To consider the Head of Environmental Health and Housing’s Report No. EHH1723 (copy attached), which outlines proposals to vary the current scheme of hackney carriage fares which have been published for public consultation following approval by the Cabinet.
The Committee considered the Head of Environmental Health and Housing’s Report No. EHH1723, which outlined proposals to vary the current scheme of hackney carriage fares which, following the approval of the Cabinet, had been published for public consultation, to be concluded on 7th July, 2017. The Committee was a specified consultee in the review process and was invited to consider the proposals and make comments or recommendations for consideration by the Cabinet for any changes to take effect from 1st September 2017.
The Committee was advised that Section 65 of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1976 gave the Council the power (a discretionary ability) to fix the rates or fares in connection with the hire of a hackney carriage vehicle within its district by means of a scheme of fares. The current scheme had last been uplifted on 29th November, 2013 and the scheme was set out in the Report.
It was reported that the Cabinet had noted that the process of setting hackney carriage fares was complex, time-consuming and costly. Members had also expressed concern as to whether the setting of fares best served the public interest and/or supported wider transportation policies; particularly as other service charges in the private and/or self-employed sectors were not similarly regulated. The Cabinet had therefore requested that officers look at the efficacy of and options for the (de)regulation of setting hackney carriage fares. As a consequence of this work, it had been considered appropriate to develop and consult on a more simplified scheme of fares in the first instance. This had resulted in two separate variation proposals that had not found favour with the taxi trade and had subsequently been withdrawn in 2014 and 2015 respectively.
The Committee was advised that, following this, the Cabinet had resolved that a cross-party task and finish group should be established to make recommendations on all future changes to the scheme. It had now been over three years since the fare scheme had been uplifted. To reduce the significance and impact of any fare increase following a prolonged review and minimise the potential for challenge, it was proposed that an interim increase of 4% should be applied, deferring any remaining uplift amount to, and pending the next fare review and/or reworking of the scheme. As an interim uplift, it was proposed that this should be applied as an adjustment to the pull-off rate yardage (i.e. the initial distance to be travelled for the initial engagement charge on the meter) and running mile unit (i.e. the distance travelled for each meter tick-over charge after the initial pull-off distance). This accorded with historical methods of uplift application and the proposed fares scheme was set out in Appendix B of the Report. The Report also set out fare cost comparisons and a cost comparison of a number of local journeys. The Report also set out other relevant issues and guidance to be researched when considering an uplift to the scheme.
During discussion, Members raised issues concerning the working of the Hackney Carriage Fares Working Group, benchmarking fares and fouling charges.
RESOLVED: That, in response to the consultation, the Cabinet be advised that the Committee supports the proposals for an interim uplift of 4% to the hackney carriage fares scheme, as outlined in the Head of Environmental Health and Housing’s Report No. EHH1723.