Private hire drivers in Swindon will not be allowed to work for more than one operator. Cllr Jim Robbins had suggested the change saying that it had been suggested by drivers who do a lot of airport and port work, because it would allow them to take bookings on the reverse jour- ney as well. But members of Swindon Borough Council’s licensing committee voted unanimously against allowing the change stating that work- ing for one operator will be retained. The low response to a drivers’ consultation on the matter was a fac- tor in the councillors’ decision not to change. Council licensing manager Kathryn Ashton said: “We only got six responses, which is very disappointing, especially as the team did a lot of work to remind people to respond when the deadline was coming up.” Ms Ashton said the results were less than conclusive and added: “It’s not helpful – four out of six responses voted to allow drivers to be able to work for more than one operator, but the same number, sometimes the same people, voted not to change the current sys- tem, where they can’t do that.” Andrew Lucas, the chairman of the Swindon Hackney Drivers Asso- ciation said: “Be wary of opening up Pandora’s box.” He said if drivers were allowed to take fares from multiple operators it could allow ride hailing apps, such as Uber, to start operating in Swindon. This would see one driver being able to work for a number of apps. Expert Desmond Broster from the National Taxi Safeguarding Ser-


Edinburgh Airport bosses have doubled their controversial ‘drop- off’ fee from £2 to £4 as chiefs try to recoup some of the cash lost to coronavirus. But while the drop-off fee will rise, the charge for picking someone up at the airport will fall by £1 to £4. The drop-off time period has also been increased to ten minutes. With projected losses of £60 million in 2020, the changes are set to help to boost revenue and save as many jobs as possible while ensuring that the airport can “survive a very bleak winter”. Gordon Dewar, Chief Executive of Edinburgh Airport told Edin- burgh Live : “The changes will make things easier to understand for users as requested in much of the feedback we received, as is the doubling in time for use in that area. “We’ll also be offering incentives for those with electric cars as we move towards more sustainable methods of transport. “However, we can’t deny that the drastic impact of Covid-19 has also forced our hand on the pricing change. We are 91% down on passenger numbers, with less routes and airlines operating, and we’re having to operate with a quarantine policy that is a travel ban in all but name. “We stand to lose £60 million in 2020, which makes it incredibly dif- ficult for us to remain competitive unless we increase revenue to survive a very bleak winter. More importantly, we don’t want to lose more staff – we want to preserve as many jobs as possible. Some locals have been left fuming by the changes. Kev. R tweeted: “Edinburgh Airport - modern day highway robbers. “Ramping up the their drop off charges to £4 a drop off. “So any punter coming to Edinburgh airport to drop off a loved one. That’s a 100% increase on 2018. Daylight robbery!”


vice also warned against the change. He said: “You have an excel- lent system in Swindon. You don’t want the shambles you see in Bristol, with one driver with four different operators’ badges on his car. That leads to drivers picking up people who have booked through different operators, and sometimes the wrong people.” Councillor Robbins said: “I’m really disappointed to hear this deci- sion. It would have been a great environmental decision to allow those drivers who take passengers to airports to allow them to find fares from other operators for their return journeys rather than returning empty and have another operator make the journey as well.” NPHTA comment: As with so many of these controversial topics, the abysmal lack of response from the trade means that whatever the outcome, they’re stuck with it and have no comeback if they start rattling cages afterwards. There are currently 1,184 licensed taxi and private hire drivers in Swindon (DfT latest stats March 2019), of whom only six responded to the drivers’ consultation. That says it all really… The ultimate position is down to each individual licensing district, and the requirements of each district to best cater for their passen- ger profiles. In the case of the Swindon trade respondents – some of whom voted both for and against the proposal(!) – they’ll just have to carry on as before, status quo, no change. We’re going to be examining this issue in more detail in next month’s PHTM, as it has raised its head in quite a few other council areas. Roll on national minimum standards… if only!


Gatwick Airport is to charge £5 for dropping off or picking up passengers from 2021. The fee will promote sustainable travel, and help the airport recover from the coronavirus pandemic. In the first six months of 2020, it lost £321m – equivalent to £1,225 per minute between January and June. The chief commercial officer, Jonathan Pollard, said: “Gatwick has just gone through the most challenging period in its history and this new drop off charging scheme will give us a new revenue stream to aid recovery from the Covid-19 crisis. “Gatwick is also committed to promoting sustainable travel and this new scheme will encourage passengers to consider more sustain- able transport options, including public transport services or parking options at the airport, which only involves two single car trips, compared to two return trips when dropping off.” Around 15 per cent of journeys to and from Gatwick journeys are currently “kiss and fly”. Passengers can be dropped off free of charge at the front entrance to the South or North terminal. Arriving travellers are supposed to be picked up at a short-term car park, though in practice that does not happen. From next year, Gatwick officials say: “Anyone who does not wish to pay the charge will be able to drop-off or pick-up passengers in the airport’s long-stay car parks with two hours’ free parking and a free shuttle bus to the terminals.” The airport says the move should also cut traffic congestion and emissions at Gatwick and the surrounding area. While Gatwick’s larger rival, Heathrow, does not charge for picking up or dropping off, many of the UK’s other big airports have had fees for years.


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