The Committee will receive an update on behalf of the Taxi Provision Working Group. The notes from the meetings held on 14 March and 9 May 2022 are attached.
Cllr Allison Bucknell (Chair of the TPWG) reported that the Working Group had met on 14 March and 9 May 2022 and the notes of those meetings were attached to the Agenda. Cllr Bucknell highlighted the following:
· That when the Working Group last met on 9 May 2022 they had felt that Officers had a good handle on what was required to improve the numbers of taxi drivers in Wiltshire and following the targeted recruitment campaign this was seeing the number of applications rise. They had agreed to recommend that the Working Group be suspended for the time being and resurrected with the agreement of the Licensing Committee should the need arise;
· That the Working Group had raised concerns on the delays caused by DBS checks (usually by the local Police force) level. Cllr Steve Bucknell had been asked to raise this with the Police and Crime Panel;
· That the Working Group wished to ask the Licensing Committee to consider investigating the ways in which the provision of Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles could be extended for the public;
This was briefly discussed by the Committee and it was agreed to delegate this to Tom Ince (Principal Compliance Officer) to look into further and then share his observations with the Licensing Committee via email, taking into account the recent legislation changes.
Cllr Allison Bucknell then asked Tom Ince (Principal Compliance Officer) to give a brief update to the Committee on the progress made by the Working Group. Tom highlighted the following:
A Committee Member asked if drivers needed to be licenced to be able to drive for the Wiltshire contracts? Tom Ince confirmed that drivers did need to be licensed as a private hire or hackney carriage vehicle to undertake contracts. Tom was also aware that some drivers operate under Section 19 permits but was not sure that this was the correct/preferred way to proceed. He felt that the preference would be for them to be a Public Service Vehicle operator or a hackney carriage licenced driver. Drivers for the contracts do not have to be working for an operator and can work on their own as long as they meet all off the licensing and vehicle requirements. The Committee member reported that he also had concerns about Section 19 permits and would feed those concerns back to Tom outside of the meeting.
A Committee Member expressed concern about hearing that some operators had handed back contracts to the Council as they were not financially viable with the rising fuel costs etc and asked what the extent of the problem was? Tom Ince reported that when he last met with the PTU Team he was told that it was OK and that he hadn’t flagged this but there was concern that from September with the rising fuel costs and the anticipated rise of numbers of passengers requiring transportation that this could be a struggle.
The Chairman asked for an update to be prepared by the Passenger Transport Unit for the next Licensing Committee meeting on 12 September 2022.
A Committee Member felt that we should be using our available contracts as a mechanism to attract people in to be taxi drivers for Wiltshire and they could also join to be part of our overall all taxi infrastructure fleet.
1. That the Licensing Committee note the minutes of the meeting of the Taxi Provision Working Group held on 14 March and 9 May 2022 and the update received at the meeting.
2. That the Licensing Committee agreed to suspend the meetings of the Taxi Provision Working Group and resurrect this with the agreement of the Licensing Committee if required.
3. That Tom Ince be delegated to look into ways in which the numbers of Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles could be increased and report back to the Licensing Committee at their next meeting.
4. That the Licensing Committee receive an update from the Passenger Transport Unit Team on the numbers of contracts being fulfilled/not fulfilled.