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The DfT have written to licensing authorities across the country, acknowledging and thanking them for their hard work during the pandemic.
In the letter, DfT Director Stephen Fidler recognises the challenges presented by the pandemic restrictions and applauds the many licensing authorities who have found ways to address challenges presented to normal licensing processes. He urges any licensing authority not currently accepting new licence applications to address the matter urgently to 'to support the restart of schools and support local economies and to limit any long-term impacts on the sector'.
The letter states:
"Taxi and private hire vehicle licensing is a statutory function of local licensing authorities and it is important that it continues during these challenging times, both to support the restart of schools and support local economies and to limit any long-term impacts on the sector. We are aware that licensing authorities across England have come up with innovative solutions to overcome challenges around issues such as DBS checks, identification verification, medical and local tests and training requirements to enable the continued processing of all applications. If your authority is one of these many thanks for your efforts and hard work.
"If your authority is not yet processing new applications, however, we would urge you to urgently identify solutions that will enable you to resume this service to ensure that you can fulfil your statutory licensing function. You may wish to seek advice from your representative bodies, such as the Local Government Association or the Institute of Licensing, and/or other local licensing authority contacts in areas that are accepting new applications."
This supports the article recently published by the IoL 'Licensing - a statutory function which cannot be ignored', outlining concerns that in some cases licensing authorities may not be accepting new licence applications and the potential impact.