Last night, the Council’s Licensing Committee met to discuss the draft Taxi and Private Hire 2020 Strategy.
As well as going ‘back to black’, the ambitious proposal looks to modernise the city’s taxi and private hire fleet; improving safety, enhancing customer service and experience, making them environmentally cleaner, plus exploring ways to tackle out of town taxis.
Now that the paper has been scrutinised by committee, proposals will now be prepared for a public consultation in the next month.
Committee discussed the length of consultation, and agreed to a 12 week consultation, to allow the public maximum time to give their views.
Councillor Mick Barker said;
“Tonight was a good first step towards positive change for Derby’s taxis. It would be amiss of me not to acknowledge that there has been some concern about the proposed changes.
“I would reiterate that this is a draft, and by no means final; I urge people to remember that. Last night we heard from Councillors on the committee, but we’re still to hear from you, the public and the trade.
“In the next month we’ll be launching a consultation, allowing everyone to give their feedback on these proposals.”
The new strategy proposes vehicle age and emission requirements from 2020, though at the Licensing Committee, all were in agreement that there would need to be compromise to ensure drivers had a reasonable amount of time to make the changes, while still ensuring we improve safety and tackle air quality as soon as possible.
Councillor Barker continued:
“In relation to air quality, we are not singling out taxi drivers here. Our proposals are part of a range of measures the Council is working on to address issues in the city and that ultimately starts with newer vehicles.”
A number of schemes are already in place, or planning to improve Derby’s air quality, including traffic management measures, encouraging uptake of low emission vehicles, electric vehicle charging infrastructure, working with bus companies to provide greener fleets, and more.
Richard Antcliff, Director for Public Protection and Streetpride said:
“The Taxi & Private Hire Vehicle Strategy offers a long-term solution to Derby’s ageing taxis and high emissions, but if we don’t act to tackle these problems now, we’re going to be left catching up.
“Now is not the time to be resting on our laurels. Other cities are ahead of us, and we need to catch up. I’ve worked in other cities where similar strategies have been hugely successful; we know this works.
“Ultimately, if we can’t future proof city’s N02 emissions, the government might impose sanctions on the Council, which would more than likely land Derby with a charging zone, at the very least. That could cost drivers a significant amount of money.
“Drivers admit themselves that business is difficult right now, and that’s because other business models are at work – customers showing preference for newer vehicles; new apps taking trade away from Hackneys; reliance on alternative modes of transport. We need to make sure we’re moving with the times.
“Our end goal is to keep the taxi trade alive; to allow drivers to remain operating on a fully commercial basis, and offer customers an excellent and safe experience, at the same time as tackling air quality. And to do that, we have to be bold with our plans.
“This is not going to be the Council imposing sanctions on our city’s drivers; we want to work with them. We want, and we need to get this right, and we’re ready to offer support and guidance, but we need the cooperation of drivers; to complete the consultation, to come to the drop-in sessions. We can’t get this right without them.”
A full consultation on the strategy is set to launch in February. This will be open to the public, and to the trade. The consultation will be available online, and as with all consultations, paper copies, translations, and braille versions can be requested.
The Council will write to drivers to ensure they’re informed on how and where they can take part.