The Executive Director of Environment and Adult Social Care submitted a report to consider the approval of a 3-month trial of alternative arrangements for Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Vehicles in Wilson Street, Middlesbrough.
The report outlined that the stretch of Wilson Street between Albert Road and Linthorpe Mews can be extremely congested at peak times, generally in the early hours of the morning on weekends. This congestion primarily arises from the large number of hackney carriages and private hire vehicles in this location which are attracted by members of the public who visit the numerous late night bars and takeaways in the area.
The report provided background to the issues at Wilson Street, In December 2009, Transportation Planning International (TPI) were commissioned by the Council to undertake a review of town centre night time traffic management arrangements and the issues in relation to Wilson Street were considered in conjunction with other town centre late night hot spot locations.
In August 2010 a report containing a number of recommendations was produced by TPI, however these were not approved by the Councils Executive and it was decided that all taxi issues, including the reports recommendations, should be developed and progressed through a Quality Taxi Partnership (QTP) which would be established with representatives from the taxi trade and other interested parties. Recommendations arising from this would be reported to the Executive Member for approval.
In February 2011, representatives of the QTP met to consider the options in relation to Wilson Street. All trade representatives agreed that the full closure of Wilson Street should not be progressed, however, no agreement was reached on the other options contained in the TPI report. In February 2011, the QTP was suspended.
The use of Taxi Marshals in Wilson Street for a 3 month period was approved by the Mayor in April 2011.
Throughout the trial period Boro Cars, their drivers and the Private Hire Association have maintained that there was inadequate provision made by the Council on Wilson Street for members of the public wishing to access private hire vehicles, particularly those customers using Boro Cars private hire booking office which was established adjacent to a hackney carriage rank in December 2010. During the same period the Hackney Carriage trade have complained about interference with the operation of the rank by Boro Cars Private Hire vehicles.
During the trial period Officers, the Police and Taxi Marshals also reported conflict between the hackney carriage and private hire trade. As a result of these ongoing problems the Taxi Marshal trial was extended, following consultation with the Executive Member of Community Protection, to allow for further assessment to be carried out.
The report outlined that on 24 February 2012 the QTP was reinstated following agreement from all parties that a Quality Taxi Partnership was essential in progressing taxi related issues. At this meeting the QTP identified the issues surrounding Wilson Street as being one of the main priorities.
In March 2012, it was agreed that a continuation of the use of Taxi Marshals in Wilson Street would occur until January 2013 to allow time for the QTP to find a more permanent solution to the problems associated with Wilson Street.
On 28 March 2012 at a meeting of the QTP a number of issues and concerns were raised by representatives of the hackney carriage and private hire trades in relation to Wilson Street, details of which were outlined in the report. It was accepted by all that the Council should draft proposals, taking into consideration the concerns.
The QTP considered the draft proposals at its meeting on 19 April 2012. Although full agreement could not be reached on all issues it was agreed that specified amendments should be made to the arrangements provided for both hackney carriage and private hire vehicles in Wilson Street which should be trialled for a three month period in line with the plan shown at Appendix in the report.
It was agreed that the trial would be operational for three months and that during this period the trial would be monitored. The QTP agreed that in order to implement the trial as quickly as possible, the changes proposed should be introduced on a goodwill basis, without the need for formal statutory procedures to be followed. If the trial produced a harmonious operation in Wilson St. then the requisite formal changes would be initiated. The QTP also agreed to meet on a monthly basis throughout the trial period to discuss the effects of the trial and to consider whether any changes to the trial were necessary.
The report stated that there were 2 options available:
Option 1 (preferred option)
To implement the trial period as detailed above to allow for monitoring by Officers and members of the QTP who may agree minor alterations to the trial as necessary.
To leave the current arrangements for hackney carriage and private hire vehicles in Wilson Street unaltered. However, this would not address the issues in Wilson Street in the long term and would contradict the earlier recommendation made by the Executive Member for Community Protection at the meeting on 8 March 2012.
During the meeting, Councillor Rostron outlined that since the report has been issued, a number of concerns had been raised by the Private Hire Trade requiring consideration by Officers. Councillor Rostron therefore deferred making the decision until this had taken taken place and a meeting of the QTP had discussed these concerns.
That the decision be deferred
The decision was supported by the following reason:
For reasons outlined in the report