The SPL WRS provided an update on engagement with stakeholders in relation to proposals for the creation and amendment of stands for hackney carriages in Redditch.
Members were advised that three options had been considered as part of this process:
· To introduce a new hackney carriage stand at the railway station.
· To introduce a new hackney carriage stand at the Alexandra Hospital.
· To move the existing hackney carriage stand from Unicorn Hill to Bates Hill.
In respect of the options for a hackney carriage stand at the railway station, officers had met with representatives of West Midlands Trains to discuss the suggestion further. The representatives from West Midlands Trains had indicated that they would be willing to offer some of the space in the car park at the railway station to be used for a hackney carriage stand. However, in line with arrangements in place in other parts of the region, drivers using the stand would need to be prepared to pay a fee for a permit equivalent to £11 per week or £565 per year.
Officers had subsequently undertaken consultation with the hackney carriage trade regarding the level of interest amongst drivers in the potential to introduce a hackney carriage rank at the railway station and the extent to which they would be willing to pay for a permit to utilise this rank. In total, 54 answers had been received and 87 per cent of the respondents had been keen for a dedicated taxi space to be introduced at the station. However, only 13 per cent of the respondents had been prepared to pay a fee for the permit at the level proposed by West Midlands Trains. Furthermore, the majority of drivers were not prepared to pay a fee at all. Only seven of the respondents had been prepared to pay the proposed fee.
In respect of the proposed introduction of a hackney carriage stand at the Alexandra Hospital, Officers had attempted to make contact with the hospital regarding this matter. However, to date, Officers had not been able to engage with representatives of the hospital in relation to this subject. Attempts would continue to be made to enter into dialogue with the hospital regarding this matter.
In terms of the potential move of the existing taxi rank on Unicorn Hill to Bates Hill, the Committee was informed that there was a requirement to liaise with Worcestershire County Council in relation to the relevant Traffic Regulation Orders (TROs) as well as West Mercia Police. A number of stakeholder meetings had been held which had been attended by representatives of the Council and the police. The options that had been considered included:
· Not making changes to the existing taxi rank on Unicorn Hill.
· Maintaining the current size of the hackney carriage rank but only operating the rank in the evening.
· Retaining some of the existing hackney carriage rank for taxis and converting other sections into short-term parking spaces.
· Removing the rank altogether and converting all the space for parking.
Members were asked to note that the police had been clear that they would not be supportive of removing the rank altogether.
A meeting had subsequently been held in January 2022 involving representatives of the Council, Worcestershire County Council, West Mercia Police and the North Worcestershire Economic Development Unit (NWEDR). At this meeting, information had been shared about work on public realm improvements, as part of the town’s fund initiative, which was at an early stage. Should this work be approved, it would be completed by 2024.
Worcestershire County Council’s Highways Department had clarified that there was no realistic prospect of Bates Hill being opened up from the current block in place between that road and Hewell Road. It had also become clear that there would be a lot of work involved in changing the relevant TROs. In this context, it had been agreed that it would be sensible for any changes to coincide with work on public realm improvements.
The Committee discussed the update and it was acknowledged that it could take time to alter TROs. Some Members expressed disappointment with the progress that had been achieved in respect of this matter and the time that it was taking to investigate the various options available. However, it was also acknowledged that it was sensible for the review of the hackney carriage stands to take into account the timing of the public realm improvement works.
the report be noted.