Agenda and minutes

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No. Item


Chairs Welcome


The Chair welcomed the Committee members, public speaker and officers to the virtual Planning Committee meeting being held via Skype.  The Chair explained that the meeting was being live streamed on the Council’s YouTube channel to enable members of the public to observe the committee.






Apologies for absence were received from Councillor Pattie Hill.  Councillor John Fisher attended as substitute on behalf of Councillor Hill.




Declarations of Interest

To invite Councillors to declare any Disclosable Pecuniary Interests and / or Other Disclosable Interests they may have in items on the agenda, and to confirm the nature of those interests.



There were no declarations of interest.


Minutes pdf icon PDF 576 KB

To confirm as a true record the minutes of the Licensing Committee held on Tuesday 28th September 2020.





The Minutes of the Licensing Committee meeting held on 29th September 2020 be confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chair.


Public Speaking


Councillor Anthony Lovell addressed the committee under the council’s public speaking rules and commented on the report at agenda item 7 regarding age limits for hackney carriage and private hire vehicles.  Speaking in his capacity as the portfolio holder for Climate Change, Councillor Lovell asked the committee to consider the importance of the taxi fleet moving to lower emission or electric vehicles, and whether the age criteria policy could be updated to include more generous age limits for lesser polluting vehicles in the interests of the environment and reducing emissions in the Borough..


Statutory Taxi and Private Hire Standards pdf icon PDF 226 KB

Additional documents:


Members considered a report in relation to the recently published Department for Transport guidance “Statutory Taxi & Private Hire Standards”.


The Senior Practitioner (Licensing), Worcestershire Regulatory Services (WRS), presented the report and in doing so explained that the guidance had been issued under section 177 of the Policing and Crime Act 2017.  The Council would be required to have regard to the Standards in its role as a public authority carrying out licensing functions under taxi and private hire legislation.


It was noted that section 177 enabled the issuing of guidance to direct licensing authorities as to how to exercise their functions to protect children and vulnerable individuals.  This latest guidance had been prompted to a large degree by the Jay and Casey reports into abuse of children and sexual exploitation in Rotherham which had linked the involvement of taxi/private hire drivers to incidents of abuse of children.


The public consultation on the guidance had taken place between February 2019 and April 2019.  Following a lengthy period of consideration of the responses, the guidance was issued on 21st July 2020.  Members were referred to the text of the guidance which was attached to the report at Appendix 1.


In summary, the guidance (referred to hereinafter as the Standards), set out a number of recommendations to Licensing Authorities relating to the processes and procedures which should be in place for taxi and private hire licensing; there was a clear expectation from the Department of Transport that the recommendations should be implemented.


The members were referred to the list of recommendations at part 3.7 of the report, namely: -


  • Criminality checks for licence holders
  • Working with the Police
  • Sharing information with other licensing authorities
  • Dealing with complaints about drivers and operators
  • Training for Members
  • Criminal convictions and rehabilitation of offenders
  • Safeguarding awareness advice, guidance and training for drivers
  • Language proficiency
  • CCTV in licensed vehicles
  • Regulation of booking and dispatch staff
  • Record keeping


It was noted that the Department for Transport would be expecting the recommendations contained within the Standards to be implemented unless there was a “compelling local reason” not to do so.  This demonstrated the desire of the government to see consistent standards applied by licensing authorities across the country.


The members were advised by the Senior Practitioner (Licensing), Worcestershire Regulatory Services (WRS), that the next stage would be for officers to review the existing policies and procedures to establish where changes would have to be made to bring them into line with the Standards.  Examples of key policies this process would affect were the fit and proper test, the policy on previous convictions, the licence conditions and vehicle standards.


In responding to questions from members, the Senior Practitioner (Licensing), Worcestershire Regulatory Services (WRS), the following points were noted: -


·       The Council currently required applicants for licences to complete an essential skills test which included assessment of language skills.  Guidance as to the expected level of proficiency in oral and written English was included in the Standards and officers would be  ...  view the full minutes text for item 15.


Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Vehicle Age Limits pdf icon PDF 218 KB

Additional documents:


Members considered a report in relation to the age limits for vehicles as set out in the Council’s Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Vehicle Licensing Policies.


In introducing the report the Senior Practitioner (Licensing), Worcestershire Regulatory Services (WRS) explained that this matter had originally been due to be reported to Licensing Committee in March 2020 but that meeting had been cancelled due to the Covid pandemic.


The report had not changed in the interim save that the function of determining applications by vehicle owners to exceed the age criteria which had previously been carried out by the Licensing Sub-Committee was now being exercised by officers under delegated authority.  This change had been made due to the Covid pandemic and restrictions on holding meetings.


It was noted that the Licensing Committee had considered the issue of the age limits on vehicles twice in recent years, in November 2016 and November 2018.  In November 2016 no further action had been taken to review the age limits; in November 2018 officers had been asked to carry out a consultation exercise on alternative age limits.  The results of that consultation had been reported back to Members in March 2019 but the committee had decided not to make any changes. 


The item had been placed back on the work programme again in November 2019, with Members requesting that the additional issue of vehicles producing lower emissions should also be addressed.


