Content

Report of a meeting between councillor, taxi proprietors and officers held at Knowle, Sidmouth on Thursday 3 April 2014

Present:          

Councillors:

  • Steve Hall
  • Jim Knight

Taxi Proprietors:

  • Nina Peters
  • Brian Bailey
  • Mrs Bailey
  • Charlie Stone

 Council officers:

  • John Tippin - Licensing Manager
  • Douglas Jackson Licensing Officer
  • Steve Saunders Licensing Officer

 The meeting started at 1432 and ended at 1630 hours

1.         Apologies

Apologies from AJ Hill, Adrian Phillips, George Shorters, Steve Glover and Dave Lean

2.         To receive the report of the meeting held 31 October 2013

3.         Matters Arising

It was pointed out that minutes and agendas for the taxi meetings were always put on the EDDC web site as soon as possible after the meetings.

4.         Exmouth Rank

Mr Jackson gave an update to the group that no progress had been made by Devon County Council on completing the works on the Strand taxi rank.  Mr Bailey asked if that related to the dropped kerbs and he received confirmation that it did.  The meeting was advised that the council was still waiting for the work to be completed by the County Council.  Officers from East Devon District Council had been in contact, but there was no date given for the work to start.

Mr Bailey asked if there was any chance that the Victoria Road rank could be extended as it was originally proposed that the rank was to accommodate four vehicles.  Mr Jackson said that at the site meeting when Paul Wilson (DCC) was present the current layout to accommodate four vehicles was agreed.  At the time Paul Wilson indicated that a further extension of the rank would be very unlikely.

Mr Bailey said there was a need for more ranks in Victoria Road, and Cllr Knight said that the best way forward was for the taxi drivers to contact their County Councillor, in this case Cllr Wragg to gain her support.

Mr Bailey said asked if the council would support further ranks in Victoria Road.  Mr Tippin said more ranks at that location would be very useful.  Mr Tippin also stated that as from 1 April 2014 responsibility for street parking moved from East Devon District Council to DCC so they are now responsible for the on street parking regulations.  Therefore the enforcement officers would be employed directly by Devon County Council.

5.         Licensing Fees

Mr Tippin said that licensing fees for hackney carriage and private hire licensing were not going to rise for the second year running.

6.         Updates/DBS checks

Mr Jackson explained that to retain its registration with the Disclosure and Barring Service the new rules meant that the council were required to carry out a minimum of 100 DBS checks annually.  The council would struggle to qualify each year to reach that number and therefore the council had investigated an alternative system that will now provide an online checking service.  Although having only been in use for a few weeks it is already proving much quicker and efficient with some replies being returned within around 48 hours.  The new system required applicants to now complete the DBS check on line via an outside agency and then produce the required documentation to the licensing office and pay the fee.  There was a facility at the council offices where an applicant could use one of the computers in the public area to complete the check.  The applicant then needed to pay the fee to the licensing service and produce the required documentation for a licensing officer to check.  There are now no paper DBS checks forms as they should be done online.  These can be done on any computer linked to the Internet or if the applicant has no access to a computer they can use one in the Reception area at the Knowle Offices at Sidmouth.  A guidance sheet was handed out to those attending the meeting.  Further copies are available from the Licensing Office.

7.         Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles (WAVs)

Mr Jackson informed the meeting that there were now five wheelchair accessible vehicles licensed as hackney carriage in the district.

8.         Video Surveillance in Licensed Vehicles and Safety in General

Mr Jackson asked if there was still no need for video surveillance in licensed vehicles.  All stated that there were no problems and that at this stage it was not required.  Mr Tippin informed the meeting that there was a private members bill relating to video surveillance in taxis currently being considered by Parliament.  Therefore there might be some changes in the future.

 9.         Taxi Roof Signs and how they are placed on vehicles

This was an issue previously raised by Mr AJ Hill at the last taxi meeting, that he had seen up to six cars with roof signs on the angle to the car instead of being shown straight ahead, was this lawful or regulated.  There was also a report that roof signs had different coloured bulbs in them making them different to the corporate sign. It was explained that this issue was being looked at and would be the subject of new taxi conditions in the future.

 10.       Safety of drivers and vehicles in general

 Mr Jackson asked if there were any safety issues at the moment.  The answer was no, everything seemed to be ok.

11.       New Taxi and Private Hire Conditions

Mr Jackson informed the meeting that there were new conditions for taxi and private hire being researched.  Once a proper draft had been prepared they will be circulated to enable a full consultation.

12        Any Other Business

(a)       Mr Bailey talked of the council's policy in relation to vehicles and a need to incorporate smaller sized engines as better engineering and design is becoming available.  Mr Tippin replied that he was looking into this and would come up with an answer after he had carried out further research.

Charlie Stone asked about the licensing of a 07 plated car recently.  The vehicle being beyond the four year age policy that had been agreed by this council.  There followed a lively debate in relation to this matter from all in the meeting.

Mr Tippin explained that the policy was not to licence vehicles that were over four years old but case law had shown that the council must be prepared to make exceptions to a policy if special circumstances apply.  For example if a vehicle was in exceptional condition with a full service history from new.  Any exception to policy cannot be made at officer level but the applicant and vehicle must appear before a sub committee with any relevant paperwork showing that the vehicle was in exceptional condition, for instance,  service records, work done on vehicle, mileage. Cllr Hall explained that only four vehicles, to his knowledge, two hackneys and two private hire vehicles had been licensed in this way over recent years. Mr Tippin re-iterated that the vehicle must be exceptional in its condition and usually the sub-committee would be looking for more than a vehicle being in exceptional condition – examples being with full service history , one owner.  Charlie Stone and Brian Bailey thought it was wrong to licence older vehicles, as they had to abide by the four year rule, and other reasons.  It was agreed that any proposed new policy would look into the age of vehicles to be licensed as taxis and private hire.

(b)       Mr Tippin gave an update of the Law Commission review of taxi legislation.

(c)        Cllr Hall informed the meeting that the licensing service had retained the Customer Service Excellence Award for the third year running.

13.       Date of Next Meeting

The date of the next meeting – Thursday 30 October 2014 commencing at 2.30 pm in the Council Chamber, Knowle, Sidmouth