To further consider implementing a penalty points scheme for hackney
carriage and private hire licence holders to help deal with minor offences and
acts of non-compliance with licensing requirements.
The Committee were asked to consider an update report with regard to the introduction of a Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Penalty Point Scheme.
The Senior Licensing Practitioner, Worcestershire Regulatory Services (WRS), introduced the report and in doing so reminded the Committee that at the Licensing Committee meeting on 18th July 2016; Members agreed to defer the implementation of a Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Penalty Point Scheme. This was to enable further meetings and discussions to take place with officers from WRS and representatives of the newly formed Redditch Taxi Association (RTA), in order to explain in more detail the aims of the scheme and how it would operate in practise.
Members also took on board the suggestion received from the RTA with regard to them introducing a self-regulating scheme to monitor any complaints and non-compliance received. Members agreed for the RTA to self-regulate any complaints and non-compliance for a period of six months; with a detailed report on the six monthly comparisons of the RTA self-regulating scheme being presented to the Licensing Committee meeting on 6th March 2017.
The Senior Licensing Practitioner, WRS, drew Members attention to Appendix 2 to the report, which provided a summary of the complaints recorded for hackney carriage and private hire drivers and operators, during the period 1st February 2016 to 31st January 2017.
A total of 23 complaints were recorded during the period 1st February 2016 to 31st July 2016 compared to a total of 18 complaints being recorded during the period 1st August 2016 to 31st January 2017. This indicated a reduction in recorded complaints of 21.7% since the end of July 2016. This suggested that the efforts of the RTA could be having a positive impact on the overall number of complaints being received. However, complaints were still being received periodically with regard to a number of issues which included overcharging, poor driving standards and drivers being rude and abusive.
Some of the complaints received between 1st August 2016 and 31st January 2107 were acts of non-compliance which could have been dealt with under the proposed penalty point scheme.
The Senior Licensing Practitioner, WRS, informed the Committee that further discussions with representatives from the RTA had confirmed that their members remained opposed to the introduction of the proposed penalty point scheme.
The Senior Licensing Practitioner, WRS, responded to questions from Members and highlighted that each complaint was dealt with on its own merit. Occasionally the information received from those complaining could be rather sketchy. Where drivers were identified they would be made aware of the nature of the complaint / non-compliance made against them. The driver would be provided with the opportunity to accept / defend any complaint / non-compliance recorded against them. Officers from WRS would also consider any previous complaint(s) / non-compliances recorded about the driver, which would also be taken into account and dealt with appropriately.
The Senior Licensing Practitioner, WRS, highlighted that a very small number of complaints / non-compliances were received by WRS. The vast majority of drivers did comply and carried out a very good job. On average three complaints per month were received. Taking into account the number of licensed drivers and the hours they worked over a seven day week, this was a very small amount.
Members commented that they were pleased to see the results as presented and the positive input from the RTA. Members were happy that the RTA self-regulating scheme appeared to be working successfully.
Further discussion followed on the introduction of a penalty point scheme, with Members agreeing that WRS should continue to monitor the number of complaints received, in order to see if the number of complaints continued to reduce, since the RTA self-regulating scheme was still in its infancy.
a) the implementation of a Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Penalty Point Scheme, be deferred until November 2017, in order to allow further information to be provided on the monitoring of the self-regulating scheme run by Redditch Taxi Association with regard to complaints and non-compliance recorded;
b) a further detailed six monthly comparison report on the Redditch Taxi Association self-regulating scheme be presented to the Licensing Committee meeting on 6th November 2017;
c) Worcestershire Regulatory Services to provide information on the type of complaints received to Redditch Taxi Association.