Agenda and minutes

Licensing Committee
Wednesday, 8th October, 2014 2.30 pm

Venue: Council Chamber, Civic Offices, High Street, Epping

Contact: Gary Woodhall (Directorate of Governance)  Tel: 01992 564470 Email:  democraticservices@eppingforestdc.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies for Absence

Minutes:

The Committee noted that Councillor Adams was substituting for Councillor J H Whitehouse, and that Councillor Adams would join the Committee in place of Councillor J H Whitehouse once the requisite training had been undertaken and the change reported to the Council.

2.

Declarations of Interest

(Assistant to the Chief Executive) To declare interests in any item on this agenda.

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest pursuant to the Council’s Code of Member Conduct.

3.

Any Other Business

Section 100B(4)(b) of the Local Government Act 1972, together with paragraphs (6) and (24) of the Council Procedure Rules contained in the Constitution require that the permission of the Chairman be obtained, after prior notice to the Chief Executive, before urgent business not specified in the agenda (including a supplementary agenda of which the statutory period of notice has been given) may be transacted.

 

In accordance with Operational Standing Order (6) (non-executive bodies), any item raised by a non-member shall require the support of a member of the Committee concerned and the Chairman of that Committee. Two weeks notice of non-urgent items is required.

Minutes:

It was noted that there was no other urgent business for consideration by the Committee.

4.

Minutes of the Licensing Committee pdf icon PDF 39 KB

To confirm the minutes of the Licensing Committee meeting held on 9 April 2014.

Minutes:

Resolved:

 

(1)        That the minutes of the meeting held on 9 April 2014 be taken as read and signed by the Chairman as a correct record.

5.

Minutes of the Licensing Sub-Committees

Copies of the minutes from the Sub-Committee’s meetings will be available for the relevant Chairmen to sign off.

Minutes:

Resolved:

 

(1)        That the minutes of the following meetings of the Licensing Sub-Committee be taken as read and signed by their Chairmen as a correct record:

 

(a)        8 April 2014;

 

(b)        13 May 2014;

 

(c)        15 May 2014;

 

(d)        28 May 2014;

 

(e)        17 June 2014;

 

(f)         26 June 2014;

 

            (g)        15 July 2014;

 

            (h)        12 August 2014; and

 

            (i)         9 September 2014.

6.

Applications Received under the Licensing Act 2003 and Gambling Act 2005 pdf icon PDF 75 KB

(Director of Neighbourhoods) To consider the attached report (LCS-001-2014/15).

Minutes:

The Senior Licensing Officer reported that in respect of Premises License Applications or Variations, there had been 5 new applications, 149 renewals, 38 Change of Designated Premises Supervisor or variation applications received. Of these, 4 applications had been considered by the Sub-Committee and granted subject to conditions. 45 (EU) Temporary Event Notices, 131 Temporary Event Notices and 26 late Temporary Event Notices had also been granted. 66 Personal Licence applications had been received and granted under delegated authority. There had been no appeals to the Magistrates Court during the period.

 

In respect of the Gambling Act 2005, the Senior Licensing Officer stated that there had been no Betting Office applications or Club gaming permits granted, and two notifications had been received for two gaming machines.

 

In response to questions from the Committee, the Senior Licensing Officer explained that a late Temporary Event Notice was defined as one where the application was received between five and nine days before the event, and the figures quoted for the last six months did not appear unduly exceptional.

 

Resolved:

 

(1)        That the report to the Licensing Committee regarding the applications received under both the Licensing Act 2003 and the Gambling Act 2005 be noted.

7.

Street Trading - Consultation on amendments to the Council's Street Trading Policy pdf icon PDF 74 KB

(Director of Neighbourhoods) To consider the attached report (LCS-002-2014/15).

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Assistant Director of Neighbourhoods (Environment & Neighbourhoods) presented a report concerning the public consultation on amendments to the Council’s Street Trading Policy.

 

The Assistant Director reminded the Committee that it had considered an amended Policy at its previous meeting in April 2014 and agreed that a public consultation should be carried out. The consultation began in July 2014 and a total of six responses were received; these were summarised at Appendix 1 of the report. Some of the comments had suggested further amendments, and the Committee was requested to consider these and whether the Policy should be further amended.

 

The first potential amendment concerned the distance that members of the public were away from the site to qualify as a consultee. The current policy stated “…in the vicinity” but it was suggested that the Council should be more prescriptive and use a 150 metre radius as per applications under the Licensing Act 2003. The Assistant Director was of the opinion that a 150 metre radius for public consultation was reasonable and could be defended in court. The Committee agreed the amendment.

 

The second potential amendment concerned consulting with neighbouring authorities if the application site was situated close to a border. The Committee interpreted this comment to be referring to Town and Parish Councils within the Epping Forest District and felt that this suggestion was sensible. The Assistant Director also agreed that section 3, paragraph (d) of the proposed Policy could be more explicit about the types of photographs required, including one with the number plate in full view. The Senior Licensing Officer confirmed that physical documents would still need to be inspected if an application was received on-line; it was felt that this should be made clear in the Policy.

