Taxi Liaison Group - 14/12/2007
At a MEETING of the TAXI LIAISON GROUP held at Dundee on 14th December, 2007.
DUNDEE CITY COUNCIL REPRESENTATIVES
Lord Provost John R LETFORD
Bailie Roderick A J WALLACE
Councillor Tom FERGUSON
Councillor Elizabeth F FORDYCE
Councillor David BOWES
TAXI TRADE REPRESENTATIVES
Bill RATTRAY, The Dundee Taxi Cab Company Ltd, trading as Dundee Taxi Cab Company Limited
George HARRIS, Tay Taxis
Graeme STEPHEN, Dundee Taxi Association
John CURRAN, Tele Taxis
Erik THORESEN, Dundee Wheelchair Taxi Association
Chris ELDER, Transport and General Workers' Union
TAYSIDE POLICE REPRESENTATIVES
Cammy FORBES, Tayside Police (Constable)
Alec SELFRIDGE, Tayside Police (Constable)
Patricia McILQUHAM, Depute Chief Executive (Support Services)
Stuart GALLOWAY, Principal General Services Officer
Brian WOODCOCK, Senior Solicitor, Licensing
Alan LEWIS, Planning and Transport
Mark DEVINE, Planning and Transport
Ian McCANDLESS, Dundee Contract Services
Lord Provost John R LETFORD, Convener, in the Chair.
Apologies were submitted on behalf of Councillor Helen Dick and Councillor Andrew Dawson.
I MINUTE OF PREVIOUS MEETING
The minute of meeting held on 17th October, 2007 was submitted and noted for information and record purposes.
II MATTERS ARISING
There were no matters arising from the minute which were not otherwise covered elsewhere on the agenda.
III CCTV IN TAXIS
It was reported that following meetings between the Depute Chief Executive (Support Services), the Chief Executive and sections of the Taxi Trade regarding the installation of CCTV systems in taxis, funding of 2,500 had been secured from the Leisure and Communities Department, Anti-Social Behaviour Strategy Group for a pilot scheme to assess the impact of the installation of CCTV in taxis on both public and driver safety.
The system proposed by the Taxi Trade was Verifeye. This system was such, that drivers did not have access to the stored images as these would be held by the image storage controller, either the Local Authority or Tayside Police.
Tayside Police had been consulted and were supportive of this initiative, subject to clarification as to who would provide the controller and the costs.
The DTA had identified five of their members who had agreed to participate in this scheme.
The views of the Liaison Group were sought prior to the matter going before a meeting of the Licensing Committee for decision on how the funding would be spent. The effectiveness of the installation of the system would also be monitored, possibly by way of short questionnaires and feedback from passengers and drivers, and a comparison between incidents in taxis which had the CCTV installed and those who did not. Safeguards would also be built in should vehicles which were used, be sold or otherwise cease to operate as taxis.
Following discussion, the Group agreed that a working group be established to examine this matter further and report back to the next meeting of the Liaison Group. It was agreed that the Group comprise Stuart Galloway, Graeme Stephen, George Harris, Chris Elder and a representative of Tayside Police. The Group noted that the Dundee Wheelchair Taxi Association did not wish to be involved in the working group.
IV TAXI TEST - FEES
There was submitted a report on Taxi Test Fees, the content of which was agreed.
V ALL TAXIS TO BE ACCESSIBLE AND PRIVATE CARS TO HAVE SWIVEL SEATS
There was submitted a letter dated 20th November, 2007 from Erik Thoresen of the Dundee Wheelchair Taxi Association, proposing that all hackney taxis operating in the City be of M1 Whole European Type Approval and that all private hire vehicles be fitted with a swivel seat to aid customers with a disability who may prefer this type of vehicle.
Mr Thoresen spoke to his letter and explained the background to his proposals.
