Contact: Mark Toohey Tele: 0151 934 2274
Apologies for Absence
Trevor Jones (Now Retired)
All present expressed their shock at the sudden loss of Guy Wilkinson and wished to pass on their condolences to his family. The Chair had also received a letter of condolence from John Murrison, Southport Station Taxi Association.
Agreed as true record
Matters Arising from the Minutes
RJ – 11, available funds for driver training is still an ongoing issue. 14, testing stations sub group needs to be reconvened. RJwould like to be part of this group.
MT informed the group that he had looked at some extra training that had been available via Merseylearn but this ended in June
To update the group on the announcement for possible funding of ULEV vehicles.
John Smith, Merseytravel & Gary Mahoney, Sefton Council to explain the proposals
The Chair welcomed Gary Mahoney (Sefton Council) and Amy Coulson & John Smith (Merseytravel) to the meeting to discuss the latest proposals concerning Ultra Low Emission Vehicles (ULEV).
GM said the Government is keen to promote ULEV vehicles – the vision is for all new vehicles in 2040 to be ULEV. Government funding is available of up to 20 million pounds for ULEV vehicles. This could be implemented by local authorities & city regions and that is why they were at this meeting to advise the trade of this development and get their views.
RJ strongly objected to John Smith being at this meeting to discuss this proposal as he thought it should have been covered by the Taxi Quality Partnership (TQP). RJ questioned JS about funding he had seen in Merseytravel's accounts for a TQP and, if funding is there why have the TQP not been meeting. RJ thought that Merseytravel need to go back to the taxi quality partnership and raise the ULEV issue there.
The Chair reminded RJ that Merseytravel had been invited to this meeting by the TS section manager following a request to talk to the trade representatives and that he should be allowed to continue and address the group as planned.
JS stated that Merseytravel had been in a period of change for some time now and had undergone a restructure. The possibility of reforming the TQP will be considered after the restructure has been completed.
IS asked if the 20m could be used to knock the VAT of a new ULEV vehicle. GM advised no specifics have been announced so is unable to answer that question at this time.
PM stated he was delighted that monies were available for carbon reduction within the trade and stated he had two questions:
1 – What vehicles are being considered? GM stated this wasn’t certain, but the 20m is for vehicles and infrastructure.
2 – Asked if discussion had taken place with Franklin Energy in Crosby? AC stated yes they had met with them and discussing options.
RJ stated that it’s not clear if this applies to hackneys or private hire vehicles.
JS & AC confirmed that this is not clear yet but they wanted to hear the views of all sides of the trade at this point.
PM believed that this will apply to both sectors – then asked GM if any air quality tests have been conducted around hackney ranks.
GM said there has been no known breach of legal standards around hackney ranks.
BH said that 20M for the whole country will be a waste of time when split down.
PM said that charging points are not widely available and charging is not fast enough for taxis yet.
There followed a general discussion about the project.
It was agreed that Merseytravel will forward some documents and possibly organise an open day to discuss this project with drivers which will be circulated via the Chair.
AC/JS & GM then left the meeting.
Item raised by Paul McLaughlin.
Proposal to scrap the knowledge test for private hire drivers whilst retaining and updating the test for Hackney Carriage drivers.
The views of ALL the trade reps are requested on this matter. (Dependent on time the matter may be referred to a sub group)
Item raised by Paul McLaughlin.
This is a proposal to scrap the knowledge test for private hire drivers whilst retaining and updating the test for hackney carriage drivers. A letter from Delta had been circulated last week.
The views of all the trade reps were requested by the Chair.
MT asked for opinions today and written responses within 14 days.
RJ asked for 28 days not 14 (deadline for comments are now set at 1st September 2014).
PM stated that appendix 3 says it all but in summary:
The Law Commission report considers consumer protection, not trade protection.
The licensing department considers crime not trade protectionism.
Elements of the trade use the knowledge test as a driver number restriction.
The knowledge test issue in relation to the pre booked market is down to market forces in the pre booked industry – and is therefore not required for pre booked services.
The knowledge test should still apply for rank and hail services to prevent pollution and congestion issues due to too many rank and hail vehicles being on the road, as suggested by the law commission.
PM further stated that the Sefton knowledge test needs to be updated.
JB agreed that the knowledge test should be scrapped but for all drivers, not just the private hire trade.
BH thought it wrong for a driver to not know where he is going. A driver looking at sat nav all the time is not road safe. Also what are all the extra drivers going to do at off peak periods should this lead to more drivers on the road. This will lead to an increase in tired drivers which will decrease overall road safety in the borough.
PM said sat navs actually increase road safety as drivers are less distracted. Audio prompts are a lot safer than drivers looking away from the road at road signs.
RJ said Paul’s document is banality – it is simply so Delta can employ more underpaid drivers. Law commission restrictions on the Hackney trade numbers include the viability of the trade itself – Paul simply wishes to denigrate knowledge and lower standards.
PM stated that knowledge in the private hire industry will always be supported by technology and radio supervision.
IS said this is not the raising of standards, this is the lowering of standards so that Delta taxis can flood the market and cherry pick the best drivers. The number of drivers on the road has declined in the past 18 months and the situation has improved. The removal of the knowledge test would flood the market again as anyone would be able to drive.
PM acknowledged that the statistics do show a decrease in drivers, but they also clearly show Delta is unable to meet demand at peak times.
RJ said that there are no postcodes (to put in a sat nav) for landmarks such as the pier head.
