Taxi Liaison Group - 30/10/2013
At a MEETING of the TAXI LIAISON GROUP held at Dundee on 30th October, 2013.
DUNDEE CITY COUNCIL OFFICER REPRESENTATIVES
Stuart GALLOWAY, Principal General Services Officer, Corporate Services Department
Brian WOODCOCK, Senior Solicitor, Licensing, Corporate Services Department
Fraser CRICHTON, City Development Department
TAXI TRADE REPRESENTATIVES
David YOUNG, Dundee Private Hire 203020 Ltd
Graeme STEPHEN, Dundee Taxi Association
Doug INGLIS, Handy Taxis
Geordie HARRIS, Tay Taxis
John CURRAN, Tele Taxis
Stuart ELDER, GMB
Chris ELDER, Unite The Union
POLICE SCOTLAND REPRESENTATIVES
John CALDWELL (Constable)
Stuart GALLOWAY, in the Chair.
I MINUTE OF PREVIOUS MEETING
The minute of previous meeting of the Taxi Liaison Group held on 21st May, 2013 was submitted and noted for information and record purposes.
II DUNDEE CITY COUNCIL
Items on agenda at request of Dundee City Council:-
(a) TAXI RPI - FARES
It was reported that the RPI increase was 1.35%. If taken this would equate to 4p on the drop (2.98 to 3.02). The running mile figure was currently 15p for 1/10 mile on Tariff 1. The increase was calculated on the actual figure from last year (15.58p) and would equate to 15.79p. The agreement was that there would be no increase under 0.7p. As it is over that the increase would apply, ie 15p to 16p on Tariff 1.
Following discussion, the Group agreed to accept fares increases indicated in (a) above.
In addition, the Group noted a request for the introduction of credit card payment facilities and that a recharge was placed upon the driver by the card company and that to cover this, a nominal recharge be placed upon the customer of 10% of the fare to cover this charge by credit companies and subject to further investigation, this be added to the fare card on the premise that this be levied upon use of credit cards only by customers and not debit cards.
Separate to this, Graeme Stephen reported on a letter received from Police Scotland confirming that if someone was to abscond from any taxi or private hire vehicle without payment, this was deemed as a criminal act. However, if someone was sick within the vehicle this was not deemed a crime.
In reply, Brian Woodcock advised that he would reply to the police reminding them that the soiling charge was within the fare structure tariff.
(b) SMOKING PROHIBITION LEGISLATION AND ELECTRONIC CIGARETTES
In the absence of Craig Sommers, there was discussion on amending the conditions to prevent the use of electronic cigarettes in taxis. Stuart Galloway explained the background to this and that many drivers had been reported to the Licensing Committee for smoking in taxis. The process of reporting and detection by smoking enforcement was outlined and it was requested that the use of electronic cigarettes by drivers and/or passengers in this respect be not permitted and this be added to the conditions for taxi drivers and private hire drivers.
The Group agreed to this and recommended that this be submitted for the approval of the Licensing Committee and added to the conditions.
(c) POLICY ON ADVERTISING ON TAXIS AND PRIVATE HIRE CARS
There was discussion on the above policy specifically as to whether full wraps should be permitted and if any additional conditions should apply eg installation of CCTV. Stuart Galloway explained the current conditions on advertising on taxis and private hire cars and that any application be submitted to the Committee for variation. Concern was also expressed that any advertising on a private hire car may suggest to members of the public confusion as to whether or not it was a taxi or a private hire vehicle due to the commonality of advertising appearing on taxis. Further to this, it was highlighted that there may be benefits to allowing advertising on electric car vehicles to explain what they were in the interests of increasing awareness about the nature of the vehicles and the technology in general.
It was further highlighted that tinted windows may be acceptable for taxis and private hire vehicles subject to them having been installed at the manufacturing stage and not by the operator and with a caveat that CCTV be installed within that vehicle. This could extend to full body wrap advertising if applicable.
The Group agreed to the suggestions and noted that Stuart Galloway would prepare a notice for the approval of the Licensing Committee as necessary.
There was discussion on making installation of approved CCTV a condition of all taxi licences.
Stuart Galloway reported on suspension hearings for drivers in a historical context and explained the nature of incidents which may be reported by the police and or members of the public to the licensing authority and that such matters may have been quickly resolved and detected if those individual operators had CCTV within their vehicle. Graeme Stephen highlighted that the installation of CCTV had, from his experience, been a great deterrent and had led to more positive behaviour being witnessed from passengers who may have otherwise been troublesome, and that the TV screen in his vehicle also served to put passengers at ease as they could see the image which was being recorded. The benefits of CCTV were noted. However, there were concerns about the cost of installation. In this respect, Stuart Galloway advised that an approach had been made to Safer Cities, however no grant was available from that organisation at this time. Mr Galloway further highlighted that any installation of CCTV must be part of a system approved by the City Council and the police for installation and that any other private installation without approval of the police and City Council was not permitted. It was further highlighted that the use of CCTV within vehicles had been extended and that there was evidence that there was benefit in installing front-facing cameras as had been recommended by insurance companies to help prevent fraudulent claims in the event of staged accidents.
The Group noted and agreed that the use of CCTV not become mandatory at this time and that further information on CCTV be issued to taxi operators upon renewal to allow them to decide for themselves as to whether or not to install a Council approved system.
