To consider report of the Senior Licensing Officer.
Consideration was given to the report of the Senior Licensing Officer.
The Team Manager – Trading Standards and Licensing advised that the report outlined the Cardiff Capital Region (CCR) Green Taxi Pilot Scheme to be introduced in Blaenau Gwent and sought approval to allow an exception to the Authority’s Policy Relating to Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Licences in respect of the livery of these vehicles.
This request was consistent and identifiable across the other 12 authorities who were taking part in the pilot scheme. The report reflected work to be carried out by the Licensing team within existing resources, however there are no financial implications as cost would be fully funded by the Cardiff Capital Region.
The Team Leader further spoke to the report and gave details of the pilot scheme. The Team Leader noted that Welsh Government had set a target of decarbonisation for all local authorities taxi fleet in Wales by 2028 and it was hoped that the Green Taxi pilots would assist in achieving the target. The pilot scheme would run for 2-3 years and associated charging ports for use by taxis/private hire vehicles would be installed near or in main taxi ranks in Blaenau Gwent. The more detailed information was being finalised and once it was available reports would be presented accordingly to ensure Members were kept up to date.
The Team Leader stated that Blaenau Gwent Licensing Authority was not the lead on the project, the Authority was taking part in the pilot scheme. The Management of the scheme would be carried out by a management Company within the Cardiff Capital Region.
The Authority had been provided with two wheelchair accessible Nissan Dynamo vehicles and these would be available for drivers during the trial free of charge. It was hoped that the scheme would be a ‘try before you buy’ initiative, allowing licensed taxi drivers to try the vehicle free of charge for 30 days. The trial was likely to also include free electric charging, insurance, vehicle licensing, breakdown cover etc. It was felt that if drivers liked the vehicles it would create an incentive for drivers as a potential future choice of vehicle.
It was reported that some informal consultation had been carried out with the Blaenau Gwent Taxi Association on 28th April 2021 and a positive discussion took place on the proposed changes with no significant concerns raised.
The Team Leader – Trading Standards and Licensing further referred Members to the options and noted the preferred option. It was added that the vehicles to be used across the authorities taking part in the pilot would be instantly recognisable as vehicles in the green pilot scheme and these would be given an exception from normal signage.
At this juncture, the Chair invited questions from Members.
A Member as if grants would be available for taxi drivers as electric vehicle are expensive. The Senior Licensing Officer advised that there would be grants available, however the vehicle provided was top of the range and there were cheaper ones available without wheelchair access. The grants from Welsh Government would be £2,000 and savings identified were in the region of £5,000 per year in comparison to current diesel or petrol vehicles. There were also discussions ongoing about leasing options and grants for drivers to have charging points at their homes. The charging points to be placed at taxi ranks would only be for taxis
A Member raised concerns around taxi firms with fleet stock with drivers using the same vehicles and it was informed that Blaenau Gwent only had a couple of fleet vehicles. These issues were more likely to be experienced in City Centres and would be flagged up in the Working group as the pilot was across 12 authorities. Any such issues which arise as part of the trial valuable feedback in ascertaining how the scheme would be progressed into the future.
RESOLVED that the report be accepted and the exception to the Authority’s Policy Relating to Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Licences for each vehicle licensed for the use in the Green Taxi pilot scheme, including adoption of the livery to be used, as shown in Appendix 1 be approved (Option 1).