Agenda and draft minutes

Licensing Committee
Thursday, 24th January, 2019 10.00 am

Venue: Council Chamber, Civic Centre, Hanbury Road, Pontypool, NP4 6YB

Contact: Chris Slade  Senior Business Support Officer - Democratic Services

Items
No. Item

1.

Attendance and Apologies / Presenoldeb ac Ymddiheuriadau

Minutes:

1.1       The Chair welcomed Members and Officers to the meeting.

 

1.2       Apologies for absence were received from Councillor Giles Davies.

2.

Declarations of Interest / Datganiadau o fudd

Presented By: Chair

Minutes:

2.1       The S&DMO reminded Members that any interests should be verbally declared and recorded on the Declarations of Interest register.

 

2.2       Councillor Gwyn Jenkins declared a personal, non-prejudicial interest in agenda items 5 and 6 as the owner of Jenson Travel.

 

2.3       Councillor Steven Evans declared a personal, non-prejudicial interest in agenda items 5 and 6 as his brother owned a travel business in Rhondda Cynon Taf and managed Moomacker Minibus and Taxi Hire.

3.

Minutes of the Licensing Committee / Cofnodion y Pwyllgor Trwyddedu Blaenorol pdf icon PDF 431 KB

Minutes:

3.1       The minutes of the previous meeting were confirmed as an accurate record.

4.

Minutes of the previous Licensing Hearings / Cofnodion y gwrandawiadau Trwyddedu Blaenorol pdf icon PDF 207 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

4.1       The minutes of the previous hearings were noted.

5.

Taxi Policy Update / Diweddariad ar Bolisi Tacsis pdf icon PDF 221 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

5.1       The DMO&S advised that she had spoken to the LTL and asked whether the guidance stood parallel with the Policy.  As she was unsure, this needed to be checked before Members could make any decisions on the subject as it could be open to challenge.

 

5.2       The Committee agreed to defer the item to a later meeting.

6.

Taxi Consultation Update / Diweddariad ar Ymgynghoriad Tacsis pdf icon PDF 226 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

6.1       The LTL read her report in detail.  Following the report, the LTL and the SLO responded to Members’ questions and comments as follows:-

 

·         In relation to the deadline of 27 March, part of the problem was that the people who formulated the consultation did not have a background in taxi licensing.  Welsh Government had since recognised that and had made steps to remedy it.

·         Taxi licensing was exempt from the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act, but there was a requirement to ensure that taxi drivers were able to fulfil their role.  It was hoped that the standards of taxis were kept high, as it was in Torfaen. 

·         In relation to being able to revoke licences from individuals from other boroughs, licensing officers kept in touch with each other anyway and so there was uncertainty as to whether it would work as more work could be created in more populated areas. 

·         The app-based booking systems were a concern.  Certain information was required by licensing officers but the information collected by such systems was difficult to interrogate.  Local knowledge around complaints procedures and how the companies work was key and so it would change everything and could have a detrimental impact on the standards currently in operation.

·         Taxi drivers generally knew who was in their area and were a very good source of information.  If the local knowledge was lost, together with the local support and guidance by the authority, it would be detrimental to the service and trade.

·         There was a view that Welsh Government wanted the powers as they were considering whether taxis could replace buses in some areas.

·         If all of the information held on taxi drivers was on one database, it would simplify things.

·         The whole process could put public safety at risk.  The licensing regime in areas would be different and could be easier for people to take advantage of any potential loopholes.

·         Documentation could be produced for Members outlining concerns and then a working group could be formed to discuss it, or it could be circulated for Members’ comments.  In terms of approval, Officers were looking to organise a special Licensing Committee mid-March for taxi licensing fees, where the item could be discussed further.

·         If Members had strong feelings either way then they could let officers know and a response could be drafted.  This could then be circulated for Members to make comments.  If Members decided after that they required a Task and Finish Group, then this could be organised, but otherwise it would be brought back to Committee in March.

 

6.2       The DMO&S stated that she wanted the recommendation to be clear.  Members had said about agreeing a deadline to make comments, which could be in writing to the LTL for her to draft a response, and then a decision could be made as to whether Members wanted a Task and Finish Group.  The response would then be reported to Committee in March.  Councillor Raymond Mills moved the DMO&S’ suggestion.  The Committee agreed  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.

7.

Licensing Fees / Taliadau Trwyddedu pdf icon PDF 204 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

7.1       The Chair briefly introduced the item and stated that he had looked at the costings and could not work out how Officers had arrived at some of the figures.  He asked whether the item needed to go back to Officers for reconsideration.  The LTL responded that there were two factors influencing the cost; work around setting policies, training, staff etc. and also for costs involved in each case, such as sending the form out, processing, enforcement etc.

