Taxi Licensing and Work across Greater Manchester
- Meeting of Neighbourhoods and Environment Scrutiny Committee, Wednesday, 4th March, 2020 2.00 pm (Item 20.)
Report of the Strategic Director, Growth and Development
This report provides the Committee with information on the work undertaken in Manchester and across Greater Manchester to improve standards across Private Hire Taxis.
The Committee considered the report of the Strategic Director (Growth and Development) that provided the Committee with information on the work undertaken in Manchester and across Greater Manchester (GM) to improve standards across Private Hire Taxis.
The Executive Member for Neighbourhoods referred to the main points and themes within the report which included: -
· Providing contextual and background information with key information regarding current issues affecting the regulation of Taxis and Private Hire Licences in the City;
· Manchester’s processes and standards;
· Information on the GM Minimum Licensing Standards;
· The approach to improving Clean Air through vehicle emissions standards and the Clean Taxi Fund; and
· How Manchester was working with GM colleagues and the trades to meet the challenges and strive to improve standards.
Some of the key points that arose from the Committee’s discussions were: -
· Supporting the intention for all GM standards to be raised to match that of Manchester;
· What was the anticipated timescale for introducing a standard policy across GM;
· Noting that the Manchester standards were designed to protect public safety;
· Supported the call for a reform of national legislation to improve standards nationally;
· What was the rationale for the different age limits for hackney vehicles compared to private hire vehicles and what funding was available for vehicle scrappage schemes;
· The compliance team needed to focus their attention on areas around the airport following complaints of antisocial behaviour by non-Manchester licensed private hire drivers;
· Were there delays in issuing licenses due to DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) checks;
· Had consideration been given to using accredited garages as test centres for vehicles;
· Could conditions be introduced to address vehicle idling.
The Licensing Unit Manager stated that she was aware of the issues regarding drivers’ behaviour around the airport area articulated by the local ward Member. She advised that she would continue to liaise with the local Neigbourhood Teams to seek to address the issues described. She stated that she would encourage residents observing any anti social behaviour to report the details to the home licensing authority as Manchester could not enforce against drivers from out of the area. The Chair asked if consideration could be given to having enforcement officers visible to deter drivers as residents may not feel comfortable in tackling drivers.
The Deputy Chair of the Licensing Committee stated that he would speak with the Members outside of the meeting to discuss specific concerns.
The Licensing Unit Manager informed the Members that a consultation exercise on the proposals to standardise the conditions across GM would be undertaken in June 2020 and this would include proposals to address vehicle idling. She stated that Executive Members and lead officers across GM were in support of the proposals to raise standards, however a change in government policy was required to raise standards nationally. She further advised that DBS checks usually took between two and three weeks to be returned, but on occasion these could take longer and informed the Committee that this process was not in the control of the Council. In regard to vehicle testing centres and using alternative accredited garages she advised that the in-house facility was satisfactory and there were no delays in offering retests. She advised that the tests provided by the in-house offer was of a higher standard to the MOT test and enabled the monitoring of the quality and consistency of the testing to be undertaken. In response to a question regarding the decision taken in London to suspend UBER’s licence, she advised that this situation was continuously reviewed in Manchester.
The Executive Member for Neighbourhoods stated the difference in the vehicle age criteria was in recognition that Private Hire Vehicles were on the road for longer periods and Hackney Carriage vehicles were approximately five times more expensive than a Private Hire vehicle. He further commented that Manchester was still awaiting a response from Government regarding the proposals to fund a clean taxi scheme.
To note the report.