Tom Ince (Principal Compliance Officer) has prepared the attached Taxi Licensing update as at October 2021 and will give a brief overview at the meeting.
Tom Ince (Principal Compliance Officer) referred to the Taxi Licensing update that was circulated with the Agenda and highlighted the following:
· The pressure on driver and vehicle numbers continues, however this report covered to the end of October 2021 and in November Officers did see an increase in vehicles being registered but there was another reduction in driver numbers. It was hoped that the end of the curve had been reached and that things would start to pick up and Officers would start to see an increase in driver numbers;
· Officers were working to create a report of proposals with ideas on how to boost recruitment of drivers working with the Taxi Licensing team, the Passenger Transport Unit and the current Taxi operators;
· There were currently a number of applications for private hire drivers who were from outside of Wiltshire who had no intention to drive for us but who would be driving for Uber in Bath and Bristol. Officers would prioritise the applications of those that intended to drive in Wiltshire; and
· Officers were continuing to proactively enforce the Council’s polices in relation to taxi licencing, ensuring a there was a visible presence on the rank.
The Chairman wished to highlight the importance of patrons making arrangements to pre-book their taxis, particularly over the festive period and asked that Officers work with the Licensing Team and the Council’s Communications Team to highlight this in terms of public safety and ensuring that they were able to travel safely across Wiltshire.
A Committee Member asked if Officers were aware of the current percentage of taxi work that was on demand (collected from a rank) or a pre-booked journey and wondered if the traditional role of the taxi was being phased out by the encouragement to pre-book journeys. Tom Ince reported that the core rank work had dried up during and since the pandemic and drivers were reporting that they could not make a living from it. Many were finding the only way they could get by was to undertake the education transport contracts and then work on deliveries in between those times.
A Committee Member asked about the planned changes to the new schedule of fares and tariffs for Hackney Carriages. Tom Ince reported that during the period when the changes were advertised in the local press between 11 and 26 November - only one piece of feedback was received and that view was that the changes had not gone far enough and did not take into account the recent fuel rises. Tom Ince felt that the setting of the fares and tariffs was a careful balancing act they wanted people to be able to afford to use Hackney Carriages taxis and not price themselves out of the market. The revised fares and tariffs would come into force as planned on 4 January 2022. Officers were in the process of trying to re-establish trade rep meetings via Microsoft Teams and would of course seek to get feedback once the changes had been in place for a period of time to see if a further review was needed. There was no reason why the fees and tariffs could not be reviewed again at any time but this would need to be in consultation with the industry.
That the Licensing Committee note the update on Taxi Licensing.