Hailing Change

Did you know that Plymouth is the only part of England outside London to have its own set of laws on taxi licensing?

We have today responded to the recent review by the Law Commission of the legislation relating to taxis and private hire vehicles. Here’s what we said:

“We note that a key issue with which the Commission is grappling is the emerging transition from a world in which laissez-faire is the dominant political philosophy to one where localism takes its place. We welcome that transition, which promises a world much more respectful of local democratic judgement and much less willing to overturn it for reasons of ideological diktat.

We are therefore disappointed that some of the Commission’s provisional proposals represent a move in the opposite direction. In particular, abolition of the long-established right to limit the number of taxi licences issued, taking account of local circumstances, would signal a continuation of the ‘Whitehall knows best’ mentality. Local discretion over policy should not, in any way, be restricted.”

That the Law Commission has its finger on the pulse to the extent that this tension is evident in its thinking is an interesting development. The London regime knows what needs to be done. Power needs to be passed to local communities, with democratic accountability through the municipal ballot box and regions, like Wessex, then acting to co-ordinate local efforts, without centralist compulsion. The parties talk the talk, but mostly fail to walk the walk. Most of the time – and this applies equally to “Labour” – they would rather hand power to global corporations, accountable only to bankers. Time, however, is running against them. A post-oil world will necessarily be a more decentralised world. And the taxis may even be horse-drawn.

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