Agenda and minutes

Licensing
Monday, 6th March, 2017 7.00 pm

Venue: Committee Room 2 Town Hall. View directions

Contact: Pauline Ross  Democratic Services Officer

Items
No. Item

16.

Apologies

To receive the apologies of any Member who is unable to attend this meeting.

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received on behalf of Councillor Roger Bennett.

17.

Declarations of Interest

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

 

Minutes:

No declarations of interest were received.

18.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 258 KB

To confirm as a correct record the minutes of the meeting of the Licensing Committee held on 7th November 2016

 

(Minutes attached)

Minutes:

RESOLVED that  

 

the minutes of the meeting of the Licensing Committee held on 7th November July 2016 be confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chair.

19.

Legislative Update pdf icon PDF 196 KB

To receive a report informing Members of the changes in legislation that have

taken place and that are proposed to take place that relate to the Council’s

licensing functions which are carried out by Worcestershire Regulatory

Services on behalf of the Council.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Members received a report which detailed the recent changes in legislation that related to the Council’s licensing functions and supplementary papers which detailed the Department of Transport, Statutory Guidance on Access for Wheelchair users to Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles.

 

The Senior Licensing Practitioner, Worcestershire Regulatory Services (WRS) introduced the report and supplementary guidance and in doing so referred to the specific legislative changes to the Immigration Act 2016, the Police and Crime Act 2017, Section 165-167 of the Equality Act 2010 Taxi and Private Hire Passengers in Wheelchairs and Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) Animal Licensing Proposals. 

 

The Senior Licensing Practitioner, WRS, provided Members with information on each specific area as follows:-

 

The Immigration Act 2016 received Royal Assent on 12th May 2016. The Act included provisions aimed at making it more difficult for people to live and work illegally in the United Kingdom (UK).  Schedule 5 of the Immigration Act which came into effect on 1st December 2016, impacted on the Council’s taxi and private hire licensing functions. 

 

The new provisions meant that hackney carriage and private hire driver and operator licences must not be issued to people who were illegally present in the UK, who were not permitted to work, or who were permitted to work but were subject to a condition that prohibited them from holding such a licence.  Appendix 1 to the report detailed the Home Office Guidance for Licensing Authorities to Prevent Illegal Working in the Taxi and Private Hire Sector in England and Wales.

 

The Senior Licensing Practitioner, WRS, further informed Members that Licensing Officers, WRS, had received training from the Home Office Immigration Enforcement Team on the new provisions and on increased document fraud awareness.  Licensing Officers, WRS, were taking steps to ensure compliance with the new provisions introduced.

 

Policing and Crime Act 2017 received Royal Assent on 31st January 2017.  The Act contained provisions that would impact on both taxi licensing and the licensing of alcohol and late night refreshment under the Licensing Act 2003.

 

A summary of the provisions that would affect the licensing regimes carried out by WRS on behalf of the Council were detailed at Appendix 2 to the report.

 

Licensing Officers, WRS, would carefully monitor the progress made towards the commencement of the licensing related provisions in the Act.  Further information would be provided to Members as and when necessary.

 

Section 165-167 of the Equality Act 2010 Taxi and Private Hire Passengers in Wheelchairs would be implemented by the Department for Transport (DfT) with effect from 6th April 2017.

From 6th April 2017 drivers of designated wheelchair accessible taxi and private hire vehicles would be obliged by law to:

·         transport wheelchair users in their wheelchairs.

·         provide passengers in wheelchairs with appropriate assistance.

·         charge wheelchair users the same as non-wheelchair users.

 

The new rules would apply in England, Wales and Scotland affecting vehicles that were designated as wheelchair accessible and would apply to both taxis and private hire vehicles.

 

Drivers found to be discriminating against  ...  view the full minutes text for item 19.

20.

Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles - Consultation Results pdf icon PDF 152 KB

To consider the results of the consultation exercise undertaken in relation to a number of proposed amendments to the Council’s Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Vehicle and Driver Policies that were recommended to the Licensing Committee following the Overview and Scrutiny Committee’s “Improving Access for People with Disabilities to Redditch Taxi Fleets” Short, Sharp Review.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Following on from the Licensing Committee meeting held on 7th November 2016.  Members received an update report on the consultation document produced by Worcestershire Regulatory Services on “Improving Disabled People’s Access to Redditch Taxi Fleets”.

 

The Senior Licensing Practitioner reminded Members that following the findings and recommendations of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee, Improving Disabled People’s Access to Redditch Taxi Fleets Task Group; Members had considered the recommendations of the Task Group at the Licensing Committee meeting held on 18th July 2016.

 

The Licensing Committee had agreed that the Task Group recommendations be approved subject to a minor amendment, as detailed at paragraph 3.7 in the report.

 

Following discussions with WRS and the Council’s Legal Services, WRS were advised that those recommendations that required amendments to the Council’s policies and those that involved licence holder’s contact details being published on the Council’s website would require further consultation with the relevant stakeholders. 

 

A further consultation document was produced, as detailed at Appendix 1 to the report.  During October 2016 the consultation document was distributed to all drivers and operators licensed by Redditch Borough Council and relevant stakeholders.  Details of the consultation were also included on the Council’s website.  The consultation was open for responses until 31st December 2016.

 

The Senior Licensing Practitioner highlighted that Members were being asked to consider the responses received to the additional consultation, a summary of which was detailed at Appendix 2 to the report and to consider which proposed amendments to the Council’s Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Policies they wished to take forward.

