The Committee considered the revised draft Hackney Carriage (Taxi) and Private Hire (PH) Licensing Policy 2021-2026, following consultation and with a view to approval.
In July 2020 the Department of Transport issued new Statutory Taxi and Private Hire Standards which recommended that Councils made available a cohesive policy document which brought together all their procedures on Taxi and Private Hire vehicle standards and outlined that policies should include but not be limited to policies on convictions and vehicle standards. Under the Town Police Clauses Act 1847 and the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 the Council was responsible for regulating the Hackney Carriage and Private Hire trades operating in the borough. This included the central aim of protecting the public, including children and vulnerable adults, when using such services.
Following the Committee’s decision on 24 March 2021, consultation on the proposed policy ran from 12 May 2021 to 21 June 2021. The consultation included 2 virtual meetings with the taxi trade via Zoom, which had been attended by a total of 17 members of the trade; and had resulted in 12 written consultation responses being submitted.
Following the consultation, it was recognised that the proposal requiring that a ‘Big Face Badge’ be located in a position which was clearly visible to the passenger had caused concern amongst the trade. The requirement had been added to the proposed policy as a safety measure. It was noted that whilst it was recommended that the measure remained in the policy, there was commitment from officers to work with the trade to address their concerns regarding the potential damage to their vehicles that the Badge may cause. In addition, following engagement with the trade, it was noted that paragraph 7.4.2, which had been included in the first draft of the policy in respect of the fitting of taxi meters in private hire vehicles, had now been removed.
The Committee were also verbally updated that an additional clause would be added to Section 4.5, page 9 of the policy stating the exception of licences which were surrendered as a result of death or serious illness, reimbursement would be considered where there was at least 3 months remaining on the licence; and that there may be a small administrative charge that would be deducted from any refund. It was clarified that the policy would come into force on the first working day of August. Following Members’ comments it was also agreed to amend the typographical error on page 23, paragraph 6.1 of the policy.
Members noted the considerable amount of work and diligence which had resulted in the proposed policy and also recognised the excellent consultation response from the Hackney Carriage and Private Hire trade. In addition, it was noted that the Council was in dialogue with Uber, in order to try to allay the negative effects of Uber’s business in the borough on local firms and drivers.
Lastly, it was felt by Members that the Council had an opportunity to make Hackney Carriages and Private Hire Vehicles more accessible to those with hearing impediments by the encouragement of the use of clear masks for drivers and by the creation of a register of drivers who were proficient in British Sign Language.
I. The report be noted; and
II. The revised draft Hackney Carriage (Taxi) and PH Licensing Policy 2021-2026 be approved, as per the agreed minor amendment.