Cutbacks hit checks on taxis

Joint spot checks by the police and the district council, ensuring that Exmouth’s taxis are safe, have been put on hold because of police cuts.

Operations involving the police and district council licensing officers have previously led to scores of taxis being issued with prohibition notices for defects ranging from a serious suspension fault to bald tyres.

In 2009, one such sting led to ten Exmouth taxis, one-in-three of those checked, being ruled unsafe and receiving prohibition notices – one was so bad, it had to be collected by a garage.

But there have been no joint agency checks for at least six months, East Devon District Council’s licensing manager John Tippin reported to councillors this week – because police were in the process of slashing the numbers of specialist civilian licensing officers in half.

In a report to the licensing committee on Tuesday, he wrote that, currently in East Devon, the police had two civilian licensing officers covering the whole district, who were overseen by a sergeant.

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But from November there will be just one officer covering the two districts of East and Mid Devon.

Mr Tippin reported: “Unfortunately, there have been no combined operations specifically in relation to taxi and private hire enforcement since the last report.

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“This is largely due to police cutbacks as licensing officers have not been able to arrange any multi-agency checks.

“We will continue to persevere and, hopefully, once the police changes have settled in, we will be able to develop new contacts.”

A district council spokesman said: “We have enjoyed an excellent relationship with the police in relation to multi-agency taxi checks, and their support has been crucial. We have achieved good results, and we are sure that future requests for help on a joint operation will be agreed.

“On occasions, we have been unable to set up a multi-agency inspection on the date we had chosen due to police colleagues being unavailable.

“We expect this to be a temporary problem that will be resolved once the police have completed their restructuring. This has not detracted from our powers to take unfit vehicles off the road.

“Our normal monthly checks are ongoing, and we still do spot checks on a weekly basis or whenever required.”

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