Agenda and minutes

Licensing Committee
Wednesday, 8th April, 2015 2.30 pm

Venue: Committee Room 2, Civic Offices, High Street, Epping. View directions

Contact: Adrian Hendry (Directorate of Governance)  Tel: 01992 564246 Email:  democraticservices@eppingforestdc.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

15.

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.

 

16.

Minutes of the Licensing Committee pdf icon PDF 57 KB

To confirm the minutes of the Licensing Committee meeting held on 8 October 2014.

Minutes:

Resolved:

 

That the minutes of the meeting held on 8 October 2014 be taken as read and signed by the Chairman as a correct record.

 

It was noted that officers were working on the role of MPVs in the taxi licence scheme. They were consulting other authorities about this and would bring it to a future meeting.

 

17.

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:

 

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)          07 October 2014;

(b)          27 October 2014;

(c)          29 October 2014;

(d)          11 November 2014;

(e)          04 December 2014;

(f)            08 December 2014;

(g)          09 December 2014;

(h)          13 January 2015;

(i)            10 February 2015;

(j)            19 February 2015; and

(k)           10 March 2015.

 

18.

Applications Received under the Licensing Act 2003 pdf icon PDF 11 KB

(Director of Neighbourhoods) To consider the attached report.

Minutes:

RESOLVED:

 

The Committee noted the applications received by the Licensing Section between 1st April 2014 and 23rd March 2015.

 

19.

Exclusion of Public and Press

Exclusion: To consider whether, under Section 100(A)(4) of the Local Government Act 1972, the public and press should be excluded from the meeting for the items of business set out below on grounds that they will involve the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in the following paragraph(s) of Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Act (as amended) or are confidential under Section 100(A)(2):

 

Agenda Item No

Subject

Exempt Information Paragraph Number

              7                                Public Hire Review                                2

                                               

 

                                                                                                                                                                       

 

The Local Government (Access to Information) (Variation) Order 2006, which came into effect on 1 March 2006, requires the Council to consider whether maintaining the exemption listed above outweighs the potential public interest in disclosing the information. Any member who considers that this test should be applied to any currently exempted matter on this agenda should contact the proper officer at least 24 hours prior to the meeting.

 

Confidential Items Commencement: Paragraph 9 of the Council Procedure Rules contained in the Constitution require:

 

(1)        All business of the Council requiring to be transacted in the presence of the press and public to be completed by 10.00 p.m. at the latest.

 

(2)        At the time appointed under (1) above, the Chairman shall permit the completion of debate on any item still under consideration, and at his or her discretion, any other remaining business whereupon the Council shall proceed to exclude the public and press.

 

(3)        Any public business remaining to be dealt with shall be deferred until after the completion of the private part of the meeting, including items submitted for report rather than decision.

 

Background Papers:  Paragraph 8 of the Access to Information Procedure Rules of the Constitution define background papers as being documents relating to the subject matter of the report which in the Proper Officer's opinion:

 

(a)        disclose any facts or matters on which the report or an important part of the report is based;  and

 

(b)        have been relied on to a material extent in preparing the report and does not include published works or those which disclose exempt or confidential information (as defined in Rule 10) and in respect of executive reports, the advice of any political advisor.

 

Inspection of background papers may be arranged by contacting the officer responsible for the item.

 

Minutes:

That the public and press be excluded from the meeting for the items of business set out below on the grounds that they would involve the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in the paragraphs of Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972:

 

Agenda Item No

Subject

Exempt Information Paragraph Number

7

Public Hire Review

               2

 

20.

Public Hire Review

(Director of Neighbourhoods) To consider the attached report.

Minutes:

The Assistant Director, Neighbourhood Services, Mr Nolan presented the report which looked at the regime for the licensing of public hire vehicles, drivers and operators.  Over the past year various problems had been identified and it was also noted that even some of the taxi trade were confused by our regulations. Some of the problems noted were what appeared to be some inconsistencies in the decisions of the sub-committees; a lack of clear guidance to Members regarding their powers, liabilities and responsibilities; a feeling amongst the trade that EFDC was not rigorous enough in the application of its public hire licensing regime; some conditions were unclear; and the attitude of some applicants and licensees towards staff was very poor.

 

It was also noted that:

·         some of the trade thought that we were a soft touch;

·         that our medical rules were unclear and that we relied on the honesty of the drivers;

·         our conditions were old and out of date;

·         officers noted that things would be changing for hackney carriages in London soon and that we could learn from these changes;

·         because of the recent events in Rotherham drivers should be made aware of, and trained in, at least the basics of safeguarding issues;

·         our staff should not have to put up with abuse from the public and applicants;

·         our interview rooms now have recording equipment and so do the phones;

·         some applicants think that our officers were powerless and that they could go straight to a sub-committee and by-pass them.

 

Officers have looked into the regime of other authorities and had ascertained that by far the best system was the one employed by the Public Carriage Office in London. They have detailed staff and inspection manuals and were a good base that we could use.

 

Mr Nolan suggested that a small working group be set up to look into the background of this report back to a future committee meeting. They could also use some guidance from members from their experience on Sub-committees.  Officers could and should provide more and better training for members especially on taxis and taxi drivers as this made up the bulk of applications that they dealt with; but they would also need the input of members in this.

 

Councillor Morgan agreed with the premise of the report and asked why had there been more trouble over the past year. He also agreed with the suggestion of creating a working group to look into this and to provide more guidance and training on what they should be doing and wondered if it would be possible for officers to give their views on the applications. Mr Nolan replied that it may be possible to do this in open session when the applicant would have a right of reply.

 

Councillor Lion said it was an excellent report. They have sometimes given the benefit of doubt to applicants and would welcome some more guidance. He would like to know what the proportion was of unsound decision to enable them  ...  view the full minutes text for item 20.

21.

Inclusion of Public and Press

To invite the public and press back into the meeting for the remaining items of business.

 

Minutes:

RESOLVED:

 

That the public and press be invited back into the meeting for the remaining items of business.

 

22.

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 noted that this would be something for the working group to review. Basic training would be needed for all members and it would be helpful to have a  legal officer there.

 

It was noted that Ms Tuckey attended the Essex Licensing Officer group who had access to specialist training to officers and members.

23.

Matters Arising

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

Minutes:

Councillor Sartin asked about the extra meetings that were cropping up, was this because of the time frame and when they were submitted. She was told it was controlled by the set time frames that they were governed by.

 

Councillor Lion asked about evening meetings and was told that they could be called if there was a good reason to do so.

24.

Date of Next Meeting

The next meeting of the Licensing Committee has been scheduled for 14 October 2015 at 2.00pm.

Minutes:

The Committee noted the date for the next scheduled meeting.