Blackpool’s landau drivers could be forced to take tougher driving tests before being allowed to operate on the Promenade.
The move is among seven recommendations made by councillors in the wake of a serious accident in October 2014 when a horse bolted.
We felt that in the light of the serious incident in October 2014, and a small but not insignificant number of complaints raised in 2014 in relation to the service, that a full scrutiny was requiredCoun Peter Hunter
A couple and three young children were on board the landau at the time of the incident which councillors warned “could have ended with a fatality”.
There has also been a surge in complaints to the council about landaus with claims they have ignored red lights and been driven unsafely down the centre of the carriageway.
A panel of councillors which has spent nearly six months scrutinising the way the horse-drawn carriages operate, has also called for an investigation into whether landaus should be allowed to work on the Prom on Friday evenings when traffic is very busy during the Lights.
Currently they are banned from using the Prom on Saturday nights during the Illuminations. Other recommendations made in the report include a review of the fare structure with the possibility of creating set routes in order to standardise charges. Licensing chiefs are also being recommended to look at the possibility of ringfencing some of the licence fee revenue from landaus for the clean-up of manure.
It is also proposed to set up a forum to promote better links between the council and the landau trade.
Coun Peter Hunter, who chaired the scrutiny panel, said: “We felt that in the light of the serious incident in October 2014, and a small but not insignificant number of complaints raised in 2014 in relation to the service, that a full scrutiny was required.
“A full report has now been completed which will go to the tourism, economy and resources scrutiny committee and ultimately be referred to the executive for a final decision. We have taken evidence from all parties concerned and now it is up to both committees to look at these recommendations.”
The report to councillors says: “The review topic was chosen following a referral from the public protection sub-committee requesting a review of the council’s policy on licensed horse drawn hackney carriages, following an increase in the number of complaints about the service throughout 2014.
“The complaints related to the amount of horse manure on the Promenade, carriage drivers driving unsafely down the middle of the road and carriages driving through red lights. There had also been an increase in the number of queries concerning the welfare of the horses while on the Promenade. In addition, in October 2014 a serious incident had taken place that had involved a horse being startled and subsequently bolting down the Promenade. The carriage in question collided with members of the public on the Promenade and a six-year-old boy had his collar bone broken as a result.”
The report added: “Mem noted it could have ended with a fatality.” It is more than eight years since the last review of the laundaus, during which time the layout of the Promenade has changed with Central Prom being reduced to one lane in each direction.
The scrutiny report, which will be considered on Thursday at 6pm at Blackpool Town Hall, says complaints included landaus performing u-turns in busy traffic which “had a particularly high potential risk of accident”, ignoring red lights and driving down the centre of the road.
However fears about the welfare of the horses were largely dismissed by the panel after discussions with vets concluded “the horses were well looked after and fed and watered appropriately.”
Most complaints about horse manure were around the Tower and the Comedy Carpet, with the situation made worse by too many landaus queueing on the same ranks. One solution could be to provide separate dedicated areas for the change-over of horses, which must only work a maximum of seven hours.