Hackney carriage drivers in Chichester hit back at district council

Hackney carriage drivers in Chichester have hit back at the district council for its decision not to cap the number of drivers earning a living on the ranks.

Chichester driver Jim Rendle said the livelihoods of existing hackney carriage drivers were being threatened because of an increase in the number of drivers and said a cap was needed.

The turnover of drivers was low, with more drivers applying to work the ranks than leaving and some drivers travelling many miles to work in Chichester, he added.

Mr Rendle, who was responding to a report of the licensing and enforcement committee published in the Observer on November 17, said it was drivers who would have to foot the bill for a survey into restricting numbers – and not the council.

“We were told that if we wanted a survey we had to pay for it so it wouldn’t be an unnecessary expense for the council,” said Mr Rendle.

“Councillor Barrett said there might be some more taxis needed and Councillor Budge said, ‘it is going too far to cap someone else’s livelihood’, but what about our livelihood?

“We are the ones sitting outside trying to make a living. I sat for two-and-a-half hours one day the other week with no business. In two days I made thirty quid over nine, ten hours. Clearly there isn’t the work to go round; we can’t afford to have more drivers.

“As a hackney carriage driver you are not allowed to have a car which is more than five years old, and you have it MOTed twice a year.

“That is all good stuff, but it’s all extra expense for us. The price of a badge and licence plate has gone up and the fares haven’t gone up since 2008. With the price of fuel the way it is going, it’s just making harder and harder for us to make a living.

“We have to stay out longer to make the same amount of money, and tired drivers won’t be the safest drivers.

“Some people are doing double shifts to make the money.”

Mr Rendle said the hackney carriage community also wanted to find out where all the money they paid to the council went, whether it went into one big pot or went specifically on enforcement.

He also suggested CDC’s knowledge test for drivers was far too easy, which resulted in more drivers coming on board, and he questioned having councillors from places such as Rogate and Fernhurst deciding on taxi issues when there were no ranks in the north of the district.

The job had become much more dangerous as well, with more problems being encountered with people refusing to pay fares, he added.

At last month’s committee meeting members heard the council had never limited the number of licences, with the current level at 57. Senior technical officer Ian Smith told the meeting the slice of the cake had been getting smaller and smaller, with drivers working longer hours, and he had some safety concerns because drivers were working longer.

source: http://www.chichester.co.uk/

NI taxi industry on its knees, claims cabbie

Derry’s taxi industry is being strangled by spiralling costs, fewer fares and a continuing influx of new drivers, it has been claimed.

A local cabbie, who wishes to remain anonymous says drivers are now “completely demoralised” and are forced to work in excess of 70 hours each week to make a decent wage.

“There’s less money about so fewer fares but at the same time fuel, insurance and radio rental costs are still rising,” the driver told the ‘Journal.’

The driver says the attitude of some firms in the city does not help drivers.

“In recent years a number of the city’s smaller firms have been bought over by bigger taxi companies.

“Companies are aware of the difficulties drivers are facing and still they take drivers on. It’s simple, more drivers means more rent.”

The driver says taxi companies hiking up radio rent has become commonplace.

“An increase of £5 a week on radio rent for a firm with 200 drivers means the company makes £52,000 extra a year. There’s a feeling among some drivers that to do that is nothing short of corporate greed, albeit on a smaller scale.

“It’s completely demoralising”

The cabbie says starting at 5am and finishing around 11pm is not uncommon.

“You are forced into working hours that are illegal. It’s not good for your family life, nor for your health.

Taxi drivers don’t have the option of going in and speaking to the boss – there would be a pretty short answer – ‘away you go, there’s plenty more people looking for work’.”

Andrew McCartney of the North West Taxi Proprietors Association says there are a number of issues affecting the industry.

He says the NWTP continue to lobby for the full implementation of the Taxis Act – legislation first mooted in 2007, and that is designed to bring greater regulation to the industry.

“It seems to have been lost to bureaucracy but we will continue to lobby for its implementation as soon as possible.

“It will not cure all ills, but it will help,” he says.

source: http://www.derryjournal.com/news/business/taxi_industry_on_its_knees_claims_cabbie_1_3284554

No limit on number of cabs in Chichester

A POSSIBLE cap on the number of cabs operating in the Chichester district has been rejected by councillors.

The district’s licensing and enforcement committee unanimously rejected a proposal that a survey should be carried out with licensed hackney carriage operators on the idea of restricting numbers.

Members were told the district council had never limited the number of licences, and there were currently 57.

Some existing licence holders had asked for numbers to be restricted to the present level. The committee heard estimates of the cost of a survey ranging from £5,000 to £12,000.

Cllr Brian Weekes said a cap was unnecessary. “Surely we know whether we have too many on the rank – it is an unnecessary expense to have a survey,” he added. “We should rely on this committee to decide whether there are too many drivers on the ranks.”

