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IN THE NEWS


HELPING TORBAY’S TAXI TRADE TO KEEP UP WITH DEMAND


Taxi and PH companies in Torbay are experiencing a shortfall in the number of drivers in the trade, as the demand increases. With various sectors of the economy now reopened, particularly the hospitality industry, the need for taxi and PH services has returned close to pre-pandemic levels. In response, Torbay Council has significantly reduced the application fee to become a licensed driver in a bid to recruit new drivers, to keep pace with the summer demand and replace those that have found alternative employment. It is hoped the reduced application fee will appeal to anyone looking to get into the trade or is thinking of a career that can offer the flexibility that driving a taxi or PHV can bring. The new application fee of £50 will be limited to the first 50 applications received, the reduced fee will expire on 31 December 2021. To take advantage of the reduced fee, visit: https://www. torbay.gov.uk/business/licensing/taxis/new-drivers/


ST HELENS MAN SPAT AT OPERATOR WHEN TOLD TO WAIT FOR CAB


With driver numbers down by around 25 per cent since the beginning of 2020, taxi and PH firms are struggling to keep up with demand. The St Helens Star reports that whilst operators are confident they can manage the requests for taxis they are unable to provide vehicles as quickly as pre- Covid, and average wait times are longer than normal. There have been some incidents of abuse towards cabbies and operators in recent months, both in person and on social media, and one incident involved a man spitting in the face of an operator when he was told he couldn’t get a cab straight away.


Cllr Jeanie Bell, St Helens Council’s cabinet member for public health and wellbeing, said: “Taxi drivers in St Helens have had to endure an extremely tough time during the last twelve months but the abuse they have received from some customers recently is terrible. “Despite the pressures they have been facing, our licensed operators have continued to provide an invaluable service to the local community and vulnerable residents. “Our licensed drivers are doing their job in challenging conditions and the hostility they have encountered with some customers is making their job even harder. “Driver numbers have already fallen and we do not want to increase this problem further because of these incidents.” To help drivers stay safe St Helens Council has distributed 10,000 free face masks and hand gels, which can be offered to customers who have forgotten their own safety measures.


20


SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT UPDATES GUIDANCE ON SCREENS


The Scottish Government has finally updated their guidance on protective screens, stating: “Screens may be fitted by a variety of automotive providers including vehicle manufacturer dealerships, specialist screen installers or you, if you have the skills and equipment to do so safely” Thanks to the NPHTA and Dave Lawrie for their dedication to the trade throughout this pandemic and in-depth report and guidance on the health and safety of drivers. This has meant governments can’t ignore the plight drivers face. Combined lobbying efforts with ADCU Scotland have been successful. Now it’s time for Glasgow City Council and other Licensing Authorities around Scotland to embrace this change and allow screens to be kept in vehicles during inspections, so no more drivers are put off getting them installed!!


PLYMOUTH CABBIES TURN AWAY PASSENGERS WHO CAN’T PAY CASH


Plymouth taxi drivers are turning away passengers because they don’t have cash - with one man refused three times because he could only pay by card. According to PlymouthLive, Brett Squance, 50, said he and a friend were sent away by three cabbies on a rank on the Barbican on a recent Saturday night. Brett had to walk to a cash machine and by the time he returned the rank was empty and they had to wait another 20 minutes. Brett has reported his concerns to Plymouth City Council as the licensing authority. It comes after a steep drop in the number of hackney and PH drivers after the pandemic and Brexit. One company boss has already said that drivers could pick and choose when to work and so avoid late night city centre shifts. Roy Hamilton, Secretary of the Plymouth Licensed Taxi Drivers Association, said drivers had to pay card fees and their fares were set by the Government and the council. He added: “We are not like private hire, we cannot charge what we like and simply put another £1 on the fare to cover the bank charge. He said that shorter fares were particularly unprofitable when the payments were taken off. Mr Hamilton said back in February that he was aware of 40 licences being handed back to the council since Covid. Private hire drivers have reduced from 803 to 690, according to official figures. But company bosses reckon the decline is far higher with some drivers remaining licensed but not actually active. It has led some regular customers struggling to get a ride home during the evenings.


AUGUST 2021


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