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Contact: Gavin Day Democratic Services Officer
Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Juma Begum, Kerrie Miles and Monica Stringfellow with Councillors Juliet Barker-Smith, Jane Spilsbury and Joanna Kane in attendance as substitutes respectively.
Apologies for absence were also received from Councillors Tomothy Pearman and Anthony Lovell.
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.
The minutes of the Licensing (Parent) Committee of 5th October 2023
The minutes of the Licensing Committee of 5th October 2023 were presented to Members.
At the invitation of the Chair Mr Ilyas Mohammad representing the Redditch Taxi Association and Councillor Imran Altaf addressed the Committee.
Following the Public Speaking representations and in light of the comments made, The Chair rearranged the order in which items were heard by the Committee. Agenda item 8 (minute No19) was heard first followed by agenda item 7 (minute No20) and Agenda item 6 (minute No21). The agenda then proceeded in the order originally published.
The Principal Licensing Officer, Worcester Regulatory Services (WRS), presented the report to Members. The purpose of the report was to inform Members of the vehicle safety testing arrangements and outline possible alternative options.
The Principal Licensing Officer detailed that there were 420 Taxi Licence holders with Redditch Borough Council, It was further detailed that each licenced vehicle needed 2 Safety Compliance Tests a year. There were 7 timeslots each day which amounted to 35 tests a week and when accounting for shutdown weeks gave 1600-1700 available slots a year to accommodate approximately 820 Vehicle Safety Inspections. Therefore, Officers expressed the opinion that there was sufficient capacity within the current testing arrangements. It was reported that a driver was generally able to get an appointment on short notice if they were fully flexible or within 2 or 3 weeks should they required a specific timeslot.
The additional activities which the engineers at Crossgates participated in was detailed. This included late night enforcement exercises and spot checks, which allowed Officers to direct a driver to the garage for a vehicle examination if a quick visual inspection raised concerns. It was further highlighted that an equivalent service, the engineers’ knowledge, experience and good working relationship may not be replicated with an alternative arrangement.
Officers detailed concerns that should an alternative arrangement be sought, an equivalent standard of work may not be replicated, it was due to concerns regarding work standards and public safety which prompted the migration to in house testing in 2010. Likewise, it was highlighted that the Taxi Vehicle Safety inspection went beyond a standard MOT and examined the internal and external state of the vehicle and compliance with vehicle licencing policy, therefore, it would be unlikely for a garage to agree to undertake the work for the same price as an MOT.
The Principal Licensing Officer outlined the possible options available for the vehicle safety inspection.
Officers further detailed that of the 6 Worcestershire Authorities that WRS covered, Redditch, Bromsgrove and Wyre Forest had their own garages. Malvern Hills and Worcester City had approved garages. Wychavon currently accepted a recent ... view the full minutes text for item 19.
The Principal Licensing Officer, Worcester Regulatory Services (WRS), presented the report to Members. The purpose of the report was to inform Members of the required changes to the hackney carriage stands to facilitate public realm improvement works. Officers also sought approval to carry out the advertising process necessary to revoke and make hackney carriage stand orders.
Officers detailed that currently the entire 85m length of unicorn hill is designated as a hackney carriage stand (taxi rank) which accommodated approximately 17 vehicles and operated 24 hours a day. This was deemed excessive for a large portion of the time during the day, therefore, development plans proposed to alter the area.
Members attention was drawn to the proposed layout detailed on page 183 in the Public Reports Pack. The first 26m length would be designated as a Taxi rank 24/7 and would see no change, this would accommodate approximately 7 vehicles. The next 36m length would provide short stay parking between the hours of 08:00 to 18:00 hours for public use, outside of aforementioned hours it would be designated as space for the taxi service only.
After the taxi rank and public parking there would be an additional 13m of disabled parking for blue badge holders only. Finally, after the parking areas there would be a designated loading/ unloading area for local businesses.
Officers detailed that the first stage of the process would be to advertise the proposed changes which would allow for written objections or representation to be submitted, at which point the matter would be brought back before Members for determination.
The following was clarified after questions from Members.
Members then debated the application.
It was highlighted that the improvements allowed for more flexibility for taxi drivers as it would permit them to use the short stay parking to temporarily park and leave their vehicle to allow them to have a comfort or lunch break, as leaving their vehicle was not permitted whilst parked on any areas designated as a taxi rank.
Members agreed that the advertisement should be sent out and responses collected which they would then review when it came back to the Licencing Committee. ... view the full minutes text for item 20.
The Principal Licensing Officer, Worcester Regulatory Services (WRS), presented the report to Members. The purpose of the report was to consider the consultation responses in regard to the renewal of vehicles previously written off for insurance purposes.
