Agenda and minutes

Licensing
Monday, 8th July, 2019 7.00 pm

Venue: Council Chamber Town Hall. View directions

Contact: Sarah Sellers  Democratic Services Officer

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Pattie Hill, Ann Isherwood and Gareth Prosser.

2.

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.

 

Minutes:

In relation to Agenda item 6, Reform of Annual Licensing Report, Councillor Joanne Beecham declared that she was the owner of a cattery.  However, as the report was only for noting and Members were not making a decision that would affect Councillor Beecham, she remained present during consideration of this item.

 

 

3.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 124 KB

T          o confirm as a true record the minutes of the Licensing Committee held on Monday 4th March 2019.

Minutes:

RESOLVED that

 

the Minutes of the Licensing Committee held on 4th March 2019 be confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chair.

4.

Public Speaking

For any registered speakers to address the Committee regarding items on the agenda for the meeting

(Maximum time 15 minutes)

Minutes:

There were no registered speakers.

5.

Report re Medical Arrangements for Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Drivers pdf icon PDF 91 KB

Please find attached Appendix 1 to this report – DVLA Guidance on assessing fitness to drive.

 

Members – please note that paper copies will not be provided unless specifically requested from Democratic Services; one copy will be placed in each group room for reference.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Members received a report regarding the arrangements for licensed drivers of hackney carriage and private hire vehicles to be assessed as medically fit.  The report highlighted a number of aspects where officers believed the arrangements could be improved and invited Members to consider undertaking a consultation exercise to seek views on potential amendments.

 

The Senior Practitioner (Licensing) (SPL), Worcestershire Regulatory Services (WRS) presented the report and summarised the rules that currently applied around medical examinations for Hackney Carriage and Private Hire drivers.

 

Historically the Council had chosen to impose the requirement that all drivers must meet “Group 2” medical standards as defined by the Driver & Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA).  It was noted that these standards were more onerous on drivers, being the standards that were applied to bus and lorry drivers in the UK.

 

New applicants for drivers licences were required to show that they were medically fit, and the current practice was for a medical certificate to be provided following a medical assessment by the Council’s appointed medical practitioner. 

 

Originally there had been two doctors appointed, but one had subsequently retired.  The remaining council approved doctor was based in Alcester and officers had received reports from drivers with regard to delays in getting appointments and that the times available for appointments were sometimes quite restrictive. As there was now only one doctor authorised undertake the medical assessments, the whole of the work in this regard was falling to be carried out by one doctor and there was no element of choice for the drivers.  Officers also pointed out that the system would be vulnerable if the remaining doctor decided to retire, or stop doing the assessments.

 

With regard to frequency of testing, it was noted that currently a medical assessment was required upon application and then every 5 years until the age of 60.  From the age of 60 to 65 frequency of testing changed to every three years, and then from over 65 upwards, testing was required annually.

 

The SPL explained that this was out of line with the DVLA guidelines as set out in the publication “Assessing Fitness to Drive” (Appendix 1), which required drivers to be medically assessed upon application and then again at age 45.  From 45 to 65 assessments were required every 5 years and over 65 annually.

 

Drivers in Redditch were therefore having to undergo a higher number of tests than bus and lorry drivers and it was questioned whether this could be justified.

 

The third matter that officers wished to consult on was ending the practice of the medical assessment being combined with a drug test which was carried out at the doctor’s surgery.  In the last 6 years no licence holders had failed a drugs test as part of their medical assessment, and officers were concerned that the pre-planned nature of the appointments meant that drivers could have a period of abstention before the assessment which would render the drug testing ineffective.

 

It was noted that the drugs test had been  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.

6.

Licensing Annual Report 2018 - 19 pdf icon PDF 74 KB

Minutes:

Members considered the Licensing Annual Report 2018/2019 which provided an overview of activities under the Licensing Act 2003, the Gambling Act 2005 and other aspects of licensing activity, and to inform the Committee of any issues anticipated in the ensuing year.

 

The report set out the number of new licences issued in 2018/2019 broken down by type of licence, together with total numbers of licences that were in force for each category.

 

The Senior Practitioner (Licensing) (SPL), Worcestershire Regulatory Services (WRS) responded to questions from Members with regard to:

 

·       The numbers of new applications for licences to drive hackney carriages / private hire vehicles, of which there were between 20 to 40 new drivers per year representing a slight upward trend.  There had  not been an increase in the number of applications for licenced vehicles, the number of which remained fairly consistent.

·       Licences had been issued under the newly introduced Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018 to 10 establishments in the Borough made up of different types of businesses.  Members requested more detail on this aspect be included in the 19/20 annual report.

·       Members requested that for the next report more information also be included in relation to Street Trading.  Officers were planning to look into this area as they believed that there were likely to be a number of unlicensed operators, particularly around the employment areas in Redditch.

·       Scrap metal dealers and the different regulatory requirements that applied to site licences and mobile collector licences.  Although reports of issues in this area were low, it was noted that where intelligence was received, taking enforcement action could be difficult as there were challenges with being able to link the holders of mobile collector licences to the vehicles they used.

 

RESOLVED that

 

The Licensing Annual Report 2018/2019 be noted.

 

 

7.

Work Programme pdf icon PDF 40 KB

Minutes:

In discussing the work programme, Members indicated that if possible they would like to see the response from the consultation on medical assessments on the agenda of the November meeting, provided that this did not compromise the quality of the exercise and gave respondents sufficient time to reply.

 

Members discussed the option of adding an item to the work programme around welfare of taxi drivers, and whether there were any national initiatives encouraging respect towards taxi drivers and providing support for them.  The SPL confirmed that he would make some enquiries in this regard and report back to Members.

 

Subject to these matters it was

 

RESOLVED that

 

The Licensing Committee Work Programme 2019/20 be noted.