PM said he was simply seeking to provide what customers want. Delta wishes to ... view the full minutes text for item 22.
a) To consider the proposals contained in the Law Commission report published on 23rd May.
b) Item raised by Richard Jarman:
“The big FAILING of the Law Commission project is that they were not asked to look at the economics of the taxi/PHV trades and do NOT have the infrastructure to do so.
We know that locally PHV drivers have not been making ends meet, they are treated as employees without having concomitant rights. A PHV driver is today’s equivalent of the 19 Century mill worker – no rights no proper wage - no representation – he is NOT represented on the consultative committee & there is no mechanism for a rep to be appointed by any independent means.
All available evidence shows that a surplus of drivers (& vehicles) means that a wage (net of expenses) much above the statutory minimum is not possible without at least 12 hours a day behind the wheel.
There is no significant number of PHV drivers independent of an operator who favors (for example) relaxation of entry requirements..
The contents of the report were noted. The group were unable to comment further until legislation is on the horizon
Mark Toohey to present the enforcement statistics for the current year at the meeting.
MF reported 164 Programmed inspections and 73 unprogrammed from 1/4/14 – 27/7/14.
Out of 199 PHV’s, 36% had at least 1 defect and 64% had none.
Out of 37 HCV’s inspected, 27% had at least one defect and 73% had none.
Three 21 day suspensions were issued, 64 advisory notes were issued and 15 stop notices were issued.
PM asked MF if PHV stats were improving. MF advised that he believed this was the case.
For mitigations for the same period, MF reported 31 application mitigations were heard. For new applications, 5 were approved and 17 rejected.
One refusal appealed and was rejected.
9 are still to be heard.
For existing drivers, 1 was allowed to continue, 1 was revoked, 1 was suspended and 2 are waiting to be dealt with.
RJ asked if taxi marshals be made available for Aintree race meetings.
MF said the focus at the meetings is the flow of vehicles and checks on out of borough drivers and plying for hire offenders. MT reminded the group that the TLU staff are not there to marshal people.
To advise the group of the OSS update to the DVLA online checking service.
DVLA checks will now be carried out electronically at a reduced cost of £1 per check.
MT advised that the OSS can now do online DVLA checks for £1 per check.
Handbook & Conditions
Items raised by Richard Jarman.
a) “Handbook updates; the current handbook was adopted last year- it has not been circulated & most are not aware of it – a constitutional impropriety?
Owner Fit & proper – remove condition
Condition re PHV operators must operate cars not just dispatch jobs commensurate with expected volumes (UBR point)
Vehicle conditions (another postponed item, which we must resolve)
This latter must include a statement that the CUR regs CANNOT be altered or ‘upgraded’. A policeman in Penzance should expect the same standard & a driver the same responsibility. A taxi unit enforcement person is primarily looking at licensing matters
E7 taxis should have the same shelf life as LTI cabs – as is the case elsewhere e.g in Liverpool (requested by drivers)”
b) “We decided when re-working the handbook that we would require the compulsory training to be in English. I have been told by a chap who is a regular (taxi) customer that a colleague of his does NVQs, etc for the taxi & PHV industries where the candidate has a translator to write answers.
We need to ensure the requirement is monitored.
A simple signature by the candidate (at least) should be required & confirmation from the institution granting the award. A breach may be self evident?
This item may be regarded in some way as racist, it is routine to protest that that is not the case in matters such as this. For the record I support EU freedom of movement, I support immigration, it is a requisite to meet the labour & demographic needs of the UK over the next few decades in any event.
In a service industry such as ours spoken English is essential; not least during evening rushes. Firms should be reminded of this requirement - what are SMBC’s checking procedures to ensure local providers comply?”
MT said the conviction policy needs updating for clarity on some issues. Also ‘fit and proper’ for vehicle owners is not widely checked.
RJ said the fit and proper standard for owners is a separate issue to fit and proper drivers. Agreed that owners must not rent out plated vehicles to non licensed drivers.
PM agreed that potential drivers must be able to speak English.
RJ asked if training providers could be reminded of this obligation – will it be clarified in new handbook.
MT said that this will be covered in new amendments
Taxi Insurance/Brokers Fees
Item raised by Barry Howard
Item raised by BH. He would like accident stats provided for Sefton as he feels that insurance premiums being charged are overpriced in relation to risk in this borough.
PM said that underwriting is calculated solely on the issuing authority area.
BH said that broker’s prices vary massively and he managed to get nearly £500 off his premium by shopping around
In Car Security Cameras
Item raised by Barry Howard
BH advised that insurers will offer discounts if in car security cameras are fitted.
Comments & opinions are invited from the group about the test.
The Chair requested the views of the group on this test.
PM said that if a driver does not have a license and access to a vehicle that is licensed then they are not permitted to undertake this test. The group generally thought this test was too much for all drivers and was expensive.
MT said that this test could be used if driving styles are an issue with a particular driver who becomes suspended. A driver could be asked to sit the test before giving a licence back. The group agreed this could be considered in future
Crimestopper Signs in Vehicles
Request to consider signage in vehicles to deter violence.
PM said he did not see any merit in suggestion, it should be at the driver’s discretion.
RJ agreed with some sort of signage but queried who could pay for them. Some representatives felt it may give ideas to passengers so would rather not have a sign mentioning violence.
No general consensus agreed on this point.
Date of next meeting *
9th December 2014, Bootle Town Hall
9th December 2014, Bootle Town Hall.
Any Other Business
PM raised an issue of a recently ‘tweeted’ picture of Delta vehicles parked by the Pump House pub in Liverpool Albert Dock area. This was for a booking for 6 vehicles which had been received 2 days prior to that photograph being taken and shared. Delta had been accused of Cherry picking and PM stated he was concerned at this as it was a legitimate booking.