Taxi Liaison Group - 24/08/2006
At a MEETING of the TAXI LIAISON GROUP held at Dundee on 24th August, 2006.
DUNDEE CITY COUNCIL REPRESENTATIVES
Bruce D MACKIE
Charles A WEBSTER
TAXI TRADE REPRESENTATIVES
George HARRIS, Tay Taxis
Graeme STEPHEN, Dundee Taxi Association
Chris ELDER, Transport and General Workers' Union
Philip TAYLOR, Handy's Taxis
Doug INGLIS, Tele Taxis
David YOUNG, 203020 Taxis
Steve CASHLEY, 505050 Taxis
Scott SOMERVILLE, Dundee Wheelchair Taxi Association
TAYSIDE POLICE REPRESENTATIVES
Bryan COLEMAN, Tayside Police (Sergeant)
Alec SELFRIDGE, Tayside Police (Constable)
Stuart GALLOWAY, Principal General Services Officer
Brian WOODCOCK, Senior Solicitor, Licensing
Iain SHERRIFF, Roads and Transportation
MARK DEVINE, Roads and Transportation
Bailie Bruce D MACKIE, Convener, in the Chair.
I CHAIR'S REMARKS
Prior to the commencement of the meeting the Chair advised the Group that Dundee City Council was not responsible for any documentation tabled by representatives of the taxi trade at the meeting or any other information imparted by any representative during the course of discussion.
II SMOKING IN TAXIS
Stuart Galloway reported that to date 17 fixed penalty notices had been issued in relation to smoking in public places 16 of which had been issued to Taxi Driver's and one to a passenger who had been travelling in a taxi.
The Licensing Section had written twice to licence holders seeking their co-operation on the requirements of this Act.
The Group agreed that a reminder be issued to licence holders about the seriousness of this issue and that non payment of fixed penalties could lead to their fitness to hold a licence being called into question and, ultimately, suspension of licence.
III CABS ENFORCEMENT OFFICE
Stuart Galloway reported that discussions had taken place with Graeme Stephen of the DTA about the need for more Cabs Enforcement Officers. The employment of one additional Cabs Enforcement Officer would require an additional 36,000 per annum with the full cost being split between drivers and operators. These costs would cover requirements for vehicle usage, desk and office equipment. It was recognised that this would allow for enforcement to be exercised at various times not currently serviced on a regular basis.
The Group supported the employment of one additional Cabs Enforcement Officer and the principle that the cost be split on the basis of 50/25 subject to verification by the Finance Department of Dundee City Council.
IV TEST CENTRE
In the absence of Ian McCandless, Plant and Vehicle Officer, Stuart Galloway reported that various aspects of vehicular tests were being reviewed at the Test Centre and that bulk meter testing may be moved to another location within Dundee.
Ian McCandless, Alec Selfridge and Stuart Galloway would consult with representatives of the trade on these issues with a report being submitted to a future meeting of the Licensing Committee if a consensus of opinion had been reached.
V TEMPORARY REPLACEMENT TAXIS
There was submitted letter dated 5th April, 2005 from Dunning Wood Associates on the provision of temporary replacement taxi hires.
It was stated by the members of the Group that the proposals would create considerable problems for all involved in the taxi trade.
The Group agreed not to proceed with the proposals contained in the letter.
VI DRIVING ASSESSMENT TESTS
There was tabled copy letter dated 15th February, 2006 from the Dundee and District Driving School Association outlining their offer to arrange for all taxi drivers to undergo a driving assessment test to ensure that relevant standards stipulated continue to be met.
The views of the trade were requested on these particular matters and during discussion it was noted that any complaints about sub-standard driving were reported to the Police for action and substantiation and that part of the initial Police Test for new drivers was geared towards maintaining standards which were addressed in the letter from the Driving School.
It was also noted that it may be up to the individual should they wish to undertake this course to improve their own driving skills and would not be a requirement of licence. However, if the Police had cause to make a complaint about any particular driver this could be used as a further tool for any driver to undertake as a means of assuring relevant authorities that their driving skills were of a suitable standard to allow them to continue to drive a taxi vehicle.
The Group agreed that this proposal be examined for the purpose of having a range of companies available for use who could offer this particular means of examination should further assessment be a disposal following any particular incident being reported to Committee.
VII TAXI FARE REVIEW
Iain Sherriff reported that proposals would be sought for Committee decision in relation to the taxi fare review and repeated his wish of trying to get Dundee on to a national average within the next two years. Dundee was currently six months behind on this as a result of the appeal which had been heard in relation to the previous fare review and it is hoped to get a report to the October meeting of the Licensing Committee.
The Group noted that Iain Sherriff would arrange a meeting with all eight members of the taxi trade on the Taxi Liaison Group seeking their views so that proposals could be drawn up for consideration by the Licensing Committee.