Cllr Graeme Barrett said with the potential reduction in bus services, there might be a need for more taxis and Cllr Peter Budge said natural selection made the number of cabs on the road right. “It is going too far to cap someone else’s livelihood,” he added.

Cllr Henry Potter said the number of cabs was self-regulatory to some extent.

“If there is a living to be made out there, people will want to have a taxi,” he said.

Senior technical officer Ian Smith said the number of licences had been slowly increasing in recent years, to the present level of 57.

“The slice of the cake has been getting smaller and smaller for existing drivers, who are having to work longer hours to get the same income,” he said.

source: http://www.chichester.co.uk/

Aberdeen taxi survey suggests service changes for city

The results of an independently-conducted Taxi Demand Survey calling for a cap on taxi licences in the city will be discussed by the Licensing Committee on Wednesday (November 23).

The committee ordered the survey be carried out by the Transport Research Group (TRI) at Napier University to comply with legislation relating to taxi Licence restrictions set out in the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982 (CGSA).

The TRI Taxi Studies Group sought the views of 448 people on the city’s streets as well as leading focus groups amongst key stakeholders. These included representatives for disabled, commercial and retail groups. A further review of hoteliers and service industries was competed via an online survey.
Other methods employed as part of the survey was the analysis of 768 hours of video observation at all official ranks and questionnaires completed by Licence holders.

The survey was carried out throughout October and focused on demand patterns over time, demand for taxi services and a review of the physical conditions in which services are supplied in the city.

The TRI Taxi Studies Group found the majority of taxi ranks in the city performed well and the taxi fleet was praised for being in good condition.

The survey also made a number of recommendations, including imposing a limit on the number of taxi licences, introducing new ranks in the city and putting in place a formal review every three years or more often.

A report accompanying the TRI survey recommends the committee note the findings and consult with partners in Transport Strategy and Programmes, Community Safety and Grampian Police to obtain their thoughts on the survey’s findings.

If councillors back the recommendation a report will come back before the committee outlining the desirability and consequence of imposing a limit on the number of taxi licences in Aberdeen as part of a package of measures to enhance supply in the city.

The report will be discussed by the committee at a meeting on Wednesday.


Link to agenda for meeting

No cap on South Holland District cabs

COUNCILLORS rejected a bid by taxi drivers to place a cap on the number of cabs serving Spalding.

South Holland District Council’s licensing committee discussed a plea from drivers to introduce a limit in the number of Hackney carriages it grants a licence to protect the firms who currently trade in the town.

Norman Parish, of A Team Taxis in Spalding, lodged the plan with the council and warned that small companies could be driven out of business without a cap.

Committee chairman Malcolm Chandler, portfolio holder for regulatory services, said members felt:

*there was insufficient evidence in the taxi drivers’ submission

*that the cost of consulting taxi drivers and customers in the district was too high. According to another authority that had done it, it was likely to land the authority with a bill of about £15,000

*that the cap could stifle business and stop new firms

*that taxis have to be licensed for the whole district and so a cap due to high numbers in Spalding could have an adverse affect elsewhere in the district.

Coun Chandler said: “It did take some serious consideration and I have to say that should they come back with more substantial evidence then we are open to look at it again. The taxi drivers do provide a service but as a council our duty is to the community as a whole as well as looking after the people who provide that service.

“We might have faced some legal challenges if we had said ‘you can’t have a taxi in Long Sutton because there are too many in Spalding’ for example.”

Coun Chandler said the taxi numbers in Spalding had now risen to 41, from 28 in March, which he feels shows there is demand that businesses can capitalise on – particularly anyone looking to go self-employed after losing their job in the recession.

Coun Chandler added: “If someone should find themselves out of work and have a suitable vehicle then becoming a licensed taxi driver is a good opportunity.

“There was no evidence to suggest that there was too many at the moment.”

Before the meeting Mr Parish said he could be forced to sell his taxi, which cost £30,000, because there are not enough fares to go around.

In his letter, sent to the council in March, he proposed that 30 taxis would be sufficient for Spalding. The letter was signed by 16 other drivers.

Mr Parish said he did not wish to comment on the committee’s decision, but stood by his previous remarks.

source: http://www.spaldingtoday.co.uk/news

Taxi drivers protest at deregulation plan

PARTS of Richmond ground to a halt yesterday as taxi drivers flooded the town centre with cars in protest at a decision to deregulate the industry.

More than 40 hackney cabs and private hire cars drove into the town at 4pm in an attempt to show what drivers believe will happen when the limit on the number of plates issued in the district is removed.

Taxi drivers said they will carry out further protests about the decision to deregulate, which they say has been made without proper consultation, unless the council listens to their concerns.

Yesterday’s action saw cars snaking down the market place and along The Channel, leading to tailbacks through Frenchgate and beyond.

Police officers persuaded the taxi drivers to move to the side of the road to allow other vehicles to pass to ease congestion and the taxis dispersed after about 25 minutes.

