Today we held our second annual taxi conference in City Hall. The conference is an opportunity to talk with the trade about the city’s transport challenges, the taxi trade and how we work together to build an inclusive, sustainable Bristol.
It was great to see so many representatives from the private hire and hackney carriage sections. As part of the day’s agenda, Chair of Public Safety and Protection Committee Fi Hance gave an update, and Cabinet member for Transport and Connectivity Mhairi Threlfall talked about the vital role the trade plays in our transport strategy and the long term plans for the city.
I thanked drivers for the support they’ve given us in our work to improve the city’s air quality. Many in the hackney carriage trade have responded positively. We acknowledge there is a cost involved of changing hackney carriages in accordance with the Euro 6 policy. As an administration, we are keen to hold this challenge alongside our recognition that taxi drivers are small businesses and will need support to transition to cleaner vehicles. Therefore I was pleased Mhairi announced the news on the Defra funding secured under the Hackney Carriage ULEV Incentive Scheme: A package of incentives offered to Hackney Carriage proprietors for purchasing electric vehicles.
Drivers also wanted to talk about taxi rank space and the work being done to rationalise all the local stands, the Temple Meads approach and licensing. The city centre framework is out for consultation and I asked those present to make sure they made their views known.
We also must tackle out of town licensing and cross border hiring. Due to the current legal framework we find ourselves unable to address directly. Over the last six months TfL has been working with licensing authorities and stakeholder groups across England to understand the individual challenges facing each authority and how a solution may be developed to respond to these challenges and have made a series of recommendations. Bristol’s Taxi drivers supported these proposals for change. I wrote to Nusrat Ghani MP, the Under Secretary of State for Transport in March to express support as the report highlighted many of the issues raised by the taxi trade in Bristol.
My key message for the trade is that we are listening – there are plenty of opportunities to feed into consultations but I encourage everyone in the room to take this opportunity to listen and share.