Fringe Box



News In Brief From Millmead

Published on: 15 Dec, 2015
Updated on: 15 Dec, 2015

A round-up of news from Guildford Borough Council’s Millmead offices

GBC LogoLocal Council Tax Support Scheme Changes

Changes to Guildford’s Local Council Tax Support Scheme will take place from April 1 with those most in need still able to get up to 100% support for their council tax.

The updated scheme was approved at a recent council meeting and follows widespread public consultation.

As well as ensuring those most in need can still claim full council tax support, the council has made some changes to the relief is will provide from April 1. These include:

  • Freezing personal allowances and premiums
  • Increasing non-dependent deductions
  • Introducing a minimum income for self-employed people.

The council says: “We continue to help families affected by the changes through our discretionary hardship fund of £40,000.”

New-look Committies Coming In The New Year

The council reports that: “A greater chance for local people to get involved in council-decision making is on the horizon, with three new committees set to begin in the new year.”

There will be a new overview and scrutiny committee, to replace a number of existing scrutiny committees, and the introduction of executive advisory boards (EAB).

The overview and scrutiny committee will be responsible for monitoring decisions made by the Executive and lead councillors and will also be able to invite outside organisations to give evidence at scrutiny meetings.

Residents will be able to put forward contributions to their ward councillor to represent their views, and, where relevant, speak at the new committee meetings.

Each of the new executive advisory boards will be made up of 12 backbench members.

The first meetings will take place on:

January 7: society, environment and council development EAB

January 11: borough, economy and infrastructure EAB

January 12: overview and scrutiny committee

New Taxi Changes Aim To Put Public Protection First

All taxi and private hire drivers are now required to take a professional qualification to safeguard protection of children, adults, the disabled and vulnerable as well as maintain high standards. Existing drivers will be required to complete the training within the next three years.

The council says this decision follows public consultation feedback with 73% of respondents supporting the recommendation that new taxi and private hire drivers should complete additional training. The support for existing drivers’ additional training was 55%.

Other changes approved by the council include a new taxi livery to make it easier for the public to easily recognise Guildford licensed taxis. Public consultation feedback for this recommendation was 84% in support.

Another key change, in agreement with disability groups, is the removal of the condition that all taxis are wheelchair accessible (except those with council contracts to carry disabled passengers where the requirement to have a disabled access vehicle remains compulsory).

This is to give more choice to both the drivers and the public, including wheelchair users, who may not wish to travel in a specially adapted car. To ensure there is still a choice for wheelchair users there will be a reduction in licensing costs for taxis that are accessible.

It isn planned that by 2018, all Guildford taxis will be displaying the new livery, aimed to cut down on illegal touting and help the public clearly identify Guildford taxis from private hire.

Private hire vehicles will also have to clearly indicate that they are pre-booked only.

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Responses to News In Brief From Millmead

  1. Bernard Parke Reply

    December 16, 2015 at 8:37 am

    It is a sad situation that after many decades that it has been decreed that the taxis in the borough must, for public safety, be adorned in colourful livery.

    It is also sad that council tax payers will be required to meet the cost of this new measure, especially with the news that we can well expect a further 4% increase this next year.

  2. Pauline Surrey Reply

    December 16, 2015 at 3:08 pm

    I admire the taxi drivers who spoke at the recent full council meeting on December 8.

    They made very valid points.

    I watched the item on the webcast. Very interesting to observe the ensuing discussion. I would recommend watching it.

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