Private hire vehicle (minicab)


There are two types of "hire vehicles": hackney carriages (taxis) and private hire vehicles (minicabs).

There are important differences between the two types:

  1. Hackney carriages (taxis) can carry passengers who have hailed them in the street or from an authorised rank. Taxis can also be pre-booked.  All taxis must be licensed by the Council. 

  2. Private hire vehicles (minicabs) cannot be hailed in the street or sit on taxi ranks, and must be pre-booked. These vehicles also have to be licensed by the Council. 

The drivers of both types of hire vehicle also have to be licensed. The licences must be issued by the same Council that licenses the vehicle. Once a vehicle is licensed then every driver of that vehicle whether it is used for business or pleasure must possess a current hire driver’s licence issued by the Council.

Private hire vehicle licence

To operate a private hire vehicle (minicab), three licences are required, Each vehicle must have a private hire vehicle licence and every driver of those licensed vehicles must have a hire driver licence. In addition, all persons running a private hire business - including self-employed drivers - must hold a private hire operator licence. 

Fares for private hire vehicles are not regulated by the Council. The cost of a journey will normally be based on a "rate per mile" or should be agreed with the company before the journey.

Private hire vehicles licensed by the Council must display the private hire licence plate provided on the rear and a smaller plate on the interior of the vehicle. Roof signs are not permitted. The driver must wear an ID badge issued by the Council, which includes their photograph. 

We do not limit the number of private hire vehicle licences, but before considering an application we must be satisfied that:

  • Your vehicle is suitable in type, size and design for use as a private hire vehicle.
  • Your vehicle does not look like a hackney carriage (taxi).
  • Your vehicle is mechanically sound and has passed a detailed compliance test to current MOT standards. The test will be done twice a year at a garage approved by the Council, and includes checks on the overall condition of the vehicle.
  • Your vehicle is constructed or adapted to seat no more than 8 passengers.

The Council has adopted a policy for hackney carriage and private hire vehicle licensing, which can be viewed in the downloads section. Applicants should be familiar with this policy before making an application, as this policy gives details about the licensing process and the types of vehicles we will accept.

Each application for a licence is considered by an authorised officer under powers delegated by the Council. Officers are authorised to grant licences where the vehicle fulfils the basic qualifications. If the officer has any concerns about the application, it will be decided at a meeting of the General Licensing Sub Committee, made up of three elected Councillors.


text | hackney carriage private hire vehicle complaint


Make a complaint regarding a hackney carriage or private hire vehicle

Hackney carriages and private hire vehicles play a vital part in the integrated transport system within our district. They provide a service when other means of transport may not be available to those who cannot easily access them. 

All hire vehicles, drivers and operators undergo a series of checks relating to safety, fitness and propriety, with the overriding primary concern being the safety of the public. 

The Department of Transport requires Licensing Authorities to publish details of how members of the public can notify any complaints about the service they receive. 

In the first instance, and where it is appropriate, complaints should be directed to the driver, owner, or operator of the vehicle. Where this is not possible, or appropriate, the following procedure can be followed:

  • Any allegation of criminality should be reported to the police, as they have primacy in all matters relating to such allegations.
  • Any general complaints and allegations should be directed to the Licensing Team.

See appendix O of the hackney carriage and private hire vehicle licensing policy in the downloads section for full details of the complaints process. 

All reports made by email to the Licensing Team or using the online form are required to include the contact details of the person(s) making the report and as much information relating to the complaint as possible. This should include but is not limited to:

  • The time, date and place of the incident.
  • The vehicle and/or driver details, including licence details if known.
  • Details of the booking of journey arrangements and any contact numbers.