More than half of taxi operators in Northampton have been uninsured at times during past five years

A Labour councillor is calling for a clampdown on taxi operators which renew licences too late in the light of a recent set of figures.
A Labour councillor is calling for a clampdown on taxi operators which renew licences too late in the light of a recent set of figures.

Politicians in Northampton are calling for a “zero-tolerance” approach to taxi firms who renew their operators’ licences late after a study revealed more than half of the town’s companies had done just that.

An emergency motion has been submitted to Northampton Borough Council by the authority’s Labour group to next Monday’s full council following the release of figures relating to private hire taxi operators’ licences in Northampton.

The analysis requested by Councillor Gareth Eales (Lab, Spencer) shows that of the 58 operators in the borough, 35 have had an occasion over the last five years where they have not renewed their licence by the uniform February 1 due date.

Some renewals were more than 150 days late.

Without a renewed operator’s licence, any of that company’s taxis on the road and any passengers within these vehicles are classed as uninsured, which Councillor Eales believes presents public safety issue.

He said: “I was genuinely quite shocked when I saw the information I requested and we simply must act now as an authority to prevent this unsafe situation.

“While its undoubtedly the responsibility of the individual operators and drivers to renew their own licences, it has to be acknowledged that reduced resource levels in the licensing department exacerbates issues such as this and we’d like and expect a review of staffing levels in the upcoming 2016 budget, with a view to increasing as much as is possible.”

The emergency motion submitted by Labour asks the borough council to take a “zero-tolerance” approach and asks that any private hire taxi operators or taxi drivers that fail to renew their licences by the due date, should face a review of the appropriate licence and a consideration for enforcement action by the licensing committee, which could result in revocation.

Councillor Eales continued: “If we are serious about licensing enforcement in Northampton, then simply put we need to give ourselves the tools for the job.

“This is a bona-fide emergency situation, this information came to light after the deadline for submissions and given the risk to the public in any inactivity, I would be mortified if this motion wasn’t heard.

“To show that I and Labour only have the best intentions and are not playing political games, we’d be happy for a Conservative Councillor to second it, that offer will be made to the administration.”

The emergency motion is now at the discretion of the mayor as to whether it will be accepted on to the council agenda.