Report by Head of Legal and Regulatory Support
Chair welcomed everyone to the meeting.
In line with recent legislation for Civic Government Hearings, the
parties (and any representatives) were given the options for participating in
the meeting today. The options available
were by video call, by audio call or by written submission. For this hearing the Applicants opted to
proceed by way of audio call and Morgan and Hayley Romilly
joined the meeting by telephone.
McIntyre-Stewart, Objector also opted to proceed by way of audio call and
joined the meeting by telephone.
All of the other objectors (Mark Franks, Paul
Dornan, Colin McNeill and Kimberley Clerk) were unable to attend today and had
asked Mr McIntyre-Stewart to speak on their behalf.
Chair then outlined the procedure that would be followed and invited the
Applicants to speak in support of their application. He advised that as the same parties were
present for this hearing as the previous one held at 2.00 pm, the Committee
would take account of the information presented before.
Romilly advised that this application was for a Taxi
Car Licence for a 9 seater vehicle (registration number T500 WLF), capable of
carrying 8 passengers. He said that it
was fully diesel at this time. The sole
purpose of this vehicle, as well as supporting the others, would be to stay on
the Loch side. He referred to the LVSA
survey report and everything referring to Helensburgh
and Lomond and to Mr McIntyre-Stewart advising at the previous hearing of the
need to serve Arrochar, Luss
and Tarbet. He
said that you could constantly see West Dunbartonshire cars going up and down
so some did provide a service there. He
commented that Mr McIntyre-Stewart had previously referred to the difficulties
of serving an area 35 minutes up the road from where a vehicle was
located. Mr Romilly
advised that if this plate was granted they had contracts in place up the Loch
side and that the vehicle would permanently reside in Arrochar. He said that he and his wife were considering
a move to Arrochar.
said that he had received massive support for this vehicle from businesses such
as Luss Estates, Lennox of Lomond and the Golf
Club. Mr Romilly
advised that he had also received fantastic support from the Three Villages
advised that the vehicle may appear in Helensburgh on
occasions but the sole purpose would be to be based in Arrochar
and serve the people of the three villages from there. He referred to regularly getting customers
looking for transport from Arrochar train station to
distances of less than half a mile and that it could not be justified sending a
car up there for a £3 or £4 hire. He
said it seemed that the people of these villages had been forgotten about.
said there was huge support for a taxi dedicated to these villages. He referred to the local bus service being
infrequent and did not allow locals and tourists to move about. He said this 8 seater vehicle would be
capable of carrying people between businesses and he believed the Council would
have received an email about how much this service was needed in the area.
QUESTIONS FROM OBJECTOR
McIntyre-Stewart asked Mr Romilly if he would intend
charging a call out fee and, if not, how would he make his business model
work. Mr Romilly
advised that he did not intend to charge a call out fee. He said the vehicle would remain in the area
and that the driver would live there so the vehicle would have a permanent base
in the village.
McIntyre-Stewart referred to Mr Romilly’s plans to
move to Arrochar and asked how that would work for
him covering the whole of Helensburgh and
Lomond. He said it did not make a lot of
sense. Mr Romilly
said he would use his vehicles wherever they were needed and that if wanted to
operate dead mileage he would.
McIntyre-Stewart referred to Mr Romilly saying he
operated a 24 hour service and asked if he had received many complaints about
calls going unanswered. Mr Romilly said that he always returns calls to
customers. He referred to loss of mobile
signal at times when driving.
McIntyre-Stewart said the main point was that as a plate was granted at the
previous hearing this brought the number of plates for the Helensburgh
and Lomond up to 48. He said that
business in Helensburgh and Lomond had dramatically
reduced compared to pre Covid times and he advised
that it was likely to fall further due to the cost of living crisis. He said that he was seeing taxi drivers
dropping out. He said that what was
needed was competition and that he believed granting another plate to an
already operating business, instead of a separate individual, would stifle
QUESTIONS FROM APPLICANT
Romilly advised that he had no questions.
