Venue: Town Hall, Bootle
Contact: Ruth Appleby
Apologies for Absence
Apologies for absence were received from Mr. J. Bridson, North West Taxi Association, Mr. G. Halsall, North Sefton Hackney Carriage Association, Mr. J. Murrison and Mr. E. Davies, Southport Station Taxi Association, Mr. W. Richey, North Sefton Hackney Night Drivers’ Association, Mr. M. Denning Substitute, Berry Street Garage Association; Inspector C. Dillon, Merseyside Police and Mr. D. Packard, Head of Environment – Sefton Council.
Welcome and Introduction
The Chair welcomed everyone to the meeting, especially Ms Jessica. Uguccioni and Ms Hannah. Gray, from the Law Commission.
Everyone introduced themselves and explained their role in relation to the Committee.
Minutes of the Meeting held on 25 January 2011
That the Minutes of the meeting held on 25 January 2011 be confirmed as a correct record.
Declarations of Interest
Members and Officers are requested to give notice of any personal or prejudicial interest and the nature of that interest, relating to any item on the agenda in accordance with the relevant Code of Conduct.
No declarations of interest were received.
To receive a presentation and report from Jenny Friday, Sefton CVS
Further to Minute No. 6 of 25 January 2011, the Committee considered the draft report of the Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Trade Joint Working Group – Equalities Sub Group, on the implications of the Equalities Act 2010 for the Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Trade.
Ms Jenny Friday, Equalities Officer, Sefton CVS, presented the report and answered questions thereon. She explained that the report had been requested by members of the Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Trades because of concerns at the potential criminalisation of taxi drivers required to meet duties in relation to persons in wheelchairs, as set out in Sections 165, 166 and 167 of the Equality Act 2010. Membership of the Equalities Sub-Group had comprised representatives from the disabled community, including wheelchair users; from the hackney carriage and private hire trades, from Sefton Council’s Health and Safety Unit and from the Taxi Licensing Unit.
The report indicated that the work of the Sub Group had focused on consultation with the disabled community, freedom of information requests to the Department for Transport and health and safety implications. Also, a key aspect of the work undertaken had been mystery shopping exercises which tested the accessibility and experiences of disabled people using taxi services in the Borough, with particular reference to the duties set out in sections 160 to 173 of the Equalities Act.
The report concluded by listing the recommendations of the Sub-Group in relation to training in disability awareness; production of a guidance handbook for drivers regarding the handling, securing and placement of wheelchairs within taxi vehicles, including guidance from the Health and Safety Executive, where appropriate; and evaluation to assess the impact of any training and service improvements.
Law Commission Review
Ms Jessica Uguccioni, Lawyer and Ms Hannah Gray, Research Assistant, Public Law Team, to address the meeting on the review of taxi and private hire legislation.
The Chair again welcomed Ms Jessica Ugucionni and Ms Hannah Gray, from the Law Commission, who were in attendance as part of the pre-consultation exercise in respect of the Law Commission Review of taxi and private hire trade regulation.
Ms Uguccioni indicated that the team working on the taxi and private hire regulation project were in the process of writing a consultation paper examining the legal framework relating to taxis and PHVs, with a view to making it simpler and more modern. This was to be published in early May 2012, and would contain provisional proposals for reform. The Law Commission would then embark upon a three month consultation period, running from May to August 2012. During this period it was hoped that a broad range of people and organisations would respond to the provisional proposals. She explained that consultation formed the cornerstone of the Law Commission's work, and following consultation, the proposals would be reviewed in light of responses received. Ms Uguccioni stressed that the team was open to changing their minds on the provisional proposals. It was planned to publish a final report with recommendations and a draft bill by late 2013.
Later, in response to a question, Ms Uguccioni explained that the team's thinking remained in-line with that presented in the briefing paper to the advisory group. This revolved around a reformed two-tier system. The paper was widely available on the internet.
Ms Uguccioni and Ms Gray concluded by responding to questions from the Trade Representatives and Licensing and Regulatory Committee spokespersons.
