Memorandum submitted by the Heathrow Airport
Consultative Committee (PEAT 06)
1. This is the response of the Heathrow
Airport Consultative Committee to the invitation, issued on 8
February 2007 by the House of Commons Transport Committee, for
interested persons to submit evidence on the subject.
2. The Heathrow Airport Consultative Committee
(HACC) is constituted by Heathrow Airport Limited in accordance
with Section 35 of the Civil Aviation Act 1982 (as amended by
the Airports Act 1986). The Consultative Committee operates as
a body independently of Heathrow Airport Limited. The Consultative
Committee has 43 members drawn from the whole range of stakeholders
concerned with or about the establishment and operation of Heathrow
Airport. It was set up in 1948 but has expanded considerably since
then both in terms of the number of members and also in the range
of activities which it pursues.
3. The Committee regrets that it only had
your Committee's call for evidence drawn to its attention on Saturday
3 March last by one of our members. This submission has, therefore,
been put together rather hurriedly in order to meet your deadline
of 5 March. We hope nevertheless that it will be of interest to
your Committee and one adjudged as being worthy of some remedial
action being taken.
4. The HACC has a Passenger Services Sub-Committee
(the PSSC) which deals with the majority of the matters your invitation
has highlighted as they affect Heathrow Airport.
Members of the Sub-Committee, some of them are
appointed from amongst frequent travellers through the Airport
after advertisement, conduct monitoring exercises of the various
operations and facilities at or serving Heathrow which are experienced
by passengers as they travel through it.
5. The PSSC receives numerous complaints
from passengers about their experiences and, together with concerns
raised from its own monitoring exercises, discusses these with
airport management, with the surface transport providers, taxi
organisations, with airline representatives catering and hotel
organisations with a view to resolving them. The Committee has
no executive functions.
6. Particular concerns which have been the
subject of discussion with Heathrow Airport Limited recently have
been those arising from the security procedures introduced over
the past six months and the airport's contingency plans to deal
with events such as the several days of fog in December 2006.
7. One matter which the HACC wishes particularly
to drawn to the attention of the Inquiry is that regarding the
situation for passengers (and local people) who wish to travel
from the Airport to a destination outside of Greater London and,
unless they use a pre-booked private hire vehicle, must use a
London "black cab".
8. The HACC is aware that your Committee
published a report, "The Regulation of Taxis and Private
Hire Vehicle Services in the UK" on 12 February 2004,
and regretted that this excluded the taxi situation in Greater
9. By law, some of which date back to the
Hackney Carriage Acts of the mid-1800s, the "black cab"
trade has a monopoly of operating licensed taxis within the Metropolitan
Police District. Until the year 2000, this District extended outside
of Greater London into, for example in the West, Spelthorne, other
parts of Surrey, Buckinghamshire and Berkshire.
10. Upon the establishment of the Greater
London Authority in 2000, the boundaries of this District contracted
to be coincidental with those of Greater London whilst the role
of the licensing authority, the Public Carriage Office, was absorbed
into Transport for London, a functional body of the Greater London
Authority and the Mayor of London.
11. The taxi licensing functions in those
areas from which the Metropolitan Police has withdrawn were taken
over by the local authorities for those areas.
12. The western boundary of Greater London
is substantially at or close to that of Heathrow Airport and in
the revision of the Police District boundary and transfer of taxi
licensing functions, no provision was made for the significant
number of passengers who wish to take a taxi from Heathrow Airport
across the border of Greater London into one of the surrounding
13. The problem which arises and is the
subject of frequent complaint, is that journeys by a London "black
cab" which cross the border do not have to be undertaken
"on the meter" when the driver should negotiate a fare
with the passenger before starting the journey.
14. Some of these complaints are made by
Councillors representing their local authority from outside of
Greater London and, serving as members of the HACC, are voicing
the concerns of their constituents.
15. Because of the taxi legislation, a London
"black cab" is now not licensed to pick up a fare outside
of Greater London on their return journey to the airport and many
drivers are therefore reluctant to accept passengers wanting an
outward journey from the airport.
16. Equally, a taxi licensed by an authority
outside of Greater London may convey a passenger to Heathrow Airport
but it may not pick up a return fare unless it has been pre-booked.
17. As a result of this unsatisfactory situation,
the HACC has for some five years been pressing for some change
in legislation which would resolve the situation satisfactorily
from the passenger viewpoint but has found little enthusiasm for
this from the regulatory authorities.
18. According to the complaints received,
it is unusual for passengers to be advised of the fare required
before starting a cross-border journey and they are then faced
with a demand for quite high fares at the end of their journey.
These are claimed to be £50 or £60 for some journeys
to destinations which can be as close as only one or two miles
from the Airport.
19. We were advised by the Heathrow Hotels
Association of complaints from their customers of these high fares
with allegations that for those foreign customers with a particular
destination on the Colnbrook By-pass, the charges were even higher.
20. In an effort to ameliorate the situation,
Heathrow Airport Limited instituted a scheme early in this century
known as "Fares Fair" under which taxi drivers were
asked to participate by charging flat fares to some of these areas
near Heathrow. These have been increased from time to time but
are under £30. We have been unable to obtain evidence of
the effectiveness of this scheme.
21. It is difficult to emphasise sufficiently
the strength of feeling amongst the members of the HACC on this
subject of taxis after some five years of seeking remedies in
what has appeared to be an insoluble problem.
22. Until the contraction of the boundary
of the Metropolitan Police District in 2000, this taxi problem
did not exist, it has only arisen because of the lack of consideration
of the consequences of that border change. The solution may be
to be to revert to that situation operating before contraction
of the District boundary.