Pedicabs (London) Bill: Second Reading House of Commons, 19 November 2021

Currently, pedicabs are exempt from the regulations which cover taxis and private hire vehicles. They do not need a licence to operate, are able to set their own prices and are not subject to checks on the safety and ability of their drivers, or the road worthiness of their vehicles


Key messages

  • The LGA welcomes this Bill, which will regulate pedicabs and improve the safety of passengers. We understand that this Bill also has the support of many councils in London.
  • Currently, pedicabs are exempt from the regulations which cover taxis and private hire vehicles. They do not need a licence to operate, are able to set their own prices and are not subject to checks on the safety and ability of their drivers, or the road worthiness of their vehicles. Councils have been made aware of various issues involving pedicabs, including unsafe driving, noise nuisance and pavement parking.
  • Councils play an important role, alongside police and other partners, in protecting their communities and ensuring that they are safe places to live. Licensing is an important tool to ensure anyone using a vehicle offering private transport services is kept safe. We believe that any vehicle, of any form or size including pedicabs, which operates by providing private transport services for the public, should require a licence and fall within the taxi/PHV regulatory framework in some capacity.
  • We would urge Transport for London, as the named licensing authority in the Bill, to consult with the relevant London boroughs to ensure that the work already being done by councils to tackle pedicab-related anti-social behaviour and safety concerns is taken into consideration when deciding the regulatory framework.
  • It is also crucial that this new licensing framework is in line with the Department for Transport’s taxi and private hire vehicle statutory standards, which seek to ensure that licensing authorities have robust safeguarding processes in place to protect vulnerable passengers.
  • In 2018, the LGA funded the development of the National Register of Licence Revocations and Refusals (NR3), which is hosted by the National Anti-Fraud Network (NAFN). NAFN is a shared service which supports public authorities to tackle fraud and share intelligence. We support the objective of making use of this type of database mandatory under the Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles Bill and, if pedicab licensing is introduced, this should also fall within the scope of the database
  • The LGA has consistently called for urgent reform to the outdated legislation that governs taxi and PHV licensing. Piecemeal changes to legislation in recent years have not kept pace with rapid advances in technology, such as pedicabs, which have changed the way transport operates in the 21st century.
  • We are urging the Department for Transport to bring forward a comprehensive Taxi and PHV Licensing Reform Bill to replace the current outdated legislation and make the licensing system for taxis and PHVs fit for the 21st century. This should cover the full range of safeguarding, market and enforcement issues that need addressing to the benefit of both passengers and the trade.

Background information

As things stand, pedicabs are exempt from the regulations which cover taxi and private hire vehicle licensing. They do not need a licence to operate, are able to set their own prices and are not subject to any official checks on the safety and ability of their drivers, or the road worthiness of their vehicles. There have been many incidents of pedicabs causing road issues, noise nuisance and many other issues within the areas they operate.

Licensing is an important community safety tool and the lack of effective regulation for pedicabs poses safeguarding risks, particularly to vulnerable groups using them. We believe that any vehicle, of any form or size including pedicabs, which operates by providing private transport services for the public, should require a licence and fall within the taxi/PHV regulatory framework in some capacity. The Bill makes provisions for Transport for London (TfL) to be the licensing authority for pedicabs in public places in Greater London. Transport for London already have vast experience in taxi and PHV licensing, so we support this approach.

It also stipulates that ‘Transport for London must consult whoever it considers appropriate’ before making pedicab regulations. We would urge TfL to consult with the relevant London boroughs to ensure that the work already being done by councils to tackle pedicab-related anti-social behaviour and safety concerns is taken into consideration when deciding the regulatory framework.

The NR3 register

The LGA would support the use of the national register of licence revocations and refusals (NR3) for pedicab licensing. NR3 is already used by Transport for London for recording taxi and PHV licence refusals and revocations and has proven effective in identifying applicants who are not found to be fit and proper.

The LGA launched NR3 in 2018, and it is managed by the National Anti-Fraud Network (NAFN). NAFN is a shared service, hosted by Tameside council, which supports public authorities to tackle fraud and share intelligence. NAFN worked with the LGA and a user group of licensing officers from a range of local authorities to develop the NR3 register.

The simple objective of NR3 is to provide a mechanism for licensing authorities to record details of where a license has previously been refused or revoked. This allows licensing authorities to check new applicants against the register and make an informed decision on whether an applicant is fit and proper when making a licensing decision.

Before the introduction of NR3, there was no central database of drivers’ history of revocations and refusals, and local authorities had to rely on applicants to self-disclose this information. As a result, crucial intelligence could be missed, which could pose a potential risk to public safety.

Wider licensing concerns

The LGA has consistently called for urgent reform to the outdated legislation that governs taxi and PHV licensing. Piecemeal changes to legislation in recent years have not kept pace with rapid advances in technology, such as pedicabs, which have changed the way transport operates in the 21st century.

We are urging the Department for Transport to bring forward a comprehensive Taxi and PHV Licensing Reform Bill to replace the current outdated legislation and make the licensing system for taxis and PHVs fit for the 21st century. This should cover the full range of safeguarding, market and enforcement issues that need addressing to the benefit of both passengers and the trade.

Contact

Megan Edwards, Public Affairs and Campaigns Adviser

megan.edwards@local.gov.uk