Agenda and minutes

Licensing Committee
Wednesday, 18th October, 2017 2.00 pm

Venue: Council Chamber - Civic Offices. View directions

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

Items
No. Item

1.

Declarations of Interest

(Director of Governance) To declare interests in any item on this agenda.

Minutes:

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

2.

Minutes of the Licensing Committee

(Director of Governance) To confirm the minutes of the Licensing Committee meeting held on 26 April 2017 (previously circulated).

 

Click here for Licensing Minutes 26-Apr-17

Minutes:

Resolved:

 

(1)        That the minutes of the meeting held on 26 April 2017 be taken as read and signed by the Chairman as a correct record.

3.

Minutes of the Licensing Sub-Committees

(Director of Governance) 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)        30 May 2017;

 

            (b)        6 June 2017;

 

            (c)        4 July 2017;

 

            (d)        17 July 2017;

 

            (e)        1 August 2017;

 

            (f)         15 August 2017;

 

            (g)        5 September 2017; and

 

            (h)        3 October 2017.

4.

Issues Raised by Harlow District Council pdf icon PDF 106 KB

(Director of Neighbourhoods) To consider the attached report.

 

(Director of Neighbourhoods) To consider the following revised recommendations alongside the previously published report:

 

(1)        To note the issues and concerns raised by Harlow District Council; and

 

(2)        To consider any implications arising from the decision to grant a licence to an applicant previously revoked by another licensing authority.

Minutes:

The Assistant Director of Neighbourhoods (Neighbourhood Services) presented a report highlighting a number of Licensing issues that had been recently raised by Harlow District Council.

 

The Assistant Director informed the Committee that Licensing Officers at Harlow District Council had reported an increased number of Hackney Carriage Vehicles and Drivers licensed by this Council working for a Harlow based Operator. This was causing some concern within the trade in Harlow and their Members were taking a keen interest in the matter. Officers had sought external legal advice, which had stated that a Harlow Operator could use a Hackney Carriage licensed by this Council to undertake pre-booked work in Harlow, provided that the Driver was licensed by the same authority that had licensed the vehicle. There was the possibility of the law being changed in respect of cross-border hiring, but until then there was not much that the Council could do about this.

 

The Assistant Director also reported that some Drivers licensed by this authority were removing their Hackney Carriage roof signs and replacing them with ‘Metro Cabs’ roof signs when driving in the Harlow area. This contravened the Council’s regulations and Officers had taken steps to address this issue. Licensing Officers in Harlow had also highlighted a recent case whereby a Driver had had his Licence revoked by Harlow District Council, but had been subsequently licensed by this Council and was now working for a taxi firm in Harlow again. This case perhaps emphasised the need for consistency as different authorities could have different rules.

 

In respect of the last issue raised by Harlow District Council, Cllr Jennings remembered the case. The issue was raised with the Driver during the Sub-Committee meeting, and he was asked why he hadn’t applied to Harlow District Council but he did not disclose that his application to Harlow District Council had been refused. Cllr Jennings felt that it would be helpful if previous applications to other local authorities were detailed on the application form. The Assistant Director did point out that the letter of revocation from Harlow District Council had been distributed via a pink supplementary agenda for that meeting. Cllr Dorrell also remembered the case and his application had been refused by Harlow District Council due to a discrepancy in his application, although the Driver had stated at the Sub-Committee meeting that he would work in the Epping Forest District not Harlow if his application was granted.

 

Cllr Sartin recalled that the case was highlighted in the local newspapers, and enquired as to whether the Council could check with other local authorities prior to an application being heard by a Sub-Committee. The Assistant Director stated that there was no reason why applications to this Council could not be cross checked with Harlow District Council. In this particular case, the decision had been made by the Sub-Committee on the basis of erroneous information given by the Applicant, and the Council had issued a press release afterwards stating that the decision had been made  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.

5.

Consultation on Taxi Tariffs pdf icon PDF 81 KB

(Director of Neighbourhoods) To consider the attached report.

 

(Director of Neighbourhoods) To consider the attached Appendix regarding the responses to the Consultation and the following revised recommendations, alongside the previously published report:

 

(1)        To note the results of the recent consultation on Taxi Tariffs throughout the District;

 

(2)        To indicate a way forward in respect of the proposed change to the Taxi Tariff on Sundays; and

 

(3)        To consider the abolition of the charge for exempting vehicles from displaying the Licence Plate.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Assistant Director of Neighbourhoods (Neighbourhood Services) presented a report outlining the results of a consultation recently undertaken on Taxi Tariffs.

