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PostPosted: Tue Feb 23, 2021 9:58 pm 
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Taxi drivers in Basingstoke to avoid fee hike after ‘difficult year’

THERE will be no increase in fees and charges for licensed taxi drivers in the borough this year, the council has revealed.

The decision has been taken to freeze costs for hackney carriage and private hire operators, despite the loss of income for the authority.

Councillors approved the move - although concerns were raised, including that the decision shows ‘inconsistency’ in addressing the economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.

Discussing the fees and charges report for the coming year, council officer Robert Draper told members of the licensing committee on Monday (February 22) that the overall increase in license fees which the council have the power over, will be approximately 3 per cent from April.

This has been decided to reflect the council’s costs and budget strategy.

However, he added that the decision had been taken to exclude hackney carriage and private hire operators from this hike, due to the ‘difficult year’ they have had and ‘great concern’ that many have left the trade.

Financial difficulties faced by drivers have resulted from multiple coronavirus lockdowns, with fewer people travelling or leaving their home, and the nighttime economy also forced to shut down for extended periods.

Mr Draper said: “This year has been a particularly difficult one for those operators and drivers and as a result of that there is no change in the fees for hackney carriage or private hire vehicles.

“This will have a budgetary impact on the council. We will be losing an income of £4,100 pounds.”

However, Mr Draper justified the move by explaining that the past year has seen a significant drop-out of taxi drivers in the trade - with the numbers of hackney carriage drivers falling to almost the numbers seen before the council’s cap on numbers was scrapped.

He added: “But of greater concern is we are aware of a number of drivers and operators who have withdrawn for the trade in the last year for so, so we are predicting a budgetary pressure of £10,000 in reduction in income.

“Our key concern is much more towards those drivers and operators.”

However, members raised other concerns, including the impact of the pandemic on other industries.

Cllr Colin Phillimore (Basingstoke Independent Group, Overton, Laverstoke and Steventon) said: “The current economic crisis is not just difficult for drivers, it's difficult for all parts of the economy. I support not making changes for drivers, but are we not being inconsistent by not addressing the other parts of the economy which are struggling?

“I don’t see why we should be applying increases apart from the statutory ones. The other ones I dont think will make much difference to the budget anyway.”

The council’s 2021/22 budget is set to be discussed at a full council meeting later this week.

Cllr Phillimore added; “I think we’re putting the cart before the horse, before the budget meeting on Thursday.”

Cllr Tony Jones (Labour, Buckskin) asked about what more could be done to encourage drivers back.

He said: “What we’ve got to remember is our town is growing and if we’re losing people we’d like to know why.

“I’d like to see some comparisons with other councils - are we charging too much for our license? I’m assuming not but I don’t know. It’s sad if we are losing drivers, we need to look into it as an urgency, not as a thing for next year.”

Robert Draper responded by stating that the fees that are set by the authority reflect the costs of the authority, and that it’s therefore not recommended to compare with other authorities.

Officers recommended that councillors approve the new licensing fees and charges, which will apply from 1 April 2021.

Cllr Phillimore and Cllr Jones abstained, but the motion carried.

A full list of the council’s current fees and charges can be viewed here: https://www.basingstoke.gov.uk/licence-fees


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 23, 2021 9:58 pm 
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Quote:
However, Mr Draper justified the move by explaining that the past year has seen a significant drop-out of taxi drivers in the trade - with the numbers of hackney carriage drivers falling to almost the numbers seen before the council’s cap on numbers was scrapped.

Would be interesting to see the actual numbers and how they're quantified - the number licenses not being renewed, or what?


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 24, 2021 10:53 pm 
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The latest figures I heard from our council was that we were down from 204 H/C to 195. There were also another 24 that had ‘suspended’ their licence for the 6 months the council allowed. That period is now over but we haven’t been given an update.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 25, 2021 6:56 pm 
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“This will have a budgetary impact on the council. We will be losing an income of £4,100 pounds.”

Better than an increase, but given the amount of money Boris has thrown at councils wouldn't it have made sense to reduce licensing costs?

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 26, 2021 11:17 am 
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x-ray wrote:
The latest figures I heard from our council was that we were down from 204 H/C to 195.

Not that many then, assuming you've no limit on numbers, which would complicate the, er, dynamic.

