Taxi satnav ban rejected

Controversial proposals to ban the use of satnav devices by taxis within Bath and North East Somerset have been rejected.

Councillors decided against introducing the ban at a meeting of Bath and North East Somerset Council’s Licensing Committee on Tuesday, 7th January, with one committee member describing the proposal after the meeting as ‘unworkable and nonsensical’. At the meeting, six members of the committee ultimately voted against implementing the ban, with only two voting in support.

One of the chief concerns raised by members of the committee was over the feasibility of enforcing a ban on the use of GPS navigation devices by taxi drivers. Some councillors on the committee also said the proposal overlooked the fact that many passengers now provide drivers with only a postcode for their destination and that many cars now come with satnavs already installed.

Conservative councillors have welcomed the news that the proposed ban has been thrown out, highlighting that Bath and North East Somerset Council was the only Council known to be looking at such a draconian restriction.

Objections to the Council’s plan had also been raised by the South West region of the National Taxi Association, who warned that it could prove more dangerous if drivers had to use their satnav devices surreptitiously, such as on a mobile phone.

Conservative Shadow Transport spokesman Cllr Anthony Clarke, who also sits on the Licensing Committee, said:

“This is a real victory for common sense. Of course taxi drivers should be expected to have a good knowledge of the area in which they operate, but an outright ban on the use of satnavs is simply unworkable and nonsensical.

“As the National Taxi Association has said, the knowledge required to be a taxi driver is backed up by the use of a SatNav and is not a replacement for it. A satnav can prove useful if the driver is taking a passenger to a less familiar part of the authority, if only the postcode of the destination is provided, or there is an unexpected traffic obstruction.

“Instead of such draconian and unenforceable restrictions, the best way to maintain and raise standards is to continue to strengthen the test of local knowledge which taxi drivers take before becoming licensed.”