Report detailing changes to the Hackney Carriage Licensing Policy, ahead of Cabinet approval for consultation
The Cabinet Member for Operations and Commercial introduced the report and reminded Members that the report would form part of the work going forward for consultation before it could be adopted. It was noted that the current policy was adopted on 1 April 2015. The Policy was fundamental to protecting public safety and keeping people from harm and provided the framework upon which the Authority delivered its statutory functions relating to hackney carriage and private hire licensing. The current policy had been reviewed to ensure it reflected current guidance and continued to be fit for purpose, whilst also promoting improvements which supported environmental sustainability.
The Committee was reminded that on 23 January 2020 Members of the Licensing Committee and the Environment Overview and Scrutiny Committee held a joint workshop to consider 3 key areas of the Policy; environmental sustainability; driver knowledge and language proficiency; and the use of e-cigarettes and vaping devices. The Environment Overview and Scrutiny Committee received feedback from the workshop at their 25 February 2020 meeting. The revised draft policy encompassed this feedback together with other amendments with “tracked changes” was at Appendix 1.
The Cabinet Member provided a brief overview of the amendments previously suggested by the Committee. These included requirements for a language examination and to check whether action could be taken to prevent vehicles from idling. The Committee was informed of the proposed sanctions that drivers could receive for idling, initially with a warning but then subsequent issue of penalty points. Should a driver accrue twelve penalty points within one year, they would be invited to attend a Licencing Committee who would consider and decide whether the driver was a fit and proper person to hold a licence.
It was noted that whilst there was no legal duty placed on the Council to consult on this policy, it was good practice to do so and was in line with the Department for Transport’s ‘Taxi and Private Hire Vehicle Licensing: Best Practice Guidance’ (March 2010). It was proposed that a 4-week public consultation would be undertaken and would focus on the hackney carriage and private hire trade alongside the general public and other relevant stakeholders, including the Authority’s Licensing Committee.
Members discussed the difficulties of enforcing restrictions on idling but felt that the proposal was an important part in sanctioning repeat offenders. A Member asked what criteria was used to determine when idling was taking place and was directed to section 2.13 of the draft policy which stated: ‘Drivers are reminded that the Highway Code states that you must not leave a parked vehicle unattended with the engine running or leave a vehicle engine running unnecessarily while the vehicle is stationary on a public road.’
Members unanimously agreed with the feedback and the proposed sanctions from the Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Licensing Policy Workshop.
That following consideration of the draft Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Licensing Policy together with the feedback from the joint workshop, the Environment Overview and Scrutiny Committee agreed that this draft policy was appropriate and suitable to use as the basis for consultation.