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Boris Johnson drives forward pledge to scrap half-yearly black cab inspections

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Boris Johnson drives forward pledge to scrap half-yearly black cab inspections

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Published by Jon Land for 24dash.com in Local Government

Boris Johnson drives forward pledge to scrap half-yearly black cab inspections Boris Johnson drives forward pledge to scrap half-yearly black cab inspections

The Mayor of London Boris Johnson today took his first step towards delivering on his campaign promise to black cab drivers, by announcing the start of a consultation period on the abolition of half-yearly taxi inspections.

The mid-year inspections were introduced in October 2007, and were accompanied by a £36 increase in the annual licence fee, from £142 to £178, to cover the cost of the additional test.

According to Mr Johnson, many taxi drivers have found that this arrangement has created an unnecessary administrative burden, and the Mayor has now asked Transport for London to consult on a new approach that would remove unnecessary red tape whilst maintaining the taxi trade’s 'superb' safety record.

The Mayor is obliged to put the proposals to a consultation, but has sent a clear signal that he intends to deliver the necessary changes swiftly, prioritising the announcement and delivering it within the first two weeks of his administration.

The proposals include:

  • Retaining the annual taxi inspection as a condition of licence.
  • Removing the mid-year taxi inspection as a condition of licence.
  • Increasing the number of on-street taxi inspections by TfL’s vehicle compliance team.
  • Reducing the annual licence fee to reflect the lower overall taxi licensing cost.
  • Introducing a fee for any taxi requiring a re-test after failing the annual vehicle inspection or an on-street inspection.

Joining cab drivers at the headquarters of the London Taxi Drivers' Association, the Mayor said: "The black cab is an icon of London, and an essential part of our transport system.

"It is essential that we support and work with London's cabbies, who are the best in the world, rather than tying them up with red tape. Mid-year taxi inspections have proved an unnecessary burden for drivers and owners, and have penalised the majority who maintain their vehicles throughout the year.

"This consultation proposes a fairer system, where the industry benefits from a simpler and cheaper inspection regime. Only those few taxi drivers whose vehicles do not meet required standards will have to pay for follow-up inspections."

Ed Thompson, Transport for London's Director of Taxi and Private Hire, said: "Black cabs are an invaluable part of London’s transport network, and over 250,000 people use them every day. London’s taxis have a reputation for being the best in the world in terms of quality and safety, and we are determined to see them both deserve and maintain that reputation.

"The proposed changes to the licensing regime will reward taxi drivers and owners who keep their vehicles in good condition throughout the year. Well maintained vehicles are safer and cleaner in terms of emissions, so that could only be good news for all Londoners and visitors to London."

The London Assembly Labour Group, however, criticised the mayor's plans.

Labour's transport spokeswoman Val Shawcross, said: "Taxi inspections are there for a reason - to keep passengers safe. It is not "tying drivers up with red tape" to ensure that their vehicles are safe and road-worthy.
"Black cabs provide a great service to Londoners but people should feel safe using them.

"Over a third of taxis currently fail their inspection so it is no surprise cabbies want them scrapped. This might be good news for the drivers but it's bad news for Londoners."

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