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Sep 08

PH Consultation – More questions than answers!

The United Cabbies Group are unhappy with PCO Notice 08/11 Outcomes of Private Hire Consultation issued on Friday 2nd September 2011.

Below is a series of email exchanges between the UCG and the Public Carriage Office detailing our grievances with regards to this notice…

 

Dear Mr Mason,

We read with interest an article on Page 4 of the August edition of Private Hire & Courier magazine regarding the Private Hire Consultation.

See link below

http://www.phcmag.co.uk/current-issue/08-2011-193.pdf

Please could you advise us as to the accuracy of this article.

We look forward to your reply

Regards

United Cabbies News Team

Dear United Cabbies News,

I did recently present to members of the Licensed Private Hire Car Association (LPHCA) to discuss the draft outcome private hire consultation. There are a number of proposals we will be taking forward and I hope to be in a position to issue a formal press notice or TPH notice shortly. There are still some details to be finalised and these are mainly around vehicle identification. If you have any questions regarding specific issues in the consultation then please let me know.

I hope this information helps but let me know if you require any further information.

Kind regards

Helen Chapman

Deputy Director London Taxi & Private Hire Directorate | Transport for London

Hi Helen

Thanks for your reply.

We remain a little uncertain as to the accuracy of the article that appeared in PH & Courier magazine, please could you let us know whether the article is correct with regards to the proposals that will not be taken forward, ie, blacked out windows, pre-booked signage on PHV’s etc. Many of these important issues seem to have been dismissed without an explanation.

We are very surprised that you appear to have given PH the ‘heads up’ with regards to the outcome of the consultation and the Taxi trade has been kept in the dark as usual.

We look forward to your reply

United Cabbies News Team

Hi United Cabbies News Team

The presentation was given before the recommendations were presented to Surface Transport Panel and were therefore draft recommendations. I am therefore unable to confirm that they are the finalised proposals as they have since been through Surface Transport Panel and some amendments have been made. As advised, we will shortly be announcing the final outcome so I request that you wait for this.

It surprises me that you wouldn’t expect TfL to start sharing recommendations with the PHV trade as soon as we are able. These are, after all, proposals that will affect the way that they operate and it is therefore important to us to start getting the message across as early as possible.

In the same way, had it have been a taxi consultation then the initial views would be firstly shared with the taxi trade. That said, the purpose of the press release which I hope will be issued shortly, is to inform both trades of the finalised set of proposals. I can assure you there has never been any intention of “keeping the taxi trade in the dark”.

I hope this clarifies matters.

Kind regards

Helen

Hi Helen
Thank you for your reply

Since your reply we have been made aware of TPH Notice 08/11 Outcomes of Private Hire Consultation.

Within the above notice are many issues that we feel need clarifying, please can answer all of the questions highlighed below.

London Taxi & Private Hire has analysed the results of the consultation and spent a considerable amount of time undertaking further consultation and engagement with the private hire and taxi trade and the police to understand the impact of introducing some of the changes.

1) We would like to know who from the Taxi trade you undertook further consultation with? Should you not have consulted further with all respondees to the PH consultation? As stakeholders and respondees we are extremely disappointed that we were not invited or party to further consultation.

Most of the changes relate to the introduction of additional requirements for private hire operators, particularly those operating from shared premises and will seek to address a number of key issues raised with TfL over the past few years. Some items for private hire drivers are still under review and will be announced separately.

2) Please could you let us know what items are still under review and when they will be announced?.

Throughout the consultation process, the overriding aim has been to ensure that any changes strike the right balance between improving safety for the travelling public whilst meeting the Governments desired objective of adopting a pragmatic approach to licensing without over regulating.

3) Please could you provide us with a copy of the Government’s desired objectives with relation to licensing as this is something we were unaware of? Please give a detailed breakdown of how LTPH intend to enforce the new policies you plan to introduce.

 

We also have some questions regarding the summary of changes table:

 

Section 1) New measures will be introduced for shared operator premises. Applications will only be accepted if certain conditions are met.

What are the new measures and what conditions will need to be met?

Section 2) All applications for a private hire operating centre will require proof that planning permission has been granted, applied for, or is not required.

Will license applicants be permitted to operate whilst planning permission is assessed?

Section 3) Private hire operating centres within a shared premises will be required to have a designated booking area within the premises. This area will be named on the licence.

Considering designated booking areas within premises are already a requirement, shouldn’t this be removed from the summary of changes table?

Section 4) Operators within shared premises will be required to provide a booking ‘receipt’ to passengers.

What measures do you plan to introduce to ensure that customer receipts are issued? What penalties will apply to operators that do not comply?

Section 6) Additional checks will be done on all personnel named on an operator’s licence application to ensure they are ‘fit and proper’

What additional checks will be carried out? Does this apply to booking staff?

Section 7) Further restrictions will apply for operator applications in shared premises within central London.

What further restrictions will apply? what about venues outside of Central London? Please define Central London.

Section 8) TfL will work with private hire operators and applicants to encourage adherence to local parking regulations.

TfL will work with… What does this mean?

Encourage adherence… How will you encourage adherence?

Will TfL seek the support of local councils to enforce parking regulations outside operating centres?

What measures do you have in place for dealing with PHVs illegally parking on Taxi ranks?

