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Taxi Forum Minutes Wednesday 30 May 2018

10:00am Committee room 1

Present:
Jenny Lucking (JLu) Paul Coombes (PC)
Karen Boyce (KB)  Dharma Raj Rai (DR) 
Sue Whybrow (SW)  Lal Ghale (LG) 
John Lovejoy (JLo)  Kemal Yalcin (KY) 
Roger Matcham (RM)  Mirwais Khosravi (MK) 
Dave Childs (DC)  Hazel Paddy (HP) minutes 
Cllr Brad Bradford (BB)  Trevor Ford (TF) 
Cllr Jenny Webb (JW)  Julian Postlethwaite (JP) 
Kieron Leader (KL)  

Apologies:

Alison Simmonds (AS)

Action Items
Action  Who  When
Junction access mirror  SW  By next forum
To investigate Park Street access restrictions  KL  By next forum
Query viability of daytime access to George PH rank  KL  By next forum
Elwick Place hotel – query over drop-off area  TF  Included below
SW to arrange to meet  TF  to ‘test’ intercom SW By next forum
TF to consult Forum Reps on Taxi Policy proposed amendments  TF  Completed 30/5/18
TF to provide PC/SW a list of current taxi limits in Kent  TF  Completed 30/5/18
Drivers to evidence why they feel it is good practice to limit spaces and how is it in the public’s interest  Drivers  By next forum
Drivers to pass to Licensing evidence/details of drivers refusing small fares.  Drivers On going
JP/AS to update and amend questions on the hackney test  JP / AS  By next forum
Station feeder bin relocation update  TF  Included below
Station feeder noticeboard update  TF  Update included below, to be discussed at next forum

Minutes & Actions from last meeting

  • Junction access mirror - this has not progressed from the last forum due to the departure of James Hann from ABC. SW advises that a mirror is required for clear exit due to junction on right of feeder rank. SW to show TF to ascertain what is required.
  • The increase from 2 to 3 vehicles at the taxi rank on the forecourt at South-eastern train station was agreed in principle where this can be done without impact on traffic flow. However ultimately this is South Eastern’s forecourt. However, there is to be no parking on the bridge waiting to get onto the rank.

Town Taxi rank update

KL gave an update on town ranks :-

  • Park Street has a long-standing issue of the public and disabled drivers parking in the turning circle, this makes it very difficult for HGV’s delivering to the shops despite enforcement and education. There is possibility of an order to restrict vehicles into Park Street for loading/unloading and taxis only. As part of this the two disabled bays would need to move, and it is anticipated that there will be an expectation that they be made available elsewhere. KL to ascertain if it is feasible that the ‘removed’ disabled bays are not replaced with the associated loss of the two separate rank spaces near the Park Street bus stops.
  • PC raised the question as to the possibility of having the two rank spaces outside The George in High Street be made available during the day, not just after the barrier is up. Arguments either way are; that this is a pedestrianised area, it would need some sort of system to highlight if there are free spaces to limit vehicular movements, that vehicles driver though of an evening with pedestrians in road etc. KL to contact KCC on the feasibility of the proposal as this is a KCC order
  • Elwick Place/Hotel – Query raised over nature of drop off area. TF to confirm.
    Post-meeting update – It has been confirmed that the hotel drop off will be a general customer drop-off/pick-up available to taxis and the public alike.
  • Elwick Road bus stop next to where the new cinema could be changed to permit hackney use after bus operating times. Early notifications between KCC and Stagecoach are encouraging, and this would assist for passengers heading westbound. Any change may later vary if Stagecoach extend bus-operating times.
  • Bluebell Road, Bridgefield (over the A2070) should be open to taxis to use from today (30 May 2018)
  • Bus gates at Finberry, taxis do not currently have access via this. The feeling is that taxis should have the same access that buses do as they are providing a service to the public. Turning right out of Finberry will be a matter that needs to be looked at by the planners, as there are some health and safety concerns with this configuration. A couple of drivers mentioned that KCC are changing this to allow a right-turn for all.

Station Feeder

  • New upgraded screen ordered, which incorporates auto adjust brightness and a brighter screen designed more akin to an outdoor advertising screen – Estimated delivery/install end of June or beginning of July
  • RedAlert have been instructed to arrange for new outer Perspex screen to be ordered and cut, as the current is covered in light scratches. A spare is also ordered and will be located in the unit in case of damage/breakages – Estimated date for delivery/install within one week of this meeting.
  • SW felt that the citing of the feeder rank is in the wrong place and is not fit for purpose, due to having to sit with your neck at an angle. In addition, feels that the speaker is too low to press for those in higher 8-seater vehicles. TF advised the intercom has auto-pickup so there is no need for drivers to press the button.
  • Ranking - Drivers are reminded of the hackney bylaws and Taxi Licensing Policy Code of Conduct with reference to the orderly queuing at ranks, and that it is not acceptable to queue in the outside lane only in case they receive a booking. There are requires to queue appropriately, and if the rank is full to promptly drive to another rank in the town. Those found to be inappropriately ranking may be issued with points on their drivers licences. The queuing in the outside lane limits the numbers of vehicles that can rank and those over-ranking may receive a parking ticket or penalty points. The feeder was designed with spacing to allow vehicles to exit within some minor movement from adjacent drivers. More room could be provided through the hatched blocks but this would reduce the rank size!
  • SW raised the issue of the intercom which she and one group of passengers feels does not work. TF advised the system has been tested following her complaint by Officers and also with a second time another Forum Rep and it was found to be adequate, and therefore we have not instructed any works. SW felt as though the system was insufficient, TF invited SW to contact him directly to test the system together.