Complaints About Drivers
Mr T. Evason (Sefton Licensed Operators and Proprietors Association) has raised the following:
“As you all should know by now SRC taxis are firm believers that we should take on the role of reporting complaints received by customers about drivers to SMBC for them to act on.
We have been in the (TAXI) trade since 1964 and have always dealt with complaints from customers internally, of course if SRC taxis decide that the amount of complaints received from the customer is too high, or the drivers record shows a pattern of complaints, we can remove the driver from our system, the problem now only passes onto the next firm the driver starts with and in no way protects the public from a possible unfit and proper person.
SMBC view is, unless they receive a complaint from the customer no action can be taken, we find this very strange in this day and age that SMBC who have granted an operator’s license to SRC taxis are not prepared to act on letters and verbal complaints received by SRC taxis.
We have lost count of the amount of times over the years we have encouraged customers to complain to SMBC, it’s in our opinion that the customer feels comfortable reporting the drivers to ourselves but are reluctant and maybe concerned of repercussions if they report the driver to SMBC.
Our training at SRC deals with customer relations and we feel that SMBC are ignoring the possible situation of having a unfit and proper person still out picking up customers by not listening to the firms that they, felt fit to grant a operator’s license to.
The view of SMBC of only acting on a complaint received from the customer in case they end up in court, is ignoring the fact, that most cases would not reach that stage and them that would, is when you may need the customers co-operation.”
The Committee considered an issue submitted by Mr. Terry Evason, Sefton Licensed Operators and Proprietors Association, regarding sanctions taken in respect of drivers who had failed to operate in a fit and proper manner and/or against whom complaints had been received from passengers.
Arising from discussion, the following issues were raised:
That the Trading Standards and Licensing Manager be requested to review protocols and procedures in relation to complaints against drivers for consideration by the Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Joint Working Group.
Mr R. Jarman (South Sefton Hackney Carriage Drivers Association) has raised the following:
“There is presently a requirement that vehicles are continuously insured as part of the general road traffic legislation. This applies to both taxis and PHVs.
An owner may check an electronic database to see that his records are maintained see http://ownvehicle.askmid.com/ , this database is up to date, subject only to a few days needed to register new information.
SMBC require insurance details on first issuing a licence for a vehicle or when a new proprietor is notified. In view of the continuous insurance provisions there is no longer a need for further checks by SMBC, or renewal information, except on a change of proprietorship.
A licensed vehicle not being used during its licence period must be the subject of a SORN declaration, unless a proprietor is in possession of a trader using a ‘motor trade policy’.
The 1976 Act reads, s 56 (1):
For the purposes of this Part of this Act every contract for the hire of a private hire vehicle licensed under this Part of this Act shall be deemed to be made with the operator who accepted the booking for that vehicle whether or not he himself provided the vehicle.
S 56 (3):
Every person to whom a licence in force under section 55 of this Act has been granted by a district council shall keep such records as the council may, by conditions attached to the grant of the licence, prescribe of the particulars of any private hire vehicle operated by him and shall produce the same on request to any authorised officer of the council or to any constable for inspection.
There is by reason of both sub - sections a requirement that an operator should check his contracted driver’s insurance details.
Presently an operator cannot directly access the database. It may be possible to obtain a driver’s authority to act as an agent on the operator’s behalf?
This problem may be important if a policy is an annual one with monthly instalments which have to be maintained. Non payment requires cancellation by the insurer with no notice to an operator. If a broker issues a monthly cover note / certificate this may not arise as inspection of a paper document will then be automatic.
In Addition, the scope generally of sub-section (1) may receive brief discussion. The wording requires an operator to give a complete ‘indemnity’, he / she stands directly and equally in the shoes of the driver”.
The Committee considered the issue raised by Mr Richard Jarman, South Sefton Hackney Drivers Association, in respect of checking drivers’ insurance certificates.
Mr. Jarman had queried the need for the Council to make further checks on insurance certificates after a vehicle had been initially licensed or re-licensed.
