Use of night services has risen by 16% in the last twelve months — an increase of approximately three and a half million journeys in 2002/03 to 22 million journeys. For example, the busiest night bus route — N29 — was responsible for more than a million passenger journeys last year. Cash fares for night buses are in line with day fares and passes are valid on night buses too.
We consider that if a licensing authority were to introduce a ‘late-night licence’ for taxi or PHV drivers it could be challenged in the courts on the grounds that it was a disproportionate use of the power to issue taxi and PHV licences and, possibly, an abuse of an individual’s human rights. Some local licensing authorities, TfL, have introduced night tariffs for taxi fares in order to encourage more licensed taxi drivers to work unsociable hours. PHV fares are not set by local licensing authorities but are a commercial matter between the PHV operator and the hirer of the PHV.
It would also place an additional burden on the private sector and so require a full Regulatory Impact Assessment. There will also be financial implications for the Home Office. It is also important to note that the members of CDRPs already have a statutory responsibility to consult with local businesses which will include local licensed premises. In addition a considerable amount of work is already being carried out on a non-statutory basis.
The Home Office and the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) are encouraging CDRPs and local representatives from the drinks industry to work together in partnership. The Home Office held a joint conference on 13 February 2003 with the BBPA to encourage this further. Hazel Blears, Minister of State at the Home Office is Sponsor Minister for the project.