Nottingham City Council is currently considering taxi numbers following a comprehensive Unmet Demand Survey.
The Council, which currently caps Hackney Carriage Vehicle (HCV) licenses at 420, is considering whether to maintain this limit, reduce it, or remove it entirely.
Background of the Issue
The issue dates back to previous reports submitted to the Regulatory and Appeals Committee on December 14, 2020, and September 6, 2021. These reports led to an Unmet Demand Survey, the results of which are now crucial in determining the next steps for the Council’s taxi licensing policy.
The survey, conducted by Licensed Vehicle Surveys and Assessment (LVSA) between September 2022 and February 2023, found no significant unmet demand for Hackney Carriages. Despite the current number of licensed vehicles being only 205, much lower than the capped 420, the survey concluded that the service level to the public was adequate.
The Council has three options based on the survey findings:
Maintaining the Current Cap: This aligns with the survey’s conclusion of no significant unmet demand. It helps manage city congestion and maintains air quality by preventing the formation of unofficial taxi ranks. However, this approach contradicts Department of Transport guidance, which favors no cap on taxi licenses.
Reducing the Number of Licenses to 250: This option considers the current number of about 200 licensed vehicles sufficient, especially given the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on travel patterns. A reduced cap could potentially help drivers earn a living wage but might limit competition in the taxi market.
Removing the Cap Altogether: In line with best practice guidance, this would increase competition and potentially improve services. However, it risks causing dissatisfaction in the taxi trade and may lead to congestion and pollution concerns.
Financial and Legal Considerations
Financially, retaining or reducing the cap would mean ongoing costs associated with unmet demand surveys, currently around £19,140. Removing the cap would eliminate this cost. Legally, the Council needs to balance the survey findings with the Department for Transport’s guidance, which generally opposes quantity restrictions on licenses.
The matter will be discussed at the Regulatory and Appeals Committee meeting next week.