Arising from discussion the following matters were raised:
Insurance Of A Taxi As Opposed To A Private Hire Vehicle
Mr R. Jarman (South Sefton Hackney Drivers Association) has raised the following:
In September counsel’s opinion was being sought on the interpretation of s. 142 of the Road Traffic Act, our account was sent in September.
If an opinion is available please discuss / set out its conclusions
A hackney carriage is defined as “any vehicle standing or plying for hire” a taxi is licensed only in so far as it picks up by standing or being hailed and then only in a particular area, otherwise it is free to contract as it pleases, anywhere [s 46 (1) (a) of the 1976 Act, Stockton v Fidler].
Insurance should therefore cover hire and reward beyond a restricted area, and within it for the licensed activities.
The Committee considered the issue raised by Mr Richard Jarman, South Sefton Hackney Drivers Association, in relation to the insurance of a hackney carriage vehicle as opposed to a private hire vehicle.
Mrs Sue Cain, Solicitor, indicated that Counsel’s opinion had been obtained on its interpretation of S 148 of the Road Traffic Act in relation to this issue, but that it was presently privileged and could not be made public, due to ongoing appeals against plying for hire prosecutions by the Council, which were not due to be heard until 23 February 2012.
That following the outcome of the appeal hearings indicated above and subsequent release of Counsel’s advice, the Trading Standards and Licensing Manager be requested to issue guidance to drivers on insurance of a hackney carriage as opposed to private hire vehicles, for consideration at the next Trade Meeting.
Hackney Carriage Rank Issues
Mr R. Jarman (South Sefton Hackney Carriage Drivers Association)
has raised the following:
Statutory ranks and links to the unmet demand survey
The future engagement of survey companies must allow taxi trade consultation; such was promised last year. The trade did not see the proposed actual contract or the draft report, as had been promised.
Such detail does not (properly) allow the ‘slanting’ of an outcome; it does avoid / minimise subsequent confusion such as obtaining basic tank information.
Procedure for establishment/disestablishment of ranks
The positioning of ranks should be discussed as this is the formal point of consultation and discussion between the trade and elected members.
Agenda wording is left flexible in order that members and consultees may speak freely subject to the discretion of the chair in relation to rank matters, in Southport, in particular
Non statutory “ranks” (no TRO in place)
Last year a retail property development in Southport inaugurated a taxi rank [marked as such] at the request of a local representative.
This was utilised wrongly by PHVs which eventually stopped. PHVs now wait nearby and ‘race’ to the rank when getting a [free] telephone call.
This behaviour does not comply with the legislation. It is now required that the relevant provisions be enforced both toward individual drivers and operators. (The County of Merseyside Act is relevant). The point indicates a problem in effecting the purport of a regulation, especially one which should be retained.
This in not now a matter necessarily limited by any differences between Southport and Bootle / Crosby. There is increasing fluidity by drivers in the borough.
Mr Richard Jarman, South Sefton Hackney Drivers Association, had submitted this item regarding the establishment of statutory and non-statutory ranks across the Borough and the role of the unmet demand survey.
Mr. Naisbitt, Trading Standards and Licensing Manager, indicated that the hackney carriage unmet demand survey was commissioned by the Council on a three yearly basis, as an impartial means to allow the Council to continue to numerically restrict the number of hackney carriage vehicles, that the report undertaken by Halcrow in 2010 had been agreed by the Licensing and Regulatory Committee held on 27 September 2010 (Minute No. 25 refers); and that the next survey would be commissioned in 2013.
Discussion about the hackney carriage unmet demand survey elicited comments that the survey was a ‘flawed system’ and should be standardised across the country; it was not how many vehicles were licensed, but when and where they were operating and the potential for congestion; and that the crux of the matter was whether a local authority chooses to restrict the number of vehicles or not. It was noted that Sefton Council chooses to restrict.
Mr. Naisbitt emphasised that the procedure for the establishment and disestablishment of hackney carriage ranks fell outside the remit of the Licensing Unit.
