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Recognised limousine hire industry campaigner, Bill Bowling, and Legislation Officer at the National Limousine and Chauffeur Association (NLCA) has revealed his personal view on the recent VOSA operation to clamp down on illegal operators within the limo industry and also his opinion on proposed changes to licensing laws for limos and wedding cars operating in the UK. Read on to hear the limo hire professional’s take on the latest developments within the industry…

“As everyone is well aware, there has been a well publicised campaign over quite some weeks now on the premise of ridding the streets of illegal operators. This is something that we all agree with, but the attitude of both the police and VOSA leave a lot to be desired, arrogance and ignorance do not sit well together, and unfortunately operator’s have been subject to both in unhealthy doses.

Bill Bowling

We all accept the need to stop and inspect vehicles, but to stop the same vehicle on seven separate occasions at best seems over zealous and at worst stupidity or victimisation. Also not knowing if a driver needs a B1 or D1 license to drive an eight passenger limousine.

The same applies to turning circle checks applied on a main road in central London (especially when the VOSA  paper on turning circles states 12.5meters diameter when it should be 12.5 metres radius), not a lot of difference there, and delays that almost seem deliberate to inconvenience the customer. Come on now – let’s have fair play and common sense!

There have always been delays in the central processing unit in Leeds, especially when the dreaded word ‘Limousine’ appears on any application. The situation has now reached epidemic proportions, the statutory period is nine weeks for the grant or refusal of a license, however, I cannot remember the time when we saw a license granted within this period. Three, six or even twelve months seem to be deemed acceptable by Leeds.

I think that it is time to remind the Traffic Commissioners that VOSA is there to assist the TC’s in their work, but at the end of the day, the responsibility ultimately rests at the door of the TC. We always work with the authorities to ensure that operators are legal, but we need positive help to achieve this and not the current stonewall attitude.

We wholeheartedly support the Law Commission in their attempts to bring licensing kicking and screaming into the 21st Century, but at what cost? I regret to hear that there may be a consideration to license wedding cars. In view of the governments “red tape challenge”, we should be looking at less legislation and not more. Legislation is fine where it is needed, but can you honestly say that licensing many thousand old classic cars will achieve anything? Firstly to what standard? And secondly, how the devil will a sixty year old car fit in any private hire category? The only thing that I can see it achieving is to drive thousands of classic cars off the wedding circuit and limit the choice for the bride and groom. Since when have we had a serious national problem with the owner of a classic car who may do three or four weddings a year?

In a society where the small business is supposedly the key to breaking free from the recession it begs two questions. Is the limousine and wedding car industry worth saving? The answer is yes! The second question, is the government worth saving? Answers please on the back of a ten pound note to Bill at the NLCA.

In conclusion I can only add that “common sense ain’t too common.” and that the views expressed may not always be the views of the National Limousine and Chauffeur Association, but they certainly are my personal ones. If any of the bodies feels that they have been unfairly criticised I would love to hear chapter and verse as to why?”

Bill Bowling, Legislation Officer, National Limousine and Chauffeur Association

News source: The Chauffeur.com

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