The report of the Executive Manager – Neighbourhoods is attached.
The Portfolio Holder for Environment and Safety, Councillor Inglis presented the report of the Executive Manager – Neighbourhoods providing updates to the Private Hire and Hackney Carriage Policy.
Councillor Inglis advised that this was an interim report prior to the structured five-year review due in 2022, which embraced new legislation and driver standard recommendations. Both Hackney Carriage and Private Hire vehicles provided a vital service and its visible role portrayed an image of both the Council and the Borough. The comprehensive Policy, which outlined requirements, and standards that had to be met had been put out to full consultation in September 2019. Customers and in particular the disabled and children should feel safe and be protected and expected high standards of vehicle safety and driver integrity. The Policy outlined requirements to current legislation and regulations, the age, condition and types of vehicles and consideration of passenger access, comfort and cleanliness. The Policy had considered the impact on Hackney Carriage drivers of having to invest in new vehicles to meet greater stringent regulations, by allowing vehicles registered after 2011 to be licensed, rather than newer vehicles to provide a buffer to them in preparation for future environmental and emissions criteria. That would help to maintain a sustainable and viable business for the taxi trade to operate. It was important to ensure a positive customer experience and it was envisaged that the Policy would ensure that both the industry and the local and night-time economies would continue to thrive.
The report was moved by Councillor Inglis.
In seconding the recommendation, Councillor Healey referred to the importance of maintaining excellent passenger safety and the service operating to the highest standards and this Policy would ensure that.
Councillor Gray advised that the Labour Group had no specific comments to make regarding the Policy and would be interested in hearing the views of other Councillors.
Councillor Jones commented that whilst the Liberal Democrat Group was supportive of the majority of the document, the Group could not support the recommendation as it was concerned that there were insufficient environmental standards proposed for the vehicle emissions, with the option to allow vehicles registered in 2011 to be licensed until 2023. In addition, Euro 4 emission standards were being accepted, whilst Euro 6 level was available.
Councillor Richard Mallender advised that whilst the Green Group supported the majority of the document, it would not be supporting the recommendation, as the Council was missing an opportunity to improve vehicle standards and emissions. By adopting this Policy, the Council would fall behind other Councils, with most pursuing a phased approach to removing diesel vehicles. This Council should be setting higher targets to reduce emissions and adopt a timescale for drivers to move to new vehicles. Wherever possible, fully electric vehicles should be introduced or at least hybrid. As the majority of taxis worked in West Bridgford, many around the sporting venues, it was important that emissions were lowered to create a healthy environment and positive image. The Policy lacked ambition and should be reviewed in the near future, and given that the majority of taxis worked around West Bridgford, it was hoped that the West Bridgford Growth Board would be involved in any review.
Councillor Thomas asked when a review of the Policy would be undertaken.
Councillor Inglis thanked Councillors for their feedback, particularly on the issue of emissions, referred to the substantial cost of purchasing a new taxi, and stated that the Policy provided a ‘buffer’ until the full review in 2022. A fine balance had to be struck to ensure business continuity whilst trying to reduce emissions.
It was RESOLVED the revised Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Licensing Policy 2017 - 2022 be adopted.