Maidstone Borough Council undertook a consultation between 3rd August 2018 and 7th October 2018.
The survey was carried out online and by email, with a direct email to approximately 8,000 customer who had consented to being contacted by email and was promoted on the Council’s website, social media and in the local press. A direct email was sent to licensed taxi operators using customer details provided by the licensing team. Paper copies of the survey and alternative formats were available on request.
The survey was open to all Maidstone Borough residents aged 18 years and over and visitors to the borough. The data has not been weighted, however the top two and bottom two age brackets were combined to give the groups 65 years and over and 18 to 34 years.
All survey respondents were asked their opinions about the proposed requirements as part of each phase of the revised policy There was opportunity throughout to provide additional comments. Hackney and private hire drivers were asked an additional question about if they have vehicle on street or off-street parking currently.
A total of 674 people (including 39 taxi drivers or representatives of taxi businesses) responded to the questionnaire, this report discusses unweighted results. Please note not every respondent answered every question; therefore the total number of respondents refers to the number of respondents for that question not to the survey overall.
With a total of 674 responses to the survey, the overall results in this report are accurate to ±3.8% at the 95% confidence level. This means that we can be 95% certain that the results are between ±3.8% of the calculated response, so the ‘true’ response could be 3.8% above or below the figures reported (i.e. a 50% agreement level could, in reality, lie within the range of 46.2% to 53.8%).
Please note the following:
· 18 to 34 years age group is under-represented
· 55 to 64 years and 65 years and over age groups are over-represented
· Taxi Drivers are under-represented
Findings & Recommendations
The results show that respondents from BME groups and those from the taxi industry are more likely than other groups to disagree with the proposed requirements. It should be noted that there is overlap between these groups hence similar out-turns, 31% of respondents in the BME group are within the taxi industry and 41% of respondent within the taxi industry are from a BME group.
The comments demonstrate a lack of understanding from those in the industry about how the phased policy will work with some assuming that they will need to buy a new car in 2021 and then another in 2025. This coupled with the low response rate from respondents affiliated with the industry suggests further consultation is required with this group which would be best undertaken face to face through focus groups or public meetings.
The comments and data show there is support from resident on
improving air quality in the borough therefore anonymous data will be made
available to the Environmental Health Team who is responsible for the
management of air quality in the borough.
Do you think it is appropriate to use licensing policies to improve air quality on the borough?
Overall, four out of five respondents said they thought it was appropriate for the Council to use licensing policy to improve air quality in the borough.
The data doesn’t how any significant difference in the response levels between men and women, carers and non-carers or between respondents with a disability and those without a disability.
Across the different age groups the 55 to 64 years group has the lowest proportion agreeing at 71.9% and the greatest proportions responding no and not sure at 18.0% and 10.2% respectively. The 65 years and over group had the greatest proportion agreeing that the Council should use licensing policy to improve air quality in the borough at 84.0% and the lowest proportion disagreeing at 6.3%.
There is a significant difference in the proportions agreeing between respondents from white groups and those from BME groups. Respondents from BME groups were less likely than those from white group to agree that licensing policy should be used to assist in improving air quality in the borough as are the respondents affiliated with the taxi industry. The out-turns from these two groups are broadly similar as a result of cross over between these groups and low response levels to the survey overall from people in these groups.
Do you agree that Maidstone should aim for all of its licensed hackney and private hire taxi vehicles to be zero emission by 2025?
Survey respondents were asked if they thought that Maidstone should be aiming for all its licensed taxi hackney and private hire taxis to be zero emission by 2025. Almost three out every four respondents agreed that that Maidstone should aim for zero emission taxis by 2015.
The data shows that women are more likely than men to agree. There is a significant difference between the proportion of men and women responding no with almost one in five men selecting this response compare to one in ten women.