The number of registered hackney cabs in Richmondshire is currently capped at 65, but the council’s licensing committee voted to deregulate in an attempt to attract new business and encourage a better service in rural areas.

Members of Richmond Independent Drivers’ Association (RIDA) and the Taxi Drivers’ Association say deregulation will result in even less taxis in rural areas and have vowed to take the council to judicial review to get the decision overturned.

Richmondshire District Council said proper consultation had taken place and that the decision had been made in line with government advice.

George Pearson, chairman of RIDA, said: “We are sorry to cause inconvenience to the people of Richmond but it’s a very brief demonstration of what would happen if there was double the number of taxis, which is what will happen if deregulation goes ahead in April.

“Hackney cabs have been joined by private hire drivers who don’t want deregulation either, even though they would be the ones to benefit from it.”

Councillor John Blackie, leader of Richmondshire District Council, said: “There is no evidence that deregulation will lead to Richmond being flooded with cars – when Hambleton deregulated there was no change to the number of cars operating but it did mean that people could get a car when they need one.

“As for the protests, we shall just have to wait and see what happens.”

source: http://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/

Under pressure cabbies to fight private hire plans

Black cab drivers in Chester say new plans to lift restrictions on private hire cars will “destroy” their trade.

Chester Licensed Hackney Association claim the move will further saturate an already overcrowded market, with too many cars competing for too few customers.

Chairman Richard Barker said the number of black Hackney cabs in the city had increased from 77 to more than 140 since deregulation was introduced a few years ago, which was “way too much” for the Chester area.

“When you take into account there are also 500 private vehicles, you see it is too small a city to sustain that demand,” he said. “If you drive to a taxi rank and it is full, the law says you must drive on to the next taxi rank. We have only 43 spaces across the city for 140 black cabs. That means you can drive around for hours and not get any work. We already have had five drivers recently whose cars got repossessed.”

He added there were plans by Cheshire West and Chester Council (CWaC) to allow private hire cars to function as black cabs, using taxi ranks throughout the city.

“We’re saying the recession, with increasing fuel costs, declining customer demand and increasing insurance prices, we are being driven into the ground,” said Mr Barker. “If this new legislation is enacted, it would likely be the end of trade in Chester.”

Secretary of the association, Chris Farrell, added they planned to bring their concerns to the attention of CWaC officials at a meeting to be held this week.

“We are campaigning for this to stop,” he said. “But the problem is not just this.

They have made it much easier to become a taxi driver by making the tests more simple. People never fail these tests any more. Many drivers are from places like Manchester and don’t know the city, and as a result they aren’t driving the shortest route and people are getting ripped off. This is damaging our reputation and driving away customers.

“I have written to MP Stephen Mosley and to councillors, we are going back and we are campaigning for this to change.”

Source; http://www.chesterfirst.co.uk/news/1069 … plans.aspx

Crawley taxi drivers welcome licence freeze

TAXI drivers are breathing a collective sigh of relief after the council decided to restrict the number of cabs in the town.

In recent weeks drivers have told the News how they have been struggling to make ends meet due to the amount of competition for business.

At a Crawley Borough Council licensing committee meeting last Wednesday, it was agreed that no more Hackney Carriage licences would be handed out.

The number of taxis (those which operate from ranks) in the town has been continuously increasing since 2002, when previous restrictions were withdrawn.

Although councillors agreed to a limit, the council will not be able to refuse licence requests for wheelchair-accessible vehicles if the proportion of these does not meet Government guidelines.

The council agreed to review the situation after the taxi trade commissioned a survey which showed there was no unmet demand for taxis in the town.

Taxi driver Christopher Bradley, 61, from Three Bridges, was pleased with the decision.

But he pointed out: “It will improve things for drivers on the taxi ranks but there will still be large numbers of cars around because the restrictions don’t apply to private hire drivers.”

Mark Bonner, 50, from Broadfield, believes the current situation could have been avoided in the first place.

He said: “We said in 2002 that most towns which de-restricted taxis ended up going back to restricting them.

“It took a survey for them to see their mistake, and that had to be paid for out of our own pockets.”

Roy Bateman, 64, from Ifield, is equally disappointed that the change of policy has taken so long.

“There have been too many cabs for a while now,” he said. “I’m retiring because the job’s not what it used to be. I sit here reading papers all day and no one is getting a living unless they are working 12 to 14 hours a day.”

Colin Bonner, 51, from Gossops Green, believes it will be a couple of years before drivers see the benefits of the decision, but added: “It is the best thing the council could have done.”

The council was also considering making it a requirement for all taxis to be converted to be able to take wheelchairs. That proposal was rejected but the council is looking at how it can provide disability awareness training to drivers.

A review will be carried out in three years to assess whether there is any unmet demand for taxis as the town’s population increases.

Source: http://www.thisissussex.co.uk/