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PostPosted: Tue Jul 20, 2021 4:45 pm 
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As some on here will know, there's still a licensing exemption in Scotland for exclusive contract hire, which has to be for at least 24 hours.

Didn't think this was a trade story at all (as will be evident on reading the piece), but the stuff about the contract hire exemption at the end seemed a bit odd and not really relevant to the article as a whole.

So took a few minutes to work out what was going on, but I think it's basically saying that they've missed out on the specific taxi and PH grants because they're not required to be badged and plated due to the contract hire exemption.


Fife golf tour businesses lose two years of income after falling through support scheme gaps

https://www.fifetoday.co.uk/business/fi ... ps-3314726

Image
Image: Elite Golf/Fife Today

Two north east Fife golf tour businesses have missed out on two years of income after missing out on support from Covid schemes.

North East Fife MP Wendy Chamberlain has called for more funding for Fife Council to support local businesses, such as JSC Travel and Elite Golf, that have fallen foul of gaps in the various Covid related support schemes.

The two local companies, which provide luxury tour experiences and transport for international golf visitors using converted coaches, approached Ms Chamberlain after failing to meet the narrow criteria set out in four different funds.

These include Coach Grants, Tour Funds and Day Tour Funds, all administered by VisitScotland, while also being ineligible for access premises related support.

Despite making representations to the Scottish Government and VisitScotland, no solutions have been offered and there are no plans to review the strict criteria currently in place.

The Lib Dem MP is now calling for more discretionary funding to be made available to Fife Council, specifically to target small local businesses with bespoke business models which do not fit neatly into the criteria for national support schemes.

Sarah Charles of JSC Travel told Ms Chamberlain: "We are a small family business and rely on international visitors for our income.

"When the support schemes were introduced last year I felt certain we would be able to access some funding support, but we applied for everything and got nowhere.

"Because of the very specific and unique service we provide we are not classified as a coach operator or a tour company, and we don't have a separate businesses premises."

Speaking to Elite Golf operators Dean Barbour and Colin Hunter, Colin added: "Like many local businesses we have be hit hard by Covid and have lost a lot of income, which over two years has added up to a substantial amount.

"The restrictions may be easing but realistically it will be next summer before we can return to the level of business that we need to operate."

Ms Chamberlain said: "The tourist sector is absolute vital for our local economy and there is no doubt that many small businesses that rely entirely on international tourism have been among the worst hit.”

She added: "That is exactly why the support schemes were introduced, but they are less than useless if the funds aren't getting to those that need it.

"The best way forward, and what I am calling for, is for more discretionary funding to be made available to local authorities. So that local decision makers have the flexibility to help those that have missed out or need it the most."

Both JSC Travel & Elite Golf Transport provide transportation/tour experiences to mainly international golfing clients.

Their business focus on providing luxury travel (i.e. not taxi/private hire) and they operate converted buses (e.g. 16-seater converted to eight comfy seats).

They do not need a coach operator’s licence due to number of people transported and do not need private hire licence as they are contracted on an exclusive basis (often by larger incoming tour operators).


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 20, 2021 4:46 pm 
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Quote:
Their business focus on providing luxury travel (i.e. not taxi/private hire) and they operate converted buses (e.g. 16-seater converted to eight comfy seats).

They do not need a coach operator’s licence due to number of people transported and do not need private hire licence as they are contracted on an exclusive basis (often by larger incoming tour operators).

Although it's not spelt out in the article, think the point being made here is that because they're taking advantage of the contract hire exemption in the taxi and private hire legislation then they didn't qualify for the grants available to badgeholders and plateholders.

I know Jim and Sarah who run JSC Travel, and they were in the mainstream trade for years, and in fact may have used plated vehicles when they started specialising in the golf tours, although I'm not entirely sure.

Anyway, not sure if they ever got married or whatever, but they were certainly living as a couple for years, so basically their household will have lost out on maybe around £10k in Covid grants because they weren't badged and plated, and have been taking advantage of the contract hire exemption :?


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 20, 2021 6:41 pm 
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Nothing stopping them getting a taxi/PH license or even a PSV license.

Other than them finding it easier to run unlicensed under a section of a law that should have been outlawed when the English version was.

Do I have sympathy that they got SFA? Not on your nelly. [-X

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 21, 2021 3:32 pm 
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Sussex wrote:
Do I have sympathy that they got SFA? Not on your nelly. [-X

Harsh [-(

I agree wholeheartedly that the exemption should have been rescinded years ago.

However, I don't blame anyone for taking advantage of it, particularly when their competitors have been doing so for years.

I mean, who would get badged and plated if they didn't have to?


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 21, 2021 11:36 pm 
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I've little sympathy for them, they seem to have thought that they could save a wee bit money and effort by not applying for a PH licence for both Vehicles and Drivers (Hardly a huge Expense) and now that their [edited by admin] plan has denied them a PH or Taxi operator grant they suddenly feel aggreived............well, we all knew the rules and they tried to skirt around them when the rest of us didnt, now that they have tripped up on the path they chose then tough, bet they never complained when their wheeze helped them rake it in.


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 22, 2021 8:01 am 
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Why didn't they qualify for any of the other grants that were available?