There are significant differences in the response levels between respondents from white groups and those from BME groups. Just over half of all respondents from BME groups agreed that Maidstone should be aiming for all its hackney and private hire vehicles to be zero emission by 2025, compared to three quarters of respondents from white groups.
In terms of age groups the 65 years and over group had the greatest proportion that agreed at 79.7%. The 55 to 64 years group had the greatest proportion responding no at 23.8%, this group also had the greatest proportion responding not sure at 12.5%.
There were no significant differences between respondents with a disability and those without when responding to this question. However, carers were more likely than non-carers to answer that they do not agree with the aim with 22.3% of this group answering this way compared to 15.0% of non-carers.
The chart below shows the responses for resident compared to those affiliated with the taxi industry, there are significant differences with those in the industry more likely to respond no and not sure compared to residents.
Phase 1 of the policy proposes that from 1st January 2019 all new applications for hackney carriage and private hire vehicles will only be accepted for Euro 4 Petrol (January 2006) or Euro 6 Diesel (September 2015) or a higher standard. This means that the existing fleet will continue to be licensed until a replacement/new vehicle is required, or until 1st January 2025, whichever is sooner.
Respondents to the survey were asked if they agree with the requirement proposed for phase 1.
Overall, four out of five respondents (80%) said they agree with the requirement for the proposed phase 1.
The data shows no significant differences in the response levels between men and women and between carers and non-carers.
Respondents with a disability were less likely to agree with the proposed requirement than respondents without a disability and had a greater proportion that were .not sure with 11.0% of disabled respondents answering this way compared to 5.1% of non disabled respondents.
Respondents from BME backgrounds have comparable levels of respondents saying they are not sure to respondents from white groups. However, respondents from BME groups were significantly more likely to say they do not agree with the proposed requirements for phase 1 with 40.4% responding this way a 28.1% difference compared to the response levels for white groups.
There were some variances across the different age groups with the 65 years and over group having the greatest proportion agreeing with the proposed requirement at a 87.0%. The 55 to 64 years age group had the lowest proportion agreeing at 71.4%, this group had the greatest proportion that did not agree with the proposed requirement at 20.2%. The 35 to 44 years group had the greatest proportion responding not sure at 11.0% - significantly higher than the overall result.
The data shows that there is a significant difference between the responses from residents and those from the taxi industry. Respondents in the taxi industry were significantly less likely than residents to be in favour of the proposed requirement for phase 1 with 51.3% of the taxi industry in favour compared to 81.8% of residents.
Respondents from the taxi industry also had a greater proportion that responded not sure with 15.4% responding this way compared to 5.0% of residents.
Phase 1 - Disagree Comments
Respondents that said they do not agree with the proposed requirement for phase 1 were asked to what were the reasons they disagreed, 92 provided further comments. These have been allocated themes, with some comments relating to more than one theme.
There were 8 respondents who said there was not a need for the policy, giving reasons that the air is fine, the emissions from taxis are overstated and there are more important things for the Council to concentrate on. A further four respondents said that the current regulations around emissions for taxis were sufficient, with one mentioning that central government already has proposals for introducing low emission vehicles.
There were four respondents that said that the current policy of 15 years should remain, particularly for existing licensees. Twelve respondents said they felt that the deadline for change should be later and fifteen said the date should be sooner.
Eight queried the impact of this change on emission levels – with most considering that taxis account for a small percentage of road traffic and therefore the proposals would have little impact, while six said that diesel vehicles shouldn’t be licensed.
Eighteen responders made comments concerning the impact the proposals could have on a driver’s ability to earn a living and a further eight expressed concern about costs being passed on the customers.
There were fourteen comments that have been classed as general, these are comments which did not fit in another theme, where the intention was unclear or ask a question. None of these comments were supportive of the proposals.
Eight said the proposals should go further with a number of suggestions put forwards such as extending the proposal to all council vehicles and banning diesel vehicles from the town centre including HGVs.
