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NO CAP: Tonbridge & Malling councillors reject taxi drivers' call for Unmet Demand Survey

Updated: Apr 3

Tonbridge & Malling Borough Councillors have rejected taxi driver calls to cap licences in the area.

A recent survey unveiled a significant call among hackney carriage and dual licence drivers for a detailed Unmet Demand Survey, aiming to reassess the number of taxis licensed to operate within the area and place a cap on the number of licences in the area.

The call comes amid growing concerns over lengthy waiting times for fares at key ranks such as Tonbridge Waterloo, heightened by an economic climate that sees vehicles and drivers under increased pressure.

As of 12 March 2024, Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council has 173 hackney carriage vehicles licensed, a noticeable fluctuation from numbers recorded over the past decade. This change highlights the dynamic nature of the industry and the local economy's influence on the demand for hackney carriage services. The last review of such nature took place nearly a decade ago, in March 2014, signalling a pressing need for updated data.

The neighbouring Licensing Authorities of Tunbridge Wells Borough Council and Maidstone have set caps on the number of Hackney Carriage Vehicles that can be licensed, a move not yet mirrored in Tonbridge & Malling. However, before any restrictions can be imposed, a robust and detailed survey is mandated to provide a clear picture of the hackney carriage services' current state and demand within the borough.

The call for the survey was made through a Teams survey, reaching out to the licensed hackney carriage and dual badge holders within the borough. Out of 223 recipients, the survey saw a 25.56% response rate, with 79% of respondents advocating for the commissioning of the Unmet Demand Survey. The survey is expected to cost between £14,000 - £17,000, funded through future licensing fees.

The proposed Unmet Demand Survey could have delved deep into various facets of the hackney carriage industry, including customer needs and expectations, the significance of any unmet demand, service quality, safety, vehicle types and designs, and accessibility. This comprehensive approach could have ensured that any decisions made are well-informed, equitable, and reflective of the current and future needs of both the hackney carriage trade and its clientele.

The Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council's Licensing and Appeals Committee rejected the proposal to undertake the significant survey on 26 March.


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