Mr. Steve Johnston, Traffic Management explained that the procedure for the establishment and disestablishment of ranks was undertaken via the Traffic Management/Technical Services Department, whereby initial requests for a statutory rank in a particular location were made to the Traffic Services Manager, who would investigate the viability of the rank in the said location and produce a report recommending a Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) for consideration by the Area Committee covering the Ward in which the rank was requested. For example, a report recommending that a rank be established in Dukes Ward, Southport, would be considered by Southport Area Committee.
Mr. Johnston stressed that in investigating the viability of a proposed rank, consultation was undertaken with Trade Representatives and other interested parties and that comments and suggestions received were included in the Area Committee report to help guide Councillors in making an informed decision.
Mr Naisbitt explained that non-statutory ranks did not have an approved TRO in place and usually became established where standing or plying for hire arose out of circumstance, for example in a busy area, such as outside a supermarket. Recent issues about non-statutory ranks forming at the Morrison’s Supermarket in Southport had been investigated and advice given by the Taxi Licensing Unit (TLU) and Mr. Naisbitt stressed that complaints about illegal taxi ranks would always be investigated by the TLU.
That the information provided by Mr Naisbitt and Mr Johnston, regarding the commissioning of the hackney carriage unmet demand survey and statutory and non-statutory ranks be noted.
Enforcement Statistics will be circulated to members in due course.
The Committee considered the Taxi Enforcement statistics for January 2011 to January 2012, which provided details of:
Between 17 June 2011 to 10 January 2012:
Arising from discussion, comment was made on the much improved enforcement activity undertaken following the restructure of the taxi licensing unit and the allocation of additional staffing dedicated to enforcement.
That the Enforcement Team be thanked and commended for their hard work and dedication over the past year, as evidenced by the detailed enforcement statistics.
Proposed Changes To Conditions
Various Trade Organisations have requested consideration of the following matters:
Minimum sizing and wording for roof signs on saloon type taxis.
Replacement of the illuminated cab light with an internal Moglo licence plate for taxis
Mr. Mark Toohey, Principal Trading Standards Manager, provided details of proposed changes to conditions in respect of roof signs on saloon type taxis and replacement of the illuminated cab light with an internal Moglo licence plate for taxis.
Mr. Toohey indicated that the changes had been given full consideration by the Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Trade Working Group.
In respect of roof signs it was proposed that a change to the current conditions concerning wording and minimum size be introduced. Mr Toohey explained that the Moglo luminous internal plates for Hackney Carriage vehicles would eliminate the need for the internal light. He concluded by indicating that the new illuminated plates would be tested from 1 February 2012 onwards.
That a report on the proposed changes to conditions be submitted for consideration by the Licensing and Regulatory Committee on 12 March 2012.
Private Hire Vehicle Operator Conditions
Mr R. Jarman (South Sefton Hackney Carriage Drivers Association)
has raised the following:
S 56 (2) of the 1976 Act reads:
Every person to whom a licence in force under section 55 of this Act has been granted by a district council shall keep a record in such form as the council may, by condition attached to the grant of the licence, prescribe and shall enter therein, before the commencement of each journey, such particulars of every booking of a private hire vehicle invited or accepted by him, whether by accepting the same from the hirer or by undertaking it at the request of another operator, as the district council may by condition prescribe and shall produce such record on request to any authorised officer of the council or to any constable for inspection
The Sefton MBC operator conditions require:
4. Records Of Hirings
a) Any Operator licensed by Sefton MBC, shall keep records of any hiring which they accept, in accordance with the conditions below:
i) The time and date of each booking;
ii) Sufficient identifiers for the hirer or journey;
iii) The starting point for each pre-booked journey;
iv) The call sign or registration number of the vehicle used for each booking together with the driver’s identifying details;
The minutes of the trade meeting held on 6 December 2011 read:
“Richard Jarman (SSHCDA) indicated that he had received complaints from his members concerning private hire drivers collecting passengers (who had used the free phone in store) at the Bootle Asda. Mr. Jarman alleged that drivers did not seek an “identifier” from the customer before they entered their vehicle.