VIII COUNCIL TAXI CONTRACT
Iain Sherriff reported that currently the Council did not have any direct employee contract with any taxi company and that all employees were to use public transport whenever possible. An internal working party was currently looking at how any future taxi contract could be managed and the taxi trade's input would be invited in due course. It was anticipated that Iain Sheriff would be in a position to report further on this in six month's time. Iain Sherriff also explained the differences between Education and Social Work contracts with taxi companies in relation to other departments of the Council.
The Group noted that Iain Sheriff would arrange for an initial presentation on the review of the Council Taxi Contract at the next meeting of the Liaison Group.
IX AGE AND TYPE OF VEHICLES
It was reported that guidance was still awaited from the Scottish Executive on the type of vehicles which would be considered suitable as taxis. It was anticipated that the guidance would be part of the draft Scottish DDA taxi regulations which had not yet been issued.
After a full and frank discussion, the Group agreed to recommend to the Licensing Committee that no further action be taken on this subject until the draft regulations were received.
X UNLICENSED OPERATION - AIRPORT TRANSFER/TAXI
This item of business was added to the agenda at the request of Mr David Young of 203020 taxis. Mr Young tabled information which he had collated in relation to unlicensed operation of airport transfer vehicles and voiced his concern at the anticipated cost to the trade as a result and the dangers that unlicensed operation posed to members of the public.
In particular, it was highlighted that many operators were outwith the Dundee area and were not subject to the Licensing Regulations therefore they were not subject to relevant Police checks. It was further noted that unlicensed operations also meant companies from outwith Dundee who were not licensed in Dundee and were picking up or dropping off in the Dundee area.
In this regard the Cabs Enforcement Officer reported that Tayside Police were currently looking at this issue and putting together some proposals to ensure that safety measures were in place for members of the public. The Cabs Enforcement Officer reminded members of the trade who were present that should they be aware of any unlicensed activity they should report it to Tayside Police.
There was further discussion about minibuses which may be used by night clubs ferrying patrons to and from night clubs and courtesy buses operated by other organisations. The Convener noted that information should be made available to the public possibly via means of the press advising them of the dangers of unlicensed operation of airport transfer/limousines and also to advise any potential or current operator of any such vehicles for hire or reward of the need to be properly licensed by Dundee City Council.
XI INLAND REVENUE - REGISTRATION OF TAXI DRIVERS/OPERATORS
This item of business was added to the agenda at the request of Mr Graeme Stephen of the Dundee Taxi Association. Mr Stephen tabled a request which had been signed by a representative of the DTA, the TGWU Taxi Section, the DWTA and Tele and Handy Taxis outlining the proposals that all taxi badge and/or licence holders be registered with the Inland Revenue either on a full time or part time basis and if the badge was not being used it could be held for safekeeping by, for instance, someone like the Cabs Enforcement Officer and the possibility that the Inland Revenue could supply a registration card which could be held with the Badge and very easily checked by Police or Inland Revenue Council Officers. This they believed would do a great deal to help eradicate the black economy on the taxi trade.
Brian Woodcock advised the Group that registration with Inland Revenue was not licensing law. Accordingly, the Committee would in all likelihood be exceeding its jurisdiction by seeking to impose a condition to this effect. Taxi Drivers details however were held on a public register and subject to compliance with data protection legislation could be passed on to Inland Revenue Officers upon request.
Stuart Galloway reported that the Inland Revenue already obtained information on a regular basis in relation to any particular enquiries they were undertaking subject to data sharing protocols.
The Group agreed to note that Dundee City Council Officers would meet with the Inland Revenue on this issue to investigate how this issue could be progressed. The Group further noted that this may not be confined to simply Inland Revenue registration but could lead to scrutiny of other benefits which may be being received by any particular Taxi Driver or Operator and that Council Officers would meet and take advice from the Fraud Section of the Council in this regard.
XII LORD PROVOST YOUTH PARADE
Stuart Galloway reported on various constraints and ranks issues in relation to the Lord Provost Youth Parade which would be held on the forthcoming Saturday.
XIII RANKS ISSUE
Iain Sherriff reported that all ranks within the Dundee Area would be Department of Transport compliant. The requirements of disabled passengers would be taken in to consideration in this regard.
XIV PASSENGER INFORMATION NOTICE
Mark Devine tabled a copy of a notice which appeared in taxis licensed by Coventry Taxi Licensing Office.
The Group noted that this would be included in discussions on test centre issues to be held in due course.
XV LAW - CAR SEAT FOR CHILDREN
Alec Selfridge tabled an information brochure on issues in relation to the law to be implemented from 18th September 2006 about using the correct car seat for children.
The Group noted the content.
XVI DATE OF NEXT MEETING
The date of the next meeting would be advised in due course.
Bruce D MACKIE, Convener.