Members received a report setting out the outcome of the consultation exercise carried out in relation to removing the requirement for licensed drivers to undertake a driving assessment every three years.
The report was presented by the Senior Practitioner (Licensing), Worcestershire Regulatory Services (WRS), and in doing so the following points were highlighted: -
· Licensed drivers were subject to a requirement imposed by the Licensing Committee in November 2017 to undertake a driving assessment test every three years.
· This requirement had been unpopular with drivers who regarded it as disproportionate and unreasonable.
· In light of comments from drivers at the Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Liaison Forum in September 2019, Licensing Committee decided to look at the issue and on 27th January 2020 resolved to carry out a consultation exercise on removing the requirement.
· A consultation was carried out between 12th February 202 and 20th March 2020, and Members were referred to the questions (Appendix 2) and the responses (Appendix 3).
· As set out at paragraph 3.13 on page 35 of the agenda, of 43 responses, 35 respondents (81.4%) were in favour of removing the requirement; 8 respondents (18.6%) did not support the proposal.
· Members were referred to the additional written comments submitted by the respondents. It was noted that some of the responses from those who did not support removing the requirement were perhaps at odds with that stated position.
In responding to questions from Members, the Senior Practitioner (Licensing), Worcestershire Regulatory Services (WRS), clarified that:-
· The response rate to the survey had been quite low; roughly 1 in 10 drivers had responded.
· The cost of the driving assessment would be borne by the drivers, although no drivers had been affected yet as the requirement would only start to comply from December 2020 (being the three year anniversary of the introduction of the policy).
· The number of complaints received regarding standard of driving was relatively small.
· With the increased availability of footage from dashboard cameras, it could be said to be more effective to use that evidence to deal with individual drivers as opposed to imposing a blanket requirement on all drivers.
· Officers had the option of bringing individual drivers before Licensing Sub-Committee if there was evidence of bad driving.
· The proposal did not affect the Disability Awareness Training which was being retained.
In debating the issue views were expressed in support of retaining the driving assessment. Other views were expressed questioning whether the test added any benefit and noting that it might be more effective to target individual drivers where there were complaints.
A recommendation was moved and seconded that the policy be amended to remove the requirement for licenced drivers to undertake driving assessments every three years.
An alternative recommendation was moved and seconded that there be no change to the policy and that the requirement to undertake the driving assessments be retained.
On being put to the vote, the alternative recommendation was defeated.
The Council’s policy on licensing of drivers of hackney carriage and private hire vehicles be amended to remove the requirement for licenced drivers to undertake a practical driving assessment every three years.