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Contact: Lisa Pullin
To receive any apologies and details of any substitutions.
Apologies were received from Councillors Sue Evans, Pip Ridout, Ian Thorn and Peter Evans.
The Chair, Councillor Peter Hutton made the following announcements:
Focus of Meeting
The Chair wished to clarify to the Committee Members and the members of the public present that he was aware that this extraordinary meeting had drawn some media attention. No final decision on the taxi tariff for Wiltshire would be made today. The Committee were being asked to consider the Officer’s recommendations of proposed changes to the taxi tariff which would then be subject to public consultation. Following the public consultation, if no major amendments were proposed then the tariff would be delegated to the Officers for implementation.
The Council would be lowering the flag in remembrance of the Holocaust at 11am. With the Committee’s agreement the Chair proposed to adjourn the meeting at 10.55am in order for those who wished to join this brief ceremony to do so.
Declarations of Interest
To receive any declarations of disclosable interests or dispensations granted by the Standards Committee.
There were no declarations of interest.
The Council welcomes contributions from members of the public.
If you would like to make a statement at this meeting on any item on this agenda, please register to do so at least 10 minutes prior to the meeting. Up to 3 speakers are permitted to speak for up to 3 minutes each on any agenda item. Please contact the officer named on the front of the agenda for any further clarification.
To receive any questions from members of the public or members of the Council received in accordance with the constitution.
Those wishing to ask questions are required to give notice of any such questions in writing to the officer named on the front of this agenda no later than 5pm on Monday 20 January 2020 in order to be guaranteed of a written response. In order to receive a verbal response questions must be submitted no later than 5pm on Wednesday 22 January 2020. Please contact the officer named on the front of this agenda for further advice. Questions may be asked without notice if the Chairman decides that the matter is urgent.
Details of any questions received will be circulated to Committee members prior to the meeting and made available at the meeting and on the Council’s website.
No questions had been submitted to the Committee from the public prior to the meeting. There were two members of the public present who wished to make statements in relation to the ensuing discussions for the proposed changes to Wiltshire Council’s Hackney Carriage Tariff and Fee Structure.
Statement from Mr Paul Humphries –
I have been a taxi driver for 20 years in Salisbury. I am primarily independent taxi driver although I have the support of a 40-driver car company. A few things have been brought to my attention regarding the proposed changes. Wiltshire is a big county and Salisbury is different. I am here to represent the voice of the people but myself primarily. Some of the press following the previous meeting in December had made statements apparently coming from the more prominent Taxi trade in Salisbury. I have quotes from the Salisbury Journal Facebook page saying that there is much corruption, people are being ripped off by taxi drivers and it needs to stop, one driver is charging more than another. I would say that this isn’t necessarily ripping off, the tariff only shows what we are legally entitled to charge. I have made my voice known to Salisbury – the drivers are not robbing anyone! We hope they are charging legal tariffs and leaders of these Taxi companies need to address what is their legal right of what they are entitled to charge.
One of the key points to address is safety, forget price. The safety of the driver, the passenger and any other members of the public that are road users is paramount. Safety needs to come first. Education is important. We need to educate the public as well as drivers as what to charge – this is what is going wrong – it needs to be simplified. Some of the timings are being ludicrous and needs to be addressed – night time should apply to when the night clubs are open.
The Chair clarified that there was a Licensing Authority Working Group that looks at tariff and other safety aspects for drivers etc. We are currently waiting for the feedback from the Government and will be looking further at it after that time.
Statement from Mr Adrian Berridge
I am a taxi driver from Warminster. I totally agree Salisbury is different to Wiltshire. From our point of view the night time foot fall has dropped off. If we lose the option to use Tariff 3 we are likely to get to the point at 01:00 where drivers decide that they will go home. We can’t be brought in line with Salisbury as they are different.
Proposed Changes to Wiltshire Council's Hackney Carriage Tariff and Fee Structure
The report of Tom Ince (Principal Compliance Officer) seeks to provide the Licensing Committee with the relevant information to make an informed decision on the proposed public consultation on a revised schedule of fees and tariffs for hackney carriages operating from taxi ranks only in Wiltshire.
Mrs Julie Anderson-Hill (Head of Service, Operational and Cultural Change) reported that the points that had been raised by the two speakers in public participation on behalf of the trade were exactly the essence of what the authority were trying to focus on. Officers confirmed that the Licensing Authority Working Group would continue to meet and look into the possibility of CCTV in vehicles, look to ensure that drivers speak English and put what they can in place to address concerns around safety. The response from the Government’s consultation carried out in 2019 was still awaited.
Officers referred to the report circulated with the Agenda which sought to provide the Licensing Committee with the relevant information to make an informed decision on the proposed public consultation on a revised schedule of fees and tariffs for hackney carriages operating from taxi ranks in Wiltshire.
Officers gave details of the engagement that had taken place to get into the position we are now in and that it was important to understand that the feedback needs to come from the trade and it is not for Officers to suggest what the tariff for Wiltshire should look like. Engagement has been part of the voice and it was noted that there were differing views from Salisbury and Warminster reported by the public speakers today.
Officers outlined the proposed changes to the tariff which included an additional 30p to be added to all flag rates (standing charge). Tariff 3 be amended to only apply on public holidays. Tariff 2 be implemented to start at 22.00 instead of 22.30 but will apply every day. Officers reported that as part of the pre-consultation some representatives from the taxi trade had asked for Tariff 2 to commence at 21.30 and some at 23.00 so as a compromise the time of 22.00 was selected.
Officers reminded the Committee that the current schedule had been in place since 2015 and that the changes proposed would only apply to hackney carriages operating from a rank. Officers explained that a private hire driver is able to take a phone booking with an agreed rate and that is the difference between hackney carriage and private hire.
Should any changes to the tariff be agreed following the consultation, sufficient time would be allowed to enable drivers to make the relevant amendments to the meters, etc. It was anticipated that the implementation of any new tariff would be Summer 2020.
Officers explained the table on page 11 of the Agenda which gave details of the proposals raised by trade and on which the proposed tariff was now based. Officers wished to ensure that the taxi provision in Wiltshire remains sustainable to residents and that they felt there was evidence to show that there was need for a tariff change.
Officers circulated coloured graphs (attached as Appendix 1 to these Minutes) at the meeting which showed the current and proposed tariff for Wiltshire over 4 and 8-seater vehicles at different times of the time, together with ... view the full minutes text for item 5.
Appendix 1 to Minutes - Taxi Fare Comparison Data
Dates of Future Committee Meetings
Members are asked to note the future meetings of the Licensing Committee, all to commence at 10.30am:
2 March 2020
1 June 2020
7 September 2020
7 December 2020
1 March 2021.
Members noted the dates of future meetings of the Licensing Committee as detailed below, all to start at 10.30am:
2 March 2020
1 June 2020
7 September 2020
7 December 2020.
Any other items of business, which in the opinion of the Chairman, should be taken as a matter of urgency. Urgent items of a confidential nature may be considered under Part II of this agenda.
There were no urgent items.