Agenda item

PRIVATE HIRE AND HACKNEY CARRIAGE DRIVER SUITABILITY POLICY 2019

The Strategic Director, Place will present Document “AJ”  which seeks approval to implement a new suitability criteria for Private Hire and Hackney Carriage drivers, which focuses on the overall fitness and propriety of the applicants.

 

Recommended –

 

(1)       That the policy “Determining The Suitability of Applicants and Licensees as Drivers in Hackney Carriage & Private Hire Licensing” be approved.

 

(2)       That authority be granted to the Chair of the Committee to liaise with the Portfolio Holder to make any minor changes necessary to remain commensurate with the outcomes of the West Yorkshire and York Authorities.

 

(3)       That the option to maintain the current limit of 222 hackney carriage licences be approved.

 

(Carol Stos – 01274 437506)

Decision:

Resolved –

 

(1)       That the policy “Determining The Suitability of Applicants and Licensees as Drivers in Hackney Carriage & Private Hire Licensing” be approved.

 

(2)       That authority be granted to the Chair of the Committee to liaise with the Portfolio Holder in light of any concerns raised by the West Yorkshire and York Authorities and to make any minor changes necessary to remain commensurate with the outcomes of their policy consultation.

 

(3)       That the option to maintain the current limit of 222 hackney carriage licences be approved.

 

(4)       That the rank locations with awkward angles for loading wheelchairs be reviewed.

 

ACTION: Strategic Director, Place

(Carol Stos – 01274 437506)

 

Minutes:

The Strategic Director, Place presented Document “AJ”  which sought approval to implement a new suitability criteria for Private Hire and Hackney Carriage drivers, which focused on the overall fitness and propriety of the applicants. 

 

A representative of the Licensed Vehicle Surveys and Assessment (LVSA) explained that an unmet demand survey had been commissioned in January 2018, completed in July 2018 and a full report had been available in December 2018.  He explained that the report gathered evidence to show if there was significant unmet demand in relation to Bradford’s 222 hackney carriage vehicles and then gave a presentation to Members.

 

In response to Members’ queries, the LVSA representative confirmed that the hackney carriage vehicles probably undertook contract work as they were wheelchair accessible.  He stated that there was a great deal of spare capacity and it could be argued that 222 vehicles was more than required, however, reducing the numbers would not be an easy process and further licences could not be issued if some had been returned.  Members noted that the availability of an ‘app’ had increased the demand in another city.  The Chair then thanked the LVSA representative for the informative report.

 

The Licensing Service Manager informed Members that the policy proposed new driver suitability criteria in order to protect the public and work had been undertaken with other Local Authorities.  Each case would be considered on its own merits and an Authority could depart from the policy if there were exceptional circumstances.  An engagement process had been carried out in Bradford during November and December 2018, however, other Local Authorities had concluded their consultations on 18 January 2019.  Members of the trade had been engaged via an on-line survey, which had been advertised in the Telegraph and Argus, letters had been sent to companies and road shows had taken place.  The Licensing Service Manager reported that survey had closed at midnight on 15 December 2018 and 697 submissions had been received.  In light of the survey results, the policy had been changed to reduce the ban period from five to three years for minor offences.  The policy was then recommended for approval, subject to any slight amendments that the Chair of the Committee deemed necessary following the outcomes of the other Local Authority consultations.

   

Members then posed questions and were informed that:

 

·         Offences were categorised using the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA) website and their opinion.

·         There were 4,500 private hire and hackney carriage drivers.

·         It could not be mandated that drivers should respond to the engagement process.  Reminders had been sent, meetings with Trade Associations had taken place and road shows had taken place.

·         41 responses had been received from operators, which was 6% of the overall response.

·         There had been sufficient resources and time allocated for the engagement process.

·         Drivers had to have an email address to sign up for a licence.  The engagement process had been promoted at meetings with trade representatives and operators and within the Telegraph and Argus newspaper to try and ensure that people were aware.

·         The trade meetings had been held in the morning and early afternoon.

 

The Shop Steward of the Cab Section, Unite union was present at the meeting and addressed the Committee:

 

·         He objected in the strongest terms possible.

·         The proposal marginalised the taxi driving community.

·         Was Bradford the main instigator for these combined Authorities?

·         Public safety was a concern for Unite too.

·         Drivers were licensed and they would not be granted one if anything untoward was in their records.

·         The policy concentrated on public safety and protection against taxi drivers.

·         Taxi drivers and their vehicles were condemned as being unfit.

·         To divide the public was dangerous and divisive.

·         He agreed in part with regard to the serious offences.

·         Why did drivers have to provide a certificate of lawfulness?

·         He was here for political justice.

 

A Member acknowledged that the drivers had concerns, however, as a Councillor his primary duty was to the public and they had to be consulted.  He stated that officers had sought to establish public feeling regarding the driving of public licensed vehicles, the list of requirements was not problematic and he suspected that people would have said that the Council was not being tough enough.  He indicated that he was disappointed with the speech from the Unite representative and was not clear what the objection entailed.  The policy was about making people feel safe and excellent progress had been made.  Other Members echoed the sentiments made and stated that the policy had been designed to protect taxi drivers.

 

The Chair confirmed that Councillors worked to protect the public, who were their priority and stated he was disgusted by the comments made.  He explained that the policy protected drivers and operators and provided more safety for everyone in the District.  Bradford had led on the initiative, however, it had been initiated by Leaders of the Local Authorities in West Yorkshire and York.  The amendments made to Bradford’s policy were minor and had been undertaken to protect the community and drivers.  The Chair then recommended that the proposed policy be approved.

 

A Member concurred with colleagues and indicated that, as a previous lead on equalities, he had wanted to know what the drivers were dissatisfied with so that further work could be undertaken.  If there had been any racial issues he would have challenged them and the hackney carriage and private hire drivers should look at the document in order to highlight any areas of concern.  Another Member agreed with the aforementioned comments and believed that people had been given the opportunity to respond to the survey.

 

Resolved –

 

(1)       That the policy “Determining The Suitability of Applicants and Licensees as Drivers in Hackney Carriage & Private Hire Licensing” be approved.

 

(2)       That authority be granted to the Chair of the Committee to liaise with the Portfolio Holder in light of any concerns raised by the West Yorkshire and York Authorities and to make any minor changes necessary to remain commensurate with the outcomes of their policy consultation.

 

(3)       That the option to maintain the current limit of 222 hackney carriage licences be approved.

 

(4)       That the rank locations with awkward angles for loading wheelchairs be reviewed.

 

ACTION: Strategic Director, Place

 

Supporting documents: