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Contact: Sarah Sellers Democratic Services Officer
Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Roger Bennett and Gareth Prosser. Councillor Tom Baker-Price attended as substitute for Councillor Bennett and Councillor Matthew Dormer attended as substitute for Councillor Gareth Prosser.
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.
To confirm as a correct record the minutes of the Licensing Committee held on 5th November 2018.
the minutes of the meeting of the Licensing Committee held on 5th November 2018 be confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chair.
Members received a report setting out the outcome of the consultation exercise regarding the Council’s Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Driver Licensing Policy, and the responses to the question asked about the option of removing the current requirements that drivers undertake refresher training in disability awareness and must pass a driving assessment test at least every three years.
The Licensing and Support Services Manager, Worcestershire Regulatory Service (WRS), presented the report and reminded Members of the background and the previous consideration of the policy by the Overview and Scrutiny Task Group, Improving Disabled People’s Access to Redditch Taxi Fleet. The recommendations made by the Task Group had led to the Licensing Committee making changes to the policy to introduce the requirements that drivers undertake refresher training for disability awareness and a driving assessment, every three years. These new provisions came into effect from 1st December 2017.
Following the introduction of the new requirements, there was feedback from licensed drivers that the additional tests represented a disproportionate and unjustified burden on drivers, and that disability awareness refresher training should only be required of drivers in relation to whom a complaint had been made.
In light of the strength of feeling the issue was re-considered by the Licensing Committee at its meeting on 5th March 2018 when further information was requested. The Committee considered the issue again at its meeting on 5th November and resolved to carry out a consultation exercise on the option of removing the requirement that drivers undertake disability awareness training and a driving assessment every three years.
The consultation ran from 3rd December 2018 to 31st January 2019 and Members were referred to the list of consultees at paragraph 3.16 of the report and the responses as set out in Appendix 3.
It was noted that there were 186 responses to the consultation survey, of which 123 came from licence holders and 63 from other respondents. 138 of the 186 respondents (74.2%) agreed with the proposal to remove the requirement to undertake disability awareness training and driving assessments every three years. 48 respondents (25.8%) did not agree with the proposal. Further analysis of the results had indicated that the vast majority of respondents in favour of removing the requirements were licensed drivers, whereas the majority of respondents from the “others” category were in favour of retaining the requirements.
The decision for Members in light of the consultation exercise was what amendments, if any, they would wish to make to the policy.
In discussing the report, Members made reference to various issues including:-
· The importance of providing disability awareness training in terms of promoting awareness of issues faced by disabled travellers.
· That the standards of Redditch drivers in this regard were very good and that this should be maintained.
· That it would be better to take a pro-active approach and positively reinforce high standards around disability awareness as opposed to only providing training in a reactive way in response to specific complaints.
· That whilst ... view the full minutes text for item 26.
Members received a report setting out the outcome of the consultation exercise regarding the Councils Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Driver Licensing Policy, and the responses to the questions asked about amending the existing applicable age limits for vehicles.
The Licensing and Support Services Manager, Worcestershire Regulatory Service (WRS), presented the report and reminded Members that the consultation had been requested at the last Committee meeting in light of the volume of extension applications being received, and representations from the Redditch Taxi Association that the upper age limit for saloon type vehicles should be increased from nine years to ten years. Under existing arrangements it was necessary for all applications falling outside the set age criteria to be referred to a meeting of the Licensing Sub-Committee where Members would decide whether the individual vehicle was of an exceptional standard and could therefore be licenced even though it did not meet the policy requirements.
Members were referred to the current policy documents, namely the Hackney Carriage Vehicle Policy (Appendix 1) and the Private Hire Vehicle Policy (Appendix 2).
The consultation ran from 3rd December 2018 to 31st January 2019 and Members were referred to the list of consultees at paragraph 3.12 of the report and the responses as set out in Appendix 4.
It was noted that there were 186 responses to the consultation survey, of which 123 came from licence holders and the remaining 63 responses from other groups or individuals. Of the 186 respondents between 171 and 179 had answered each question relating to the proposals to amend the vehicle age limits.
The vast majority of respondents were in favour of making the proposed changes to the vehicle age limits although this had to be considered in the context that the majority of those who had replied to the consultation were licence holders.
Whilst on the subject of vehicle standards, the Licensing and Support Services Manager gave feedback to Members regarding a taxi enforcement evening that had taken place in Redditch on 22nd February 2019. A total of 31 vehicles had been checked, made up of 20 hackney carriage vehicles, and 11 private hire vehicles. There were 18 roadside checks and 13 vehicles checked at the Council garage at Crossgates. Four vehicles were suspended, although one was re-instated the same evening following the connection of his meter, and another was re-instated first thing on Monday morning following presentation of satisfactory documents. The evening had resulted in multiple drivers receiving penalty points, with a grand total of 80 points being issued in relation to the evening’s inspections.
Examples of more minor issues encountered included roof signs that were not working, missing tariff cards, lack of no smoking signs and badges not being displayed. More serious matters recorded included faulty lights, a vehicle with no water in the screen wash dispenser, a vehicle with a damaged tyre and a meter that was not connected.