Terry Evason (SLOPA) advised that his company did not use an automated service and always requested a customer’s name.
Paul McLaughlin (DML) explained the operation at his company and that his drivers asked the customer if they were a free phone customer as the identifier
That the issues associated with private hire bookings and sufficient identifiers be noted”.
(a) Failure to record the name or journey and detail at the time of the [free] telephone call does not comply with the legislation [and conditions]; as such this behaviour circumvents the difference between a taxi & PHV. A pre-booked vehicle must have identifiers recorded before travel!
(b) In addition free phones and domestic phones are answered automatically by a voice announcing that a vehicle will be dispatched to the address of the [fixed telephone] by pressing a particular key. This further contravenes the distinction between the trades.
Failure to record identifiers before travel contravenes the PHV licensing scheme, crossing the line into the taxi regime. “Taxi” being used as above
Records of the person booking and the journey should be recorded at the time of the telephone call in future. This should be required forthwith.
Mr P. McLaughlin (Delta Merseyside limited) has responded to the above and stated the following:
“I am delighted to announce the success of Delta Taxis' new 'textback' service, which we launched ... view the full agenda text for item 13.
This matter had been submitted by Mr Richard Jarman, South Sefton Hackney Carriage Association, following concerns raised by hackney carriage trade representatives that private hire operators and drivers were failing to ask members of the public to identify themselves when requesting cabs via supermarket freephones.
Mr. Jarman indicated that in line with current legislation Sefton Council’s operator conditions required:
Mr. Jarman stated that failure by private hire operators to record the name and journey details at the time of the telephone call did not comply with the legislation and conditions and therefore circumvented the difference between a hackney carriage and a private hire vehicle. He indicated that a pre-booked vehicle should have identifiers recorded before travel.
Mr P. McLaughlin (Delta Merseyside limited) had provided written information about his company’s new ‘textback’ service, launched in December 2011, indicating that all Delta’s mobile ‘phone callers were issued with an electronic ticket, confirming details of which car they had booked and in turn confirming to the driver which customer to take. (i.e. the person displaying the correct text ticket on their phone). He explained that Delta continued to obtain identifiers for customers ringing from freephones.
Mr. Terry Evason (SLOPA) advised that his company did not use an automated service and always requested a customer’s name.
That the Law Commission be requested to give consideration of this matter as part of their review.
A leaflet produced by Merseytravel is attached.
Mr R. Jarman (South Sefton Hackney Carriage Drivers Association)
has raised the following:
Local Transport Plan 3 proposes a “Taxi Quality Partnership”
LTP 3 shows that:
The average occupancy of a Merseyside bus is 9!
The subsidy available is being reduced to 16 million from 20 million [sterling]
The wage required to provide an acceptable income for the average family is £29,250.
Our trade group has representatives exploring the “quality plan” with Merseytravel.
A second meeting to facilitate the Walrus card has been attended. The (retiring) Chief Executive of Merseytravel informed this meeting:
That Merseyside has 3 of the poorest regions in the country – including an area in Birkenhead.
That Merseytravel wished to run / administer taxis in the region, not PHVs.
That the average occupancy of a subsidised bus is 5.5.
That he had consulted / spoken to constituent authorities who were anxious to divest themselves of such duties / privileges.
That parliamentary agents had been consulted already [these are solicitors who pilot private and locals through Parliament] and that he has experience of such procedure.
Merseytravel is the statutory Integrated Transport Authority for the region.
Discuss / explain the possibility of integration of the taxi licence function. Disclose the detail of any discussion with Merseytravel and the consequences.
It is generally agreed by the Select Committee / DfT and (we think) the Law Commission that the statutory Integrated Transport Authorities in Local Transport Plans should take account of both the Taxi and PHV trade.
Mr Richard Jarman, South Sefton Hackney Drivers Association, had requested an update on Merseytravel’s Third Local Transport Plan (LTP3) and proposals for a Taxi Quality Partnership.
Attached as an Annex to the agenda was a Merseytravel consultation paper on the role of taxis in LTP3.
