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GMB PERSPECTIVE


I also found this quite staggering because the reply was sent by the very same person who had previously and efficiently supplied me details on my Lewes District Council FOI. Of course no one likes being rejected so I got up on my hind- quarters and protested about this.


This prompted the FOI request to be escalated and at the time of writing I am currently waiting for an official response. And of course this involves another wait of up to twenty days - again. If this gets refused then I shall report this to the Information Commissioners Office which I have made very clear.


However, on the other side of the coast is Southampton City Council and I have been communicating with my good friend and GMB colleague, Ian Hall, who has been in the SCC cab trade for many years and who also writes for PHTM. Ian decided to submit his own FOI request to SCC relating to licensing fees, in the same format that I have been using which is very clear and precise.


Ian has discovered that SCC is holding onto a staggering (I make no excuse for using this word yet again) excess of over £500k in licensing fees! Yes half a million quid! When Ian told me about this, to say I was shocked would be underestimating my reaction, which I distinctly remember as I was in the process of drinking a cup of tea - in fact I nearly choked on my Tetley’s. Again this is money that drivers and proprietors have been paying in over a number of years and in my view owed back to them without any hesitation!


It has to be made very clear here that the calculation of licensing fees is not the responsibility of any one single person. There are several parties that are responsible, which includes whoever is in charge of the taxi/private hire licensing department and the respective Licensing Committee which is made up of local councillors.


In fact in normal circumstances I would imagine that it would ultimately be the responsibility of the Licensing Chair to ensure that the fees charged reflect not only the reasonable costs as previously described, but also as to whether any excess funds have been accumulating.





At the time of writing this I have just had a reply from Wolverhampton following my FOI request on licensing fees in the same format that I have used elsewhere. This covers the years 2016/17 2017/18 2018/19 2019/20 for numbers of private hire / drivers / vehicles / operators with income and expenditure totals. I have specifically not asked for a break- down in expenditure as this would take time to do but this can be done later if needed.


Yes again I was staggered in seeing that Wolverhampton have licensed over 43,000 vehicles and over 33,000 driver licences so you can easily imagine the amount of fees that are generated! At this moment in time I have decided not to release this information as I need to respond back to Wolverhampton with some specific questions.


So I ask all of you in the trade: are you fully up to speed with your own licensing fees accountability and what funds your own council may be holding onto?


If not then you have the absolute right to initiate an FOI request and I would strongly recommend that you use the same format that I have used - the details of which you can view by going to: bhtaxinews.cab/foi where there is a link to a pdf and an excel file template that you can download.


Keep in mind that we have to be tested and regarded as fit and proper to hold a taxi/private hire licence and I do sometimes question whether those in charge of us should be tested likewise.


PART 2: next month.


SCC is holding onto a staggering excess of over £500k in licensing fees!


APRIL 2021 ”


Andy Peters Secretary GMB Brighton & Hove Taxi Section andy.peters@gmbtaxis.org.uk


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