Verbal Update of the Licensing Manager
The Licensing Manager provided Members with an update on the current position regarding taxis in Darlington.
Members were provided with details of the number of licenced vehicles in Darlington, and that of the 232 vehicles, 11 were wheelchair accessible; and reference was made to the changes to the requirements regarding emission standards for vehicles.
It was reported that the authority had seen a reduction in 109 drivers when compared to pre-covid; details were provided of the four operators in the town; the demand for drivers was highest for the night time economy; and taxi marshals had been introduced to address disorder in the taxi queues, with funding in place to September. Members noted the increase in taxi fares on 12 April 2022.
Members were informed that a best practice guide was last published by the Department for Transport (DfT) in 2006; the Council’s Private Hire and Hackney Carriage Licensing Policy 2021 was out for consultation; and a meeting held with the Trade in April 2022 identified a number of changes to the Council’s policy that would support the trade and increase recruitment of drivers, including removal of vehicle age and window tint restrictions and removal of the requirement for a knowledge locality test for private hire.
Members were informed that changes to requirements for the registration of taxi drivers with HMRC had resulted in the loss of five drivers in Darlington; the Council was awaiting public guidance on the Taxi and Private Hire Vehicles (Safeguarding and Road Safety) Act which received royal ascent in April; the Taxi and Private Hire Vehicles (Disabled Persons) bill was out for consultation; and the Council’s online taxi licensing system was due to be implemented on 1 August.
Members expressed disappointment in relation to the availability of taxis for the night time economy in Darlington; the Licensing Manager informed Members that this was a national problem and changes to the Council’s policy sought to address this.
RESOLVED – (a) That the update be noted.
(b) That Members receive an update at a future meeting of this Scrutiny Committee.