From the end of January, new legislation will remove the current ‘contract’ exemption that allowed some classes of private hire vehicles not to be licensed. This change will mean that vehicles, drivers and operators currently involved in contract work of seven continuous days or more may now need to be licensed. Each case will be looked at on its merits based on government guidance. If licensing is applicable, Medway Council will carry out safety checks on these vehicles and suitability checks on drivers and operators, in the interests of public safety. Council Licensing Manager Chris Webb said: “The new licensing changes will improve safety for private-hire customers. Private hire businesses will also feel more secure knowing their drivers have been vetted and their vehicles inspected. “Not being licensed could invalidate vehicle insurance, so clearly operators need to take action to make sure they comply. “The legal obligation is upon these vehicle operators to contact Medway Council and they are urged to do so as soon as possible.” Vehicles currently licenced by the council for private hire remain unaffected by these changes. Operators can contact the Licensing Team, detailing the operations they are currently undertaking, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or writing to Licensing Unit, Medway Council, Civic Centre, Strood, Rochester, Kent ME2 4AU.