Statement: Guildford maintains high standards

In December 2015, the Council adopted unique livery and signage requirements for all licensed vehicles, so that the public can easily identify and have confidence that they are stepping into a licensed vehicle, where both the driver and vehicle have met the Council's rigorous and high safety standards.

All Guildford licensed taxis are liveried in a turquoise colour with the Council's logo and vehicle licence number written on the front doors. A licensed taxi can be hired immediately from a rank, hailed in the street or pre-booked. Residents are warned only to hire a Guildford 'teal taxi' without booking in Guildford, as only Guildford 'teal taxis' are licensed and insured to pick up customers in Guildford instantly. Taxis are fitted with a meter, set to the Council's fares, which must be used on all journeys, so that customers can be correctly charged. From April 2019, all 'teal taxis' will be able to accept payment by credit/debit card.

All Guildford licensed private hire vehicles must display permanent signage on the front doors with the Council's logo, vehicle licence number and indicating that the vehicle must be 'pre-booked'. Private Hire vehicles differ from taxis in that they cannot be hired immediately and must be 'pre-booked' through a licensed private hire operator. When making a booking, customers are advised to ask the operator to dispatch a Guildford licensed vehicle only so that they can be sure the driver meets the required local standards.

All Guildford licensed drivers must complete a BTEC Level 2 Qualification in the role of a taxi/private hire driver. This is so that they are equipped with the necessary knowledge and skills to transport members of the public safely, while being trained to offer the highest levels of customer service. In addition, before a licence is granted, drivers must pass a rigorous knowledge test covering local geography, road safety, carrying vulnerable customers and taxi law. They also must pass a medical to DVLA Group 2 standards for professional drivers, pass an enhanced driving assessment and undertake an enhanced criminal record check, renewed every 3 years. As such, the public can have confidence that not only are Guildford licensed drivers well trained, but are also safe.

The Council has also been working on raising standards locally through leading work to adopt a common 'previous convictions policy' across Surrey. For example a driver who has been refused a licence in Guildford due to previous convictions, would not be granted a licence with another Surrey Authority.

The Council has also led the way in securing plans which now require all licensed drivers across Surrey to complete mandatory training to raise awareness of 'Child Sexual Exploitation' (CSE) so that drivers are trained to spot signs of CSE and report their concerns.

Guildford has also pioneered local enforcement, having obtained six prosecutions against drivers in the past year for 'plying for hire', including successfully defending an appeal against a conviction in the Crown Court last week. The Council will suspend or revoke the licences of drivers if they fail to adhere to the Council's high standards. The Council is pleased to hear feedback from customers and is more than happy to investigate complaints. We will investigate complaints from the public, please contact licensing@guildford.gov.uk, phoning 01483 505050 or reporting their concerns using our Complain about a taxi driver or taxi company online form.

As such, residents and visitors to Guildford can be confident that the Council is doing all it can to set high standards and keep the public safe. The Council is aware of the deficiencies in the current law, with the Lead Councillor for Licensing and Safety, Graham Ellwood actively lobbying MPs and Ministers for change so that our work and high standards are not undermined.