Agenda and minutes

Hackney Carriage/Private Hire Joint Working Group
Tuesday 9th December, 2014 10.30 am

Venue: Bootle Town Hall

Contact: Mark Toohey  Tele: 0151 934 2274

Items
No. Item

33.

Apologies for Absence

Minutes:

Joseph Bridson – North West Taxi Association

Mark Saunders – Delta Garages

34.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 82 KB

Minutes:

Agreed as a true record.

35.

Matters Arising from the Minutes

Minutes:

RJ enquired if there were any figures on the failing of the NVQ?

 

PM advised that he was only aware of one historical case.

 

ULEV vehicles – no update

 

36.

Knowledge Test

The previous suggestion to remove the Sefton Knowledge Test was considered by L & R on 22nd September 2014.

 

The Committee considered the report of the Director of Built Environment which requested consideration of the Council’s position in respect of the Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Drivers Knowledge Test that formed the pre-requisite for the issue of any new Hackney Carriage or Private Hire Driver licence.

 

RESOLVED:

 

That the Director of Built Environment be instructed to review the current system and present representations to address any detrimental effect caused by the topographic knowledge test on the provision of hackney carriage and private hire services having regard to current best practice.

 

The review will continue into 2015.

 

 

 

Minutes:

RJ & PM to report concerns over the knowledge test issue directly to Andrew Naisbitt for consideration in early 2015.

 

37.

NVQ/VRQ pdf icon PDF 36 KB

The deadline for completion of VRQ/NVQ for all drivers is 31st December 2015. 

 

The licensing database shows that there are currently 521 drivers without the qualification.  77 Hackney Carriage & 444 Private Hire – this data may be inaccurate due to the way it was recorded when the VRQ requirement was first introduced but there does appear to be a significant number of drivers without the qualification.  See attached table for details.

 

Items raised by Richard Jarman:

 

“Missing NVQ certificates

 

Drivers have been through the hoop & the agency [examining] has liquidated, without providing certificates. Missing records are the fault of the insolvency practitioner / service; I have seen comments that those who fail to obtain certificates will have to re- do the ‘course’ at their expense, this is patently misguided. In any event L&R have recorded that they will consider the matter when the time limit expires; effectively in this regard it is now time to deal with this aspect; at this level; especially given the committee cycle etc. All the candidates are missing is the end certificate- as we talk of an NVQ it is not the same as simply sitting a computer test

 

NVQ/VRQ pass rates

 

What information is there about the success rate of candidates?”

 

Minutes:

521 drivers have no such qualification, this breaks down to 444 private hire drivers & 77 hackney drivers.

 

PM advised that some drivers are waiting for potential funding to become available.

 

RJ stated that some drivers may be licensed and may no longer be in the trade.

 

MT stated that drivers must have proof that they have sat the qualification – this is to be provided by December 2015. RJ challenged this and MT asserted that proof must be provided to the council in all circumstances. A general discussion took place about providing proof to the Council concerning the VRQ/NVQ.  RJ suggested that that the Council should accept his word if he stated that he was aware that someone had taken the VRQ but the certificate was missing.  This point was discussed and not agreed by all.  JJ stated that he was aware of drivers who had missing certificates so had to do the VRQ again.  RJ stated that L&R have said in previous meetings that individual circumstances will be considered. MT stated that previous minutes will be checked – RJ was happy with this.

 

38.

Enforcement pdf icon PDF 27 KB

The 2 attachments show the number and type of inspections carried out by the Taxi Licensing Unit since 1st April 2014 and the number of driver licences that have been considered as part of the ‘mitigation’ process.

 

Item raised by Richard Jarman:

 

“A short while ago SMBCs prosecution count was greater than that of the ‘city’ and the frequency of city vehicles displaying a hire light decreased; this trend has reversed. Discus”

Additional documents:

Minutes:

MT stated that the percentage of ‘fault free’ vehicles found on inspection is decreasing.

 

JJ & PM requested details of which officers from neighbouring authorities have joint authorisations to cover other local authorities?

 

PM stated he has no issues with joint authorised officers challenging a Sefton vehicle – however he questioned the powers of officers taking a Sefton vehicle off the road if they had not been properly authorised.  The Chair reminded the group that the Trading Standards and Licensing Manager was already looking into this issue.

 

JJ enquired as to what action was being taken in relation to the vacant taxi licensing enforcement officer posts? This was echoed by PM.  IS further echoed this by stating that in his view the number of taxis was increasing and the number of enforcement officers seemed to be decreasing.

