TAXI drivers in Monmouthshire will be spared having to buy new cars after tough standards were amended – but new drivers will need modern motors.

A licensing policy for taxis that can be hailed in the street, known as Hackney carriages, and private hire drivers would have required all those based in Monmouthshire to drive cars no older than those first registered from September 1, 2014.

But checks by the council’s licensing officers found that, out of 86 Hackney carriage vehicles in the county, just 34 meet the criteria, known as the Euro 6 Standard. Of 84 private hire vehicles on the county’s roads, only 26 met the standard. Of wheelchair accessible vehicles, there were only two Hackney carriages and no private hire vehicles which could have continued to operate.

The requirement drivers run more modern vehicles is intended to ensure they meet the latest emission standards and was taken from a Welsh Government suggested policy for taxi licensing.

Taxi drivers who contacted Monmouthshire County Council said they feared the changes were being rushed through “overnight” with no time for the trade, which had been hit hard by the pandemic, to prepare.

They also feared being driven out of business, with many drivers in the county being sole operators, and complained other vehicles, such as buses and the council’s own fleet of bin lorries, aren’t being held to the same requirements.

Following a consultation the council’s Licensing and Regulatory Committee has agreed to amend the policy so existing drivers whose vehicles meet the previous Euro Standard 4 can continue to operate retaining “grandfather rights” and continue to be licensed for the remainder of the vehicle’s shelf life.

However all new vehicle applications will have to meet the Euro 6 Standard.

The Euro 4 Standard applies to vehicles manufactured between January 1, 2005 and August 31, 2009.

The committee, which had also previously raised concerns about a possible disproportionate impact of paying for criminal record checks for foreign national drivers, was told fees for overseas checks vary from country to country, usually from between £2.50 to £45, though in some countries such as Romania it is as little as 20p.

Chepstow Bulwark and Thornwell councillor Armand Watts said he feared Brexit could limit the quality of information available to the council due to Britain having left the European Union.

The Labour councillor said: “We no longer have the access to the same data base that we used to have as part of the EU.”

Licensing officer Linda O’Gorman said the council has been carrying out the checks since 2018.

The committee has also approved licensing fees for events and activities for 2023/24, ranging from safety at sports grounds certificates, which are unchanged at £1,375, to a £12 increase in the cost of a new licence for a sex establishment, which will set holders back £465.

Street trading licences are being reduced by £9, to £456, with Ms O’Gorman saying all fees are reviwed and reflect the amount of work, and checks required, to issue the permits.

Fees for Hackney carriage and private hire vehicles are also set to rise but if there are any objections to those increases they will be considered by the committee.

It is proposed a new Hackney carriage vehicle licence should go from £236 to £262 and a renewal increase from £172 to £196, and for private hire they should go up from £227 and £177, for a renewal, to £240 and £189.