Four respondents made comments about revenue generation/alternative tax with the feeling that the proposals are an excuse to charge more.
There were three respondents who made comment about the existing transport network and planning having an impact on levels of pollution (i.e congestion in the town centre). One person mentioned infrastructure (charging points) to support the proposals and one person said that pensioner should be allowed to use the Park & Ride.
Phase 1 Additional Comments
To give everyone the opportunity to comment all respondents were also asked if they had any additional comments about the proposed requirement for phase 1. A total of 124 respondents made comment.
There were eleven commenter that were positive towards the proposed phase 1 and one who said that aggressive measures to combat pollution are required in Maidstone. Eight respondents made negative comments that the proposal was a waste of time as there are central government proposals in this areas, the current legislation is sufficient or not required due to taxis accounting for a very small proportion of traffic. A further ten commenters queried the environmental impacts of the proposals with several citing concerns about the environmental impacts in producing low emission vehicles or just querying the environmental impacts.
There were seventeen people that made comments to the affect that the date should be sooner for introducing this phase and seven who said it should be later.
There were eleven respondents that queried the impact the proposals would have the taxi industry, concerned that journey prices could rise or that the availability of taxis could reduce.
There were six respondents that queried the support available to taxi driver to assist them with the changes and two mentioned the need for infrastructure in terms of charging points throughout the town.
Eleven respondents made comments to the effect that the proposals could go further, of these two mentioned buses (which are outside of the council’s control), three mention public sector vehicles, four mention enforcement for idling and two suggest higher standards as a starting point. There were also thirteen respondents that made suggestions including banning taxis from the town centre, filling potholes, having an appeals process for exceptional cases and improving the bus services. In addition there were four queries, of these three queried how the implementation of the proposals would work and the fourth queries the statistics surrounding the impact of the proposals.
There were twenty-five comments that have been classed as general; these are comments which did not fit in another theme or where the intention was unclear. Several of these urge caution when implementing the proposals and several mention existing traffic issues in the town. Two mention needing more time (‘like London’) and two respondents identify that given the age of the current taxi fleet and licensing policy this proposal would incur little change at phase 1 for those in the industry.
Phase 2 of the policy proposes that from 1st January 2021 all renewal applications for hackney carriage and private hire vehicles will only be accepted for Euro 4 Petrol (January 2006) or Euro 6 Diesel (September 2015) or a higher standard. This means that all of the fleet need to comply with these standards from January 2021.
Respondents to the survey were asked if they agree with the requirement proposed for phase 2, just over seven in ten respondent said they agree with the proposed requirement for phase 2 and just under one in five said they do not agree with the proposal.
The data show there are no significant differences in the response levels between men and women or between respondents with a disability and those without a disability.
Although not significant the data suggests that carers are slightly more likely to say respond no when asked if they agree with the proposal with 23.7% of this group selecting this response compared to 17.1% of non-carers.
While there is no significant difference between the proportion of respondents from BME groups and the proportion of people from white groups answering not sure however there are significant differences between these groups for the responses yes and no. As the charts below show respondents from BME groups were split between agreeing with the proposal and disagreeing with it whereas three out of four respondents from white groups were in favour of the proposals.
Across the difference age groups the proportions agreeing with the proposal are comparable to the overall result however, there are some variations in the proportions responding no and not sure however these can all be accounted for within the confidence interval and therefore are not thought to be significant.
More than half of respondents that work within the taxi industry were not in favour of the proposed requirement for phase 2. Overall there is a difference of 45% in the proportions agreeing between residents and those within the taxi industry. Maidstone has 325 licensed drivers only 12% (39) responded to the consultation; therefore further consultation with this group may be required to gain a representative picture of the views of this group.
Phase 2 - Disagree Comments
Respondents that said they do not agree with the proposed requirement for phase 1 were asked to what were the reasons they disagreed, 90 respondent provided comments about why they disagree with the proposals.
