Following on from the Licensing Committee meeting held on 17th April 2019, whereby Members approved for the purposes of consultation; a proposal to relocate the current appointed hackney carriage stand in Market Street service road. The Committee were asked to consider a further report which detailed the response received to that consultation.
The Chairman welcomed Mr. P. Cooper and Mr. J. Wyllie, Worcestershire County Council (WCC) officers to the meeting.
The Senior Practitioner (Licensing), Worcestershire Regulatory Services (WRS) reminded the Committee that, the County Council’s £3.4 million project aimed to reduce congestion in Bromsgrove by providing alternative travel choices to local residents to reduce short journeys made by car.
The improvements would form part of a wider transport and highways plan for the area and would see an additional six recognised walking and cycling paths being introduced over the next two years. The work would also include improvements to other recognised cycle ways across Bromsgrove.
One aspect of the proposed improvements would impact on the existing hackney carriage stand appointed by Bromsgrove District Council in the Market Street service road (the bus station). It was anticipated that the proposed works at this location would take place in summer 2019.
The Senior Practitioner (Licensing), WRS, highlighted that Licensing officers had some concerns about the proposals raised verbally by some licence holders both on the phone and at licensing surgeries, with regard to the consultation. Some licence holders had verbally suggested alternatives to the location being proposed. Officers did remind licence holders of the opportunity to respond in writing to the formal consultation, however, despite being reminded no written responses were received from any licence holders.
The Senior Practitioner (Licensing), WRS drew Members’ attention to Appendix 2, the response received from Councillor R. L. Dent, County Councillor, Bromsgrove Central Division.
In response to Councillor M. Thompson, Councillor S. A. Hughes stated that the area in question was not in her ward area, however, she had as Ward Member for Bromsgrove Central, spoken with people who worked at premises on the high street and they were not happy about the proposal. There had been issues with delivery drivers being unable to access the rear of shop premises due to taxis over-ranking on the Market Street hackney carriage stand.
The Senior Practitioner (Licensing), WRS highlighted that there were double yellow lines where the taxis were over-ranking and it was down to the civil enforcement officers and the police to manage this. The police had been consulted with on the proposed changes to the hackney carriage stand; however, no comments had been received. There was no official ‘feeder rank’ for the current or proposed hackney carriage stand, drivers were fully aware that if the hackney carriage stand was full then they should drive to the next available hackney carriage stand.
Officers from WCC informed the Committee that the proposal would see vehicles (taxis) parked on the left hand side and that would enable passengers to enter vehicles, more safely, from the near side without having to walk out into the road.
They had consulted with the bus transport companies and they were happy that they could operate with one less bus stand. The bus companies had also suggested that bus drivers would be asked to report any issues with taxis over-ranking at the proposed new location.
Currently there was some pinch points with mobile scooters blocking pedestrians, the existing wooden bridge would be removed to allow for a wider pathway.
Bromsgrove had a very limited infrastructure to support walking and cycling, forcing some local people to drive short distances. The plan was to make the transport network more efficient, particularly at peak times and to help reduce congestion, by providing new and improved links between the town centre and residential areas.
Further discussion took place on the potential for electric charging points, which would not be practical on a hackney carriage stand.
Members commented that they still had concerns with regard to over-ranking at the proposed new location; as they had witnessed over-ranking at the existing location on many occasions.
The Senior Practitioner (Licensing), WRS, explained that over-ranking usually occurred during the daytime. Licensing officers, WRS and civil enforcement officers could deal with over-ranking. He would ensure that it was made very clear to licensed drivers, that there would be serious implications if they were caught over-ranking at the proposed new location and that over-ranking would not be tolerated.
Licensing officers would ensure that robust enforcement was carried out and that this message was highlighted to licensed drivers, in order to ensure that there was no potential for over-ranking at the proposed new location.
a) the relocation of the hackney carriage stand as proposed and shown at Appendix 1, to proceed; and
b) officers carry out the legal process required in consultation with officers delivering the Worcestershire County Council project in order to make improvements to walking and cycling routes around Bromsgrove.