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PostPosted: Sat Nov 21, 2020 8:57 pm 
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TVBC to hold consultation on future of taxis in Test Valley

If you’ve ever been into London, the traditional black cab is a familiar sight across the city.

With drivers having to pass an infamously famous test called ‘The Knowledge,’ they’ll take you wherever you need to go.

But here in Test Valley, seeing a taxi, or Hackney Carriage as they are officially known, is probably something many will never come across, with Test Valley Borough Council (TVBC) noting that residents “are not well served” by the 45 taxis it allows to operate in the borough.

Following a meeting of their licensing committee on Thursday, TVBC has approved plans to consult on whether the roads should now be thrown open to taxis across our area.

At the moment, Test Valley allows for a maximum of just 46 taxis to operate across the borough, as well as an unlimited number of private hire vehicles, which are estimated at approximately 200 as of 2018.

The lion’s share of the taxis operate in Andover, with 43 serving the town, while only two operate elsewhere, with both being based in Romsey.

By limiting their number, TVBC is in “a minority” of local authorities which choose to do so, which is only allowed to be imposed if “there is no significant unmet demand.”

As a result, it has the second lowest ratio of taxis to the population in the county, with one taxi for every 2893 residents. A study in 2005 suggested that this figure should be one for every thousand, with the council stating that residents of Test Valley “are not well served.”

In 2006, TVBC’s licensing committee decided to adopt a process of managed growth, where the number of licenses is slowly increased as demand rises. In 2013, this led to five additional licenses being granted, followed by another five in the next year.

Only one of these licenses now remains unissued, with the council saying that if more applications were received than licenses available, it “could result in a legal challenge which the Council would be unable to defend.”

Following the vote on November 19, the public and taxi trade will be consulted with to decide how to move forward. While no options are given at this stage, they are likely to include a continued policy of managed growth, or a lifting of restrictions on license numbers entirely.

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