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Agenda item

Hackney Carriage & Private Hire - Knowledge Test


Prior to the report’s introduction Mr John Iandolo addressed the Committee on behalf of the Maidstone Taxi Trade. 


The Head of Licensing Partnership introduced the report, referencing the proposal submitted on behalf of the taxi trade. The current Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Licensing Policy 2021-2026 reflected the national standards issued by the Department for Transport in July 2020, with temporary removal of the knowledge test not recommended. 


In response to questions, the Head of Licensing Partnership confirmed that the inaccurate questions within the Knowledge Test had since been amended and that no candidates had been permitted to take the test until this had occurred. Those questions had been within the test since 2018. A total of 24 tests remained to be checked, with only one person currently having failed the test due to that particular question, with any candidates that had failed for that reason to be offered EQUO training and permitted to continue with their application if they wished to. The question concerning the usage of driver seatbelts would be amended or removed from the knowledge test following the trade’s concerns.


The Senior Licensing Officer confirmed that all taxi drivers must undertake a DBS check and provide five-years’ worth of addresses in the United Kingdom before a licence could be granted. If this was not possible, the appropriate embassy would be contacted to provide a ‘Letter of Good Conduct’.


The cumulative impact of the previous inaccuracies within the knowledge test, the Covid-19 pandemic and Brexit on the number of taxi drivers available was noted by the Committee. Several Members expressed support for drivers being able to work and earn wages whilst they undertook training, as a practical solution to the problems being experienced by the trade. However, there were concerns that providing a temporary badge would be detrimental to the safety and security of passengers, as the driver’s knowledge of a range of issues, for example the Council’s enforcement policy, would not have been tested. The Head of Licensing Partnership confirmed that an EQUO test, which focused on safeguarding, was completed in addition to the knowledge test as part of the national standards issued in July 2020. 


During the debate, Mr Iandolo was invited to answer questions from the Committee in relation to the training requirements placed on trainee taxi drivers, which included the wording of the knowledge test questions.


The Committee supported a reduction in the six-month time period during which applicants that had failed the knowledge test on three separate occasions could not retake the test, to facilitate entry into the trade with increased speed. It was felt that as the temporary six-month removal of the topography section from the knowledge test for private hire drivers was ongoing until November 2021, the trades proposal could be reconsidered once the full impact of the removal on the applicant’s pass rates had been considered by the Committee. The Senior Licensing Officer stated that the pass rates had increased since its removal from the knowledge test and that the EQUO test was facilitated by an external company. The Committee requested to be provided with the same learning materials provided to all applicants for both the EQUO and Knowledge tests. 


The Committee considered the suggestion of a working under a temporary licence, but this was not felt to be feasible due to its impact on the driver and operator licences already issued to various taxi companies, that would need to be amended.




1.  The report be noted;


2.  The time limit between three unsuccessful tests and the next attempt be reduced from six-months to one-month; and


3.  Consideration of the taxi trade’s proposal be deferred until the next meeting, pending the results of the knowledge test that had been amended, and the results of those tests be presented to that meeting such that the Committee can review further extending the suspension of the topography test. 






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