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Agenda item

Review of Hackney Carriage (Taxi) and Private Hire Licensing Policy

To approve the draft Hackney Carriage (Taxi) and Private Hire Licensing Policy, attached at Appendix A to the report, for formal consultation. 

Minutes:

 9.1           The report of the Licensing Operations and Development Team Leader, circulated at Pages No. 83-275, asked Members to consider and approve the draft revised Hackey Carriage and Private Hire Licensing Policy, attached at Appendix A to the report, for formal consultation.

9.2            The Licensing Operations and Development Team Leader explained that this was a significant piece of work for the Council, not least because there was currently no age limit for licenced vehicles in the borough.  Page No. 85, Paragraph 2.0 of the report outlined the proposed amendments and, in terms of age and experience of drivers, it was recommended that drivers should hold a Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) licence for 12 months, rather than three years, which was in line with the other authorities in Gloucestershire and Department for Transport (DfT) guidance.  In addition, it was proposed that all new drivers undertake a driver assessment and it was noted that many applicants had not had any kind of assessment since their driving test; this change would bring the policy in line with the rest of Gloucestershire and the majority of other authorities in the country.  The assessment could be done via the Blue Lamp Trust at a cost of £79.  As mentioned, there was currently no age restriction and no emissions policy for licensed vehicles in the borough which had caused a number of issues, as outlined in the report.  It was therefore proposed to introduce an emissions policy which would be kept under review.  A longer term goal was to have a fully electric fleet in line with the government strategy but the infrastructure to support that was not currently available in Gloucestershire.  If approved, from 1 January 2024 no new vehicles would be licensed unless they were Euro 6 compliant, an Ultra Low Emission Vehicle (ULEV) or an electric vehicle (EV) and the vehicle must be no more than five years old; new Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles (WAVs) would be exempt from the policy but would be refused if the WAV was not Euro 6 compliant, ULEV or EV in order to encourage more of this type of vehicle in the borough.  There would be a two year grace period for current licensed vehicles and from 1 January 2026 an application to renew a taxi or private hire vehicle would be refused if it was not Euro 6 compliant, ULEV or EV, and was over 10 years of age, or 15 years for a WAV.  The policy would be reviewed in two years’ time to consider the position with EVs in Gloucestershire and what infrastructure was available at that point.  Work would continue with the Gloucestershire Licensing Officer Group (GLOG) to ensure the authorities had an aligned approach – currently it was common for drivers from Cheltenham and Gloucester to apply to Tewkesbury Borough Council for a licence once their vehicle had reached 10 years of age.  In terms of the plate exemptions policy, it was noted that plate exemption applications were made by private hire operators for vehicles which were predominantly used for private client work; the current policy was very brief so it was intended to expand on this to offer more guidance, as set out at Appendix H of the revised policy.  With regard to operators, it was proposed to make changes to conditions, as set out at Page No. 88, Paragraph 3.14 of the report, which would require operators to inform the licensing authority within 48 hours if a driver no longer worked for them, or if a new driver commenced work with them, and to submit a list of all licensed drivers and vehicles on a monthly basis.  This would ensure that the licensing database was up-to-date for enforcement and compliance purposes.  If they failed to submit this, they would receive a written warning; three written warnings would result in a review by the Licensing Sub-Committee.

9.3            The Chair expressed the view that the review had been a long time coming and he felt it was important to bring the policy in line with other authorities in the county in order to put a stop to Tewkesbury Borough Council being seen as a soft touch.  A Member noted that it was intended to review some parts of the policy in two years and she asked whether any changes deemed necessary would be subject to further consultation.  In response, the Licensing Operations and Development Team Leader advised that minor typographical changes could be made without consultation but any substantive changes would need to be considered by the Licensing Committee and would be subject to consultation.  In response to a query as to the number of applications received from applicants who did not live in Tewkesbury Borough, Members were informed that 696 private hire vehicles were currently licensed with Tewkesbury Borough Council and she estimated that around 60% of licensed drivers lived outside of the borough. 

9.4            With regard to the consultation, a Member raised the same queries as he had under the previous Agenda Item and the Licensing Operations and Development Team Leader confirmed the same would apply in this instance.  This was an important consultation and it was necessary to engage as many partners as possible.  The Member questioned whether there was any flexibility to revisit the outcome of the discussions around CCTV which had taken place at the last meeting - he was disappointed to see that was not a mandatory requirement within the policy and felt it was in everyone’s interest for CCTV to be installed in taxi and private hire vehicles.  If that was not possible, he asked whether there was an opportunity to promote those vehicles which choose to have CCTV so that customers could make an informed choice.  The Licensing Operations and Development Team Leader advised that CCTV had been discussed recently at GLOG and this would be picked up again in the autumn; she would report back that Members were fully supportive of introducing CCTV and wanted to take this forward.  She liked the idea of promoting drivers with CCTV and undertook to include a question as to whether drivers had CCTV when undertaking the consultation; however, she would need to check this would be compliant with the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) requirements before a list could be published.

9.4            It was

RESOLVED           That the draft revised Hackey Carriage and Private Hire Licensing Policy, attached at Appendix A to the report, be APPROVED for formal consultation.

 

Supporting documents: