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PostPosted: Sat Oct 09, 2021 1:19 pm 
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North Devon taxi company appeals for help with driver shortage

https://www.northdevongazette.co.uk/new ... ge-8397140

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Image: North Devon Gazette

A desperate North Devon taxi company is attempting to get help from the council which it says has left it ‘neglected and unsupported’ through the pandemic.

Mohammed Zakaria, owner of Barnstaple based A1 Taxi Service, says covid has pushed his business to ‘breaking point,’ with many drivers leaving the trade because of lack of business during lockdown, reducing his workforce to a third of what it was before the pandemic.

A1 Taxi Service has 12 drivers but says it needs at least 31 to meet demand. “We have a lion’s share of the private hire market in this area,” said Mr Zakaria, “but if we don’t have vehicles, we’re unable to keep up with demand to take people home safely.”

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Image: North Devon Gazette

Mr Zakaria says demand for taxis has rocketed since the easing of restrictions and that the lack of available cars was encouraging people to loiter in the evening, creating a public safety risk and undermining the image of North Devon and Barnstaple. He also says the driver shortage has meant his company is struggling to serve some older and more vulnerable clients who regularly depend on its services.

In a letter to the North Devon District Council’s (NDDC) licensing and community safety committee, Mr Zakaria asked the council to introduce measures to make it easier to employ new drivers.

He argues that the process of applying for a taxi driving licence in the district needs to be made ‘considerably more efficient’ by allowing temporary taxi licences after DBS and medical checks are complete. Mr Zakaria wants the council to let drivers complete the remaining components required for a permanent licence over the course of a year.

The A1 Taxi owner wants the cost of becoming a licensed taxi driver reduced, as has happened in Torbay. In July the council there reduced its licence fee from around £600 to £50 for the first 50 people who applied for new licences after it was announced the Bay was 50 taxi drivers short.

The cost of getting a license in North Devon is £228 for a one-year licence or £401 for a three-year licence. Fees paid for unsuccessful applications are not refunded.

Members of the NDDC licensing and community safety committee will meet at the Brynsworthy Environment Centre on Tuesday, October 12, to discuss the issue.


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 09, 2021 1:20 pm 
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The A1 Taxi owner wants the cost of becoming a licensed taxi driver reduced, as has happened in Torbay. In July the council there reduced its licence fee from around £600 to £50 for the first 50 people who applied for new licences after it was announced the Bay was 50 taxi drivers short.

Forgot about that one. But, to reiterate, I wonder how *the council* came up with the precise figure of 50 drivers short? :-k :roll:

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 09, 2021 1:43 pm 
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So Torbay council would give away £27,500 of ratepayers money to recruit 50 new drivers?

Have they had any takers?

Is it legal?

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 09, 2021 1:44 pm 
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Here’s a thought though, Mo, YOU fund applications.

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 09, 2021 6:35 pm 
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Why don't these operators employ new drivers at a proper living wage?

Maybe it's because the trade isn't that juicy an option at the moment, or for a few years to come.

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 09, 2021 7:22 pm 
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jimbo wrote:
So Torbay council would give away £27,500 of ratepayers money to recruit 50 new drivers?

Have they had any takers?

Is it legal?



If it was private hire drivers only the answer would be yes, but if it is TAXI drivers the answer is no.


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 10, 2021 11:10 am 
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Sussex wrote:
Why don't these operators employ new drivers at a proper living wage?

Maybe it's because the trade isn't that juicy an option at the moment, or for a few years to come.

What is "a proper living wage"?

A few years ago we had the minimum wage which was then increased to what was then called the living wage. This has somehow now reverted to being called the minimum wage again with some people now advocating "the real living wage".
So what is it and what should it be?

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 10, 2021 6:22 pm 
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What is "a proper living wage"?

Well generally it's this.

https://www.livingwage.org.uk/what-real ... HDEALw_wcB

But that doesn't take into account unsociable hours.

And it's the minimum, not the norm.

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 11, 2021 6:52 am 
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Sussex wrote:
Quote:
What is "a proper living wage"?

Well generally it's this.

https://www.livingwage.org.uk/what-real ... HDEALw_wcB

But that doesn't take into account unsociable hours.

And it's the minimum, not the norm.
For our industry, would tips be included in the calculation?

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 11, 2021 7:02 am 
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Most certainly not.