 

7.2       The SLO stated that she and the LTL had discussed the issue and that they were meeting the following week in order to discuss the fees as some had been lowered quite considerably.  She said that in her view, the fees should be the same or increased.  In response, the LTL explained that the fees were based on the same system as they had used previously.  They had to consult on taxi fees and so if the Committee were to agree the fees for consultation, Officers would then open it for consultation and then it would be reported back to the Committee for final decision.  However, she stated that if the fees were deferred to the next meeting, it would mean that they could not be implemented until after April, once they had been sent for consultation. 

 

7.3       The Chair suggested that the item be deferred to allow Officers to revisit the figures.  Other Members agreed.  The DMO&S stated that if the Committee were not happy then another report could be written to include more information and to give calculations.  Councillor Raymond Mills explained that the Committee could not therefore agree to recommendation 1 as they were not happy with the figures and were requesting more information.  The Committee agreed.

 

7.4       The Licensing Committee agreed recommendation 2, that they:

 

2.         Should not approve the proposed fees, based on the reasons mentioned      above.

8.

Quarterly report update / Diweddariad yr adroddiad chwarterol pdf icon PDF 187 KB

Presented By: Licensing Team Leader

Additional documents:

Minutes:

8.1       The LTL read her report in detail.  Following the report, the LTL and SLO responded to Members’ questions and comments as follows:-

 

·         In terms of premises license holders, there were more costs involved in taking a more stringent approach and closing businesses should they not pay than sending officers to retrieve payment.  Most businesses in the borough were good in keeping up to date with their payments.  The authority’s approach was based on legislation and so there were restrictions around what approach it could take with regards to payments.

·         Three Police operations had been organised, but unfortunately the Police had to cancel at the last minute due to resourcing issues.  These would still be organised going forward.

·         In relation to taxi drivers, officers had queried heart conditions with their doctor and it was difficult to get information from them; they tended to not want to say no to the drivers.  The drivers had to get the certificate and it was for their doctor to make the decision as to whether they were fit to drive.  There had been some cases where Officers had to request yearly medicals.

·         Taxi drivers should go to their own doctor but they were able to go to another, such as those at private practices.  There were instances where drivers had requested or were asked to go elsewhere because there was an issue with their doctor.  Reminders were sent out a month before and so it gave drivers plenty of notice to organise for them to visit their own GP.

 

8.2       The DMO&S reported that she was unable to update the constitution as set out in 6.1.1 of the report due to her workload, but would do it at her earliest opportunity.

 

8.3       The Licensing Committee agreed:

 

      1. That the Committee note the activity report for the quarter, and

            2. That the Committee note and comment on the contents of the report.

9.

Date of Next Meeting / Dyddiad y Cyfarfod Nesaf

Minutes:

9.1       The next meeting was scheduled to take place on Thursday, 21 March 2019.

10.

Exclusion of Press and Public / Gwahardd y Wasg a'r Cyhoedd

To agree the exclusion of the press and public from the meeting as presentations and meeting papers are not for publication because in accordance with paragraphs 12 and 14 of part 4 of Schedule 12a of the Local Government Act 1972 (as amended by the Access to Information Variation Order Wales 2007), it contains information about a particular individual and information relating to the financial and business affairs of particular persons including the Council and in all the circumstances of the case the public interest in maintaining the exemptions outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information.

Cytunogwahardd y wasg a'r cyhoedd o'r cyfa rfod gan nad yw cyflwyniadau a phapurau cyf arfod i'w cyhoeddi oherwyddyn unol â pharag raffau 12 a 14 o Ran 4 o Atodlen 12A Deddf Llywodraeth Leol 1972 (fel y'i diwygiwyd gan OrchymynMynediad i Wybodaeth (Amrywiad) Cymru 2007), ei fod yn cynnwys gwybodaeth am unigolyn penod ol a gwybodaeth ynymwneud â materion aria nnol a busnes unigolion penodol yn cynnwys y Cyngor a than holl amgylchiadau'r achos, maelles y cy hoedd o ran sicrhau'r eithriadau yn gorbwyso'r budd i'r cyhoedd yn nhermau datgelu'r wybodaeth.

Minutes:

10.1    The Committee agreed to the exclusion of the press and public.

11.

Exempt Minutes / Cofnodion Eithriedig

Minutes:

11.1    The minutes of the previous hearings were noted.

 

11.2    The meeting ended at 12.11pm.