Safety fears spark demands for uniform licensing on ‘novelty’ vehicles


Licensing controls on ‘novelty’ vehicles including rickshaws, limousines and party buses are endangering public users and must be modernised, according to council leaders.

The Local Government Association (LGA) has demanded an update on ‘utterly outdated’ legislation to ensure such vehicles come under the same scrutiny as London’s Black Cabs, which are strictly vetted on safety and criminal records.

Concerns have been raised that rickshaws in the capital are able to ‘rip off’ users without fear of repercussions and are unsafe because they are not regulated or inspected.

Widespread outrage was sparked last month when a video emerged purportedly capturing a London rickshaw driver charging a group of tourists £206 for a three-minute trip from Oxford Street to Marble Arch.

Westminster City Council said it had ‘long argued for greater regulation and licensing’ on such vehicles ‘not only to avoid clear rip offs like this, but to reduce congestion and improve safety on our streets’.

Council leaders have claimed taxis and certain novelty vehicles are governed by laws developed in the 19th century and required ‘a complete overhaul’.

Cllr Tony Page, LGA licensing spokesman, said: ‘Party limousines, party buses and rickshaws are growing in popularity and it is imperative drivers and vehicles come under the same rigorous scrutiny as licensed taxis.

‘Currently, there is a haze of regulations, which are not helping anyone: the passengers, drivers and operators. The legislation is confusing and utterly outdated.

‘There needs to be a consistent and fair approach towards vehicle licensing. While there are many reputable firms, it is vital a few rogue operators do not drag down the sector. People need safety in the first instance but they also need to be clear on where to complain to and who is accountable.’

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