MOT/Compliance Testing

Operators and proprietors should be aware of the new MOT changes, which affect compliance testing. The pass and fail has been replaced with;

  • Dangerous – a direct and immediate risk to road safety or the environment. Do not drive vehicle until repaired
  • Major – It may affect the vehicles safety, put other road users at risk or have an impact on the environment. Repair it immediately
  • Minor – No significant effect on the safety of the vehicle or impact on the environment. Repair as soon as possible
  • Advisory – It could become more serious in future. Monitor and repair it if necessary

If your vehicle is classed dangerous it should not be driven, and it is an offence under the Police traffic act to do so. In terms of licensing, any vehicles found to have failed on dangerous or major grounds cannot be used as a private hire or hackney vehicle. Any persons found to be using such vehicles will be subject to licensing enforcement action. Odometer readings are taken – so we know how many miles have been travelled between failing and retesting!

Minor issues should be addressed as soon as possible, and failure to do so will raise questions over the suitability of the vehicle operator to maintain public safety.

However, it should be noted that vehicles should be maintained well at all times. Vehicles should not only be safe at the time of testing but at all times between, as such any vehicle failing on testing will raise questions about the suitability of the vehicle operator.

It is also worth noting that Ashford MOT elected not to charge for a retest. Let’s keep it that way and ensure vehicles are properly maintained and checked prior to being presented for testing.

DVLA licence verification checks

Drivers will be aware that we are changing contractors for DVLA licence verification checks. All drivers will need to complete the form and return in order to remain licensed.

The new contractor provides a more efficient and effective service for licensing, as well as being significantly cheaper than the prior contractor, and it is worth noting that these costs are reflected in the licensing fees. As such, the changes helps to protect public safety and helps us to deliver a value for money licensing service.

Post-meeting update – copy of form attached as appendix for reference/use.

Taxi policy amendments

TF outlined some proposed amendments to ensure the policy remains relevant and fit for purpose. A consultation email will be sent to the Taxi Forum Reps for comments/views as part of the report writing process. The changes are;

  • Correction of committee name
  • Appeals – amendment to reflect statutory right of appeal, and removal of the informal right to appeal (to appeals committee) to bring appeals in line with legislation and other Kent boroughs.
  • DBS and certificates of good conduct – To provide clarification that those who have resided outside the UK in relation to their prior. This will highlight that they must provide DBS equivalent checks through certificates of good conduct.
  • Dual plating – To advise that we will not accept any dual plating of vehicles (licensed by more than one borough). We currently have no dual plated vehicles that we are aware of.
  • Guidance on determining the suitability of applicants and licensees in the hackney and private hire trades published by IoL, NALEO, LGA. First attempt at a national standardisation of driver suitability, and ABC would like to adopt this as best practice as replacement to our convictions policy.

Issue of vehicle licence/plates

  • SW felt that there is an over subscription of hackney vehicles verses rank spaces. This in turn is driving down the earnings of the drivers. SW’s proposal was to limit the amount of hackney plates available to stabilise the economy for the drivers within the borough. PC highlighted that this cannot be done as a measure to protect drivers income, but must be shown to be in the public interest. TF highlighted that it was previously proposed by the Law Commission to repeal the power to limit numbers, and the DfT and CMA both do not consider it good practice to limit the number of hackney vehicles. As such there would need to be a very clear and good reason to go against current best practice. It was debated that some boroughs within Kent, do limit the amount of hackney vehicles licensed. It was also felt that the introduction of having to have a wheelchair accessible vehicle (WAV) as a new hackney has not helped as the public do not like the larger vehicles and the drivers feel that wheelchair users do not use them. Rough calculation is that we have 65 rank spaces for 100 vehicles; however, we do have lots of smaller ranks, rather than 2 or 3 larger rank spaces. Some ranks such as Drum Lane are never utilised. It was suggested that the trade would need to evidence a public interest in restricting taxi numbers, and that they can present this at the next forum. TF to provide SW/PC details of boroughs in Kent with limits on hackney vehicle numbers.

AOB

  • TF and KL have asked for fingerboard signs, when updated, to include ‘taxi rank’.
  • Drivers advised that that some drivers are refusing small fares. The example given that the driver in first position declined to take a customer on a short journey because he did not 5 have change of £20.00. TF advised that if these are not reported to Licensing then we cannot build up a picture of offenders and deal with such activity. As always, a proportionate approach will be taken to enforcement, but offenders can expect points, and possible review of their licence.
  • Concern was raised over drivers using satnav for simple journeys and it was questioned how they can be a hackney driver. JP gave an overview of the hackney test. It was agreed that AS/JP will look at updating the knowledge questions
  • SW raised the litter bin being on the wrong side at the feeder – could this be moved next to the monitor?
    Post-meeting update – following the forum it has been clarified that a bench has been received and is to be installed, and the bin is planned to be located nearby to the bench as the most appropriate location. It has also been commented previously that in ‘pole position’ there is not enough room to open the drivers door as such it appears prudent to locate the bin near to the planned bench installation.
  • SW questioned whether the drivers could have a notice board for general information by the monitor?
    Post-meeting update – A rough ballpark for a single door noticeboard is £1100 plus installation. There would also be maintenance costs to be included (when damaged etc.). Furthermore there is also the resource involved in keeping the board update, access keys etc. Any notices would be limited those drivers who use the station feeder, so any messages may need to be repeated via other routes in any event. It would be more cost effective and efficient for licensing to use the email distribution group (and invite more drivers to provide their email). To be discussed at next forum for Forum feedback.

Next forum TBA

Driving Licence Information fair processing declaration form [pdf] 313KB

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