The Licensing Team Leader introduced the report, which requested that the committee considered the option of including a booking fee on the table of fares and in which circumstances the fee might apply. The notion of adding a booking fee had resulted from an investigation following a complaint that an operator had quoted a booking fee for a customer who lived some distance from the operator’s base. The resulting investigation had shown that this illegal practice had potentially been carried out by a number of operators, which perhaps suggested that there was a need for a booking fee.
The report contained the results of the consultation that had been conducted with members of the Hackney Carriage trade. 21 responses from a possible total of 50 had been received, 19 of whom supported the principle of a booking fee. The report also summarised eight suggestions of what amount the fee could be and in what circumstances it could be applied.
The committee discussed the principle of applying a booking fee and taking into account that all Hackney Carriage Fares were discretionary, on balance felt that the inclusion of a booking fee would be reasonable. The committee was keen that Hackney Carriage drivers received a fair deal, however, a concern was raised that only 19 out of 50 possible respondents had supported a booking fee. It was felt that the lack of response from the majority of operators might indicate that they were happy with the current charging schedule that did not include a booking fee.
The committee voted on the principle of including a booking fee on the table of Hackney Carriage fares.
Following a vote, it was resolved that a booking fee be included on the table of Hackney Carriage fares, 7 Councillors voting FOR a booking fee, 1 Councillor voting AGAINST a booking fee and 1 Councillor ABSTAINING from voting.
The committee discussed how much the fee should be and when it should be applied. In order to ensure that enforcement action could be taken if required, the committee felt that the wording and application of the fee should be kept as simple as possible. With this in mind, the committee was concerned that specifying variable rate charges from an operators base could cause confusion. The committee also urged that, should an operator decide to charge the booking fee, the customer be informed of the fee at the time of booking.
The committee considered the fees proposed by members of the trade, but noted that only three of the 16 local authorities in the area used as a benchmark had a booking fee, including rural authorities such as New Forest District Council.
The Chairman summed up the discussion and proposed that the wording of the fee be as follows: ‘£3.00 for pre-booked journeys’.
The committee voted on the Chairman’s proposal.
Following the vote, the proposal was declared CARRIED, 8 Councillors voting FOR the proposal, 1 Councillor voting AGAINST the proposal and no Councillors ABSTAINING from voting.
It was therefore RESOLVED that the following booking fee be added to the Hackney Carriage Table of Fares: ‘£3 for pre-booked journeys’