 

MT responded to these enquiries by stating that a section review was due to be completed next year but the Council is going through a period of change with severe cuts and no decision on potential extra enforcement officer posts could be considered before all this is completed.

 

MT explained the mitigation figures to the group. RJ thanked the chair for this information.

 

MT responded to the prosecution agenda issue highlighted by RJ and stated that there were 7 prosecutions ongoing – most were in relation to Liverpool hackney drivers who had picked up passengers within the Sefton area.

 

39.

Insurance

Item raised by Richard Jarman

 

“Drivers of rented vehicles have insurance cover paid by the owner; in this licensing district no owner provides a copy policy to the driver, on occasions this facility is essential.   Handbook revision should not be essential but may be considered; the facility is probably a legal requirement anyway?”

 

Minutes:

RJ raised the published agenda item regarding a settle driver not being able to access a copy of an insurance document that relates to their settle vehicle and requested a handbook change.

 

PM explained that no insurance as opposed to not being covered for plying for hire does put the travelling public at a much greater risk.

 

JJ saidDelta & SRC both require valid insurance to be in place prior to a driver logging onto the system.

 

RJ stated that drivers need to be entitled to see policy certificates if the wish to see them. RJ would like to see handbook amended to say a driver is entitled to view policies.

 

MT advised that handbook changes will be circulated and considered in January prior to them being put in place but was unsure why a driver cannot just ask the vehicle owner for a copy of the insurance document?

 

JJ enquired on the progress of the testing station review. MT advised that this was on the 2015 work plan.

 

40.

Data

Item raised by Richard Jarman

 

“Data held by SMBC is that of the licensee & should be available as a matter of routine,  Data Protection legislation refers; there can be NO data withheld; if such can be then it should be defined / discussed as to the nature thereof.

 

SMBC should not utilise, trawl, or otherwise act on material in social media without permission from the subject [snooping]; it should not store such material, it should not photograph licensees and any such material presently held should be disclosed to the subject forthwith”

 

Minutes:

RJ raised an agenda item regarding subject Data Access.

 

MT advised that the council has no problem with any licensed driver accessing their own personal information held by the council as per the requirements of the Data Protection Act.

 

RJ raised another data concern on whether council officers routinely snoop on licence holders personal social media accounts?

 

MT advised that investigating officers do not monitor any licence holder’s social media accounts routinely.  Accounts have been looked at but only in the course of an investigation and when it is believed that they contain information relevant to an investigation such as unlicensed operators.  This is conducted in line with government guidelines. It was further stated that this only relates to publicly available information. Information that is stored online ‘privately’ requires a RIPA authorisation approved by a court to be accessed. MT further asserted that licence holders social media accounts are not routinely viewed by officers.

 

41.

Hours Worked/UBER

Item raised by Richard Jarman.

 

Multi-national companies have recently sought to guarantee revenues in return for a 50 hour week. SMBC should adopt a policy that no licensed driver should consistently work 50 hours or ideally  in excess of 40 hours; or unsafe hours. The obstacles in the way of such policy are understood but the matter should be thought of as a proper discussion at this level.

 

UBER is guaranteeing £3000 a month for 55 hours a week. From the £3000 Uber will take 20% which brings the sum down to £2400. There is then fuel and other running costs. [25%]  £443 pw, in London!

 

To work with Uber your car can't be 5 years old. Average cost for rental of a PCO registered Prius with insurance is £250-£280 a week.

 

On top of this you need to pay tax on your income. When you work the figures out it’s not attractive but if you’re willing to work long hrs you can make more.

 

This company uses agreement subject to Netherlands Law. SMBC should require licences to contract according to English law.”

 

Minutes:

RJ raised this agenda item as published and enquired if council policy can state the number of hours that they believe a driver should not work over and that they do not approve of?

 

PM stated that taxi driving is significantly different to private hire driving and persons who drive all have different strengths and weaknesses.  Drivers want the freedom to work hours that suit them and this may run over a significant number of hours during the week.

 

MT this would not be an enforceable policy – the council would not be able to monitor all the hours drivers work and questioned what sanctions would be in place if this policy was breached?  MT suggested that it could be taken to the members for consideration in January.

 

PM said the council and operators should not be interfering with self employed drivers.

 

JJ stated that this is not in the council’s remit and would be a waste of time.

