Taxi Liaison Group - 22/03/2012
At a MEETING of the TAXI LIAISON GROUP held at Dundee on 22nd March, 2012.
DUNDEE CITY COUNCIL OFFICER REPRESENTATIVES
Stuart GALLOWAY, Principal General Services Officer, Support Services Department
Brian WOODCOCK, Senior Solicitor, Licensing, Support Services Department
Neil GELLATLY, City Development Department
Mark DEVINE, City Development Department
TAXI TRADE REPRESENTATIVES
Steve CASHLEY, Dundee 505050
Erik THORESEN, Dundee Hackney Association
David YOUNG, Dundee Private Hire (203020) Ltd
Graeme STEPHEN, Dundee Taxi Association
Doug MARTIN, Tay Taxis
John CURRAN, Tele Taxis
Chris ELDER, Unite the Union
TAYSIDE POLICE REPRESENTATIVES
Cammy FORBES (Constable)
Neil CRUICKSHANK (Constable)
Also in attendance:-
Dave LINDSAY, City Development Department
Ian McCANDLESS, Environment Department
Keith GIBBESON, Radical Shock Ltd
Stuart GALLOWAY, in the Chair.
I MINUTE OF MEETING OF 17TH JANUARY, 2012
The minute of meeting held on 17th January, 2012 was submitted and approved, subject to amendment to Article II(b) to reflect that it was agreed that there would be no change to evening tariff start time of 10pm.
II DUNDEE CITY COUNCIL
Items on agenda at request of Dundee City Council.
(a) ADVANCE PAYMENT OF FARES
Ricky Spencer and James Harris, representatives of PAY & GO Taxis Ltd, gave a joint presentation on a product, which had been launched, which provided an alternative to traditional fare paying by giving the Taxi Driver the option of being paid at the beginning of a journey rather than at the end.
It was explained that the system worked as a coin feeder machine registering the credit the customer had bought. The read out on the system allowed the customer to see the distance covered by initial payment. A secondary read out for the cab driver indicated to the driver when a distance credit matched the fee amount initially provided or providing the option for passengers to purchase another credit to allow further travel. Change could be provided in the normal manner.
It was reported that the system was easy to install and simple to operate by both the driver and passenger. The company marketing the system had created it initially to combat attacks on taxi drivers and the security of the system was highlighted. The machine could also identify and reject foreign and counterfeit money. The safe unit was secured onto a bracket that was bolted onto the bulkhead of a taxi. Testimonial evidence of the benefits of the system were highlighted by those taxi drivers who had installed the system. Costs of purchase and operational maintenance associated with the equipment were explained to the membership of the Group.
Keith Gibbeson of Radical Shock Ltd explained the role of his company in marketing the product.
The Group noted that a final decision on a pay as you go proposal, which was suggested previously, had been deferred at the Licensing Committee meeting in February, 2012, to allow further investigation. However, it was noted that operators did not require Council approval for any prepayment arrangement should they wish to consider buying into the product as presented.
(b) TAXI FARES
There was submitted a draft report by the Head of Transportation, making reference to the meeting of the Licensing Committee held on 4th November, 2010, wherein officers were instructed to review and consider simplification of the taxi fare structure and proposed taxi fare increase methodology. Following the taxi fare scale appeal hearing held in the City Chambers on 29th March, 2011, and the subsequent determination by the Traffic Commissioner, it was now appropriate to revisit the review of the methodology. The report outlined a fares increase methodology, which had been agreed by the Trade.
Following discussion on the fares methodology, the Group agreed that future fare increases be in line with the RPI Index and that they be implemented in tandem to price increases at the taxi testing station.
(c) TAXI RANKS
Stuart Galloway reported as follows:-
(i) Nethergate Rank
It was highlighted that there continued to be difficulties encountered with inappropriate use of the area surrounding the Nethergate Rank by taxi drivers and that complaints received in this respect may generate suspension hearings at meetings of the Licensing Committee.
It was hoped to provide new signage for this area through funding allocation from the Scottish Government.
(iii) Cathedral Area
City Development Department representatives would meet with representatives of the Cathedral to investigate the possibility of the use of this area by taxi drivers for ranking purposes limited to evenings only.
(iv) G Casino
It was reported that discussions were ongoing in relation to possible remedies to the ranking or required ranking situation at the G Casino.
Possible solutions for the area outside G Casino were suggested to representatives of City Development such as implementation of a similar system to that operated outside of Mennies on the Perth Road and also that Lidl's be approached in relation to the possible use of their car parking area out of hours of their operation and, in particular, during the night as a rank for taxis which may further alleviate any traffic concerns within the vicinity of the G Casino. City Development representatives indicated that they would be happy to look at this and consider any other proposals which the members of the Group had to put to them.
In the meantime, an area within South Ward Road had been identified which would provide an additional 24 capacity taxi space in the evening and, in addition to this, an area just off Courthouse Square had been identified which would also provide five or six places for taxis in the evening. Both of these proposals were agreeable to the Group for further investigation and implementation prior to any final solution being achieved for the area surrounding G Casino.
City Development would also organise a working group to look at possible rank spaces around the whole city in general.
III DUNDEE TAXI ASSOCIATION
Items on agenda at request of Dundee Taxi Association.
(a) CONDITION OF ROADS IN DUNDEE
It was highlighted that there were a number of concerns from taxi drivers in relation to repairs required to their cars which may have been incurred due to the perceived condition of roads within Dundee and in this respect, Neil Gellatly highlighted that a representative of Roads Maintenance Partnership would be requested to come along to a future meeting of the Group to address their concerns.
(b) DRIVER AND OPERATOR SUSPENSIONS
It was highlighted that there was a request from within the Trade for people who had been suspended to be made known to them in the interests of continued public safety and to provide further assurance that periods of suspensions were adhered to.
