Agenda item

Review of Statement of Hackney Carriage & Private Hire Policy


The Head of Licensing Partnership presented the report, which set out the revised Statement of Hackney Carriage & Private Hire Policy. The policy had been the subject of a 7 week consultation, and the recommendation was that all changes proposed to the draft policy (shown in red at appendix a to the report) should be agreed unless Members were minded otherwise. The policy would mandate that carriages accept card payments, and have the facility to do so. This had been approved by multiple other authorities in Kent, including Maidstone, Tunbridge Wells, and Medway Councils, on the basis of customer care and safety. The officer proposed that the words “These may include:” be added into the section of the policy covering Other Offences, to improve the grammar.


Members discussed the report. They were advised that although consultation responses had been received there was no feedback specifically relating the deadline for replacing card machines if they were faulty, and that leeway could be given to extend the 2-day deadline if required. Members discussed the deadline, and felt that it was too short. It was proposed that 5 working days would be fairer for drivers, and avoid issues with deliveries and post. It was moved from the Chair that the deadline be extended to 5 days.


Resolved: That the deadline for arranging repair/replacement for faulty card payment systems be changed to 5 working days.


In response to questions, the officer outlined the enforcement system for mandatory acceptance of card payments. Passengers would let the council know if their card payments were refused. Warnings and penalty points would be issued, and repeat offenders would face significant consequences. Members discussed the procedure for when card payments could not be accepted, noting that the most common issue raised in the consultation was the lack of mobile connectivity in rural parts of the district. The officer explained that it was anticipated that drivers would be aware of any possible dead zones, and could arrange for payment beforehand, or notify the customer and resolve the situation between them. It was noted that coverage for card readers in the district was good. Members suggested that officers investigate the possibility of a journey being completed, but card payment then being refused by the driver, and how this could be resolved, to avoid any risks to customers.


Members further discussed mandatory card payments, noting concerns in the consultation responses regarding tipping and transaction costs. The officer advised that additional costs could not be added to fares to offset transaction fees. The officer explained that mandatory card payments were proposed due to a significant increase in complaints from customers, reporting that they had been refused rides as they could only pay by card. This was a safety concern.


Members asked further questions of clarification. The officer explained that points would be issued for outright refusal to accept card payment, and that serial offenders would be investigated. A malfunction in the card payment mechanism, leading to an inability to accept card payments, did not constitute a refusal. Receiving 12 points within a 12 month period would invite further enforcement action, including suspension or the revocation of the driver’s licence, where appropriate. Officers advised that the policy would be reviewed within one year.


Resolved: that the revised Statement of Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Policy 2024-2029, attached as an appendix to the minutes, subject to the alterations resolved, be adopted as from 1 April 2024.


Supporting documents:


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