Clamping down on the outfits taxi drivers wear will be part of new stricter taxi licensing guidelines.
Hartlepool Borough Council’s licensing committee approved new regulations which will see more comprehensive and deeper checks into those looking to obtain a licence to drive a taxi.
The committee also agreed to be part of a new national register ‘NR3’ which will show information about when councils nationwide refused or revoke a driver’s licence, which will now be visible to everyone.
The committee also agreed to write to drivers in Hartlepool to raise concerns about the standards of dress of taxi drivers.
Taxi drivers are currently advised to wear ‘smart clothing’ but there is no rules to enforce what they wear.
Coun Rob Cook said: “The problem we have is when you see drivers in shorts and vests.
“That sort of thing doesn’t give a very good impression of our excellent hackney carriage drivers.”
Councillors noted while a tie would be a safety hazard they would like to see taxi drivers in a shirt or polo shirt.
The new stricter regulations come from a revised document from the Institute of Licensing which has updated the previous version to take into account recent developments in the law and the continued need for the highest standards of public protection.
The legislation states that licensing authorities must only license drivers that are considered to be ‘fit and proper’ but there is no statutory definition of exactly what this means.
An example of the new stricter guidelines include how people who committed a violent offence could have to wait 10 years to receive a license, compared to 3 to 5 previously.
Ian Harrison, council trading standards and licensing manager, said: “They have come up with a new set of guidelines which is much more thorough.
“They have been extended quite significantly in some areas including the amount of time that should pass before someone is considered for a new proposal.
“We’re hoping it’s now much more comprehensive, there have been significant changes.
“However every application will be considered on its own merits and these are for guidance purposes.”
The committee also voted to be part of the new national NR3 register to try and clamp down on drivers who have licenses rejected attempting to gain approval in other areas.
Previously taxi drivers who had their licenses revoked or applications refused in one local authority would be able to visit another authority and try to gain a licence with no record of past applications.
The new register means the authority will be able to search for an applicants history attempting to gain a licence elsewhere, with records lasting for 25 years.
Coun Mike Young said: “It is all about safeguarding the general public who use these taxis and make sure they are better served.”
Nic Marko , Local Democracy Reporting Service