(e) TAXI TEST CONDITIONS
There was discussion on taxi testing following the recently introduced changes to the test.
Information was provided by members of the Group on their own experiences of submitting their vehicle for test and those of other operators who they may represent. Mr Galloway referred to guidance notes to operators on submission of their vehicle for test.
Following discussion, it was noted that management at the taxi test garage operated by Dundee City Council would be happy to meet with drivers to discuss individual circumstances. It was highlighted, however, that there had been increasing occasions where operators were submitting their taxi for test in a less presentable and functionable state.
III DUNDEE HACKNEY ASSOCIATION
Items on agenda at request of Dundee Hackney Association:-
(a) REPORT TO COMMITTEE ON MAINTENANCE OF 60/40WAV/SALOON SPLIT
It was highlighted that the maintenance of the 60/40WAV Saloon split would be examined in detail when the level of taxis within Dundee came down to the limit of 611 at which time there would be a further survey to ascertain demand and that this position may become more clearer after the renewal period in May, 2014.
(b) REINSTATE COUNCILLORS TO LIAISON GROUP MEETINGS
The Group noted the position in relation to Councillors not sitting on Liaison Group meetings had been established at the advice of the previous Depute Chief Executive (Support Services) and that this position remained the same.
IV DUNDEE PRIVATE HIRE (203020) LTD
Items on agenda at request of Dundee Private Hire (203020) Ltd:-
(a) It was highlighted that it would be of benefit to receive input from Neil Gellatly in his position of Head of Transportation on electric vehicles. The Group noted that it would be preferable for Mr Gellatly to attend a future meeting of the Group to speak to this particular item. In the meantime, it was highlighted by the representative of the taxi test centre that he would be happy to meet with members of the Trade to discuss electric vehicles in the interest of both the Council and the operators, should they so wish.
(b) DUNDEE CITY COUNCILS LOW CARBON INITIATIVE, THE LATEST SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT THINKING
The Group noted that information would be provided on this particular item by Neil Gellatly, Head of Transportation, to a future meeting of the Group.
V DUNDEE TAXI ASSOCIATION
Items on agenda at request of Dundee Taxi Association:-
(a) TAXI TEST FEES
The Group noted that this matter had been covered at Article II(a) of this minute.
(b) TAXIS TAKING MORE PASSENGERS THAN PLATED FOR
Following discussion, the Group noted that this matter was separate to that of information on the carriage of children within vehicles and that the number of people indicated on a licence plate for carriage was not adult specific. However, should any members of the Trade be aware of concerns in this respect, they should make it known to appropriate authorities.
(c) INSURANCE COMPANIES
The Group noted that it was incorrect to state that only private hire car vehicles had been provided and not taxis and that a number of WAVs were licensed in the name of these companies.
(d) TAXI RANKS
Concerns were raised that some taxi ranks need painted and proper signage. The Group noted that traffic wardens had raised concerns about taxis parking within rank areas whilst they were not on service and perhaps in engaging in other activities. In addition, the benefits and progress in relation to the Hilltown rank had been explained and the route may be beneficial to this being made permanent and also the possibility of the South Tay Street rank being made 24 hours. The Group noted the report and that these matters would be presented to Neil Gellatly for his consideration.
(e) COMPANY LICENCE
The Group noted a request by Graeme Stephen that operators should be allowed to apply in corporate names.
VI UNITE THE UNION
Items on agenda at the request of Unite the Union:-
(a) TAXI BADGES
Following discussion, it was noted that only numerical ID may cause confusion with members of the public and difficulty in identification of any driver should that become necessary and that at this moment in time, dashboard notification explaining who the driver was was being looked at.
(b) TAXI RANKS
The Group noted that Neil Gellatly was looking into this matter.
(c) PVG CHECK
Concern was raised that individual drivers and escorts should go through a PVG check to ensure that any contract jobs given were properly allocated to drivers who were given PVG accreditation.
(d) CHAUFFEUR DRIVERS AND AIRPORT TRANSPORTS
It was explained to the Group that there was some concern that some airport transfers were perceived to be doing more jobs not dissimilar to taxis.
Mr Galloway explained the current position and that although a number of other authorities did not go down the route of licensing such vehicles, they were licensed as private hire vehicles in Dundee and that this matter was being examined on a national level.
(e) TAXI TEST
It was highlighted that it was perceived that there was difficulty to get slots for taxi tests.
The Group noted the position and that the garage were looking at adjusting the pattern within the testing and MOT station and that all operators themselves should be the ones who were submitting their vehicle for test and not any driver who may be driving for them.
Items on agenda at request of GMB:-
(a) EQUALITY ACT 2010
GMB requested more information about how the Equality Act 2010 duties imposed on Dundee City Council were being dealt with and how we could improve the service we provide to disadvantaged groups in Dundee.
The Group noted that no formal list of accessible vehicles under the 2010 Act was in place so that people could apply for a formal exemption from assisting wheelchair passengers. Reference was also made to the taxi drivers licence conditions and that currently, a medical certificate submitted by a doctor was kept on record for reference should a complaint be received in relation to that particular driver. In the meantime, the position would be examined with other local authorities in Scotland for a report to the future meeting of the Group.
Stuart GALLOWAY, Chair.