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Modified Vehicle Policy

General Licensing Committee Procedure for ensuring roadworthiness of licensed vehicles which have been subject to modification


Procedure Number:

1) Introduction

South Ribble Borough Council has a responsibility to ensure that all vehicles operating as hackney carriage and private hire vehicles are fit for purpose. This is particularly important for vehicles which have been adapted, converted or modified to carry passengers who use wheelchairs or who have specialised needs.

South Ribble is home to one of the largest number of vehicles which have been self-converted from vans to carry wheelchair passengers. Whilst the current roadworthiness checks ensure that a vehicle is mechanically sound, they do not extend to checking that the modifications have been carried out to the required standard.

Typically the types of vehicles adapted or modified are:

  • small vans (N1 vehicles); and
  • minibus type vehicles (M2 vehicles) - although these could be classified as a standard M1 vehicle.

Further details on the relevant classifications are given below:

M1

vehicles designed and constructed for the carriage of passengers comprising no more than eight seats in addition to the driver's seat

M2

vehicles designed and constructed for the carriage of passengers comprising more than eight seats in addition to the driver's seat, and having a maximum mass not exceeding 5 tonnes

N1

Vehicles designed and constructed for the carriage of goods and having a maximum mass not exceeding 3.5 tonnes

This policy will apply to all vehicles that have been converted, modified or adapted from the original manufacturer's specification since first registration and is intended to provide additional safeguards to ensure that the conversion, modification or adaptation has been completed to the required standard and remains in such state for the period that the vehicle is licensed by this Authority.

This policy will not apply to any vehicle including wheelchair accessible vehicles that are produced for licensing that have not been converted, modified or adapted since its initial registration.

2) Standards for modified minibuses/PSV's

Vehicles which are described other than M1 on the V5 registration document must enable passengers seated behind the driver to have access to at least 2 doors (side or rear opening) without having to climb over or fold down any seats. Such vehicles must also satisfy the following:

  • all retro-fitted seatbelts must meet MOT installation and condition standards;
  • the passenger interior floor area must be of a flat, non-slip, non-trip surface. Where wheelchair tracking is fitted, the Council recommends the fitting of blanking strips;
  • partitioned rear passenger compartments must be heated and capable of variable control. Such heaters must be linked accordingly to the main vehicle heating system and be capable of variable control. All exposed piping and wiring must be secure and adequately insulated. Water leaks are unacceptable;
  • no interior surface within the passenger compartment shall contain sharp edges likely to cause injury;
  • all interior trim must match and be fitted to a professional standard. Evidence of obvious work or modification should not be on view;
  • all seating in the vehicle must be intact, in a safe condition and M1 compliant;
  • all vehicles must be fitted with safety glass containing an approved marking to this effect. Any partition fitted with safety glazing (plastic) must be of a suitable material (e.g. shatterproof);
  • rear compartments entrance/exit areas must be adequately illuminated at floor and at higher levels. Such lighting must operate automatically when each rear passenger door is opened;
  • all passenger doors must be capable of being restrained in the open position;
  • each rear passenger door aperture must contain at least one grab handle to assist passengers while entering/exiting the vehicle. Each handle must be securely fixed using a substantial mounting such as machine screws that are capable of holding a reasonable force;
  • each rear passenger compartment must contain at least two opening windows that can be opened from the interior for ventilation purposes; and
  • the maximum height from the road surface to the passenger floor should be 250mm for the first step and 300mm for any subsequent step. Vehicles exceeding this figure must have some form of step incorporated into the bodywork (this may be of a retracting or folding type).

Additional requirements for wheelchair accessible vehicles:

  • where the vehicle is fitted with a tail lift, a "LOLER" certificate must be obtained prior to the vehicle inspection;
  • the rear compartment entrance/exit doors must be of a suitable size to allow access for a wheelchair;
  • where passengers or the seating arrangement for passengers are rear-facing, an adequate turning circle within the vehicle is needed;
  • the vehicle must be capable of adequately securing a wheelchair to the vehicle floor using a suitable type of restraint;
  • appropriate wheelchair restraint(s) must accompany the vehicle when it is presented for test;
  • wheelchair ramps must be capable of being securely fixed to the vehicle during use. They must be of a type and length allowing safe and easy use by the person loading the wheelchair;
  • wheelchair ramps must be safely and securely stored in a suitable area of the vehicle when they are not in use; and
  • seatbelts must be fitted to restrain wheelchair occupants. A single seatbelt must not be used to restrain both the wheelchair and occupant.

3) Vehicle Certification

Within Europe two systems of type approval have been in existence for over 20 years. The first is based on European Regulations and Directives providing approval for whole vehicles, vehicle systems and components. The second is based on United Nations Regulations dealing with systems and components but not whole vehicles. "Type approval" is the process of ensuring that production of new vehicles, their systems and components have been designed and constructed to meet agreed standards of safety, security and environmental protection.

There are a number of vehicle certifications:

1. European Community Whole Vehicle Type Approval (ECWVTA)

2. European Small Series Type Approval for cars (ECSSTA)

3. National Small Series Type Approval (NSSTA)

4. Individual Vehicle Approval (IVA)

4) Requirements for initial licence application

With effect from 1 July 2018, the owners of vehicles of categories M1, M2 or N1 which have been converted, adapted or modified from the original manufacturer's specification (whether undertaken by the vehicle licence holder or a third party), and which have not previously been licensed as a hackney carriage or private hire vehicle by South Ribble Borough Council, will be required to present appropriate vehicle certification (as defined in section 3 above, including IVA) at the time of first application for a licence.

To clarify, no extended roadworthiness test will be required on initial application for a modified vehicle which has an IVA (or other vehicle certification in section 3) as the IVA will demonstrate adequate compliance.

5) Requirements for renewal applications

From 1 July 2018, all vehicles (whether in possession of an IVA or other vehicle certification or not) which have been modified, converted or adapted after the date of first registration must pass the extended roadworthiness (detailed in Appendix 1) at the time of their next and subsequent renewal. This requirement applies irrespective of the date when the vehicle was first licensed as a hackney carriage or private hire vehicle with SRBC.

For the avoidance of doubt, should South Ribble Borough Council have any reservations about the safety of vehicles submitted to the approved testing station for initial inspection, the Council reserves the right to require the owner to submit the vehicle for IVA testing prior to any licence being issued by the Council.

This procedure was adopted by General Licensing Committee on 10.04.2018

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