Agenda and minutes

Licensing Committee
Tuesday, 10th October, 2017 6.30 pm

Venue: Council Chamber, Civic Offices, Gloucester Square, Woking, Surrey GU21 6YL

Contact: Doug Davern  on 01483 743018 or email  doug.davern@woking.gov.uk

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Items
No. Item

1.

Minutes

To approve the minutes of the meeting of the Licensing Committee held on 7 June 2016 and 22 May 2017 as published.

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Minutes:

RESOLVED

 

That the minutes of the Committee meetings held on 7 June 2016 and 22 May 2017 be approved and signed as true and correct records.

2.

Declarations of Interest

To receive declarations of disclosable pecuniary and other interests from Members in respect of any item to be considered at the meeting.

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Minutes:

In accordance with the Members’ Code of Conduct, Councillor R Mohammed declared a pecuniary interest in minute items 3 – Urgent Business, 5 – Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Drivers Handbook and 6 – Surrey-wide Convictions Policy arising from his position as a taxi operator.  The interest was such that Councillor Mohammed left the Chamber during consideration of these items.

3.

Urgent Business

To consider any business that the Chairman rules may be dealt with under Section 100B(4) of the Local Government Act 1972.

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Minutes:

(In accordance with the Members’ Code of Conduct, Councillor Mohammed left the Chamber for consideration of the item.)

In accordance with Section 100B (4) of the Local Government Act 1972, the Chairman ruled that the following item be dealt with as Urgent Business due to representations received from Woking Taxi Association. 

Joanne McIntosh, Legal Service Manager, reported that representations had been received from Woking Taxi Association regarding the proposed relocation of the taxi rank on the south side of Woking station.  A meeting had been scheduled to take place between the Association and Council officers at the end of October 2017 to discuss the concerns and objections raised.  It was noted that a consultation on the relocation of the taxi rank had been undertaken by the Council previously.

The Committee noted the update.

4.

Review of Scheme of Delegations pdf icon PDF 135 KB

Reporting Officer – Joanne McIntosh

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Minutes:

Joanne McIntosh introduced the report which proposed that the Scheme of Delegations be updated to delegate powers to the Legal Services Manager to ensure that the Licensing team could carry out their daily duties. 

Authority was sought for named officers of the Licensing team to be “authorised persons” for the purposes of the Licensing Act 2003, which would enable them to carry out a variety of routine functions including the right to request Premises Licences, Club Premises Certificates and Temporary Event Notices.  The officers would also be able to enter premises with a view to seeing whether licensable activities were taking place.

Further authority was sought for named officers of the Licensing team to be “authorised persons of the Council” for the purposes of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976.  Officers would have the right to request the proprietor of any Hackney Carriage or Private Hire taxi driver licenced by the Council to produce their vehicle licence, drivers licence and insurance documents.  The officers would also have the right to inspect and test any vehicle to ascertain its fitness and if deemed necessary suspend the licence forthwith.

Cllr Eastwood agreed that the delegated powers should be adopted as the drivers would have the right of appeal to a licence revocation.  Joanne McIntosh reported that the Legal Services Manager post currently held delegated authority to revoke and suspend licences, due to there being insufficient time for a Sub-Committee to be arranged to determine the urgent matters.  Since Licensing had moved to become under the remit of Democratic and Legal Services in November 2015, there had been 24 revocations and suspensions for reasons including Home Office information on immigration; drivers being medically unfit to drive; driving standards such as the use of mobiles and not wearing seatbelts whilst driving; and notifications from Surrey Police regarding criminal investigations.

Cllr Pengelly stated that it was important for the Committee to be aware of decisions taken under delegated authority to ensure that Members were aware in the event that they were contacted by taxi drivers or local residents, and that the level of usage of delegated authority should be considered at a future meeting of the Committee.  Joanne McIntosh reported that it was proposed for the Licensing Committee to receive an annual report containing anonymised data on delegated activity over the past year.  Cllr Kingsbury agreed that either all Members of the Committee or the Chairman should be kept informed of delegated decisions.  The Committee was advised that all revocation and suspension decisions were currently undertaken in consultation with the Chairman, or in their absence the Vice-Chairman, of the Committee.  The notification would depend on the level of urgency and would usually involve a telephone call followed by an email containing a detailed report.  The Chairman added that no notification was received of licence refusals which could be an area to consider for the future.