Don't know all the ins and out of your area, obviously, but people looking at the figures in isolation wouldn't bat an eyelid at numbers like that in normal circumstances. It's not really 'statistically significant'. And even in a normal year I'd expect even more plates to be handed in, although maybe a similar or greater number of new plates would be issued, so the net numbers might not change much.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 26, 2021 11:03 pm 
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StuartW wrote:
x-ray wrote:
The latest figures I heard from our council was that we were down from 204 H/C to 195.

Not that many then, assuming you've no limit on numbers, which would complicate the, er, dynamic.

Don't know all the ins and out of your area, obviously, but people looking at the figures in isolation wouldn't bat an eyelid at numbers like that in normal circumstances. It's not really 'statistically significant'. And even in a normal year I'd expect even more plates to be handed in, although maybe a similar or greater number of new plates would be issued, so the net numbers might not change much.


I agree, as a statistic, they’re not huge numbers. But in reality there’s probably only 50 cabs working. Most of these are now on PH books, (apart from 20 or so drivers who are part of Chester Radio Taxis who get along mostly with contracts with the NHS and its providers, and a Taxicall cooperative with a dozen or so members) the rest are working for just eats, deliveroo and Uber eats. The rest have parked their cabs up and are doing other things. We now have a limit on new plates, unless you plate a zero emission capable cab. I think a lot of the owners are keeping the cab licensed with the hope plate values may rise or the trade bounces back. Before we de-restricted in 2008 a plate was worth around £30,000. This was when we had 77 licenses.


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 27, 2021 11:28 am 
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x-ray wrote:
I agree, as a statistic, they’re not huge numbers. But in reality there’s probably only 50 cabs working. Most of these are now on PH books, (apart from 20 or so drivers who are part of Chester Radio Taxis who get along mostly with contracts with the NHS and its providers, and a Taxicall cooperative with a dozen or so members) the rest are working for just eats, deliveroo and Uber eats. The rest have parked their cabs up and are doing other things. We now have a limit on new plates, unless you plate a zero emission capable cab. I think a lot of the owners are keeping the cab licensed with the hope plate values may rise or the trade bounces back. Before we de-restricted in 2008 a plate was worth around £30,000. This was when we had 77 licenses.

Thanks for that - kind of had an idea that the crude figures didn't tell the whole story (particularly as you mentioned the licences that were 'suspended').

And to a degree the scenario you depict will be the same the length and breadth of the country. Certainly very few cars working the ranks here (and 'working' is probably a bit of an exaggeration :roll: ) and think the offices still operating via skeleton staff drivers.

So I suppose my point about the crude number of licences still extant was more about trying to work out if many had *permanently* left the trade, rather than temporarily.

Of course, even the crude extant licence numbers will be complicated by things like plate quotas or otherwise, and plate length.

For example, we have the option of three-year plates here, so even if someone decided not to renew it would take a bit longer to show in the figures than in areas with one-year plates. And I might have considered not renewing my plate in the autumn last year if I could have just reapplied for one when necessary. But since we have a quota here I might not have been able to apply for a plate when trade was picking up again.

So not easy to tell precisely what's going on from the crude figures. But from a council perspective they'll presumably just have the crude numbers, so in Basingstoke:

Quote:
However, Mr Draper justified the move by explaining that the past year has seen a significant drop-out of taxi drivers in the trade - with the numbers of hackney carriage drivers falling to almost the numbers seen before the council’s cap on numbers was scrapped.

No concrete figures, obviously, but by 'signficant drop-out' I'm assuming that's a bit more substantial than the numbers you provided (204-195, so down 4.4%). At a rough guess I'd say 'significant' would mean at least 10%.

But without actual figures from Basingstoke I'm just guessing, and we can't know for sure :?


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 27, 2021 7:19 pm 
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Quote:
I think a lot of the owners are keeping the cab licensed with the hope plate values may rise or the trade bounces back. Before we de-restricted in 2008 a plate was worth around £30,000. This was when we had 77 licenses.

Never going to come back in any of our lifetimes, if at all.

The app companies have made PH a virtual hackney now.

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 28, 2021 12:43 pm 
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Don't usually bother with articles from overseas, but this is interesting from Australia, where plate values seem to be more of a thing that's in the public domain and a political issue.

Of course, that's maybe because of their astronomical values in the first place.

Which, in turn, is maybe why they've fallen so much. Doubt if these kind of drops in value have happened here?