Stuart Galloway advised of the process currently in place, which involved contact with the office for which the licence holder worked from or their employer. The Group were reminded, however, that it was for the operator to be certain of the legitimacy of any driver(s) employed by them to ensure that they were properly licensed for the purpose of the operation that they were carrying out and this included checking the possession of or validity of their licence badge. In effect, it was recognised that there was an element of self-regulation from within the Trade. It was indicated, however, that Mr Galloway would be happy to notify all offices within Dundee, Unite the Union and Dundee Taxi Association of any immediate suspension of licence imposed by the City Council.
(c) LOCHEE HIGH STREET - DIFFICULTIES
It was highlighted that difficulties had been experienced in Lochee High Street in relation to the practical use of wheelchair passengers exiting and entering taxis and requested that traffic wardens be advised of these difficulties in the interest of good relations between the Trade and City Development Department. In this respect, it was highlighted that Dave McDougall was leading the regeneration of Lochee and that the Trade should contact him in this respect.
IV UNITE THE UNION
Items on agenda at request of Unite the Union.
It was highlighted that discussions had taken place with the Union, South Ayrshire, SVQ, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen and that they were considering SVQs for taxi drivers which would involve two hours a week for a period of eight weeks and covered a wide range of taxiing which it was considered would free up time of Cabs Enforcement Officers who were currently involved in providing similar training. The Group agreed that the organisation operating the qualification should be advised to contact the Licensing Department to provide them with further information in this respect and in the meantime, the taxi test would remain in the same format as it was currently.
(b) FARE SURCHARGE
It was highlighted that there was a wish by drivers working from offices to apply a surcharge of 50p whenever they received a job from the office and that such a measure be included within the fare structure. It had been suggested that 90% of drivers spoken to had agreed to this. This concern had arisen on the basis that many of the jobs or the highest percentage of jobs received by taxi drivers came from an office and perhaps involved the cover of some distance before reaching the location of the pick-up point, which in effect incurred, in some instances, a great deal of costs to the taxi driver in advance of any fare being secured.
(c) TAXI OFFICE - LOCATIONS TO OPERATE
In reply to the question of locations within Dundee where it would be appropriate to operate a taxi office, the Group were advised that they should contact City Development Department in the first instance.
(d) SALE OF TAXI - RE-ENTRY INTO SERVICE FOLLOWING SALE
In reply to a question from Trade members in relation to the sale of any vehicle operated as a taxi by any operator, which had time left on it prior to retest if, the purchaser could then put it back in service for the unexpired duration Stuart Galloway and Ian McCandless both advised that the vehicle would be subject to retest upon sale and re-entry into service irrespective of any timescale left remaining until retest whether it was a private hire or a taxi.
V DUNDEE 505050 LIMITED
Items on agenda at request of Dundee 505050 Limited.
(a) DIGITAL METERS
It was highlighted there was a wish for the Council to look at the possibility of using Digital Meters as it was envisaged that benefits of such an operation would reduce the requirement for a re-testing fee. The Group noted that there would be a requirement to receive confirmation that such a system was not open to manipulation by a third party other than Council or Police and that further information on the system should be submitted to the Licensing Department for consideration in the first instance.
VI DUNDEE HACKNEY ASSOCIATION
Items on agenda at request of Dundee Hackney Association.
(a) OVER-RANKING, CONGESTION AND POLLUTION
It was highlighted that there was perceived concern about the number of vehicles coming into service and, in reply, it was highlighted that this topic was covered within the report on policy on Taxi Licences submitted to meeting of the Licensing Committee held on 20th December, 2011 which had previously been discussed by the meeting of the Taxi Liaison Group.
(b) TAXI POLICY REPORT
The Group noted that the recommendations of the Taxi Policy Report submitted and agreed at meeting of Licensing Committee held on 20th December, 2011 were being progressed.
(c) EQUALITY AND DISCRIMINATION
The Group noted that equality and discrimination issues were being progressed as part of the recommendations of the Taxi Policy Report referred to above.
(d) COSTS OF WHEELCHAIR ACCESSIBLE VEHICLES AND SALOON CARS
It was highlighted that following the outcome of public consultation, the Committee had agreed to examine the possibility of operating a mixed fleet within Dundee and that the Licence Department would welcome any information from officers on request for types of vehicles to be considered for inclusion within the fleet make up.
It was the opinion of representatives of the Trade that many of the people who requested wheelchair vehicles were for the purpose of transporting a child in a buggy. There was discussion in relation to the proper securing of such a buggy within a vehicle and that the child should not be transported in the buggy over the duration of the journey and that legislation allowed for children up to a certain age to be transported seated on the lap of the accompanying adult. It was recognised that there were some conflicting views and it was agreed that information to this effect be considered for inclusion within the conditions for taxi operators and taxi drivers and that a report to this effect be submitted to the meeting of the Licensing Committee to be held in June, 2012.
(e) TAXI TEST CENTRE/CABS ENFORCEMENT UNIT
It was highlighted that the Taxi Testing Centre and the Cabs Enforcement Unit would be relocated to Marchbanks by the end of the year.
(f) TYRE TREADS
Question was raised in relation to requirement for similar tread to be on all tyres of the vehicle and whether or not it was possible to mix treads on the basis that similar treaded tyres would be on the same axle which would be of assistance to members of the Trade in relation to winter operation of vehicles.
The Group noted that the Plant and Vehicle Officer was examining this and it would be the subject of a further report and discussion at a future meeting of the Group. In the meantime, it was highlighted that any temporary repair made to a tyre would be a potential failure should that vehicle be submitted to the Testing Centre for test.
Stuart GALLOWAY, Chair.