Cllr Howard stated that he agreed with the report and that officers should have the further powers, subject to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.

5.

Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Taxi Drivers Handbook pdf icon PDF 133 KB

Reporting Officer – Joanne McIntosh

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Minutes:

(In accordance with the Members’ Code of Conduct, Councillor Mohammed left the Chamber for consideration of the item.)

Joanne McIntosh introduced the report which included the Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Drivers Handbook, setting out current Council policy and practice, and sought agreement for both adopting the Handbook and updating it as a ‘living document’ to include future policies such as Child Sexual Exploitation.  The Handbook would be available for view on the Council’s website and had been developed primarily as a reference document for taxi drivers and members of the Licensing team.

Cllr Pengelly stated that as Portfolio Holder for Marketing Communications, he agreed that the document should be made more user-friendly for the Council’s website.  Cllr Howard expressed concern that it was too long to navigate on the website and stated that paper copies should be considered.

Cllr Kingsbury advised that complaints had been received from local residents that the new taxi vehicles, which could accommodate people who used wheelchairs, were too difficult for some members of the elderly to safely climb inside and suggested that there should be a balance to enable smaller vehicles to also be compliant as new vehicles on the taxi rank.  It was asked when it was intended for the Committee to review the minimum requirement for new taxi vehicles, noting that the Council was due to adopt Emission 6 environmental standards from 2022.  Joanne McIntosh stated that the Licensing team would be asked to circulate the minimum specification for new taxi vehicles to Members of the Committee, and it was suggested that the Committee receive a paper on the specification at its meeting in January 2018.  Cllr Eastwood noted that some requirements would be set at a national level and others would be local and discretionary.  From a legal perspective, the Council was required to ensure that the fleet was accessible to disabled people and that the current policy had inadvertently led to drivers purchasing the most cost effective vehicle which had met the specification.

Cllr Howard asked a question relating to the work of the Taxi Licensing Sub-Committee, as to whether the Sub-Committee could set a period for which a licence was to be revoked or suspended for, and it was agreed that it was not reasonable to set an indefinite period of time.  In some cases, the revocation or suspension would be set until the conclusion of a Court case.

Cllr Howard added that there had been issues caused by drivers being refused a licence by one authority, successfully being granted a licence at a neighbouring authority, and then seeking to work in the original area where the original application had been declined.  It was noted that the matter would be assisted by the Surrey-wide adoption of a Convictions Policy to ensure consistency across the County.  Officers also attempted to monitor whether a Woking licenced taxi driver was working outside of the Borough.

The Committee agreed that the Handbook should be adopted and updated as necessary with further policies  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.

6.

Surrey-wide Convictions Policy pdf icon PDF 99 KB

Reporting Officer – Joanne McIntosh

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Minutes:

(In accordance with the Members’ Code of Conduct, Councillor Mohammed left the Chamber for consideration of the item.)

Joanne McIntosh introduced the report which proposed changes to the Taxi and Private Hire Licensing Criminal Convictions Policy to help prevent the sexual exploitation of children by introducing consistent standards across Surrey.  The Committee was asked to approve the changes for the purpose of a six week consultation and approve mandatory Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) training for all taxi drivers in Surrey.  Following a query by Cllr Kingsbury, it was confirmed that the mandatory training would not need to wait until the consultation for the Policy had taken place.

Cllr Pengelly welcomed the Surrey-wide Convictions Policy and the CSE component of it, for which mandatory internet-based training for taxi drivers would be set up including a test at the end.  The training would also enable the drivers to have a level of protection by providing them with knowledge of what to look for in CSE cases.                                                             LIC17-005

Resolved

That  (i)      the draft changes to the Taxi and Private Hire Vehicle Licensing Criminal Convictions Policy be approved for public consultation over a six week period; and

          (ii)     the implementation of mandatory CSE training for all taxi and private hire drivers in Surrey be approved.