COVID, Uber push value of Queensland taxi licences ‘over a cliff’

https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/politi ... 574z6.html

Taxi licences are selling for as little as $3000 as the value of the once-coveted asset falls off a cliff following intense pressure from ride-sharing companies and the coronavirus pandemic.

Standard Brisbane taxi licences were selling for an average of more than $500,000 in 2014, but in 2020, they were worth just $41,107 on average.

The value of taxi licences has plummeted since the introduction of Uber in Brisbane in 2014.

But the situation in other regions is even worse.

In Ipswich, three standard cab licences sold for the dismal price of $3000 in December 2020. The average sale price there in 2014 was $336,667.

Last month, a standard Brisbane taxi licence sold for $16,541, while in June 2020, one sold for $5000 – the lowest price in more than a decade.

The number of taxi licences changing hands has also plummeted – from 69 in 2013 to 14 in 2020 – showing many owners have simply given up trying to offload what was once their treasured retirement plan.

Limo owners also failed to escape unscathed, with 13 out of 18 of the licences that sold last year going for just $1000.

In 2014, the average cost of a limousine licence was $68,409.

Uber came to Brisbane in 2014 and was legalised in Queensland in September 2016, with ride-sharing companies Ola and DiDi also joining the market.

Taxi Council of Queensland chief executive Blair Davies said the industry was hit first by the legalisation of ride-sharing services and then by COVID-19.

“Gathering restrictions, stay at home orders, border closures – that very much impacted the demand for taxis,” he said. “We probably saw demand, at some points in 2020, down by 80 per cent.”

However, Mr Davies said he believed things would pick up in 2021.

“We’re finding that, particularly with the airports opened up, more people are travelling out to the airport using taxis, and we’ve started to see businesspeople go back to working from their offices rather than holding virtual meetings,” he said.

“It’s like they [licence values] went over a cliff when the government changed that regulatory environment and it will be a long, slow climb back up to more reasonable values, we believe.”

Mr Davies said there were fewer sales as buyers were offering low prices that many sellers refused to accept, and also because banks were reluctant to lend for the asset.

“And we’re also aware that some licences might well be sold at low prices because people are just desperate for money and therefore they just don’t have the option of holding out for another year or two for the licences to improve,” he said.

Limousine Action Group Queensland chairwoman Jacqui Shephard said COVID decimated the industry, with many drivers being kept on with JobKeeper.

“With no international travel ... people have learnt to work from home now, we’re not going out anymore,” she said.

“The industry is really struggling and they’re predominantly small business owners.”

A Transport and Main Roads spokesman said taxi and limousine licence values were determined by the open market and not set by the government.

“As part of the personalised transport reforms, [the] government committed to not releasing any new perpetual licences,” he said.

In 2016, a $100 million industry adjustment assistance package was rolled out by the government, including payments of $20,000 per licence for taxi and limousine owners.

In April 2020, the Queensland government announced a $54.5 million transport industry package, including waiving fees and extending taxi and limousine licences for six months.

An extra $23 million package to support the taxi and limousine industry was announced in June 2020.

Last year, federal member for Kennedy Bob Katter vowed to take the compensation claim of more than 1300 taxi licence holders against the Queensland government to the High Court.

Maurice Blackburn has also filed a class action against Uber in Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia.

Licence sales recorded at zero dollars, often the result of transfers between family members or trust structures, were removed from Brisbane Times’ analysis.


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 28, 2021 12:43 pm 
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Quote:
Standard Brisbane taxi licences were selling for an average of more than $500,000 in 2014, but in 2020, they were worth just $41,107 on average.

In sterling that's from about £275,000 to £23,000 :-s


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 28, 2021 1:55 pm 
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StuartW wrote:
Quote:
Standard Brisbane taxi licences were selling for an average of more than $500,000 in 2014, but in 2020, they were worth just $41,107 on average.

In sterling that's from about £275,000 to £23,000 :-s



originally almost on a par with New York medallions then

Our plates are worth nothing and will always be worth nothing as you can't keep them the plate is only for as long as the vehicle is on the road

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 28, 2021 5:40 pm 
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Don't think anywhere here has dropped 90%, maybe 50/60%.

But the real reason IMO isn't just the covid situation, although that has played a part, it's down to Uber and the apps companies sucking up work and drivers.

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