Section 9) TfL is considering further requirements thar applicants must meet to help improve standards and ensure detailed background information checks can be undertaken for all drivers.

Considering further requirements… What further requirements are they? TPH Notice 08/11 is titled ‘Consultation outcomes’ and is the result of 10 months of consultation. Why are you still considering requirements?… Surely 10 months is long enough!

Section 10) TfL is considering additional measures for drivers including a review of training requirements and driver identification.

More considering, when is the considering going to end?

Section 12) New consolidated external vehicle signage will be introduced to replace all forms of existing vehicle signage, including red route stickers.

What type of vehicle signage will be introduced?

 

In addition to the questions above, please could you provide detailed explanations as to why TfL believe:

 

1) Pre Booked Stickers: LTPH do not feel these are necessary and will not be taking the idea forward.

2) Additional Driver Identification in Vehicles: The need to display driver ID inside vehicles, LTPH feel this is an unnecessary step for Private Hire drivers.

3) Tinted Windows: LTPH didn’t think this was a problem.

Who was consulted on this matter? Were women’s groups, rape crisis centres etc asked for their opinions?

4) Wheelchair Requirement: Wheelchair accessible vehicles (WCA), are not a requirement for PH companies.

5) Residential PH: The requirement of small operators to have no more than two vehicles when operating inside residential premises, has been dropped.

6) Vehicle colours: There are to be no restrictions on the colour scheme of PHV’s.

7) PHV’s Similar to License Taxis: The restriction that “PHV vehicles must not resemble Licensed Taxis” is scrapped.

Does this mean that PH drivers can now drive a TX shape Taxi without the hire light?

The issues above have all been dropped by LTPH, who is responsible for deciding which proposals will be put before the surface transport panel?

We look forward to your reply

United Cabbies Group

Hi,

You have asked many questions which we will go through to respond to. However, just to manage your expectations, some of your questions are things we are still working on and so won’t yet be in a position to provide detailed responses. For example, there are no finalised decisions on what the new vehicle signage will look like. The consultation responses were clear that current arrangements don’t work very well and the conclusion is that PHV vehicle signage needs to change / be improved which is what we are working on but it is too premature to share anything yet.

That said, we will go through your questions and answer everything we can and get back to you as soon as possible.

Kind regards

Helen

Dear Helen

Thanks for your reply

You have pointed out that there are some issues that you are still working on, this came as a surprise, considering the PH consultation closed in January of this year, some 8 months ago.

We were surprised to hear that many of the issues raised in the consultation have already been presented to the Surface transport panel for approval and that other issues appear to have been dropped.

Please could you confirm whether the 3 year minimum residency proposal that yourself and Mr Mason spoke of in the August edition of PH & Courier magazine has been dropped?

As we pointed out in our previous email, the UCG are extremely disappointed not to have been involved in the further consultation with the Taxi trade that you referred to in TPH Notice 08/11 Outcomes of PH Consultation.

For your reference the UCG’S response to the PH Consultation can be found on the link below.

http://ucg-london.co.uk/2011/01/13/ucg-response-to-the-ph-consultation-document/

We have carried out some research regarding the guidelines a consultation process should follow and below are extracts from the The government’s code of practice on consultations: please pay particular attention to the green text as we believe that these particular guidelines have not been followed by LTPH when carrying out the PH Consultation, please could you provide us with an explanation as to why this is the case?

Criterion 1: When to consult
Formal consultation should take place at a stage when there is scope to influence the policy outcome.

Criterion 2: Duration of consultation exercises
Consultations should normally last for at least 12 weeks with consideration given to longer timescales where feasible and sensible.

Criterion 3: Clarity of scope and impact
Consultation documents should be clear about the consultation process, what is being proposed, the scope to influence and the expected costs and benefits of the proposals.

Criterion 4: Accessibility of consultation exercises
Consultation exercises should be designed to be accessible to, and clearly targeted at, those people the exercise is intended to reach.

Criterion 5: The burden of consultation
Keeping the burden of consultation to a minimum is essential if consultations are to be effective and if consultees’ buy-in to the process is to be obtained.

Criterion 6 Responsiveness of consultation exercises
Consultation responses should be analysed carefully and clear feedback should be provided to participants following the consultation.

Criterion 7 Capacity to consult
Officials running consultations should seek guidance in how to run an effective consultation exercise and share what they have learned from the experience. These criteria should be reproduced in consultation documents.

1.1 Formal, written, public consultation will often be an important stage in the policy making process. Consultation makes preliminary analysis available for public scrutiny and allows additional evidence to be sought from a range of interested parties so as to inform the development of the policy or its implementation.

6.2 In order to ensure that responses are analysed correctly, it is important to understand who different bodies represent, and how the response has been pulled together, e.g. whether the views of members of a representative body were sought prior to drafting the response.

6.4 Following a consultation exercise, the Government should provide a summary of who responded to the consultation exercise and a summary of the views expressed to each question. A summary of any other significant comments should also be provided. This feedback should normally set out what decisions have been taken in light of what was learnt from the consultation exercise. This information should normally be published before or alongside any further action, e.g. laying legislation before Parliament.

16 Those who have participated in a consultation exercise should normally be alerted to the publication of this information.

We look forward to your reply to the above questions, and of course the questions posed in the original email.

Best regards

United Cabbies Group

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