Government department raises concern over Sheffield Council's new policy on private hire taxis

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A Government department has raised concern at Sheffield Council's changes to its taxi licensing policy.

A Government department has raised concern at Sheffield Council's changes to its taxi licensing policy.

The Competitions and Markets Authority raised a number of issues as plans were laid out on new policy for private hire taxi firms in the city.

The CMA said they were concerned about new rule restricting drivers to work for one private hire operator and making firms have a permanently staffed helpline based in the city.

The body also said It was 'not necessary' to require all firms to offer seven day advance bookings.

CMA acting chief executive Andrea Coscelli, sent a letter to Sheffield Council's licensing boss Steve Lonnia expressing their worries consumers could end up paying more through the extra restrictions.

But Sheffield Council said they had taken on board the CMA's and passed the new private hire policy with some amendments.

A CMA spokesman said: "Last year we looked at the Sheffield market and cleared a merger of major taxi/private hire firms because we expected competition from app-based operators. The letter explains why some planned Council measures may stifle competition without necessarily benefitting consumers.

"It is not necessary to require a permanently staffed helpline within the city – this increases costs for operators, which passengers will then pay for;

"Only allowing owner-drivers to work for one operator means they are all likely to choose the biggest operator, so passengers could end up with only one operator to choose from, and thus there is no competition."

Councillor Bryan Lodge, cabinet member for the environment at Sheffield Council said: “The Licensing Committee approved a new Private Hire Operator & Vehicle Policy with some minor amendments.

"We listened to the concerns raised against some of the proposed conditions and made changes to the policy to address this. We will continue working with the Government and taxi operators to ensure our residents and visitors feel safe when travelling in Sheffield.”

To read the full letter, click on the hyperlink https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/taxi-and-private-hire-regulation-cma-letter-to-city-of-sheffield