 

In respect of some of the other comments received, the Assistant Director stated that Town and Parish Councils were already included in the list of consultees for Street Trading Licence applications, and the issue of advertising materials being placed on the Highway was covered by other legislation already. In respect of the comments received from the Neighbourhoods Manager at the Council, the Assistant Director stated that new applications were subject to the same requirements as renewal applications, however it was implied rather than explicitly stated in the Policy; this could be remedied within the new Policy. And any trading outside of the permitted hours would be enforced against.

 

Resolved:

 

(1)        That the comments received from the consultation on the new Street Trading Policy be noted; and

 

(2)        That the proposed Street Trading Policy be agreed, subject to the following amendments:

 

            (a)        members of the public which lived within 150 metres of the application       site would be consulted upon the application;

 

            (b)        an adjacent Town or Parish Council would be consulted upon an    application if the site was close to its Local Council boundary;

 

            (c)        to explicitly state within the Policy that new applications were subject          to the same requirements as renewal applications;

 

            (d)        the Policy to be more explicit about  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.

8.

Road Closures - Waiver of Fee for Charitable Events not from Town or Parish Councils pdf icon PDF 75 KB

(Director of Neighbourhoods) To consider the attached report (LCS-003-2014/15).

Minutes:

The Assistant Director of Neighbourhoods (Environment & Neighbourhoods) presented a report on the waivering of fees for road closures for charitable events that were not organised by Town or Parish Councils.

 

The Assistant Director reminded the Committee that The Town & Police Clauses Act 1847 gave local authorities powers for preventing obstruction of the streets in time of public procession and the such like. These powers had been interpreted to include making a temporary road closure, for both commercial and non-commercial events. In July 2014, the Council agreed to waive the fee for road closure applications for Town or Parish Councils if the closure was for a charitable event. Subsequently, the Licensing Committee was asked to consider if a fee should be levied to other applicants if they could demonstrate that their event was for a charitable purpose.

 

The Chairman also enquired whether the road closure fee for community events for the promotion of a particular area should also be waived. The Assistant Director felt that ‘community event’ was too wide a definition. However, it was suggested that ‘entirely non-profit making’ could be used as a definition, as this could also include non-charitable events run by a Town or Parish Council. The Committee agreed this should be included as waiver for road closure fees in the future.

 

Resolved:

 

(1)        That the road closure fee be waived for charitable events not run by Town and Parish Councils; and

 

(2)        That the road closure fee also be waived for non-charity events that could be demonstrated as being entirely non-profit making for any non-charitable organisation involved.

9.

Implementation of the Taxi Tariff Scheme pdf icon PDF 74 KB

(Director of Neighbourhoods) To consider the attached report (LCS-004-2014/15).

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Assistant Director of Neighbourhoods (Environment & Neighbourhoods) introduced a report on the implementation of the Taxi Tariff Scheme.

 

The Assistant Director reported that the Scheme was implemented in June 2014, and was generally welcomed, although there was a little resistance from some of the operators. The main complaint had been that the tariff was too high after 10pm on Sundays. Some operators had changed from being Hackney Carriages to Private Hire Vehicles to avoid the installation of a meter.

 

The Assistant Director added that exhaustive consultation was undertaken prior to the implementation of the scheme, but some comments had only now been received following the implementations. These had been attached at the Appendix of the report. There was a review of the Scheme planned for 2015. The Committee was reminded that the Scheme regularised Hackney Carriages and the meter indicated the maximum fare to be charged. Other Councils had implemented schemes and some operators were routinely charging less than the meter fare. The Senior Licensing Officer stated that a lot of research was carried out before the implementation of the scheme, and that the final tariff agreed upon was neither the most expensive nor least expensive in Essex.

 

The Committee noted that the majority of comments received had been positive in nature and if any amendments were proposed then the public consultation exercise would have to be repeated. It was also emphasised that the scheme combatted the ‘taxi touts’ which picked up fares from nightclubs in the early hours of the morning. Therefore, it was felt that the current scheme should continue until the scheduled review in 2015.

 

Resolved:

 

(1)        That the implementation of the current Taxi Tariff Scheme be noted; and

 

(2)        That the current Taxi Tariff be allowed to run without amendment until the scheduled review in October 2015.

10.

Private Hire Vehicle Licence Conditions pdf icon PDF 173 KB

(Director of Neighbourhoods) To consider the attached report (LCS-005-2014/15).

Minutes:

The Assistant Director of Neighbourhoods (Environment & Neighbourhoods) presented a report on possible amendments to Public Hire Vehicle Licence Conditions.