There were seven respondents that make comments to the effect that no policy is required with reasons given that there are too few taxis, there is national policy and regulations to cover change to low emission vehicles or that there is no issue with air quality in the borough.
There were sixteen respondents that said that the date of 2121 for phase two should be later and seven stated the date should be earlier. A further ten suggested that the proposals should go further, with four making suggesting areas outside of the Council’s control such mentioning lorries and private vehicles. There were also a further five respondents that made comment that the proposals are a waste of money or a way to generate revenue for the Council.
There were 16 respondents that made comment about driver’s ability to earn a living, with concerns about drivers who may have recently purchased a new vehicle and how affordable new vehicles are. There were also six comments that mentioned the current policy (of 15 years lifespan for vehicles), saying it is unfair to change the rules as vehicles have been purchased on this basis.
There were eight respondents that queries the proposals impact on the environment, stating the amount of emissions from these vehicles are small compared with all vehicle emissions and that it will only have a small impact on pollution in the town. There were also four respondents that made comment about planning and the transport network in Maidstone. There were also four suggestions including one suggesting that a ‘natural phasing out’ of unacceptable vehicles.
There were four respondents that raised concerns about the costs of going electric being passed onto customer through fares, making taxis more expensive.
Fifteen comments have been classed as general, these are comments which did not fit in another theme or where the intention was unclear. Several of these made comments that the proposals should allow current vehicle to get to the end of their lifelines before they are replaced.
Phase 2 - Additional Comments
Respondents were also asked if they had any additional comments about the proposed requirement for phase 2, a total of 88 comments were provided.
There were eight respondents that were positive about the proposals and thirteen said the policy should go further, including ten respondents that made suggestions that fall outside of the Council’s remit mentioning other vehicles that the proposals should apply to such as HGV’s, buses and motorbikes.
There were three comments that said the policy was not needed. As with previous comments of this nature existing regulations and standards for taxis were mentioned.
Nine respondents that said the proposals should be brought in sooner and seven said the date should be later. Two commenters mentioned banning diesel and six concerned that the cost of getting a taxi would be increased.
There were also two commenters that queried the impact of the proposals on air quality / pollutions as with previous comments of this nature it was highlighted that taxis make up a small proportion of the traffic in the borough.
There were fourteen comments that expressed concern about the ability of drivers to make a living or how they will afford the new vehicles required; several of these commented that the proposals would force some drivers and smaller companies out of business.
There were five comments which mention the age of vehicles, with one stating they will lose more than 5 years trading and another that said they don’t believe that the proposals will have a big impact on drivers as most of the fleet will be euro 6 by 2021. There were also an additional four commenters that raised the issue of infrastructure for charging electric vehicles or queried what support was available for those making the switch.
There were two comments that mentioned that as the UK will be outside of the European Union by 2025 therefore new measurement/directives will apply.
comments have been classed as general, these are comments which did not fit in
another theme or where the intention was unclear. Of these twelve one referred
the existing policy of 15 years vehicle lifetime, another said the problem
would be moved elsewhere, one just stated that they didn’t think the proposals
were possible and another stress the dangers of pollution to children.
Phase 3 of the policy proposes that from 1st January 2025 all renewal and new applications for hackney carriage and private hire vehicles will only be accepted for full electric, range extended electric, plug-in hybrid and hydrogen vehicles (or an equivalent low emission system).
This means that all of the fleet need to comply with these standards from January 2025.
Overall, two thirds of respondents agreed with the requirement proposed for phase three and one in five were not in favour of the proposed requirement.
The data doesn’t show any significant difference between men and women.
The proportions agreeing and disagreeing with the proposed requirement for phase 3 for respondent with and those without a disability are in line with the overall result. However, a lower proportion of respondents with a disability responded not sure compared to those with a disability at 6.2% compared to 15.5%.