In response to questions from Members, it was established that the sample of ... view the full minutes text for item 27.
Members received a report setting out the outcome of the consultation exercise regarding the draft revised Statement of Licensing Policy.
The Licensing and Support Services Manager, Worcestershire Regulatory Service (WRS), presented the report and reminded Members that the Statement of Licensing Policy needed to be re-newed every five years. The current policy had taken effect from 1st October 2014. Therefore a new Statement of Licensing Policy needed to be published by 1st October 2019.
On 16th July 2018 the Licensing Committee had approved a draft revised Statement of Licensing Policy for the purposes of consultation with the relevant parties.
The revised policy had been updated to reflect changes in legislation and guidance and Members were referred to the key changes which included:-
· A new section to explain the implications of the Immigration Act 2006 on the Council’s functions under the Licensing Act 2003.
· New wording around how the Council would deal with applications for, and suspension or revocation of, personal licences in accordance with new legislation in the Policing and Crime Act 2017 which gave Licensing Authorities the power to suspend or revoke personal licences.
· Updating of the section regarding the Live Music Act 2012 to reflect further deregulation of the licensing of entertainment.
· Updating of the section regarding powers of local authorities to adopt special policies on cumulative impact, as introduced by the Policing and Crime Act 2017.
· A new section regarding local powers to deregulate the licensing of late night refreshment under the Deregulation Act 2015.
The consultation ran from 2nd October 2018 to 11th January 2019 and Members were referred to the list of consultees at paragraph 3.16 of the report. It was noted that only one response was received on behalf of the Director of Public Health at Worcestershire County Council.
The Director of Public Health had requested that a section be added to the Statement of Licensing Policy in all districts recognising the contribution of public health to the licensing process. Such a section had been added into the draft revised Statement of Licensing Policy between paragraphs 7.21 and 7.23 the wording of which had been agreed in consultation with the Public Health Directorate.
With regard to the text of the draft revised Statement of Licensing Policy the only comments from Members related to the “Protection of Children from Harm”, and specifically paragraph 6.42 on page 110 of the main agenda pack. A request was made that some additional information should be included to direct readers of the policy to more information about safeguarding procedures for children involved in entertainment productions, and the need for suitably qualified adults to be identified to supervise/ chaperon children performing in shows and productions.
Officers confirmed that suitable wording to cover this request would be added to the policy.
The Revised Statement of Licensing Policy at Appendix 1 be amended by the addition of extra wording at paragraph 6.42 regarding the safeguarding of children involved in entertainment productions.
Subject to ... view the full minutes text for item 28.
Please see report re introducing public speaking to Licensing Committee attached.
Members were asked to consider a report asking them to determine the arrangements for public speaking at meetings of the Licensing Committee.
The Senior Democratic Services Officer, presented the report, and reminded Members that at Council on 25th February, Members had agreed to introduce public speaking at certain Committee meetings, including meetings of the Licensing Committee (parent committee). It was noted that public speaking arrangements were already in place for some Committee meetings, including Council, the Executive Committee and Planning Committee. However, at other public meetings public speaking rights were not formalised and could only be exercised at the discretion of the Chair.
The background to this change was that a complaint had been received from a member of the public who had called for formal public speaking to be introduced at all public Committee meetings. The complaint had been considered by the Constitutional Review Working Party who had decided to recommend to Council that formal public speaking be introduced for those Committees where it was not currently in place.
The decision for Members was to consider what type of arrangements should be introduced for the Licensing Committee. It was noted that other Councils that permitted public speaking at Licensing Committee usually included it as an item at the start of the meeting. Locally, this was the practice at Worcester City Council. Members were advised that rules around public speaking should cover registering to speak by a certain cut off point, indicating the subject matter of the public speaking, setting a time limit for individual speakers and setting an overall time limit for all public speaking at a particular meeting.
To ensure consistency, Members were invited to consider aligning the new rules for public speaking at Licensing Committee to mirror the rules currently in place for public speaking at Planning Committee. It was noted that the time limit for individual speakers at Planning Committee was three minutes per speaker, and that the cut off point for registering to speak was at noon on the day of the meeting.
It was further noted that the purpose of allowing the public speaking would be for Members to listen to the comments being made by the speakers; it was not intended that there should be any dialogue by Committee members with the speakers, although it would be open to Members to refer to the points made during consideration of the relevant item.
In discussing the report, Members commented that the change to introducing public speaking was a positive one which they welcomed. It would enable members of the public to pass on their comments on issues under consideration and it would be helpful to Members to be able to receive this type of information.
Members agreed with the suggestion to align the public speaking to the current rules for public speaking at Planning Committee, and were in support of a time limit of three minutes per speaker, a cut-off point for registration of noon on the day of the meeting and an ... view the full minutes text for item 29.
The Committee considered the Licensing Committee Work Programme for the 2018/2019 Municipal Year.
The Licensing Committee Work Programme 2018/2019 be noted
Before the meeting closed, Councillor Fry invited the Committee to thank those Members who would be retiring from the Licensing Committee in May 2019 for their efforts, and in particular he thanked the Chair, Councillor Anita Clayton, for her hard work in chairing the Committee.