Taxi Fares Held Level For Another 18 Months In Highland And Tuk Tuk Licence For Wick Refused
18th February 2020
Following a review taxi fares in Highland have been held at the same level by the Highland Council Licensing Committee held on 18 February 2019.
The papers and the debate on this issue can be seen at items six on the webcast -
There is a 14 Day period for appeal.
At the same meeting the committee at Item 7 were asked if they would licence a Tuk Tuk vehicle as private hire car after an application by a member of the public had asked. The application was from Mr Amin, Wick, Caithness. The application was refused by the committee.
The police objected and submitted a letter -
CIVIC GOVERNMENT (SCOTLAND) ACT 1982 SECTION 10(2)
SUITABILITY OF A TUK-TUK AS A TAXI OR PRIVATE HIRE VEHICLE
I have been informed by the Highland Council that a Tuk-Tuk is currently being operated in Wick, and that the operator, Mr. Rehan Amin, wishes the vehicle to be licensed as a Taxi or Private Hire Vehicle.
I am aware that the operator has been informed by the Highland Council that the Tuk-Tuk does not meet the Council's specification with respect to its size, type and design. However, Mr. Amin has requested that the Licensing Committee consider a report that the Tuk-Tuk be considered suitable as a Taxi/Private Hire Vehicle.
I am of the opinion that the design and operation of a Tuk-Tuk deems it as an inappropriate and unsuitable vehicle to be used as a Taxi or Private Hire Vehicle, and on the grounds of public safety, I would object to any proposal to licence Tuk-Tuks by the Highland Council for this purpose.
I have consulted with Inspector Donald Mackinnon from the Roads Policing Department in the Highlands & Islands Division. He is also of the opinion that a Tuk-Tuk is not suitable for use as a Taxi or Private Hire Vehicle. He has provided the following response:
Taking into account the following considerations, I do not recommend Tuk-Tuk use for taxi/private hire business.
The Tuk-Tuk, also known as an Auto Rickshaw, is a motorised development of the traditional pulled or cycle rickshaw. The most common version comprises of a sheetmetal body or an open frame resting on three wheels. They have a canvas roof with drop down side curtains. There is normally a small cabin for the driver with handlebar controls, and another compartment in the rear for passengers. They are most popular in countries with tropical and sub-tropical climates and in particular, developing
Some of the safety issues with the Tuk-Tuk are due to their type, size and design.
Due to the Tuk-Tuk having only 3 road wheels and a relatively short narrow wheel base, there are concerns regarding stability which is easily compromised whilst negotiating roundabouts and various corners within built-up/residential areas. If the Tuk-Tuk approached and attempted to negotiate these hazards at an inappropriate
speed, it would be susceptible to tipping over.
There is little protection afforded to the occupants of a Tuk-Tuk, with the only cover being a canvas roof in this case. Safety features are virtually non-existent with no airbags and no side protection other than the canvas or metal sheet. These are vital safety features that protect occupants of vehicles in road traffic collisions and in turn
reduce the number of casualties on our roads.
Tuk-Tuks are generally only fitted with lap belts due to their very compact nature, there is little room between the passengers and the vehicle extremities. Therefore if a Tuk-Tuk is involved in a road traffic collision, there is a greater potential for the occupants to be seriously injured or killed.
There is also a concern surrounding the lack of lighting on Tuk-Tuks which may make them difficult for other road users to see. Areas with limited or poor street lighting will increase the risk to the occupants.
Given the nature of the taxi/private hire business, some passengers/customers will be more vulnerable due to their age, size or demeanour. Some may be affected by alcohol and therefore are at a greater risk of falling from the Tuk-Tuk. Given the fact
that the top speed can reach in excess of 40mph, falling from the vehicle at this speed could have devastating consequences.
In addition, I understand that the operator intends to utilise his Tuk-Tuk on roads along the North Coast 500 route as a licensed taxi, and as such, I would also have concerns that the vehicle could cause obstructions on an already very busy road network due to its limited speed. This, in turn could potentially increase the risk of a road traffic accident.
I am also aware that a similar proposal was brought before the Licensing Committee in Dumfries & Galloway in 2019, which was refused by Committee members, and I would urge the Highland Council Licensing Committee to also refuse any application in relation to this proposal on the grounds of public safety, and the vehicle not being for purpose.
Should the Committee agree to the licensing of Tuk-Tuks as taxis or private hire vehicles, then any subsequent applications submitted for such vehicles to be licensed will be the subject of a police objection, on the grounds of public safety, and the vehicle not being fit for purpose.