Monday, March 06, 2017

WHAT, WHERE, WHEN, HOW, WHY and WHO ... By Lee Ward

Let’s look at Capping of Licenses
I was a bugger when I was younger, for example, in Maths class when they told me that 1 + 1 = 2 I wanted to know why, who said so… I mean, how do we know that a single unit is actually called one and not called a unicorn?


Then a teacher called Mr Heinz gave me a book to read by Rudyard Kipling called The Elephant’s Child and I learned a great thing from it but I am still certain he gave me the book because he was sick to death of retrieving his eraser for the black board that he constantly threw at me…. Great times, you could even call it a black board and no one tutted..

What I learned was this;
I keep six honest serving-men: 
(They taught me all I knew) 
Their names are What, Where, When, How, Why and Who…
You see, what I love about this is that anything that was told to me from that day, and especially things that I didn’t grasp, or understand or even simply believe what I was being told, I had the weapons to get the answers that I needed, those small, simple but extremely powerful six words WHAT, WHERE, WHEN, HOW, WHY and WHO.

You cannot answer a question when it starts with these words with a simple yes, no or because I said it is…oh no, you have to explain and explanations are what helps to dissect and understand a problem.


So, the problem we have is a saturation of the market and this is where I got my friends to help me;

What is the Problem?
The market is saturated.

Why is it saturated?
The market is saturated because too many licenses are issued.

Who is issuing the licenses?
​The Local Authorities are issuing the licenses.
Why are they not capping the licenses?
​Because they are not allowed to.

Where does it say that they cannot cap licenses?
​In the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 Section 48

When was this decided?
During the debate in the House of Commons and Lords when the Act was in a state of a Bill.

How can we change this?
​It can be changed by proving that the Act is no longer fit for purpose and that the reasoning behind the decision to cap licenses is no longer valid.

Well, there you go, my six friends to the rescue again. But how do we find out why this decision not to cap licenses occurred and what was the reasoning behind it?
We use the power of the internet and the great pages of Hansard, where we can re-read the arguments and discussion while turning a Bill into an Act.

By the way, they don’t half talk a lot in the Lords and the Commons, I had to read through approximately 60,000 words to find the information that I needed, but by reading it all I also found information that I require for something else, so all’s good.

Anyway, back in 1976, June 29th in the House of Lords a certain Lord Airedale said…
In the case of taxi drivers I suppose there is an ingrained, well established principle that only a certain number of taxis are licensed in a particular area...
This shows that even way back then they accepted that Taxis should be capped because the local area understood the supply and demand, well that’s a good thing and a good place to start. 

He then went on to say;
... But it would be a new departure if the same restriction by numbers of private hire operators were to be operated by district councils, and the question arises as to whether a district council is well placed to gauge the number of private hire vehicles that a particular district can accommodate…

Now I can see where he is coming from and what he is saying, but they did not have the perfection of Unmet Demand Survey’s back then, and even if they did, I am confident that they were nowhere near as accurate as they are today. But then he went and spoilt it, although we do have the power of hindsight I guess...

If a potential private hire vehicle operator thinks that he can make a living by running his one car, which is a good suitable car, as a private hire car, then who are the district council to say, " We, in our wisdom, have decided that the market is saturated in this district and that you will not succeed if you are licensed to use your car as a private hire car "? 

I simply do not believe that this would be a proper method of approach by a district council in deciding whether to issue a licence, and I trust that it will be accepted that sheer numbers will not be the criterion in any case whether or not a district council issues a licence.

Now I guess we have a bit of a stumbling block here, because lets be frank about this, Government are more than happy to have fewer people off the unemployed register and on the self-employed register, but fail to mention that these same people (and now people who were in the Taxi and Private Hire sector before saturation) are claiming Benefits to make ends meet, because that’s what saturation does when demand does not change, it lowers the takings/profits/wages of the workers.

One of the problems from the discussion on whether to put a cap on Private Hire was that back in 1976, many of the drivers were part time workers, and they even referenced this in their debate, but that is not the case anymore. You simply cannot have the over heads of a car, insurance, fuel, maintenance, road tax, base/radio rent or commission and expect to earn a wage by just working a few hours at the weekend for beer money, it’s impossible.

They did however reference this...
After all, district councils are not empowered to restrict the number of shoe shops in a particular area. If they were, I very much doubt whether there would be nearly as many shoe shops in Oxford Street as there are. Presumably they all make a living. 


And my friends, I think that THIS is where we get a change in this Act, because a shoe shop will not have an effect on PUBLIC SAFETY, apart from some stupid designs, but that’s not the main issue.


As a trade, we are all now having to work longer hours to cover the overheads mentioned and that is a public safety issue if ever there was one.

And this is where it gets even better, not only for London, but the whole of the country.

When EVERY Licensing area has an Unmet Demand Survey to determine the amount of vehicles that are licensed, it is based on the vehicles both licensed AND working in that area, therefore drivers cannot get licensed in one area to work in another, because the Unmet Demand Survey would become flawed for each area.

Don’t start screaming that all those cars will come back to London, or one of the area’s that have been as guilty as the TfL in issuing licenses, they won’t, and this is why.

These same drivers cannot be arsed to pass the local tests, so they are NOT going to commute a hour or more a day to work in an area that would be saturated beyond doubt, they are not that type of person, and to be honest, I see an automatic cull in the drivers who are not in this for a career but for a fast buck (well, that fast buck backfired).

You see, a career driver cares about the trade, and the customers. They respect the authorities that they are licensed by, they respect each other even…to a degree.

Add this to the requirement that I believe should be an industry standard which was
Enhanced DBS check
• Driving Standards test
• Local knowledge test
• Intended use policy
• Applicants to LIVE within 20 mile of the area to be licensed
• NVQ or BTEC Professional Taxi & Private Hire Driver Qualification
• Group 2 Medical
• Proof of eligibility to work within the UK
• English Language Test to level CEFR C1 minimum
• Maths Test to level OCR Functional Skills minimum
 
Note:
I have taken out the section that stated to LIVE within 20 miles because as a previous comment mentioned, it is difficult to live and work in or close to London, my bad…Yorkshire thinking on my behalf lads…
 
So, to recap…
 
We introduce the requirements of all drivers, we put a cap on all licenses with immediate effect until the Unmet Demand Surveys are in, and if an area has too many licenses already, then the suspension of applications is made until nature takes its course with the licenses already active.
 
Like I said further up, I am not an educated man, and I respect any suggestions or comments, I would even be more than happy for any Organisation to take this and run with it, but it’s a starting point to take forward, and not just a load of drivers moaning that the job is fooked…
 
Till then, I will keep punching…
Lee Ward.