[-X

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 20, 2021 11:03 am 
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Bit of repitition here, but some interesting discussion as well.


Local taxi company felt neglected through the pandemic

https://www.radioexe.co.uk/news-and-fea ... -pandemic/

Lack of drivers and licensing policies blamed

A desperate local taxi company has told North Devon councillors it feels it has been “neglected and unsupported” through the pandemic, but the council has questioned some of the solutions it has proposed.

Mohammed Zakaria, owner of Barnstaple-based A1 Taxi Service, says not enough drivers are available because of the pandemic combined with the council’s licensing policies.

Mr Zakaria told councillors he has 12 drivers but needs at least 31 to meet demand which has boomed since lockdown restrictions eased. “We have a lion’s share of the private hire market in this area,” said Mr Zakaria, “but if we don’t have vehicles, we’re unable to keep up with demand to take people home safely.”

According to council figures, there are around 270 licensed taxi drivers in the North Devon district. Licence applications have declined since 2011.

In a letter to the North Devon District Council’s (NDDC) licensing and community safety committee, Mr Zakaria asked the council to make it easier for it to employ new drivers.

He argued that the process of applying for a taxi driving licence needs to be made “considerably more efficient” by allowing temporary taxi licences following enhanced DBS and medical checks. Mr Zakaria wants the council to let drivers complete the remaining qualifications required for a permanent licence over the course of a year.

Speaking at NDDC’s licensing and community safety committee this week, officers said such a move was possible and had been done by other authorities, but raised several issues. They said it could lead to a difficult situation where someone granted a temporary licence could lose their ability to work because they failed to complete the necessary permanent licence requirements, such as gaining relevant qualifications while driving under a temporary licence.

They argued that this could lead to a situation where a driver deemed fit and proper for a temporary licence could later be denied a full licence and potentially raise a dispute with the council.

The A1 Taxi owner wants the cost of becoming a licenced taxi driver reduced, as has happened in Torbay where the fee was cut from around £600 to £50 for the first 50 applications.

However, even the Bay’s policy has only been a partial success. As of last week, Torbay Council had recruited just 18 of its target of 50 drivers, with 12 other applications pending.

The cost of a licence in North Devon is £228 for one year or £401 for three years. Fees for unsuccessful applications are not refunded.

Council officers said reducing the application fee in North Devon could “theoretically be undertaken”, but it did not yet have precise figures for consideration.

Speaking this week at NDDC’s licensing and community safety committee, Councillor Paul Henderson (Conservative, South Molton), argued that there is not the same crisis in North Devon as there is in Torbay and that he thought the cost of licences was not the main barrier to the industry. He said: “Certainly we can’t compromise on our main policies, no way. It’s just not the safe and sensible thing to do.”

Councillor Frank Biderman (Independent, Fremington) said the most important thing was that taxi services remained safe but he also argued that if there was a way of streamlining the application process whilst maintaining safety it should be considered.

A council officer summed up the problem, telling the committee: “I don’t think it’s a straightforward issue. I don’t think there’s a magic bullet to this situation.”

Mr Zakaria had also argued that the recent lack of taxis in North Devon was creating a risk to safety, with people loitering after nights out. However, police have told council officers they have not experienced more incidents because of a lack of taxis.

This disagreement between the taxi company owner and the police is one of the matters that will now be looked at in an officer report. The findings from the report will be presented to the council’s next licensing and community safety committee meeting in November, when councillors will make a decision on Mr Zakaria’s requests.

Also to be discussed are ways the council could potentially encourage drivers to apply.


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 20, 2021 11:04 am 
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Quote:
Mr Zakaria had also argued that the recent lack of taxis in North Devon was creating a risk to safety, with people loitering after nights out. However, police have told council officers they have not experienced more incidents because of a lack of taxis.

When *don't* people 'loiter' after a night out?

And Mr Zakaria has 12 drivers, but says he needs around another 20 to meet demand? Yet police say there's no problems late at night? :-s

To be fair, police presumably as bad at politicking and propaganda than anyone else, so will possibly try to downplay or ignore any problems if it suits their PR purpose.

So who to believe? Is Mr Zakaria exaggerating the issue for his own purposes, or police maybe spinning a problematic scenario because it suits their purposes?

The reality is probably somewhere between the two, so nothing new there :?


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