There are variations in response levels across the different age groups, most of these variations are accounted for within the confidence interval. Though it should be noted the 55 to 64 years group had the lowest proportion agreeing with the proposal at 56% (±7.6%).
There are significant differences in the response levels between respondents from white groups and those from BME groups, as is shown from the charts below. Respondents from BME groups were more likely to disagree with the proposed requirements for phase 3.
Overall, people from BME backgrounds make up 8.9% of the survey respondents compared to 5.9% in Maidstone.
For phase three there are significant differences between respondent within the taxi industry and residents. More than half of survey respondents within the taxi industry were not in favour of the requirement proposed at phase three compared with less than one in five for respondents that are residents. Phase three had a greater proportion of respondents from the taxi industry respondent not sure than for the other phases with one in five from the industry selecting this answer.
Phase 3 Disagree Comments
Respondents that said they do not agree with the proposed requirement for phase 3 were asked to what were the reasons they disagreed, a total of 116 comments were submitted.
There were eight comments that inferred that a policy was not required, with one stating that every car should be subject to the same restrictions and another stating there is already too much regulation. Two commenters said the proposals should go further applying to other vehicles.
Twenty respondents made comments in relation to the timescales for change, set out in the he proposals; with eleven stating that the date should be later and nine stating that the date for phase 3 should be sooner.
There were sixteen comments that expressed concern around how those in the industry would be able to afford new vehicles with some stating the proposals are unfair on taxi drivers. Comments that appear to be from those within the industry suggest there is some confusion about the proposals with one commenter stating that they would need to buy to new vehicles between 2021 and 2025.
There were 21 comments that queried the environmental impact of the proposals in addition to the previous theme of the air in Maidstone not being that bad and taxis accounting for a small proportion of traffic other issues raised here included concern over the disposal and recycling of batteries for electric cars, the environmental impact of producing the cars and that although electric the electricity is still derived from fossil fuels.
There were three respondents then mentioned that the current policy of 15 year lifetime for taxis should be honoured. One commenter mentioned the need for a ring road.
There were ten comments that express concern about how the proposals will impact on the cost of getting a taxi in the borough.
There were twenty respondents that made comment about the infrastructure for electric vehicles. These commenters said that there were currently not enough points for charging in the town centre, querying when and who should provide them. A couple of commenter stated that with on-street parking they would not be able to install facilities at home to charge their vehicles.
There were also 24 comments about the nature of the technology currently available. Here respondents queried the range of vehicles available, the distances they can travel between charges and that the technology is untested. Several of these commenters stated that there was only one suitable vehicle available at present and that even that was not sufficient for use having only 70 mile between charges.
Twenty comments have been classed as general, these are comments which did not fit in another theme or where the intention was unclear. Of these six were negative about the proposals stating that they are unrealistic or won’t work.
Phase 3 – Additional Comments
Respondents were also asked if they had any additional comments about the proposed requirement for phase 3, a total of 122 comments were received.
There were sixteen comments classified as positive where the respondent said that the proposals were a good idea, that they agree or comments that are supportive of the proposals. There were three comments that said the proposal were not required. A further eight respondents made reference in their comment to areas which are outside the Council’s control including single occupancy cars, buses and lorries.
There were sixteen respondents that made comment that the date set out in the proposals should be brought forward and three saying it should be put back.
There were thirteen comments that were concerned about the environmental impacts of the proposals in additional to the areas previously outlined in this report several respondents query the lifetime of electric vehicle batteries and how they are disposed of and the environmental cost of producing electric vehicle batteries. There were also four respondents that said diesel should be banned.
There were twenty-two respondents that made comments in relation to the technology in relation to electric vehicle. These highlighted concerns about the availability of technology and a concern that newer technology will come along in the meantime.
There were six respondents that expressed concern at the impact the proposals could have on the cost of getting a taxi and a further ten that express concern about how affordable these proposals are for taxi drivers and their ability to earn a living.
