PLANS for new taxi laws which could see Monmouthshire council lose nearly £60,000 a year have been met with opposition from councillors.

Taxis and private hire vehicles are currently regulated by local authorities, but the Welsh Government has proposed to transfer these responsibilities to a joint transport authority (JTA).

The proposals have been criticised by Monmouthshire council for lacking detail and falling short of the reform that ‘inadequate’ licensing legislation requires.

A government white paper setting out the suggestions has also been criticised for not prioritising public safety.

Similar views were shared by the council’s licensing and regulatory committee on Tuesday, with Conservative councillor Jane Pratt expressing disappointment in the white paper.

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Cllr Pratt said the document failed to consider ‘fast-changing’ technological advances within the industry such as the mobile apps Uber and ViaVan.

“Taxis as we know them are going to change. ViaVan is in London, Berlin, Amsterdam but it is bound to go across the country eventually,” said Cllr Pratt.

“This is the future, but [the white paper] is not up to date and not covering the subjects it needs to. I don’t think Welsh Government is moving quickly enough with the times.”

Support was also given to the response’s assertion that enforcement should remain within local authorities which were ‘more knowledgeable’ of issues within their night-time economies.

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David Jones, head of public protection, argued that creating a JTA would cause a disconnect between the ‘critical’ intelligence gathering of councils and local police.

Lib Dem councillor Hazel Guppy said several issues, including safeguarding, would be picked up quicker by a local council than a larger public body.

“Part of our licensing objectives involves safety and if it goes out into the ether, that timeliness could really be affected,” Cllr Guppy added.

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Other concerns raised included the document’s ‘Welsh-centric’ approach, with no mention of Monmouthshire’s neighbouring authorities in England.

The meeting heard that the UK Government is currently consulting on their own changes to taxi and private hire licensing legislation in England and Wales.

The council’s response was supportive of modernised licensing legislation to tackle inconsistencies between Welsh and English authorities, along with extra enforcement powers and improved standards around the use of CCTV and GPS taxi meters in licensed vehicles.

Monmouthshire council currently licences around 251 drivers, 132 taxis, 94 private hire vehicles and 33 private hire operators.

If the licensing regime is taken away from the authority, it could lose £58,649 per year in licensing fees.