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24-03-11 Illegal limo first vehicle to be crushed under new powers

Two stretch limousines which were seized from the company which owns them have been crushed today because they were being operated illegally and do not meet UK safety laws.

The Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) confiscated the two vehicles last July in Carmarthenshire following safety checks, and discovered the owner had no Operator’s Licence. The vehicle will be the first to be crushed since VOSA was given powers to carry out this type of enforcement in 2009.

Companies running passenger service vehicles (PSV’s) with eight seats or more must have an Operator’s Licence to show that they meet strict rules on safety procedures and financial standing. In 2009 VOSA was given new powers to impound and, in some cases, destroy vehicles which were being used without a licence.

If a limousine company does not have an Operator’s Licence and is not registered for private hire with a local authority then there is a risk that the driver may not hold the correct licence, any insurance could be invalid and it might not be constructed or maintained to a safe standard.

Transport Minister Mike Penning said:

“The limousine and novelty vehicle industry has seen rapid growth in recent years and I want to see these legitimate businesses continue to thrive.

“However, those operating vehicles outside of the law put the safety of their passengers and other road users at risk, and create unfair competition for legitimately-run businesses.

“This is something that will not be tolerated and VOSA will make full use of their powers to stop the small minority of cowboy operators who threaten to bring the industry into disrepute."

VOSA’s Head of Enforcement Neil Barlow said:

“The law is clear that those limousine operators with vehicles with over eight passenger seats need to have a PSV Operator's Licence. We have worked extremely hard with the limousine industry to bring them into a safe operating regime and this has improved compliance - crushing these vehicles is a drastic measure and not something we do lightly..

“The hardcore few who insist on operating illegally and with little regard for passenger safety can expect to lose their vehicles indefinitely or even, as in this case, for good.”

Stephen Smith, Director of operations at the Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT) UK said:

“CPT as the trade association for the bus and coach industry support VOSA in their actions to remove illegal and non compliant vehicles from our roads. The safety of passengers is of paramount importance and we would always advise people to hire vehicles from a CPT member operator if they want to ensure they are hiring a safe and compliant operator for their private hire or journey.”

Sims’ End of Life Vehicle Business Manager, Rob Taylor, said: “In order to de-pollute and recycle the limousines correctly, we had to adapt the process slightly as they are obviously much larger than a standard car and they are also of American design and manufacture. However, here at Newport, we are used to recycling vehicles of all shapes and sizes so we had no problem in meeting the challenges posed in de-polluting and recycling these particular limousines.”

ENDS

NOTES TO EDITOR:

VOSA (Vehicle and Operator Services Agency) is responsible for:

  • Processing applications for licences to operate lorries and buses and registering bus services
  • Operating and administering testing schemes for all vehicles, including the supervision of the MOT testing scheme
  • Enforcing the law on vehicles to ensure that they comply with legal standards and regulations
  • Enforcing drivers' hours and licensing requirements
  • Supporting Traffic Commissioners to help them make informed decisions on operator licensing, vocational drivers and bus registration requirements
  • Providing training and advice for commercial operators
  • Investigating vehicle accidents, defects and recalls.

Background

The Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) are working to reduce non-compliance by limousine operators through prohibition and impounding of unlicensed and unsafe vehicles.

The limousines in question were impounded in July 2010. The operator applied for their return but this was rejected by Traffic Commissioner Sarah Bell. The operator then had until Christmas to appeal but no appeal was made. Legislation dictates that the vehicles can now be disposed of and this is what VOSA will be doing today.

October 2009 saw changes in legislation to allow the introduction of the PSV impounding scheme. The Local Transport Act 2008 introduced Section 12A and Schedule 2A into the Public Passenger Vehicles Act 1981 so that any passenger carrying vehicle, adapted to carry more than eight passengers, operating on a public road for the carriage of passengers (either for hire or reward or in connection with any trade or business) without the authority of a PSV Operator Licence, can be detained.

VOSA has widely publicised the requirements of the Passenger Carrying Vehicle (PSV) and Private Hire Vehicle (PHV) licensing regimes to raise awareness and enable as many operators as possible to obtain the necessary licence. Where possible, suspected operators of unlicensed PSVs (including limousines) have been or will be notified individually in writing. VOSA cannot send notification to operators it is not aware of and it remains the responsibility of all vehicle operators to ensure that they fully understand their legal obligations and comply with the law. If the operator has any doubts as to whether their operations are compliant with the law, they are advised to seek independent legal advice.

Operator licensing for limousines

Stretched limousine operations for hire, or any sort of payment, will require some form of licence for use either as a Public Service Vehicle (PSV) or as a Private Hire Vehicle (PHV).

Public Service Vehicle operators’ licences apply across Great Britain and are issued by the Traffic Commissioners.

Licences for Private Hire Vehicles are issued by Local Authorities.

Without a licence the use of a stretched limousine as part of a business is a criminal offence - there are no exceptions so don’t accept any advice to the contrary.

If the provider of a stretched limousine service has the required licence(s) it means their business is registered with, and recognised by, the relevant authorities. The licensed operator will be provided with appropriate legislation guidelines which they must comply with.

A suitably registered stretched limousine business will be able to show their licence on request and will display on their vehicle either a licence issued by their Local Authority or a PSV operator licence disc issued by the Traffic Commissioner located next to their road tax disc.

Enforcement is conducted by the police, VOSA and the local licensing authorities, often at joint checks

For media enquiries about VOSA, please contact: Luke Bigwood on 0117 954 3208. You can also e-mail press@vosa.gov.uk

Page last updated: 24/03/2011

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