To receive further information in relation to taxi licensing matters. Dick Haswell will be in attendance with representatives from Hackney Carriage and Private Hire associations.
The Council’s Head of Licensing and Regulatory had been invited to attend the meeting to update the Group on taxi licensing matters. He was accompanied by the Taxi Licensing Officer and representatives from the Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Associations.
The Head of Licensing and Regulatory informed the Group that it was hoped to set up an accreditation scheme to ensure that certain standards of service were achieved. He would welcome the contribution that members of the Group could make to the development of such a scheme.
He was asked if there was a list available detailing the taxi companies that provided services to wheelchair users. Cards providing contact details of vehicles with wheelchair access, were circulated to the Group. The intention was that the cards would also be issued by taxi drivers who did not themselves have vehicles with wheelchair access, to passengers who required this service. The information was also available on the council’s website and handed out with travel tokens. The Group was informed that 17% of the licensed hackney cabs had vehicles that were wheelchair accessible, and most of the larger private taxi companies had at least one taxi that was wheelchair accessible. All Hackney taxis could store a wheelchair in the boot of the vehicle. Members of the Group stated that there were often difficulties in obtaining a wheelchair accessible taxi at the start and end of the school day because they were being hired by the Council to transport children with disabilities. Many wheelchair users had to pre-book taxis to ensure their availability and were not therefore able to make unplanned journeys.
He was asked if taxi drivers were trained in how to support disabled people. He stated that there was no legal requirement for them to do so. The introduction of an accreditation scheme would be one way of addressing this issue.
Clarification was sought regarding charges. It was noted that Hackney taxis were not permitted to charge an additional sum for transporting a wheelchair. No charge could be made for carrying an assistance dog but there was a charge for other animals. Some private companies did charge for wheelchairs and it was therefore important to check. No charge could be made for assistance dogs.
The representative from the private hire association was asked at what point the meter started running when a taxi arrived to collect a passenger. He explained that the policy of his company was that if a journey was pre-booked the meter would not start prior to the agreed pick-up time. If the client was late, the meter was started after five minutes. All reasonable assistance was provided to passengers. There were issues in respect of public liability once a driver assisted a passenger outside the vehicle but some companies had taken out separate insurance cover for this purpose. Taxi drivers would welcome training being offered to enable them to better assist passengers with particular needs.
The representatives were thanked for their attendance at the meeting.
RECOMMENDED: (i) That the Group would seek volunteers to assist in
the drawing-up of an accreditation scheme for taxi drivers.
(ii) That, as many of the groups represented at SWIG were taxi users, a request be made that the draft accreditation scheme be considered by the Group in due course.
REASON: To ensure that inclusion and equality activity is supported in the City.