Literally as this edition of PHTM was going to print, we were advised that on Monday, 26 January the Licensing Committee at Cambridge City Council voted to once again set the limit on the issue of hackney carriage licences.
The decision was taken on a majority of eight to four Members, with a view that the council reviews the situation over a three-year period, looking at various issues such as disabled access and rank spaces.
The limit has now been set at 315, or a maximum 317 hackney carriages in-cluding two applications which were being processed.
Chair of NPHA affiliated Cambridge City Licensed Taxis, Dave Wratten, commented that he is “pleased the council listened to the trade. This represents over two years’ hard work on our part, and we put forward to Committee the various issues that were at stake, such as over-ranking, congestion on the city’s streets, pollution problems and the over-riding issue of not enough rank spaces.”
Cambridge taxis had been capped at 147 until 2001, when the council deregulated and numbers started going up – surprisingly, as apart from those 121 licence holders who had been granted grandfather rights with saloon vehicles, any new applications have had to be for a wheelchair accessible vehicle.
Ian Millership of survey company CTS Traffic and Transportation was present at the Cambridge meeting. He told us: “I believe it was an informed and well thought through decision; the issues were debated openly and honestly.”
Ian reminded us of the growing numbers of other licensing authorities that have re-regulated in recent times, including Milton Keynes, Chesterfield, Coventry, Birmingham and Crawley. There is also another trend developing of councils reducing their already-existing hackney limit; Knowsley is one of these districts.
As Dave Wratten told us, the best aspect of the Committee’s decision is that the trade can work together with the council, within the existing fleet, to improve standards of customer service. This includes keeping the balance of the mixed fleet comprising the 121 saloons and the rest WAVs.
As they say these days, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” - especially if the balance is working. There’s a result!