FENLAND District Council has been working with the Government s Driving Standards Agency and with local taxi drivers and private hire vehicle drivers to streamline the licensing process to make it faster and more efficient. The council has also been worki
FENLAND District Council has been working with the Government's Driving Standards Agency and with local taxi drivers and private hire vehicle drivers to streamline the licensing process to make it faster and more efficient.
The council has also been working with drivers to tighten up on 'cowboy' operators and give passengers the opportunity to differentiate more clearly between legitimate and illegal operators.
From April 1, there will be no distinction between the licence for a new hackney carriage and a private hire driver. They will all have multi-purpose personal licences. Existing licenced operators will have until May 1, 2008 to move to the new licensing system.
Drivers will soon be able to have their drivers' permits processed at any of the four Fenland@Your Service shops in Wisbech, March, Whittlesey or Chatteris, which helps cut processing times dramatically.
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The present vehicle permit process involves drivers paying their fees at a Fenland@Your Service shop and then taking their original paperwork to Fenland Hall for processing by the licensing team. Then they take their vehicle to the council's depot in Melbourne Avenue, March, where they are checked and certified as roadworthy. They must then bring their certificate back to the licensing team, who will turn it around and issue a licence plate within five working days.
For driver's licence, drivers must also go to one of the Fenland@Your Service shops to pay their fees and present original personal documents such as passport, driver's licence, birth certificate or marriage certificate as well as a utility bill. These documents are sent to the licensing team at Fenland Hall and an officer then has to meet each driver to fill in the required Criminal Records Bureau check form.
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From April 1, these processes will be handled by Fenland@Your Service shop staff and the form filling part of the exercise can be completed in about 20 minutes if all the correct documentation is presented - and applicants do not have to part with original documents as copies are made by council staff.
To enhance public safety and make it more difficult for 'cowboy' drivers to operate, the driving tests and certification will be conducted by a Government's Driving Standards Agency officer.
In addition, from April 1 all vehicles will not only have to display their licence plates at the rear, but also licence plate stickers on both front door windows. On the dashboard there will be licence plate details including a photograph of the driver.
New tariff cards will also be required to be on display on the dashboard and all drivers will have a new holographic identity card around their necks.
Councillor Kit Owen, portfolio holder for licensing, said: "We have been working closely with the local drivers to create a simpler and more streamlined licensing process and to stamp out 'cowboy' drivers who are undermining and undercutting legitimate and responsible operators.
"We have responded to the concerns of drivers by simplifying the licence application and renewal process as well make it more difficult for illegal drivers to operate.