To consider a report by the Chief Officer, Elections and Regulatory which provides a summary of progress by the council and neighbouring councils on aligning taxi and private hire policies and practice to improve passenger safety.
The Chief Officer, Elections and Regulatory submitted a report which provided a summary of progress by the council and neighbouring councils on aligning taxi and private hire policies and practice to improve passenger safety.
Addressing the report, the Taxi & Private Hire Licensing Manager spoke of the main issues in trying to align different taxi and private hire policies and practice. Members were informed that the five West Yorkshire Council’s plus the City of York Council had identified six areas where they could work to improve passenger safety in the region:
· CCTV in vehicles – to discourage and detect inappropriate behaviour by any person in a taxi or private hire vehicle
· Convictions (now called Suitability) – to take steps so that an individual
with convictions and allegations against them couldn’t move from being
licensed by one licensing authority and moving to another without being properly checked
· Driver training – to develop common training policies and assessment
methods and standards
· Enforcement capacity and practice – to strengthen on street enforcement and equip enforcement teams with the means to take or initiate enforcement action on drivers and vehicles licensed in other licensing authorities
· Information sharing – to improve information sharing about licence holders who are believed to pose a risk to passengers across the region
· Vehicle conditions – to improve vehicle condition standards so that a weak policy in one authority does not pose risks across the region.
Members were informed that the six local authorities had all implemented driver training policies, information sharing and suitability policies, and delivered cross-border enforcement powers and staff training. However, there remained outstanding areas of policy development, vehicle conditions was highlighted by the trade as a particular area of concern along with cross border working.
The Chair asked if a report could be prepared for a future meeting of this committee which provided an indication of the number of taxi drivers operating in Leeds who were registered elsewhere.
In terms of discussions with the trade, the Chair said he was willing to meet with the trade to discuss areas of concern but a practical working relationship with structured meetings was required.
In the discussion that followed Members were informed that up to 700 vehicles and 300 drivers may not return to the taxi and private hire industry, many drivers choosing alternative driving opportunities where the driver operating conditions and the requirement around vehicle standards was not as robust as those for a taxi/ hackney carriage vehicle.
One Member said the taxi and private hire trade had been badly affected by the Covid-19 Pandemic and suggested that discussions round harmonisation be paused until the trade had time to recover.
The Taxi & Private Hire Licensing Manager said many other City Regions and Local Authorities were involved in harmonisation discussions some using alternative models (Manchester)
The Taxi & Private Hire Licensing Manager said the necessary enquiries would be made.
In terms of next steps, the Chair said that he, as Chair of the Licensing Committee together with the Executive Member (Resources) would shortly meet with their counterparts in the five West Yorkshire Council’s plus the City of York Council with a view to progressing the Taxi and Private Hire Licensing harmonisation project.
The Chair thanked everyone for their attendance and contributions
(i) That the contents of the report be noted
(ii) That a report be prepared for a future meeting which provided an indication of the number of taxi drivers operating in Leeds who were registered elsewhere.
(iii) That details of alternative harmonisation models being considered and to understand what the priorities were in other areas be prepared for Members information.