendments included the introduction of new age requirements for licensed vehicles to help improve air quality and reduce emissions.

Proposed changes to standardise a basic red colour (the same colour as Royal Mail vehicles) for all new hackney carriage vehicles have been put on hold for the moment following concerns by committee members that manufacturers may no longer be producing vehicles popular with the taxi trade in this particular shade. This means there will be no change in the colour policy at the moment.

The committee also agreed that a longer-term plan to help reduce emissions be included in the policy as well as a requirement that drivers follow Public Health guidance in response to national emergencies as part of their codes of practice.

On-line Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) update subscription will be mandatory to allow a smooth integration with a new on-line licensing application process which is currently in development. It will also allow for more frequent checking of drivers, as required under the new government standards.

The new Taxi Policy will be considered by Full Council at its next meeting on Thursday 26 November.