GLASGOW City Council has become the first local authority in Scotland to introduce a cap on private hire car and taxi licenses.
A survey carried out by Local Transport Projects on behalf of the local authority found that between 2008 to 2013 the number of private hires across the city reduced from 2805 to 2638 but had risen to 3759 by 2018.
The number of taxis on the road was already limited to 1420.
The study also showed that during week days only 60 percent of private hires were in use but 90 percent of cars were needed on Friday and Saturday nights.
Throughout the consultation researchers engaged with private hire and taxi firms, Glasgow Association of Mental Health and the general public. Overall taxi companies seemed to have a better reputation.
Despite concerns that people may waiting longer for a cab during peak time members of the licensing committee agreed to restrict the number of taxis on the road.
They have introduced an upper limit of 1420 and and a lower limit of 1278 taxis. At the time time they agreed an upper limit of 3759 and lower limit of 3383 for private hire cars.
There are still 228 private hire car licence applications pending consideration. Private hire car companies as well as taxi firms backed the move.
John Cassidy of Network said: “We are pushing for this. Our full time drivers need to be able to make a living. This will help.”
Steven Grant, secretary of Glasgow Cab Section, said: “Members made the right decision today. This is what’s best for our trade and our city.
“It will help tackle air pollution and congestion in the city. The main concern is public safety and this will hopefully cut down pirating where private hires pick up off the street illegally.”
Dougie McPherson, Glasgow Taxis Ltd chairman, said: “Overall this is a positive step for the city in creating a more level playing field for providers and ensuring the customer continues to benefit from sufficient supply and choice.”
Glasgow City Council is set to take steps to limit the number of new taxis and private hire cabs.
The council says it may start turning down applications for new vehicle licences because there are too many taxis and cabs on the road.
There are currently 1,420 taxis and almost 3,900 licensed private cabs.
The policy is designed to ensure work is not spread too thinly between existing drivers. Applications to renew existing licences will not be affected.
Personal licenses - that is, the certificate required to become a driver in a vehicle with an existing license - will also be unaffected.
The council was always free to turn down applications for new taxi licences but the new policy makes this explicit.
Until recently, licence applications for private hire cabs could only be turned down if the person or company was deemed unsuitable - the number of cabs on the road was not a consideration.
Glasgow believes it is the first Scottish council to set upper and lower limits for the number of black cabs and licensed private hire vehicles. In Glasgow, all licensed taxis are black Hackney vehicles.
City of Edinburgh Council currently has a limit on the number of taxi licences but not on the number of private hire licences.
The council says there should be:
The numbers are based on research carried out for the council into the demand for taxis and private hire cabs.
The council aims to ensure there is a sustainable business for taxis and cabs.
However, average figures disguise peaks and troughs - for instance extra demand after a major concert, busy weekend evenings and bad weather.
Black taxis can use ranks and pick up customers who hail them off the street. A licensed private hire cab can only accept advance bookings.
Taxis charge fares which are regulated by the council. Licensed private cabs set their own fares so there is competition between different operators.
The new policy will not result in a direct cut in the number of taxis and cabs. However the expectation is that the number might fall over time as existing licensees give them up naturally.
Some taxi drivers have expressed concern about the amount of trade available in the city, blaming factors such as economic uncertainty.
Birmingham taxi drivers have announced two weeks worth of go-slow protests around the city centre after claiming they have been 'steamrolled' over the Clean Air Zone.
The Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union, which represents hundreds of black cab drivers in Birmingham, confirmed it will hold the first demonstration between 8am and 10am on Tuesday.
They will conduct another go-slow between the same times the following day before then targeting the evening rush hours.
The Clean Air Zone will impose daily £8 charges to high-polluting cars travelling inside the A4540 ring road from January 2020 - diesels older than EURO 6 (2015) and petrols older than EURO 4 (2006).
Hundreds of diesel black cab drivers face having to upgrade if they are to avoid the fees.
The RMT has staged a go-slow protest earlier this year which ground part of the city centre to halt.
The union initially cancelled plans for further demonstrations while they attempted to negotiate with the council over a new emissions policy setting out the detail around how Hackney Carriage drivers would be impacted by the Clean Air Zone .