 

The Assistant Director reminded the Committee that it had requested a report at its last meeting in April 2014 on new vehicles and technologies associated with the Taxi trade, including the use of people carriers, three door vehicles and electric vehicles. The Committee was also requested to consider whether additional advertising on vehicles should be permitted.

 

The Assistant Director stated that people carriers were vehicles designed to carry between five and eight people and typically had an extra row of seats behind the driver (see diagram on page 36 of the agenda). Currently, these vehicles did not comply with the Council’s licensing conditions for vehicles as they did not have “…a minimum of four doors, each adjacent to a seat…”. The use of such vehicles had increased in the public hire trade but there were safety concerns; e.g. passengers in the rear row having to move a seat in front before being able to exit the vehicle.

 

The Assistant Director highlighted that opinions within the public hire and safety communities were mixed. Some local authorities felt that the risk was acceptable, whilst others felt that these vehicles should be adapted by the removal of one of the seats. The Department of Transport had stated that it might be too restrictive to outlaw the use of people carriers, or to licence them for fewer passengers than seats. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents supported the policy to limit the number of seats in a people carrier that were used as a Private Hire vehicle to provide passengers in the rear with safe access to and from the vehicle. In any event, it was considered essential that there was a door on each side of the passenger compartment to allow exit in the event of a side impact collision. The Committee was requested to consider the suitability of such vehicles and any conditions to be attached to their use if permitted.

 

The Assistant Director added, in response to questions from the Committee, that people carriers were defined as having eight seats or less, whereas mini buses were defined as having more than eight seats. There was one people carrier currently licensed within the District; this was allowed on appeal to the Sub-Committee after it had been refused by Officers.

 

The Chairman of that particular Sub-Committee informed the Committee that people carriers were safe vehicles in his opinion and there were usually less impact collisions on the nearside passenger door. Most people carriers had a sliding door on each side, and there was usually a catch to release the rear facing door from the inside in an emergency. It was suggested that a gap should be maintained in the middle of the vehicle to ensure exit from the rear in an emergency.

 

It was highlighted that the space from a seat being removed could be filled with luggage instead, hampering  ...  view the full minutes text for item 10.

11.

Review of Licensing Sub-Committee Procedures

To review the proceedings of the Licensing Sub-Committee held during the preceding period and identify any problems of procedure, policy and organisation that have adversely affected the running of the meetings.

Minutes:

The Committee reviewed the proceedings of the Licensing Sub-Committee meetings held during the preceding six-month period and considered whether the procedure, policy and organisation of the Sub-Committees required review.

 

The only issue noted by the Committee was the holding of pre-meeting briefings. The Assistant Director of Neighbourhoods (Environment & Neighbourhoods) informed the Committee that legal advice had been received stating that pre-meeting briefings should not be held, otherwise there could be the perception that information was being given to the Members to the detriment of applicants.

 

The Committee were in favour of continuing with pre-meeting briefings as it was an opportunity to ask technical and procedural questions before the meeting. Pre-meeting briefings were held before the Council’s Planning meetings, and they had been held before the Licensing Sub-Committee meetings for many years. Pre-meeting briefings were also held before Housing Appeal Panel meetings. It was felt that such briefings introduced an element of common sense to the proceedings and were an important tool in trying to reach the right decision for a particular application.

 

The Assistant Director responded that the perception was the Applicant had no knowledge of the discussions in the pre-meeting briefing. However, the Assistant Director would raise these points with the Monitoring Officer and report back to the Committee. The Assistant Director also added that the Licensing and Legal sections had been separated in different Directorates as part of the restructure, and that care needed to be exercised when making comments straight after a meeting; there had been instances at other local authorities where a comment directly after a meeting had generated an instant appeal.

 

Resolved:

 

(1)        That the Monitoring Officer be consulted on the legality of holding pre-meeting briefings and the outcome of those discussions be reported back to the Committee at its next scheduled meeting on 8 April 2015.

12.

Review of Current and Future Training Needs for the Committee

To highlight any further training considered necessary for the members tasked with discharging the Council’s Licensing function.

Minutes:

The Committee considered the current and future training needs for the members tasked with discharging the Council’s Licensing function.

 

The Assistant Director (Environment & Neighbourhoods) reported that training would be arranged for Councillor Adams so that he could replace Councillor J H Whitehouse on the Committee and participate in Sub-Committee meetings. In addition, new guidance had been issued in advance of the Legislative Reform (Entertainment Licensing) Order 2014 being enacted on 6 April 2015, and it might be useful to hold a training session on this for the members of the Committee.

13.

Matters Arising

To consider any further matters arising in respect of the Council’s Licensing function, not covered elsewhere on the agenda.

Minutes:

The Committee noted that there were no matters arising for discussion.

14.

Date of Next Meeting

The next meeting of the Licensing Committee has been scheduled for 8 April 2015 at 2.00pm in the Council Chamber.

Minutes:

The Committee noted that its next meeting was scheduled for 8 April 2014 at 2.00pm in the Council Chamber.