Members were referred to the existing age criteria limits as set out in Appendix 1, and the limits which had been consulted on in 2019, but not adopted, in Appendix 2.  Members were also referred to the statistics as to the numbers of applications granted and refused in paragraph 3.15 of the report.  Given the very high numbers of applications for extensions which were granted, this appeared to be a strong indicator that the policy should be reviewed and amended.


With regard to vehicle emissions, it was noted that other local authorities were looking to use taxi and private hire vehicle licensing policies to encourage the use of less polluting vehicles to address concerns about air quality.  For example, such an approach could be used to remove the most polluting vehicles from the fleet.  Members were referred to specific examples from other local authorities as set out in paragraphs 3.19 to 3.21 of the report. 


At the invitation of the Chair the legal officer summarised the issues that Members have to take into consideration when determining an application for a vehicle to exceed the age criteria.


In debating the report, the Members expressed views in favour of updating the current policy particularly in light of the increasing use and availability of electric vehicles and to reflect that electric vehicles would be more expensive to acquire.  It was suggested that the Council might be able to look at examples of other authorities where policies had already been introduced to promote use of electric and greener vehicles.


The Senior Practitioner (Licensing), Worcestershire Regulatory Services (WRS) commented that  ...  view the full minutes text for item 16.


Review of Hackney Carriage Table of Fares pdf icon PDF 125 KB

Additional documents:


The Senior Practitioner (Licensing), Worcestershire Regulatory Services, introduced the report and in doing so reminded members of the responsibility of Licensing Authorities under  the Local Government ( Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 to set the maximum fares than can be charged.


Members were reminded that the Table of Fares had last been considered at the meeting of the Licensing Committee on 4th November 2019.  At that stage no increase had been considered as the trade had not requested one.  The Committee had however, requested that the situation be reviewed again within 12 months. Hence the matter coming back before committee again.


The Senior Practitioner (Licensing), Worcestershire Regulatory Services had consulted with the trade for the preparation of the report and they had indicated through the Redditch Taxi Association that no increase was being sought.


For that reason the recommendation before Members was for the report to be noted.


In discussing the report Members acknowledged the decision of the trade not to seek an increase in 2020 and commented that this had to be seen in the context of the Covid pandemic.  At the same time, there was concern that the issue should not be allowed to slip again for a prolonged period as had happened prior to the previous increase in November 2018.


Officers advised that the trade were free to request a review at any time, but that Members might want to consider asking for the issue to be reviewed again in 12 months.




The contents of the report be noted and that officers be requested to bring a further report to Licensing Committee regarding review of the hackney carriage table of fares no later than November 2021




Verbal update on engagement with stakeholders in relation to proposals for the creation/ amendment of stands for hackney carriages


Members received a verbal report from the Senior Practitioner (Licensing), Worcestershire Regulatory Services (WRS) giving an update on officer inquiries into making changes to the existing stands for hackney carriages.


Members were reminded that at the Licensing Committee meeting held on 27th January 2020 Members had received a report regarding the location of the current hackney carriage stands in Redditch.


Members had resolved to ask officers to engage with stakeholders to explore the following potential changes: -


·       The creation of a hackney carriage stand at Redditch railway station

·       The creation of a hackney carriage stand at the Alexandra Hospital

·       Changes to the existing hackney carriage stand at Unicorn Hill

·       The creation of a new hackney carriage stand on Bates Hill


The Senior Practitioner (Licensing) explained that with as the station and the hospital were located on private land, the consent and co-operation of the land owners would be required in order to create a hackney carriage stand.  To that end, the Senior Practitioner (Licensing) had contacted both the NHS trust (Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust) and West Midlands Trains.


To date there had been no response from the NHS trust, although other issues would be taking priority due to the pandemic.  There had been a response from West Midlands Trains in March 2020 stating that they would be willing to discuss the issue further with a view to establishing an appropriate location.


With regard to Unicorn Hill and Bates Hill, the Senior Practitioner (Licensing) had been able to arrange a site visit involving interested parties and that visit took place on 1st October 2020. Those present included the relevant officer from County Highways, Kieron Hemstock, the Chair and Vice Chair of the Licensing Committee and one of the County Councillors for the division, namely Councillor Andy Fry (who it was noted is also a member of the Licensing Committee).


The site meeting was useful in considering possible options. Feedback from County Highways was given that subject to any changes having the support of the County Councillors for the division, there was quite a lot of flexibility in what could be achieved.  To progress matters the Borough Council would have to give a more detailed indication of what proposals it would wish to see implemented in terms of hackney carriage stand provision, and the Traffic Regulation Orders could be updated to reflect those changes.


To inform any proposals, officers advised that the next stage would be further engagement to seek the views of those parties that would be affected by any changes. This group would include the businesses located on Unicorn Hill, the town centre businesses more broadly and the taxi trade.


In terms of the detail of any changes, one option would be to retain a small number of spaces at the Hewell Road end of Unicorn Hill for use as a hackney carriage stand 24 hours a day, with the remainder of the existing rank being converted to short term parking during the day and reverting back to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 18.


Work Programme pdf icon PDF 100 KB


Members were referred to the Work Programme at page 71 of the agenda and officers outlined the items due to be considered at the next meeting on 6th March 2021.  This would include the review of taxi licensing policies in response to the publication of the new Standards as discussed under agenda item 7, and a written report on the proposed changes to hackney carriage stands.





The Licensing Committee Work Programme 2020/21 be noted.