 

MT stated that RJ is entitled to ask for this item to be submitted for consideration in January. MT further commented on RJ’s point over UBER’s statement that agreements are subject to Netherlands law that a point can go in the handbook to state that licenses are issued under English law.

 

42.

Cost of a Medical

Item raised by Richard Jarman

Minutes:

RJ stated he knows of a driver that has been charged £100 for a medical by his GP.

 

PM said in Liverpool a driver can be charged less than he is in Sefton and that he feels local authorities should co-ordinate over these costs.

 

RJ asked if guidance be sought from the BMA over cost?

 

MT agreed with RJ’s point above but stated that a medical should be done by a drivers own GP as per our conditions.

 

JJ said surely any registered GP can conduct a medical?

 

PM asked if local councils could agree a standard for both medicals AND previous convictions?

 

MF explained that drug/alcohol dependency can only be declared by a subjects own doctor as only your GP will have full access to all the relevant records.

 

RJ requested that the Council investigate what other LA’s are doing and seek guidance from the BMA about the standard cost of a medical.

 

43.

Parking Charges

Item raised by Richard Jarman

 

A lot of shops & JLA are trying to impose parking penalties, I have been instructed on many occasions, EACH TIME I have succeeded, no one has paid!.

 

Now there is an organisation saying it can RECOVER any PAID PENALTIES.

 

I have spoken to Mr Green, he knows what he is talking about here is his blurb:

 

My name is Michael. I'm taking every car parking company in the UK to court to get every single car parking ' fine ' ever paid out refunded, because they're likely to all be illegal.


I am wondering how many of your member taxi drivers have paid these charges: if they have, they may as well register their email because it costs them nothing to sign up to the action, and ethyl be able to get a refund (and maybe compensation) if the case succeeds.


I assure you I am for real: it's been covered in the Daily Mail, or ITV News, and various BBC outlets (News, BBC Radio 4, Radio 5). More newspapers are joining in this weekend.


The reason I am contacting the National Taxi Association is because you may have an easier way of contacting a lot of taxi drivers together, in contrast to me (as one person) who definitely does not have that sort of communication power.


The way legal actions work in the UK is that people need to ' opt in, so if this court case is taken, only those who have ' joined in can get a refund.


Best,

Michael Green, Founder

 

http://www.challengethefine.com

 

Minutes:

RJ relayed agenda information to group.

 

44.

Vehicle Conditions/Safety

Item raised by Richard Jarman

 

“Safety:

 

Is there any safety apart from construction & use regulations included in SMBC’s licensing conditions; excluding the “fitness test” applied when licensing a driver?

 

Point raised because of ‘talk’ emanating from current legislative proposals. It seems that other regulations do not relate [objectively] to safety; door signs are common for example but the wording is a matter of taste not safety.

 

It would be advantageous & provide clarity if this were to be considered.”

 

Minutes:

RJ said vehicle safety is governed by the construction and use regulations and the compliance test items only. No other members disagreed with this point.

 

45.

Workplan/Outstanding Issues

Bootle OSS (extra funding request)

Handbook review

Vacant Taxi Licences

Testing Station Review

Knowledge Test

Minutes:

Bootle OSS

 

JJ & MD both stated that the Bootle OSS is at the best it has ever been.

 

Handbook Review

 

MT stated it was to be on the January meeting agenda.

 

Vacant Hackney Licenses

 

MT this will be dealt with in January/February – MT will consult members.

 

Testing Station Review

 

JJ stated not happy with the way that there is inconsistency between boroughs, testing stations within Sefton and enforcement officers. Mr. Johnson would like vehicle testing standards to be made uniform and not based on individual opinion, with bodywork inconsistency being the much greater problem than the mechanical side.

 

MT this will be discussed in the testing station sub group meeting in the New Year.

 

Knowledge Test

 

MT this has already been discussed

 

46.

Safeguarding

Chair to explain the work with Sefton’s safeguarding team

Minutes:

MT circulated the letter from the Sefton Local Safeguarding Children Board to the group and asked that any relevant names are submitted to the group for attendance.  The group agreed with the value of the messages being portrayed and would support the project.

 

47.

Christmas Arrangements

Minutes:

MT explained that the OSS will be opening on the working days between Christmas and New Year and on the 2nd of January 2015.

 

48.

Date of next meeting *

Minutes:

MT January meeting is on 27th at Southport.

 

49.

Any Other Business

Minutes:

None