An updated licencing policy came into effect on 1st September 2022, this changed the policy to no longer allow the licencing of vehicles which fell under categories ‘C’ and ‘S’ for insurance write off purposes.
The intention of the change was to prevent future new vehicles being licenced if they had been written off under categories ‘C’ and ‘S’. However, an unintended side effect of the change was that whenever a vehicle came up for its annual renewal, it was no longer within policy if it had previously been written off and therefore needed to come before Members to approve.
During the last Licencing Committee on 5th October 2023, Officers sought Members approval to undertake a short, targeted consultation with the intent of changing the wording to allow vehicles which had previously been licenced to continue.
Officers drew Members attention to the consultation responses detailed on page 79 of the Public Reports pack. Officers further detailed that there were 29 (50.09%) responses in support of the proposed changes, additionally, when looking into the details of the 24 negative responses, many commented that they believed that the council should allow any vehicle previously written off and did not appear to be against the proposed policy change in regard to existing licence holders.
Members accepted the results and the Officers analysis that many of the 42.1% of negative responders appeared to be in support of allowing previously written off vehicles to be licenced and therefore, most responders appeared to support the proposed change.
After assurances that the changes detailed on page 77 of the Public Reports pack would correct the unintended error, on being put to a vote it was.
the Licensing Committee approved thedraft revised Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Licensing Policyat Appendix 4 on pages 85 to 167 of the Public Reports pack to take effect immediately.
The Principal Licensing Officer, Worcester Regulatory Services (WRS), presented the report to Members. The purpose of the report was to ask Members to review the consultation responses and to recommend that the resolutions be passed at full council.
Members considered the designation of streets at the Licencing Committee in July. During that Committee Members agreed to designate all current and future streets as consent streets. However, Members had concern with the 6 highways within the Borough and decided to designate those highways as prohibited streets for the purposes of street trading applications.
Subject to the aforementioned changes, Members agreed to publish the public notice. Officers detailed that the notices were published, however, no responses were submitted in support or objection. Officers further detailed that it was not usual to have very few or no responses to notices of this nature, the notice did not affect a great deal of people, therefore, there would be little interest.
The Principal Licensing Officer detailed the draft resolution as detailed on page 41 of the Public Reports pack.
Redditch Borough Council resolves, with effect from 1st September 2024:
On being put to a vote it was
RECOMMENDED to Council that
1. the draftresolution detailed in the Pre-amble above be agreed.
2. should the draftresolution be passed, Officers be authorisedto publish notice that the resolution has been passed inaccordance with the requirements of Schedule 4 of the LocalGovernment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982.
The Principal Licensing Officer, Worcester Regulatory Services (WRS), detailed that the two additional reports requested by Members under agenda item 8 (Minute No19) would be added to the Work programme and other less time critical items be moved to accommodate.
Officers detailed that the decision to Delegate age criteria vehicle renewals would be heard at the Constitutional working group in the new year.
Councillor Akbar requested an update report on implementation of the new application software due to be implemented by WRS, the Principal Licensing Officer agreed to give a short verbal update to Members at the next Licencing Committee.
At the request of Councillor Akbar, the Principal Licensing Officer briefly detailed the technical difficulties that WRS had experienced with the Councils migration over to magnetic taxi licence plates. There had been an issue with the plates coming out of the printer smudged, at first WRS believed that it was the printing medium, however, after a second batch was showing a similar error it was believed that the problem could be the printer, the issue will continue to be investigated to find a solution.
Exclusion of the Public and Press
In the opinion of the Chief Executive, the meeting will not be, or is unlikely to be open to the Public at the time the following items of business are considered for the reasons stated. The Committee will be asked to pass the following resolution:
“that under S.100 I of the Local Government Act 1972, as amended by the Local Government (Access to Information) (Variation) Order 2006, the public be excluded from the meeting for the following item(s) of business on the grounds that it/they involve(s) the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in the following paragraphs of Part 1 of Schedule 12 (A) of the said Act, as amended:
· Paragraph 1 – Any Individuals
· Paragraph 2 – Identity of Individuals
· Paragraph 3 – Financial or Business Affairs
· Paragraph 5 – Legal Professional Privilage.”
Under S100 A (4) of the Local Government Act 1972, as amendedby the Local Government (Access to Information) (Variation) Order2006, the public were excluded on the grounds of the disclosure ofexempt information as defined in paragraphs 1, 2, 3 and 5 of Part 1of Schedule 12 of the said act, as amended.
Officer Update(s) - Enforcement and Appeal Matters
(In view of the fact that information may be revealed in relation to individuals, the identities and financial or business affairs of those individuals and the prosecution of crimes, any reports will be confidential and circulated to Members and relevant Officers only.)