Content

Report of a meeting between councillors, taxi proprietors and officers held at Knowle, Sidmouth on Thursday 30 October 2014

Present:

Councillors:

  • Steve Hall - Chair, Licensing and Enforcement Committee
  • Jim Knight - Vice-chair, Licensing and Enforcement Committee 
  • Geoff Pook - district councillor for Beer

Taxi proprietors:

  • Nina Peters
  • Charlie Stone
  • Alistair Layland
  • Steve Glover
  • Francesca Small
  • Alison Walker

Council officers:

  • John Tippin - Licensing manager
  • Douglas Jackson - Licensing officer

The meeting started at 2:35pm and ended at 4:15pm

1.      Apologies

Apologies from A J Hill, Brian Bailey and Mike Sampson

2.     To receive the report of the meeting held  3 April 2014

3.      Matters Arising

Charlie Stone was still perturbed at a 07 plate being licensed, against the policy of being not more than four years old from the date of registration on licensing, and was still unsure of what the expression "exceptional circumstances" meant in relation to the vehicles condition.  Mr Tippin stated that all cases were to be judged on their merits, it was up to the applicant to show that the vehicle is exceptional prior to licensing.  Mr Jackson explained that the taxi policy was being reviewed with an addition to the policy, to be considered, stating that vehicles over four years old had to be the subject of an AA or RAC enhanced report if an applicant wanted to licence a vehicle over four years old, that would be the starting point for the process and the vehicles condition would be judged on all other factors as well  before being considered for licensing.

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.

At a meeting with the Exmouth taxi association meeting a few weeks previously, Mr Jackson had told the meeting he would try to get an update in relation to DCC policy/advice on parking issues for taxi drivers and the ranks.  Since then he had been in contact with DCC, Mr Hardacre, the parking appeals team manager, who could not attend the meeting but had provided some advice which is summarised below and read to the meeting.

"The enforcement officers are mostly the same as those employed by East Devon with some newer faces.  The enforcement protocols for taxis have not changed at all since there service has been brought in house.  We are now consistently enforcing taxi ranks/bus stops in the same manner on a County wide basis".

To avoid getting a Penalty Charge Notice:

Drivers must remain with their vehicles whilst waiting on a "no waiting except taxis rank" and be available for immediate hire.  If our CEO's see an unoccupied taxi on a rank, they will give at most 5 minutes observation to see if the driver returns, before issuing a PCN.

Drivers must not leave their cars unattended on a "no stopping except taxi's rank" at any time.  Park legally elsewhere if a natural or refreshment break needed.

If a pre-arranged collection of a fare has been agreed, the taxi should pick them up from the agreed address at a specified time, and not leave their car unattended on a rank whilst they walk to meet their fare and bring them back to the taxi, for example, picking up a customer with their shopping from a local supermarket.  Exemptions apply to allow picking up of passengers and shopping from double yellow lines where there are no kerb markings indicating a ban on loading.

Do not pick up/drop off passengers on school keep clear markings.  You have no exemption to do so.

It is also worth pointing out, that any vehicle is actually exempted to stop on a no waiting taxi rank to drop off or pick up passengers.  This should not take more than two minutes unless dealing with an elderly or disabled passenger, in which case it's allowed for as long as it takes to get them in/out, but no longer.

CEO's will give a short observation period to see if this exemption is applicable and if not they will then issue a PCN to the vehicle if it remains parked on the rank.  We can send the PCN via the post if the vehicle drive away before the ticket can be fixed to the vehicles.

Cllr Pook, representing Beer Parish Council was also at the meeting and wanted to give an update in relation to the Beer taxi rank.  He stated that the rank was under used with the Parish Council and residents wanting it to be removed and it to revert to street parking.  He stated that local people had told him they had not seen taxis on the rank and the owner of the Dolphin Hotel says that no one uses it.  Mr Tippin stated that this meeting was not a decision making forum, the ran  would be discussed at the relevant Licensing Committee meeting after consultation with Devon County Council who dealt with all the traffic orders.  Mr Tippin explained that it was a procedure that would cost money to change.  Cllr Knight thought that this procedure had to be advertised in the London Gazette (not confirmed).  The taxi drivers at the meeting have a mixed response to the rank's use, as most of them seldom operate in that area of East Devon.

5.     Driving Licence Changes Update

Mr Tippin said that as from 1/10/2014 the need to display a tax disc had gone, and as from 1/1/2015 the counterpart of the driving licence would no longer be issued.  This would impact on the Licensing process as the Licensing Authority could no longer view endorsements on a driving licence.  Additional checks will need to be made to ensure that drivers are fit and proper persons to hold a hackney carriage drivers licence.  A process would have to be introduced to check endorsements on a driving licence by the authority.  The licensing manager was currently exploring this.  There would be a small cost to do this check.  EU nationals and other counties driving licences will also have to be looked at in relation to the issue of a hackney licence.

6.    Updates/DBS checks

Mr Jackson gave an update on the new DBS procedure which seemed to be working well, the meeting was reminded that the applicant had to do the DBS on line and then contact the licensing office with the fee and relevant documentation to ensure the application is completed.  The checks seemed to be very quick with some coming back in twenty four hours.

7.    Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles (WAVs)

Mr Jackson informed the meeting that there is  still a need to licence more WAVs, they are thinly spread across the region two in Axminster two in Sidmouth and two in Exmouth.  DCC use local operators with WAVs for the school runs.

8.    Video Surveillance in Licensed Vehicles Update

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.

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

This was an issue previously raised by Mr A J Hill.  Operators were asked to place them correctly on the vehicle.  An operator stated there were two licensed East Devon hackney vehicles working at the Exeter airport that did no appear to have any roof signs.  Mr Jackson said he would address this issue.

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.  Mr Jackson stated MOT test certificate advisories were causing a problem and that if they showed worrying faults then the licence may be suspended until defects were rectified.

11.   New Taxi and Private Hire Conditions

Mr Jackson informed the meeting that he was working on preparing a draft new Taxi and Private Hire policy.  Once a full draft had been prepared they will be circulated to enable full consultation before the Council's Licensing and Enforcement Committee would be asked to agree it.

12.   Any Other Business

Councillor Hall explained to the meeting that Devon County Council was carrying out a Child Sexual Exploitation Review in the light of what happened in Rotherham.  All District Councils in Devon had been invited to take part.  Mr Tippin informed the meeting that DCC had asked the council to explain what checks we used to ensure that our drivers were fit and proper and to ensure that what happened in Rotherham wouldn't happen in Devon.  They are trying to raise public awareness in relation to the protection of young people from harm; the overriding factor is to be vigilant.

13.   Date of Next Meeting

The date of the next meeting - Wednesday 1 April 2015 commencing at 2:30pm in the Council Chamber, Knowle, Sidmouth.