A consultation has been launched to see if the number of taxis in Torbay should be increased. Torbay Council currently only allows 169 vehicle licences to be issued at any one time.
DevonLive reports that it is asking taxi drivers, businesses and customers for their views on whether there are enough taxis to adequately serve public demand in the area.
This ‘unmet demand study’ has to be carried out every three years as set out in guidance issued by the Department for Transport (DfT).
If the results show public demand is being met, the limit can be retained until a further survey is carried out. If public demand is not being met, measures should be taken which could include making more licences available.
Torbay Council carried out a study in 2023 which included more than 600 hours of rank observations, more than 100 on-street surveys and discussions with user groups, key stakeholders and the taxi trade. The findings revealed that passenger demand for hackney carriage vehicles within Torbay has stayed the same compared to when the last survey was carried out in 2020.
However, passenger waiting times to use a hackney carriage vehicle in 2023 then increased, meaning customers are waiting for longer at taxi ranks. Before making any changes, a consultation is taking place on the proposals.
It was launched on Monday, February 26, and runs until Sunday, May 19. Following the consultation, a report will be presented to the Licensing Committee so members can make a final decision.
In 2023 Torbay Council instructed LVSA (Licensed Vehicle Surveys and Assessment) to carry out the required unmet demand study. It showed there is an extremely high level of significant unmet demand and steps must be taken to return passenger waiting times to a reasonable level.
The two recommended options now being consulted on are:
To take part in the consultation, click here: https://shorturl.at/irwSW
Sefton is facing a taxi shortage after a new report detailed the huge fall in licensed taxi drivers since the pandemic.
The Liverpool Echo reports that analysis of the taxi industry within Sefton revealed a startling 19.5% decrease in licensed drivers and a 12.9% drop in active hackney carriage vehicles since 2020.
The decline in numbers is so severe, current vehicle owners are unable to find enough drivers to operate the 271 licensed taxis across Sefton.
The report into taxi issues was heard at an Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting on 27 February to explore how to increase the number of hackney drivers.
The report examined the current state of taxi services in the borough including current numbers, levels of demand and pressures on the trade.
Since 2020 active hackney carriage vehicles have fallen from 271 to 236 whilst available licensed drivers has dropped from 330 to 266.
The committee also heard some of the reasons for the decline which included rising costs of fuel and insurance.
Significantly, it was reported some drivers felt a 'perceived decline in demand for late night journeys' was negatively impacting the profession due to decreased earnings.
Another factor cited by the report was the effect of private hire firms. It said: "Many hackney drivers now accept journeys via private hire operators which will likely mean that they could be working anywhere in the LCR and not within Sefton.
"Despite a rise in hackney carriage tariffs in October 2023, private hire fares are unregulated and many drivers are finding income via this method more attractive especially when fare ‘multipliers’ are applied during busy periods."
This year will see a new Unmet Demand Survey launched across Sefton, which is conducted at intervals of 4-5 years.
The 2024 survey will consult with taxi drivers, vehicle owners, users, business owners and trade representatives and assess rank activity throughout Sefton.
The hope is that the survey will facilitate a better understanding of the pressures cabbies are facing and find solutions to declining numbers.
Northumberland County Council is facing calls to increase taxi fares just weeks after it was agreed to leave them at their current level.
ChronicleLive reports that councillors on the local authority's licensing and regulatory committee felt the stabilising of fuel costs meant fares did not need to increase this year, despite acknowledging rapidly rising insurance costs.
However, officials from the trade body representing taxi drivers have warned that the current regulations will drive workers away from the trade.
New rules in the county mean new or replacement vehicles must be under the age of four years old to be used as a taxi from April 1 2024, while they will only be allowed to be licensed for eight years from that date.
Mark Heston, Secretary of the Northumberland Taxi and Private Hire Association, said the group would be putting a proposal forward to the council.
He said: "The licensing committee hasn't got a clue. For them to say 'don't fix it, it's not broken' - we have got astronomical increases in our insurance, the cost of fuel is on the up again and the cost of living is still rising.
"The new age policy with regards to the age of new vehicles means drivers are looking in the region of £20,000 to £25,000. On the current fare tariff, you can't justify buying a new car.
"Drivers are earning below the living wage as it stands, and it is due to rise in April. We are working an hour and a half to earn the minimum wage.
"The council needs to listen to the trade and take on board what they have said, engage with us. We just want a fair, level playing field, we want to be able to make a living.
"Over 100 drivers have left the trade within a year. I worry about school transport - what happens when there's not enough taxis to do the school work? It's not sustainable."
The association's proposal to the council recommends increasing the flag price - where the taxi fare metre starts - from £2.70 to £3.30.
Furthermore, the fare should increase by 20p every 230 yards, as opposed to the current rate of 10p every 500 yards.
Mr Heston added: "We're not asking for massive amounts. They seem to think we don't need a fare increase and that's wrong and we will make sure it gets passed.
"It is time they worked with the trade representatives quickly to implement a plan to ensure the safety of the public and ensure the trade survives. Mark my words, if we don't, in the Berwick area I think we will be left with five or six taxis."
A spokeswoman for Northumberland County Council responded: “A report was recently considered by committee, fulfilling the authority’s commitment to keep hackney carriage fares under regular review.
"The previous review carried out in 2023 had resulted in a fare increase. The committee acknowledged the tariff set by the authority is the maximum that can be charged.
"Since then, despite inflation having risen by 4.2% during the period, average fuel costs had gone down and the licence fees charged by the authority had remained the same.
"Overall, costs therefore were considered to have balanced out. The committee noted the authority had received no formal approach from the trade requesting it implement a further increase in fares.”
The council said that since the meeting of the licensing committee, it had received a formal request for the tariff to be increased and that this would be "appropriately considered".
It was also explained that the new rules around vehicle age was brought in to improver air quality by reducing the emissions of licensed vehicles.
It was also pointed out that this condition would not extend to those vehicles already licensed by the authority and presented to it for licence renewal.
A Castleford cabbie has had his licence revoked for careless driving as he was driving too slow in the middle lane on the motorway..
Yasar Ahmed chair of Wakefield Drivers Association said: "CD10 is a careless driving offence - he was driving too slow in the middle lane on the motorway and was given three points.
"This incident happened in 2022 but when he recently went to renew his taxi licence they revoked it.
"This decision was made by a licensing officer. However, it should have been sent to the licensing committee for elected members to make this decision
"The driver is currently working on appeal
"Since this policy was passed in January 2020 we have seen many protests and strikes. The policy has been amended many times but I have always said it needs to be scrapped altogether because it’s not fit for purpose.
Unite the Union called this policy 'draconian'.
" I urge the elected councillors to review this policy and the recent decision as a matter of urgency. The trade will never accept this policy and we will fight this policy in the courts and on the streets.
"We need a urgent meeting to discuss a possible strike or a protest at full council meeting."
A taxi driver was attacked in North Tyneside after refusing to give a man a discounted fee.
Police received a report that a taxi driver had been involved in an altercation with an unknown man on High Street East in Wallsend around 1.10am on December 29.
It was reported the offender entered the taxi and asked for a discounted fee before assaulting the driver when his request was denied.
The man got out of the taxi but returned a short time later and kicked the driver’s side door, causing substantial damage to the vehicle.
Officers investigating the incident have released an image of a man who they would like to speak in connection with the report.
He was in the area at the time the incident is reported to have taken place and officers believe he could have valuable information that may assist the ongoing investigation.
The man, or anyone who recognises him, is asked to contact police via the 'Report' page on the Northumbria Police website or by calling 101, quoting reference number NP-20231229-0037.