There were five respondents that mention transport in Maidstone generally, mentioning stationary traffic and congestion. One considers that if taxi prices increase as a result of the proposals more people will use private vehicles which in turn will increase congestion. There was also one respondent that mentioned development saying that housing building should stop.
There are nine comments that have been classified as containing suggestions these included changing the Council’s fleet, providing incentives of these nine, three suggested that the current policy of 15 years should be honoured.
Fourteen comments have been classed as general; these are comments which did not fit in another theme or where the intention was unclear. One of these made comment to the changes to the Park and ride Service, one said the proposal will not happen, another commented that three years ago they were advised that diesels were the future and one said the early notification should assist with dealing with complaints from drivers.
Additional Comments – All Respondents
At the end of the survey all respondents were given the opportunity to provide any additional comments. A total of 212 comments were submitted.
There were 58 comments classified as positive or supportive of the proposals. These respondents said they welcomed the change or expressed that they thought the proposals were a good idea. Several of these also had caveats such as the proposals should be brought forward or that they should also apply to other road vehicles such as buses and commercial lorries. There were a further nine comments that said that pollution was bad and emissions should be cut.
There were six respondents that were negative about the proposals implying that the Council has better things to do and that the proposals are a waste of money. A further three respondents were concerned about how fair the policy is and another four said it was unfair not to honour the current licensing policy of 15 years lifetime for vehicles used by the industry.
There were 38 respondents that made reference to the widening the scope of the policy to include vehicles that are not in the Council’s remit such as HGV’s, buses and commercial vehicles. There were eighteen comments that said the proposals should be sooner or come into effect earlier and five said that there should be a longer lead in time to implementing the policy. There were also two others that simply said the timescales need to be carefully considered.
There were nineteen respondents that made comment about the possible impact the proposals could have on the environment. Here respondents mentioned the availability of electricity, that taxis only make up a small proportion of the traffic in the borough and that we should be targeting greater polluters such as HGV’s and buses.
There were thirteen respondents that raised issues around how the proposals would impact those in the industry with several saying that this could put some drivers/taxi firms out of business. Several of these respondents also highlighted the cost of suitable low emission vehicles and queried how affordable these vehicles are. There were a further two comments that were concerned that the proposals could increase the cost of fares for users and a further two were concerned that suitable technology to provide taxi services to support the proposals would not be ready in time.
There were eighteen respondents that made comment about infrastructure and/or support available for drivers making the switch. There seems to be an assumption that the Council is responsible for providing charging points.
There were twenty-seven respondents that made comment about the transport network and planning in the borough, many of these mention having a bypass or ring road. These comments were mixed with several saying there should be more cycling infrastructure, other commented on the number of housing being built. There were also a couple of respondents that expressed disappointment and/or anger about the changes to the park and ride services in the borough.
There were four queries, three of these asked a question about proposals will work practice, and the fourth query was not related to the proposals or consultation.
There were twenty-three comments classed as containing a suggestion. These including enforcement for idling vehicles, increasing cycle paths, banning taxis from the town centre and driver training.
Twenty-five comments have been classed as general; these are comments which did not fit in another theme or where the intention was unclear. Of these three were negative about the proposals with one saying that the proposals make it look like the Council are doing something, one saying they are a fad and the final one saying the proposals may be well intended but are ill-informed. There were also three comments that urged caution with one saying the timescales may need adjustment and one saying there may be occasion when an exception is required.
Park Situation – Hackney & Private Hire Drivers Only
In order to assist in the planning of infrastructure we asked drivers what access to parking they had, please note there may be some dual license holders responding as well as respondents that have access to both on-street and private parking as there were a total of 47 responses to the question, from 38 respondents.
The overall data for this question shows a fairly even split with 46.8% of respondents having off street parking and 44.7% having on street parking. The chart below shows the breakdown for hackney and private hire drivers. A total of four respondents selected other (in addition to other responses) but did not provide any further details.
 2011 Census