The windows on executive private hire vehicles can be as dark as the drivers would like, but cabs hailed from the street have to let in at least 60 per cent light.
Rules about how shaded cab windows can be were clarified by St Albans district council (SADC) in April this year to implement the 60 per cent rule, and taxi drivers with too dark windows must pay to change them – local driver Aminur Rahman said it will cost him £1,500 to refit his Peugeot.
An SADC report presented to the Licensing and Regulatory Committee in October reads: “Since we have clarified the amount of tint, a problem has arisen with private hire executive cars that have a plate exemption.”
Adding: “This plate exemption is only issued to executive type cars that do not carry passengers around the district, but do contract work involving celebrities, large companies etc.”
Aminur said: “It’s quite hard. I am lucky because I don’t have a mortgage or anything, but if I had a mortgage I don’t know what I would do. We would be struggling. It’s a very bad time for taxi drivers.”
“If they had told me before I wouldn‘t have bought this car.”
He will have to work for two months to raise the refitting expense and believes it is unfair some vehicles are not subject to the same restrictions.
A local airport minicab driver, Dave McCormack, has benefitted from the revision: “It’s an advantage for me because I have the right sort of car so I am pleased, from my point of view.”
He said it would have cost him £250 to change some of his windows.
Head of the committee, Cllr Richard Curthoys, urged any drivers who feel unfairly treated to contact him: “There’s a good reason for some private hire to be unbadged and to have a high tint – for the anonymity for whoever is inside.”
Head of Community Services at SADC, Debbi White, said balancing privacy and safeguarding is quite complex: “We need to strike the right balance between allowing privacy for individuals in private hire or hackney carriage vehicles with the need to allow some visibility for safeguarding reasons.
“We feel that it is not appropriate to have one rule to cover all types of vehicles
and have recommended a slight change in the licensing conditions as a result.”