The Regulatory Services Manager advised that the purpose of this report is to present Committee with the proposed consultation methodology for the taxi tariff and ask Committee to accept the methodology and give consent to proceed as set out.
The council has an on-going undertaking to review the tariff every two years. It is best practice and not a statutory requirement but seems to work well among local trade. In the past Gravesham has chosen to set a tariff which represents the maximum that can be charged rather than fixed or minimum fares. Committee reviewed the tariff this time in 2019 and we introduced a revised tariff put through by the traders at the time. We haven’t had any complaints brought to our attention by the trade or the travelling public and so the structure seems to be working well.
The tariff is made up of two parts, the ‘flag’ which is the amount shown on the meter at the start of the journey and the minimum fee payable and the ‘yardage’ which dictates how quickly the meter goes up over distance. When we engaged with the trade in 2019 they asked to simplify our consultation going forward so we only consult on those two items.
We are proposing to ask the Hackney Carriage drivers to advise what their preferred option is for the flag – decrease by 20p to £2.60; remain the same at £2.80; increase by 20p to £3.00 or increase by 40p to £3.20. It was requested that any changes are made by 20p.
We now have a very good on-line offering and can reach out to every driver by email and so we are proposing to consult by email only to Hackney Carriage drivers over a period of three weeks.
The Regulatory Services Manager responded to Members’ questions as follows:
· We don’t know how many of our vehicles are also licensed with Uber, the answer should be zero as our policy prohibits them doing that. There is established case law that once a vehicle is licensed as Hackney Carriage or private hire it remains as only that. Because this consultation is going out to Hackney Carriage drivers it would be unlawful for them to be private hire at the same time
· We will carry out the consultation and then bring back the results and at that time we will also set out where Gravesham sits in the national league table
· It was agreed to discuss the issue of Hackney Carriage drivers doubling up outside of the meeting as the concern is that it is a major problem in the borough and we need to crack down on it particularly as those who rely on Hackney Carriage could be disadvantaged
· There is a cost involved to make changes to the meter as it has to be re-calibrated but the trade are aware of the cost and are used to having a tariff review every two years
· In terms of what Uber charge, we can try to get some figures for that but because they are private hire they are not working on a tariff, there is more discretion so we will struggle to get comparisons
· The Chair agreed to have a discussion with the Regulatory Services Manager and the Licensing Manager before the consultation results come back to Committee
The report was noted and agreed.