Pre-consultation report on the bi-annual taxi tariff review
The Committee was presented with the Review of Taxi Tariff. The purpose of the report was to present Members with the proposed consultation methodology relating to the previously agreed two-yearly review of the taxi tariff. Approval was sought from Committee regarding the proposed methodology of the consultation approach.
The Assistant Licensing Manager highlighted key points from the report:
- Members were informed that as the licensing authority, Gravesham was able to set a tariff for licensed Hackney Carriages operating within the borough. Members were advised that the ‘flag’ and the ‘yardage’ fees would be reviewed every two years. It was agreed in 2019 to alternate separate consultations of the ‘flag‘ and the ‘yardage’. As the ‘flag’ was last reviewed in September/October 2021, it was now time to consult on the ‘yardage’.
- Gravesham Borough Council had chosen to set the tariff to represent the maximum that could be charged.
- Following collaboration with the Gravesham Taxi Association (GTA), six options were considered for the ‘yardage’, including one option proposed by the GTA as set out in section 2.1.6 of the report, which proposed to increase the tariff by 40p per mile, by increasing the yardage to 270.76 (2/13 of a mile) but also increasing the charge per 270.76 yard to 40p.
It was explained that because the meter clicked over at the beginning of the yardage, option 2.1.6 would provide a 20p higher fare, than an equivalent journey on option 2.1.4, for the first 135 yards of each 270 yards travelled.
- In relation to the 6-mile uplift, the Licensing Assistant Manager explained that there were two options presented to the GTA. Option one was to remove the uplift and option two was to keep the uplift at two nths above from the yardage.
The GTA’s preference was to keep the increase, so if the ‘yardage’ went to 20p every 135.38 (1/13 of a mile) then the six-mile uplift would change to 20p every 117.33 yards (1/15 of a mile). Members were advised that the GTA wanted to keep the uplift as they would receive a greater fare for longer journeys such as airport runs.
- The Assistant Licensing Manager outlined the proposed consultation methodology explaining that the licensing team wished to consult the Hackney Carriage drivers over a four week period to establish the preferred fare options (set out in the report appendix). Members were informed that although usual practice was to communicate online, the GTA had requested that paper forms could also be provided, as another method to cast handwritten responses on this consultation. It had been agreed with the Customer Services Manager, that a sealed ballot box could be placed in the reception area of the Civic Centre for the drivers to post their responses.
The Chair thanked the Assistant Licensing Manager for her report and invited Members to give their feedback.
- Members understood the need for paper responses as well as online, accommodating those who were not computer literate.
- The Committee were curious as to how many taxi drivers worked within the borough. The Assistant Licensing Manager advised that currently there were 135 Hackney Carriage drivers in Gravesham.
- Members queried if the new proposed yardage rates were competitive with that of Uber. The Assistant Licensing Manager advised that as Uber were a private organisation, they could set their rates to whatever they wished, so no comparison on this could be established. However, once the consultation information was returned and the rate determined, comparison could be made between Gravesham and the Hackney Carraige tariffs throughout the whole country. This information would be available in the Taxi Private Hire Magazine. The Assistant Licensing Manager offered to produce a comparison between Gravesham and the rest of the country, plus locally with Kent and Medway, and present to Committee at a later date.
- Members sought clarification regarding the purpose of the 6-mile uplift and whether this was because no additional fare could be gained on the way back from a long distance fare. The Regulatory Services Manager advised this was correct and also to cover fuel costs on the return journey.
The Committee noted the report and agreed the methodology of the consultation.