Dress code and delays: New code of conduct could cost taxi drivers their badge

taxi drivers holding picket signs and protesting outside of northampton guild hall

Taxi drivers are professionals who take pride in their appearance, the standard of their driving and state of their vehicle.

In a regulated industry, they undergo thorough checks to make sure they are suitable and safe to carry a variety of passengers, including the most vulnerable, such as women on their own at night, children and the disabled.

They rightly have to undergo medical and criminal record checks, as well as safeguarding training. Their vehicles are thoroughly and regularly inspected to make sure they are safe for passengers and other road users.


Few people would object to these stringent checks being carried out and some licensing authorities go further in a bid to improve standards.

But taxi drivers are angry about the new Private Hire and Hackney Carriage Licensing Policy 2023 introduced by West Northamptonshire Council from April 1.

As part of a new code of conduct, the council has introduced a penalty points system, with points being imposed for breaches. This includes “failure to comply with the dress code, not offering reasonable assistance with luggage, and turning up late to a booking without proper reason”.

If a driver collects more than 12 penalty points during 12 months, their taxi badge may be immediately revoked or suspended.


As a result, cabbies and private-hire drivers took to the streets in protest, as reported by the Northampton Chronicle and Echo, because they are concerned they could be forced off the road for reasons that have nothing to do with safety.

Mohamed Dogan, a taxi driver at the protest, said: “We have to be careful all the time. I have a family to support – I’ve been doing taxi driving for 18 years and we never had a problem. This policy is created to penalise us.”

As well as the points system, drivers took issue with the new “certificate of good conduct”, which forces them to provide documents from every country they have lived in for more than six months. The App Drivers and Couriers Union labelled this demand as “racist” and accused the council of introducing “regressive” regulations, as reported by the BBC.


Other changes being introduced include the requirement for proper signs on vehicles to identify them as taxis and PHVs, as well as more training for drivers. Drivers of existing licenced vehicles that do not meet the new standards will also be granted more time to find a replacement.

The taxi drivers feel they are being penalised by the council, but licensing committee member Cllr Gareth Eales said the update was to improve safety and standards of service.

He told the licensing committee that the points system was an “upgrade” from the previous rules. As reported by the Chronicle and Echo, he explained that there is a right to appeal if a complaint is lodged, unlike with the previous system under the former Northampton Borough Council policy.


Cllr Eales said: “The first time there would be an opportunity for the warning to be challenged would be when they’re in front of a sub-committee with their license under review”.

In its consultation and explanation, the council emphasised that the new systems were seen as an “open and transparent way” of dealing with licensing issues and each case would be dealt with on its own merit.

It insisted that the policy was not “designed or intended to be punitive” and the main aim is to “improve safety” and provide the “best possible service to the public”.

All information is correct at time of publication. Information provided within this article may have changed over time. No responsibility for its accuracy or correctness is assumed by John Patons Insurance Services or any of its employees.