 

The majority of respondents agreed with the Councils proposal to relax its policy on the licensing of vehicles as hackney carriages, so that instead of additional hackney carriages having to be ‘brand new’ wheelchair accessible vehicles, they could be wheelchair accessible vehicles that were up to six years of age.

 

A small minority of respondents agreed with the Council’s proposal to amend its policy on the licensing of drivers of hackney carriage and private hire vehicles to require all drivers to undertake refresher training in driving standards and disability awareness training every three years.

 

A substantial majority of respondents agreed with the Council’s proposal to amend its policy and conditions for the licensing of hackney carriage and private hire vehicles to require proprietors to display stickers in their vehicles which provided information for passengers on how to make complaints or pass on compliments.

 

Every single respondent agreed with the Council’s proposal to publish a list on the Council’s website of all taxi owners / operators who were able to provide a vehicle that was capable of carrying a passenger whilst they remained seated in their wheelchair.

 

The Senior Licensing Practitioner, WRS, drew Members’ attention to the responses received from the Redditch Taxi Association (RTA), as detailed at Appendix 3 to the report. 

 

The RTA had disagreed with the proposal to relax the Council’s policy on the licensing of vehicles as hackney carriages, so that instead of additional hackney carriages having to be  ...  view the full minutes text for item 20.

21.

Penalty Points Scheme for Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Drivers pdf icon PDF 105 KB

To further consider implementing a penalty points scheme for hackney

carriage and private hire licence holders to help deal with minor offences and

acts of non-compliance with licensing requirements.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee were asked to consider an update report with regard to the introduction of a Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Penalty Point Scheme.

 

The Senior Licensing Practitioner, Worcestershire Regulatory Services (WRS), introduced the report and in doing so reminded the Committee that at the Licensing Committee meeting on 18th July 2016; Members agreed to defer the implementation of a Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Penalty Point Scheme. This was to enable further meetings and discussions to take place with officers from WRS and representatives of the newly formed Redditch Taxi Association (RTA), in order to explain in more detail the aims of the scheme and how it would operate in practise.

 

Members also took on board the suggestion received from the RTA with regard to them introducing a self-regulating scheme to monitor any complaints and non-compliance received.  Members agreed for the RTA to self-regulate any complaints and non-compliance for a period of six months; with a detailed report on the six monthly comparisons of the RTA self-regulating scheme being presented to the Licensing Committee meeting on 6th March 2017.

 

The Senior Licensing Practitioner, WRS, drew Members attention to Appendix 2 to the report, which provided a summary of the complaints recorded for hackney carriage and private hire drivers and operators, during the period 1st February 2016 to 31st January 2017.

 

A total of 23 complaints were recorded during the period 1st February 2016 to 31st July 2016 compared to a total of 18 complaints being recorded during the period 1st August 2016 to 31st January 2017.  This indicated a reduction in recorded complaints of 21.7% since the end of July 2016.  This suggested that the efforts of the RTA could be having a positive impact on the overall number of complaints being received.  However, complaints were still being received periodically with regard to a number of issues which included overcharging, poor driving standards and drivers being rude and abusive.

 

Some of the complaints received between 1st August 2016 and 31st January 2107 were acts of non-compliance which could have been dealt with under the proposed penalty point scheme.

 

The Senior Licensing Practitioner, WRS, informed the Committee that further discussions with representatives from the RTA had confirmed that their members remained opposed to the introduction of the proposed penalty point scheme.

 

The Senior Licensing Practitioner, WRS, responded to questions from Members and highlighted that each complaint was dealt with on its own merit.  Occasionally the information received from those complaining could be rather sketchy.  Where drivers were identified they would be made aware of the nature of the complaint / non-compliance made against them.  The driver would be provided with the opportunity to accept / defend any complaint / non-compliance recorded against them.  Officers from WRS would also consider any previous complaint(s) / non-compliances recorded about the driver, which would also be taken into account and dealt with appropriately.

 

The Senior Licensing Practitioner, WRS, highlighted that a very small number of complaints / non-compliances were received by WRS.  The vast  ...  view the full minutes text for item 21.

22.

Verbal Update on the concerns raised at the Taxi Forum held on 23rd August 2016

Verbal update on the issues raised with regard to the taxi rank in the Kingfisher Centre.

Minutes:

The Senior Practitioner (Licensing), Worcestershire Regulatory Services (WRS) provided Members with a further update on the actions noted at the Taxi Liaison Forum held on 23rd August 2016.  

 

The Senior Practitioner (Licensing), WRS, informed that Committee that despite his efforts some of the issues were still ongoing.  There had been a change in ownership at the Kingfisher Shopping Centre and some of the issues did not fall under the remit of Worcestershire County Council, Highways Team.  Members did question if it was worth raising the outstanding issues at the next Town Centre Partnership meeting.

 

The Senior Practitioner (Licensing) WRS, highlighted that the parking wardens and officers from WRS still remained proactive in monitoring the taxi rank on Unicorn Hill, Redditch.

 

The Chair thanked the Senior Licensing Practitioner, WRS, for the verbal update.

23.

Licensing Committee Work Programme 2016/2017 pdf icon PDF 65 KB

To consider the Committee’s Work Programme for the current municipal year 2016/2017.

Minutes:

The Committee considered the Licensing Committee Work Programme for the remainder of the 2016/17 Municipal Year.

 

RESOLVED that

 

the Licensing Committee Work Programme 2016/17 be updated as discussed and agreed during the course of the meeting.