Mr. Jarman indicated that the Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Working Group had nominated representatives to consult with Merseytravel and attend meetings in relation to the LTP3. However, Mr Jarman requested details of any consultation which may also have taken place with Sefton Council officers.
Mr. Naisbitt indicated that there had been no discussions with Merseytravel but that there had been meetings between the Merseyside Local Authorities at Chief Executive and responsible manager level, which had considered the harmonisation of policies. However, these meetings had since been put on hold, pending the outcome of the Law Commission Review.
That the comments concerning the local transport plan be noted.
To receive a presentation and report from Andrew Naisbitt, Trading Standards Manager.
The Committee considered the report of the Trading Standards and Licensing Manager on the Transfer of Licensing functions to Sefton Plus.
The report indicated that as part of Sefton MBC’s ongoing transformation agenda, the taxi licensing service had been modernised by transferring all back office licensing functions to Sefton Plus, allowing the Department of Built Environment to focus all its resources on enforcement activity.
The project was funded in part by Arvato Government Services (AGS) and from the ‘ring fenced’ Taxi Licensing Portfolio and therefore at no cost to Sefton MBC. Ongoing revenue costs were covered by AGS, supplemented by a ‘TUPE’ transfer of a dedicated licensing officer and a capital injection of £10,000 to fund the initial purchase of the eBulk CRB system.
Other than the capital injection, the project had a neutral impact on the Taxi Licensing budget and yielded immediate efficiencies in officer time which had been reinvested in district enforcement provision. Consolidation of the Taxi Licensing enforcement team had resulted in a 17% increase in enforcement cover through a 24 hour rotating shift system.
The report indicated that the transfer of licensing functions to Sefton Plus had led to the following key changes:
· Knowledge Test preparation, administration and adjudication taken over from 28 April 2011.
· Resource transfer (TUPE) effective from 1 September 2011
· DVLA administration and CRB administration from 1 September 2011
· ebulk CRB
a) Soft introduction from 18 November 2011
b) Full introduction from 24 November 2011
· Taxi Licensing Administration Transfer from 1 September 2011 (including issuing renewal notices, monitoring ongoing application forms, lapsing application forms where necessary, monitoring production of evidence issuing follow up letters to progress to suspensions, Ongoing Payment analysis, administration, follow up and collection of Purchase orders and bounced cheques)
· Stock control and stock ordered using IPROC from 1 November 2011
The report provided the following statistical information (1 September 2011 to 6th January 2012):
· Number of Customers: 3289
· DVLA checks processed: 651
· CRB checks processed: 565; Average processing time 13 days
· Knowledge Tests: Booked 1394 / 982 Attended
· Licences issued / Renewed: 2086
The report also indicated ‘glitches’ encountered with the transfer, including delays in processing CRB applications, documents dropped off but not dealt with and difficulties encountered with an increase in persons wishing to take the Knowledge Test.
In relation to problems experienced, Mr. Toohey, Principal Trading Standards Officer, indicated that following a request from the Trade Representatives at the joint meeting of the Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Trade on 6 December 2011, a One Stop Shop Sub-Group had been formed to consider a number of service issues in respect of taxi licensing. At its first meeting held on 23 January 2012, the group had specifically considered ways of reducing the waiting times to see Customer Service Advisors (CSA’s); whether chip and pin facilities could be introduced and the possible incorporation of the Knowledge Test into the VRQ.
Mr Joseph Johnson, (Berry Street Garage Association), who was a member of the One Stop ... view the full minutes text for item 15.
Date of Next Meeting
It is recommended that the next meeting of the Licensing and Regulatory Committee Spokespersons with representatives of the Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Trades be held at 10.00 am on Tuesday, 23 January 2013 at Bootle Town Hall.
The date of the next meeting was proposed to take place on 23 January 2013, however, it was pointed out that this was a Wednesday and meetings usually take place on a Tuesday.
That the next annual meeting of Licensing and Regulatory Spokespersons with members of the Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Trade be held at 10.00 a.m. on Tuesday 22 January 2013, at Southport Town Hall.