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 22, 2021 5:00 pm 
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They probably did qualify for other grants, but as is usual in articles like this, that isn't mentioned.

But the thing with the taxi and PH grants is that they were more or less automatic for anyone who had a badge and/or plate, so I'm not surprised that some will feel they've missed out on the grants by taking advantage of the exemption from licensing, thus automatically being ineligible. I got £4k in grants more or less automatically, irrespective of other grants and assistance, but if I'd been able to take advantage of the contract hire exemption then I'd have got nowt.

The exemption isn't something I'm in favour of myself, and suspect I'd maybe think a bit diffently about the grants thing if I didn't know some of the people mentioned in the article.

I suppose there's an element of poetic justice about it all - they've saved on licensing costs over the years, so now penalised by being ineligible for the grants.

But just like the cross-border drivers down south who've missed out in grants because they're working in a different authority, I'm more inclined to blame the powers-that-be than drivers simply doing what's allowed within the rules.


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 22, 2021 5:01 pm 
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bloodnock wrote:
...well, we all knew the rules and they tried to skirt around them when the rest of us didnt, now that they have tripped up on the path they chose then tough, bet they never complained when their wheeze helped them rake it in.

They're exempt in the legislation that's been in force for 40 years. So hardly a 'wheeze' and 'trying to skirt round the rules' [-(

It's an old hobby horse of mine that I've not really thought about for a number of years, but when the Scottish Executive consulted on it maybe 20 years ago I made my feelings know, but to no avail.

But suffice to say I don't think any vehicles used for 'hire and reward' should be exempt from licensing, but if the powers-that-be think exemptions should be given in specified circumstances then I don't blame anyone for taking advantage of them.

I mean, it's not just the money - who would get involved in things like plating, testing and vehicle signage issues (see the old thread I bumped) if they didn't have to.

Could say a lot more, but :-#


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 22, 2021 7:37 pm 
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I got £4k in grants more or less automatically,

But you are a licensed driver and almost all, if not all, licensed drivers suffered mightily over the last 16 months.

So yes it was automatic, but I suspect we can count those from our trade who didn't deserve the support ,we all received, on one hand.

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 22, 2021 7:40 pm 
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The exemption isn't something I'm in favour of myself, and suspect I'd maybe think a bit diffently about the grants thing if I didn't know some of the people mentioned in the article.

No one is saying these folks are bad people, and yes the law allows such exemptions up there, but these people are operating outside of taxi/PH rules and thus are not permitted the grants given to fully licensed folks.

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PostPosted: Sat Jul 24, 2021 1:35 am 
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Indeed, but obviously the issue is that in essence they're in a very similar sector, but get nowt as opposed to the average owner-driver in Scotland getting at least £4k.

I mean, a weekend taxi driver in Angus would have copped around £7k while being able to concentrate on their 'proper' job, but the likes of the people in the article more or less wiped out for probably two years, and getting nowt :?


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PostPosted: Sat Jul 24, 2021 12:40 pm 
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Maybe the question should be: How much money did they save In vehicle and Driver licences in 40 years?.....I'm betting it was a more than the lost licensed operator/drive Grant award they are lamenting.

Over 20 years I'll have paid in the region of £25'000 in Licensing fees for all the vehicles and licenses i've had to pay....I paid in to licensing and reaped a reward I never ever expected, but then again I'm still all the poorer regardless.


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PostPosted: Sat Jul 24, 2021 5:05 pm 
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The system is very straightforward in some ways, but very crude in others.

Doubt if anyone has paid £50k for a plate in recent years, for example, but no doubt some have paid significant sums in the couple of years prior to lockdown, but get no extra support, as opposed to those who've paid only the council fees for plates.

Or a fleet owner, who has gotten chickenfeed in extra support, effectively.

Or an owner-driver with a ten-year old saloon, who's gotten the same as an owner-driver with a £60k EV HC.

I always recall my old pal who was an owner-driver, semi-retired, did the three weekend shifts per week. Had a pension and no mortgage, and effectively just used his earnings for two or three foreign holidays per year.

Anyway, he got out just at the right time (purely coincidental) and got about £5-6k for his plate just before lockdown.

So the purchaser paid £5-6k for the plate just before trade was wiped out for at least a year or so.

Which I always thought was a bit hard on the purchaser, obviously.

Of course, a year-and-a-half later and at least the new driver has copped £4k in grants, which my old pal missed out on due to selling his plate just before it all kicked off.

So I suppose it's more or less balanced out over the whole of the pandemic :?


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PostPosted: Sat Jul 24, 2021 7:43 pm 
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So I suppose it's more or less balanced out over the whole of the pandemic :?

There are no winners in the taxi/PH trade, in respect of this pandemic, only folks who have lost more than others.

Everyone's loss is different, from those that worked and got a bit of takings, to those that didn't work. From those that put in proper tax returns in the past, to those that put in low tax returns. From those who have, so far, remained safe and well, to those of us who have sadly died.

My point is that we really shouldn't spend time saying this sector got loads, and this sector got little. We all need to move on and reap the benefits of the trade's future.

Which in my view could be quite lucrative. [-o<

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