Worthing’s taxi drivers are being ‘beaten with a stick’ by strict licensing laws that could put customers and drivers in danger, according to a local business owner.
Andy Hall, 48, has been a director of Wortax taxis in Worthing for four years but said changes to licence regulations over the last 12 months was damaging business.
He said with Worthing licences proving prohibitive, taxi drivers were going to Chichester, Arun and Adur for their licences, then returning to work in Worthing, but bound by none of the town’s safety laws.
Not only does the practice put drivers and customers in danger, Andy said, it was taking licence fees that could be reinvested in Worthing.
“It seems like Worthing drivers are being beaten with a stick, while at the same time the licensors are slowly losing control of the taxi business in the town,” he said.
“We’ve got drivers who want to be drivers in Worthing, but they are being penalised for three per cent of window tint.”
Worthing taxis’ rear windows must allow at least 55 per cent of light in, no exceptions, requiring custom alterations of around £1,000 on top of the cost of a new vehicle.
Adur, Arun and Chichester have no restrictions.
Worthing taxis must have CCTV and be less than seven years old to apply for a licence.
Arun and Chichester have no age limit nor CCTV requirement.
Surrounding areas also do not require roof signs, do not have size restrictions and various other regulations.
Andy questioned the logic of these regulations being in place to protect drivers and customers, but so easily bypassed by seeking a licence elsewhere.
With drivers licensed outside the town, customers with complaints from a Worthing taxi journey would be forced to leave the borough for restitution.
Worthing Borough Council has responded to Andy Hall’s criticism of its licensing regulations.
It said the licensing policy only imposes conditions to ‘address public safety concerns’.
It added the policy was set at a public hearing and was subject to regular review.
A statement released on Tuesday read: “Worthing is a large town of over 100,000 residents with a vibrant economy, and has just been awarded a Purple Flag for the excellence of its night time economy.
“Each individual Licensing Authority has to set its own taxi licensing policies based on the nature of the area and the issues it experiences.
“Worthing Borough Council only imposes conditions to address public safety concerns and believes the policy addresses issues highlighted through local consultation.
“The taxi licensing policy was set at a public hearing and is subject to regular review which includes comprehensive consultation involving the police, taxi industry, and public to make sure it remains up to date and fit for purpose.
“The new conditions, including those regarding privacy glass & roof signs, were introduced as a result of concerns raised and operate on a rolling replacement basis; only new and replacement vehicles are required to comply.
“In other cases, such as the mandatory CCTV requirement which protects the public and taxi drivers, drivers have been given over 12 months to get a system installed.”