Hire Car Booking Office Licence
West Lothian Council as licensing authority administers a licensing scheme for booking offices taking bookings for 4 or more relevant vehicles.
Taxis and private hire cars and the door to door service they provide are essential for people with disabilities. They are a key mode of transport for people who are blind and partially sighted, who are unable to drive and often face barriers when using public transport.
During the pandemic, it remains the case that service providers, including transport providers, have a duty under equality legislation to make reasonable adjustments for people with disabilities. And of course, providing such support also represents good customer service.
Guide Dogs Scotland have written guidance for taxi and private hire drivers to make them feel confident when helping passengers with sight loss
On 18 June 2020 the Scottish Government announced that from 22 June 2020 the wearing of face coverings when using public transport is mandatory. This includes taxis and private hire vehicles and includes all drivers and passengers.
In relation to this all hire car drivers and operators should note the following guidance issued by the Scottish Government:
Specific exemptions provide that certain categories of people are not required to wear a face covering. This includes children under five years of age, a constable or an emergency responder acting in the course of their duty. Staff such as drivers who are physically separated, by means of, for example, screens, from other staff and passengers are also exempt from wearing face coverings. An illustrative example of this might be a driver of a vehicle behind a Perspex screen in a taxi.
You may also have a reasonable excuse not to wear a face covering if, for example:
- you have a health condition where a face covering would be inappropriate because it would cause difficulty, pain or severe distress or anxiety or because you cannot apply a covering and wear it in the proper manner safely and consistently.
- you have a reasonable need to eat or drink
- you need to take medication
- you need to communicate with someone else who relies on lip reading
- a relevant person, such as a police officer, asks you to remove your face covering
You must provide your own face covering when travelling on public transport. A face covering is a facial covering of the mouth and nose, that is made of cloth or other textiles and through which you can breathe, for example a scarf. You may also use if you prefer a face visor but it must cover your nose and mouth completely. It is most important that what you wear is comfortable when it is being worn.
Religious face coverings that cover the mouth and the nose count as face coverings for these regulations.
When applying or removing the covering, it is important that you wash your hands first and avoid touching your face. After each use, you must wash a fabric face covering at 60 degrees centigrade or dispose of it safely.
In addition to having to wear a face covering on public transport we strongly recommend that you wear a face covering in other enclosed environments, such as shops, as a precautionary measure to stop the spread of the virus."
Further information is also available from Transport Scotland at Face Coverings on Public Transport
The Team are able to provide general guidance on the scheme for licensing booking offices but cannot assist you to complete your application form or provide legal advice on whether a licence is required.
Is a licence required?
A booking office licence is required in terms of the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982 (Licensing of Booking Offices) Order 2009 (SSI2009/145) for the following activity:
- the use of premises for the carrying on of a business which consists to any extent of the taking of bookings, by any means of communication, from members of the public for the hire of a relevant vehicle
Licences can be held by individuals, partnerships, companies or formally constituted organisations. You should seek legal advice from a solicitor or advice centre if you are unsure as to whether you require a licence.
Is there any exemption from the need for a licence?
Yes, a licence is not required if the business never takes bookings for more than 3 vehicles. However, it is not the number of vehicles operating on a system at any one time which is relevant, it is the total number of vehicles for which bookings are ever taken. Please see the guidance notes which are attached to the application form.
What is the definition of a "relevant vehicle"?
In terms of Paragraph 1 of the said Order "relevant vehicle" means a vehicle in relation to which a taxi licence Taxi Vehicle Licences or private hire car licence Private Hire Car Vehicle Licenceshas been granted in terms of section 10 of the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982 and that licence is in effect.
If you want to apply for a licence you must submit an application form along with the required documents and the appropriate fee.
Application forms which have guidance notes attached to them and a list of fees are available from the downloads section of this page. You should read the guidance notes carefully before completing your application form.
There are two separate application forms. One is for persons applying for a licence as an individual and the other is to be completed by applicants who are companies, partnership or organisations.
All applications are copied to the Cab Inspector at the Taxi Examination Centre. Mandatory background checks will be carried out on all applicants by Police Scotland and applicants' details will be retained on computer. You will be contacted once vetting is complete and given a date for your vehicle to be presented to be tested at the Taxi Examination Centre.
Any member of the public can make an objection or representation about a hire car booking office licence application unless the application is for a temporary licence.
A guidance note explaining how an objection or representation can be made can be viewed here
Some applications will involve a right to work check. In relation to all new and renewal applications made in the name of individuals the Council is required to carry out a right to work check on the applicant. See paragraph 5 of the guidance notes attached to the application form for further details.
Applications made by companies, partnerships and organisations are unaffected.
There is detailed information about right to work checks
We have nine months in which to make a decision regarding your application however the majority of applications are determined within 60 days and applications which do not attract any adverse comments or objections are granted by the Chief Solicitor under delegated powers.
All other applications require to be referred to the Licensing Committee for a decision to be made to grant or refuse your application. You will be advised if your application is being referred to the Licensing Committee. The Committee meets on a monthly basis and you will be sent notice of the date and time of the meeting at which your application is to be considered along with a copy of the report on your application. Meetings are held in the West Lothian Civic Centre and you or your representative will be given the opportunity to explain to the committee at the meeting why you consider your application should be granted
If your application is refused by the Licensing Committee you may have a right of appeal against that decision and can request a written statement of reasons in relation to the decision from the Licensing Team, this must be done within 10 days of the date your application was refused. Appeals against decisions can be made to Livingston Sheriff Court, information regarding the Sheriff Court is available from the Scottish Courtswebsite and you should consult your own legal representative should you wish further information on how to appeal.
Standard conditions that are applied to booking office licences can be found in the downloads section of this page.
A booking office licence is issued for a period of 1 year for both the grant or renewal of a licence.
If you are a current licence holder and wish to vary a condition of your licence you need to make a variation application using the form and pay an administration fee. Please note that a separate application must be made for each licence which you wish to be varied. The application form and a list of fees can be found in the downloads section of this page.
Once your application form and fee are received a copy of your application will be sent to the Council's advisors for their comments. If there are no adverse comments received from advisors the licence can be varied by the Chief Solicitor using delegated powers.
However if any adverse comments are received the application would then need to be referred to the next suitable Licensing Committee for a decision to be taken. If your application needs to go to the committee the whole process may take three to four months depending on how long it takes for the advisors to respond. If your variation application is referred to committee you will be invited to attend the meeting to explain to the committee why you consider your application should be granted.
If you are applying for a new licence or to renew an existing licence and wish to request that any of the standard conditions be varied you can request that at the time you make your application without making a separate variation application. You should include a letter with your application form explaining what condition you wish varied and the reasons for that. The procedure is the same as for variation applications and if any adverse comments are received the application would then need to be referred to the next suitable Licensing Committee for a decision to be taken on the grant or renewal of the application including your request for the conditions to be varied.
You should be aware that if your application requires to be referred to the Licensing Committee that this will delay the determination of your application.
You should notify us as soon as you can if your details change or any of the information given in your application becomes out of date due to a change in your circumstances.
If you no longer wish to hold your licence you can surrender it to the council at any time by returning your licence together with a letter stating that you wish to surrender it. If you surrender your licence it will cease to have effect.
Complaints regarding booking offices should be made directly to the booking office, they have their own complaints procedure and a copy of this should be available from them on request.
Complaints regarding unlicensed booking offices should be made to Police Scotland by calling 101.
The following lists contain details of current licence holders, these lists are updated regularly and at least every 12 weeks. For the avoidance of doubt this is the only information available to members of the public