Blair asked the Applicant how many taxis in total there were in Arrochar and if the area was now up to capacity. Mr Romilly advised
that as far as he was aware there were no taxis operating in the area. He referred to a survey carried out by the
Three Villages Hall Committee, which stated they found it extremely difficult
to get a taxi and that there was no taxi service based in Arrochar
or Tarbet. He
referred to the LVSA report saying there was 48 taxis and said this was heavily
focussed on Helensburgh.
McIntyre-Stewart advised of having one taxi for the Arrochar
and Tarbet area.
He said the difficulty people had was not about getting a taxi, it was
about not getting a taxi without being charged a call out. He said his business was affected by this.
McIntyre-Stewart referred to Mr Romilly indicating
that he intended to work in the Arrochar area and
that he understood he had work coming out from some parts of Arrochar and Tarbet. He said that this new taxi licence would
severely curtail his opportunities. He
said that he had one vehicle designated for that area and that they also
covered the Loch side. He said that the
only service that Mr Romilly would add to the area
was that this vehicle could take 8 passengers.
He suggested that due to the short journeys, customers were quite happy
to hire 2 vehicles to do a run.
Romilly said that this 8 seater vehicle would be
dedicated to the north of Loch Lomond, Arrochar, Tarbet and Luss. He said there were contracts in place to make
this a sustainable vehicle for the area.
He advised that he had received positive responses from the Three
Villages Hall Committee and the evidence of this had been submitted to the
Licensing Team this morning. He referred
to 48 vehicles now covering the Helensburgh and
Lomond area and he said that be believed this area should be seen as 2 separate
areas. He said that Luss
and Tarbet were the forgotten villages.
asked, both parties confirmed that they had received fair hearing.
Brown sought and received confirmation that the total number of taxi licences
in the Helensburgh and Lomond area was 48, following
the granting of a licence at the previous hearing. This brought the total to the same number of
taxis that operated when the LVSA survey was carried out.
Brown asked if there was any leeway for the Committee to grant another licence,
given the intention to only run this taxi at the north end of Loch Lomond.
Green said that the Committee always had leeway. He said it was up to the Committee to
determine whether or not it would be appropriate and the Committee could chose
whatever information was relevant to determine whether an exception could be
Governance Manager, Mrs Barton, advised that the LVSA survey was taken forward
by the PPSL Committee and an agreement was made that any future applications
for taxi car licences would come to the Committee for consideration regardless
of any objections. She said it was not
her view that the report was binding in terms of numbers and that it was there
for information. She said that she
believed there had been occasions when the Committee have granted licences that
have taken an area above the numbers in the report.
Kain said he would be inclined to approve this application as it seemed that it
would benefit Arrochar and other smaller locations
which were not properly served at the moment.
Irvine agreed with Councillor Kain and said he would be happy to support the
application. He said that Arrochar was within his Ward and that he was familiar with
the geography of the area. He said there
were lots of short-term lets and Airbnbs in the area
and that there had been a lot of local support for a taxi based in Arrochar at a Community Council meeting and on social
media. He said he was sure there was
demand and that it would be up to the Applicant to justify his business model
and, if he could support that, then he was minded to support the employment of
a driver in these areas.
Blair said he was minded to support this application on the basis of support
from the community and the rural nature of that area. He questioned whether a condition could be
put on the licence or if the Committee should just take the Applicant’s word about
where the taxi would operate. He said
that a taxi in this area would help service the public transport network and
from a connectivity aspect that was good.
He commented that it was only up and over the hill to Lochgoilhead and that he was minded to support the
application on this occasion.
Green said that he thought placing a condition on the licence would be overly
onerous on the Operator and this would prevent them from picking anyone up from
Helensburgh after dropping someone off from Arrochar.
Committee unanimously agreed to grant a Taxi Car Licence to Mr and Mrs Romilly for Car Registration T500 WLF and noted that they
would receive written confirmation of this within 7 days.
Report by Head of Legal and Regulatory Support, submitted)