McGrath Welcomes £19 Million Support For Taxis

McGrath welcomes £19million support package for taxis and coach operators.

McGrath welcomes £19million support package for taxis and coach operators

The taxi industry has like many sectors been devasted by the Covid-19 epidemic but received a small measure of cheer this week with a support fund announced.

SDLP South Down MLA, Colin McGrath has welcomed the announcement of a £19million support package for taxis and coach operators, announced by SDLP Infrastructure Minister, Nichola Mallon. This is on top of the £1.5m regulatory support already provided.  

The South Down MLA said: “Nichola Mallon’s scheme will provide direct financial help to nearly 9000 taxi drivers across the North and is the only such scheme anywhere across the UK or Ireland.

South Down MLA Colin McGrath, has welcomed
the announcement of £15 million support for taxis
and coaches.

“I welcome its introduction and would urge all taxi drivers across South Down to apply for the support available.” 

“It is clear that the introduction of restrictions has affected people right across our society, especially those in the taxi and coach industry. Their trade has almost disappeared and many have struggled to access any meaningful financial support.”  

“Nichola Mallon’s honesty and hard work to bring this scheme to fruition, just six days after she was given the power to do so by the Joint First Ministers, is to be commended.

“Her dedication to the plight of taxi drivers is in direct comparison to those who sat on the sidelines doing nothing but making political snipes and jibes, with no actual ideas or proposals themselves.”  

“The SDLP will continue to do all we can to support families and communities throughout this health and economic crisis,” added McMcGrath. 

Mallon also announces Regulatory Recovery Support for Buses and Taxis

Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon has extended the automatic renewal of vehicle licences for buses and taxis.

For the taxi industry, new regulations will be implemented which will extend the automatic renewal of taxi vehicle licences. To keep this process straightforward for everyone, there will be no application process. These licences will be issued automatically, without prior test, and free of charge. Vehicles which have already received an automatic six month licence, will receive a further six month licence.

In addition, vehicles with a taxi licence that expires between 10 October 2020 and 9 March 2021 will receive a twelve month licence. Vehicle owners will receive their automatic licence in the post before their current licence expires.

For the bus industry the issue of automatic twelve month licences, free of charge and without prior test, will also be extended. This extension will allow an automatic twelve month licence to issue to all vehicles with a licence expiry between 10 March 2020 and 9 March 2021.

Dept of Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon.

Only taxi and bus vehicles that have been previously tested and issued with a licence will be eligible under the temporary arrangements.

Minister Mallon said:  “I understand how difficult it has been for the bus and taxi industry in recent times and I have acted throughout the Covid crisis to provide regulatory easements to assist these important industries. Today I am pleased to provide further regulatory support to help ease some of the pressures they are facing.  

“These industries are suffering from severe income loss and hardship and my Department’s statutory functions do not include the power to provide grant support for hardship or loss of income for the bus or taxi industries. 

“Within my statutory powers as a regulator, I am further extending the issue of automatic licences, free of charge and without prior test, for the bus and taxi industries. 

“I hope this further easement will assist the bus and taxi industry to continue to operate during these uncertain times as we move towards recovery.

“The urgency around this issue does not permit full public consultation. However, the PSNI and the Association of British Insurers have been advised of our proposed approach. 

“Vehicle owners are reminded of the necessity to keep their vehicle in a roadworthy condition, to ensure that their vehicle is insured and be aware that the usual compliance measures are in place to ensure road safety.”

New licences will be issued by the Driver and Vehicle Agency to all affected vehicles over the coming weeks and they should be carried in the taxi at all times.

Owners or drivers will be required to ensure that their vehicle complies with statutory requirements, is appropriately insured and is maintained in a roadworthy condition.

“In addition, vehicles should not have been significantly altered or modified since their last inspection, and for the duration of the licence. They should also continue to display their existing plates and signs. A breach of these conditions may lead to revocation of the licence.”