Tourist tricycles fail to win Edinburgh private hire license

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Tourists will not be able to cruise around the Capital on an electric tricycle after the vehicle failed to meet licensing conditions – because it only has three wheels.

Edinburgh City Council’s sub-licensing committee rejected an application from eKogoose Ltd to use an electric tricycle to offer tours of between 60 and 90 minutes to visitors around Edinburgh’s Old and New towns. The company is hoping to gain permission to run the service in other cities across the UK.

Electric tricycle tours have been rejected in Edinburgh - because they aren't cars.

Electric tricycle tours have been rejected in Edinburgh - because they aren't cars.

The Clean Motion ZBRS45 is a three-wheeled electric vehicle, powered by a 4kW battery. The tricycle can reach a top speed of 27mph and can carry two passengers and a driver.

Had approval been granted, customers would have been picked up anywhere within three miles of the city centre for the sightseeing tours.

The company was required to apply for a private hire licence for the eco-friendly vehicle, but it failed to meet 17 conditions, including having four wheels, windows, doors and at least four seats.

Speaking at the committee meeting on behalf of eKogoose, Tony Harris said: “Our intention is only to use it for tours. We are not picking people up from the airport. We are just doing tours. We can’t magically put another wheel onto the vehicle. There’s no discussion about that, that’s just the way the vehicle is.”

Council officers raised 
concerns the authority could not test three-wheeled vehicles in order for the mode of transport to meet standards.

Mr Harris added: “Our vehicle, while it’s not a private hire vehicle, has got European approval for that type of vehicle. It is able to drive on UK roads and European roads.”

Regulatory services manager Andrew Mitchell said: “You risk the taxi and private hire trade coming back to you and asking why you wouldn’t accept an MOT and test certificate from their chosen garage. They have almost been caught up in issues that are not of their own making, but the trade generally are quite forceful in trying to push the boundaries of the council’s current policies.”

An objection to the proposal was also made by police over the vehicle failing to meet standards. Councillors rejected the application despite a plea by Cllr Cameron Rose, who said: “What we have here is something of innovation. It’s completely different. We have a framework of legislation that we are trying to squeeze this into.

“I think we need to think outside of the box and give an opportunity to something, which is innovative.”

Only Cllr Rose and Cllr Neil Ross voted in favour of accepting the licence application. Committee convener, Cllr Cathy Fullerton, said: “Whilst we would welcome any new clean vehicles coming into the city of Edinburgh, we have heard from the police and our officers that this one does not comply with conditions of a private hire vehicle.

“The risks are a bit high for us to agree this and I’m going to move that we reject this application.”