In reply, Brian Woodcock advised the Group that there were cases pending in Court following appeals made in relation to policy decisions taken by Aberdeen City and Renfrewshire Councils in this regard, the outcome of which may have a bearing on these issues and that the matter could be further discussed at their conclusion. Patricia McIlquham advised the Group that a report would be submitted to a meeting of the Taxi Liaison Group on the outcome of these cases and considerations for Dundee City Council as a result.
VI CAPPING OF THE NUMBER OF LICENCES IN THE CITY
Graeme Stephen of the Dundee Taxi Association spoke of his concerns about costs of operation of taxis to owners and that they were finding it difficult to earn a living from this kind of occupation and that the Council could consider the introduction of capping to limit the number of taxis in operation within the City.
Mr Stephen proposed that a survey be undertaken in the town and that an alternative policy be put in place, whereby the number of wheelchair vehicles in operation be maintained through a phased reduction in saloon cars being implemented, whereby any licences returned are not renewed. New licences issued would be for wheelchair accessible vehicles within the capping limit.
Mr Stephen also advocated that any accessible vehicle granted a licence be of M1 classification.
The Group noted that the issue of capping and classification of vehicle would be addressed in a report to the Taxi Liaison Group.
VII PLACEMENT OF TAXI RANKS AND SIGNAGE
On behalf of the Dundee Taxi Association and the Transport and General Workers' Union, Graeme Stephen questioned if pedestrianised areas could be accessible for taxis in the interests of elderly customers who may otherwise have to walk a distance to a rank and that access via Commercial Street would be of benefit to the Trade and allow equal treatment with buses.
Mr Stephen suggested the erection of two cab ranks near shopping areas/pedestrianised areas and that signage be erected at major ranks providing information boards for the Taxi Trade and these could display important information from the Council and information for customers.
In addition, Mr Stephen indicated that information about the rank at Deja Vu was insufficient and that in his view, the public were likely to overlook it.
In reply, Alan Lewis of Planning and Transport advised that access was regulated by Traffic Orders and that his Department would check the requirements.
VIII PRIVATE HIRE CARS PICKING UP IN THE STREET WITHOUT BEING BOOKED THROUGH CALL CENTRE
Graeme Stephen advised that the Taxi Trade were of the view that the remit of the Cabs Enforcement Unit should be to actively investigate operators and drivers who were picking up passengers in the street outwith the terms of their licence and their perception that reported instances were not investigated.
Although the Cabs Enforcement Officers were not in a position to comment on specific cases, the Lord Provost advised the Group that reports made were and would be investigated by Tayside Police.
IX TAXI LICENCE APPLICATIONS TO BE PLACED ON COUNCIL WEBSITE
Graeme Stephen enquired about a register of applicants for a licence being placed on the Council website.
The Group noted that there was a restriction on data in relation to applicants being placed on the website and that a public register of applicants was available at the offices of the Council for the perusal of interested parties. It may, however, be possible for the Council to simply indicate the number of applicants and the type of licence applied for over a certain period and place this on the website. Stuart Galloway would examine the matter further and consult with the Information Commissioner as necessary.
X BYELAW TO PREVENT ANY TAXI OFFICE OR PICK UP AREAS BEING SITUATED WITHIN SIGHT OF OR A CERTAIN YARDAGE OF ANYOFFICIAL TAXI RANK
Graeme Stephen enquired if there was a byelaw in place to prevent any taxi office or pick up areas being situated within sight of or a certain yardage of any official taxi rank and gave the operation of the Dundee Private Hire Service at Fat Sam's, North Lindsay Street as an example.
Stuart Galloway advised the Group that the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982 had superseded any byelaws which may have been in place prior to 1982. Further to this, in terms of law, byelaws may only be passed in the absence of any other enforcing law and in this respect, the enforcing law was the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982. With regard to the operation of private hire vehicles at the location outside Fat Sam's in North Lindsay Street, it was noted that operation from this area was governed by Planning Law.
Lord Provost John R LETFORD, Convener.