The authority made a number of changes but did not meet all the demands of the taxi drivers, which included exemption altogether from the charge and more money towards converting their cars to LPG or buying a new compliant vehicle.
The Licensing and Public Protection committee approved the policy last week (Wednesday, April 10).
But drivers reacted with anger when they were informed they would not be permitted to speak at the meeting which had to be suspended for several minutes until they calmed down.
Raja Amin, president for RMT Midlands regional council, confirmed that drivers would once again resort to go-slow protests.
He said: "We feel there have been no meaningful discussions or negotiations and no real changes to the initial proposals."
Referring to the meeting itself he added: "This policy was steamrolled without any consideration given to any views or input from the RMT, floor or any other organisations."
The Government has approved Birmingham's full business case for the Clean Air Zone which included £15m worth of funding measures to support black cab and private hire drivers.
Cllr Barbara Dring, chair of the licensing committee, said last week the council had 'done the best we can' for the drivers.
While Chris Neville, the council's former head of licensing who has retired in recent days, had said 'there is no other way' for the authority to meet government demands to reduce pollution levels over the next two years.
A council spokesman added: “We consulted with the general public and the taxi and private hire trade to prepare licensing policies in readiness for the Clean Air Zone and, as a result of feedback received from almost 1,400 individuals and organisations, made a number of changes to our proposals.
“These include replacing the emission standard due to take effect from 1 January 2020 with a vehicle age policy, as well as making the option of a retrofit available to a much wider range of taxis.
"Additionally, drivers who book a retrofit before 1 January 2020 but cannot be accommodated by a retrofitting centre until after that date will be exempt from the Clean Air Zone charge until that work can be carried out.”
A Wraysbury teenager who robbed a taxi driver at knifepoint has been jailed for three and a half years.
George Appleton, 18, of Watts Hill Cottages pleaded guilty to three counts of robbery and one of possession of a bladed article at Reading Crown Court on Thursday, April 11.
In three separate attacks Appleton tricked the taxi drivers into driving him to an isolated location before assaulting and robbing them, and in one case threatening them with a knife.
In the first attack, Appleton threatened a taxi driver in Ferry Lane with a knife and stole a quantity of cash. The 53-year-old man suffered a head injury and bruising during the robbery, which took place at about 2.50am.
The second and third offences saw an unarmed Appleton rob two other male taxi drivers in the early hours of the morning in Wraysbury and Datchet.
In both robberies, the victims were left with head injuries and bruising.
Appleton was arrested on 12 May 2018 and charged in November.
Investigating officer Detective Constable Peter Hindley, based at Maidenhead police station, said: “Appleton indulged in a violent spree of offending, targeting lone taxi drivers.
“He would get them to drive him to isolated roads and there he would subject them to violent attacks.
“In one offence, Appleton carried and showed a knife to force home his demands and threats for cash.
“The sentence handed down in relation to these offences reflect both the bravery of the victims in coming forward and the dedicated hard work of the team at Maidenhead to ensure this dangerous offender was brought to justice.
“Appleton will now have time in prison to reflect on his actions.”
Fifty taxi drivers across Kirklees have had their licences revoked over the past four years, ExaminerLive can reveal.
A Freedom of Information request showed 14 revocations were of a sexual assault in nature and one was for a drugs offence.
It was not stated what the other revocations were over.
Kirklees Council has said the number amounts to around 2% of licensed drivers.
Karl Battersby, strategic director for economy and infrastructure at Kirklees Council, said it closely monitored taxi licence holders and took a 'robust approach' to who was allowed to hold them.
He said: "We have a good relationship with the police and have police officers based within our team so we're able to draw on their intelligence information.
"The safety of our residents is our absolute priority and will take no risks when it comes to protecting people.
"Where we find a concern we will take the necessary action required and if that means revoking someone's licence, that's what we'll do.
"In the last four years we have revoked 50 licenses. However, it’s important to note that in the same period of time 213 new licenses and 3030 renewals have been issued.
"The revoked licenses amount to approximately two per cent of licensed drivers.”