 

The Assistant Director reminded the Committee that some members of the taxi trade requested the Sunday tariff be lowered to bring it into line with the tariff in operation during other days of the week. Any change in tariff required the Council to carry out a consultation exercise, which was subsequently undertaken and the results had been attached as an Appendix to the report. It appeared that there was no consensus within the trade regarding the proposed change to the Sunday tariff, in fact there were many who felt that the tariff should be increased on all days throughout the week. A further Appendix had been attached to the report illustrating the tariffs in operation at other local authorities; this indicated that the tariff operated by this Council was neither the cheapest nor the most expensive. The Council could propose new tariffs and consult again with the taxi trade, or leave the current tariffs in situ.

 

The Committee noted that the taxi trade had differing views on the current levels of the tariffs, and that the current tariffs were in the middle of the range of tariffs implemented by other local Authorities. Therefore, it was probably best to keep the tariffs at the current levels for the time being. The Assistant Director added that the current tariffs were set three years ago and that the Committee could review them at some point in the future. Cllr Sartin suggested that the current tariffs be retained but that they be reviewed in twelve months time as there could be a possible rise in fuel charges during that period; this was agreed by the Committee.

 

Additionally, the Assistant Director requested that the Committee considered the abolition of the charge for exempting vehicles from displaying the Licence plate. The Council could no longer justify this charge, and generally it was only the more prestigious Private Hire vehicles who did not wish to display a Licence Plate. The Committee agreed that this charge should be abolished.

 

Resolved:

 

(1)        That the results of the recent consultation on taxi tariffs throughout the District be noted;

 

(2)        That the current taxi tariffs be retained and reviewed in twelve months time; and

 

(3)        That the charge for exempting vehicles from displaying the Licence Plate be abolished.

6.

Applications Received under the Licensing Act 2003 and Gambling Act 2005 pdf icon PDF 83 KB

(Director of Neighbourhoods) To consider the attached report.

Minutes:

The Licensing Manager reported that in respect of Premises Licence applications or variations, there had been 13 new applications, 127 renewals, 37 change of Designated Premises Supervisor or variation applications received in the period 1 May to 28 September 2017. Of these, 11 applications had been considered by the Sub-Committee and granted subject to conditions. A total of 24 (EU Directive) Temporary Event Notices, 117 Temporary Event Notices and 37 Late Temporary Event Notices had also been granted. 48 Personal Licence applications had been received and granted under delegated authority. There had been no appeals to the Magistrates Court during the period. There had also been one Premises Review undertaken during the period.

 

In respect of the Gambling Act 2005, the Licensing Manager informed the Committee that there had been no Betting Office applications received, and no Club Gaming Permits granted during the period; two notifications had been received for two gaming machines.

 

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.

Review of Licensing Sub-Committee Procedures

(Director of Neighbourhoods) 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.

 

(a)        Pre-Meeting Briefings

 

At the last full committee meeting, Councillor Keska pointed out that the Sub-Committees used to get briefings before each of their meetings from Licensing Officers. Whilst they did not want a briefing on the cases before them, Members would appreciate a reminder of the options open to them for each application they considered. It was also mentioned that a Licensing Officer was present during Members’ deliberations in private session to advise on technical matters and that Members found this to aid good decision making.

 

Councillor Surtees noted that the views of the Sub-Committee, Licensing and Legal Officers did not always line up. Members have requested the attendance of a Legal Officer at the next meeting of the full Licensing Committee to explain why these briefings could not be held.

 

(b)        Council Website

 

Councillor Pond has requested that Members consider the licensing information on the Council’s website with a view to it being made more useful and relevant to the public.

Minutes:

(a)        Pre-Meeting Briefings

 

At the last meeting of the Committee, Cllr Keska had pointed out that the Sub-Committees used to receive a briefing before their meeting from Licensing Officers. Whilst Members did not necessarily require a full briefing before each meeting of the Sub-Committee, a reminder of the options available to the Sub-Committee for each application to be considered would be of benefit. It was also highlighted that Licensing Officers used to be present during Member deliberations in private session to advise on technical matters, which Members had also found useful.

 

The Assistant Director of Neighbourhoods (Neighbourhood Services) acknowledged that briefings did occur some years ago before each meeting of a Sub-Committee. The Assistant Director of Governance (Legal Services) stated that, legally, the Sub-Committee had to consider all of the options open to them, and these should be listed in the report. In addition, any advice received by the Sub-Committee at a briefing beforehand would have to be disclosed at the meeting of the Sub-Committee to all participants, which could raise more questions than answers at the meeting. Members were invited to let Officers know what other information they would like to receive before the meeting to assist in making decisions.

 

Cllr Keska added that this point had been raised by past and present Members of Licensing Sub-Committees. Members were given useful information on the relevant policy and options available to the Sub-Committee at the briefings before the actual meeting, and not details of the actual case(s) to be heard. The Assistant Director of Governance reminded everyone present that this should really be raised at the start of each case so everyone was aware of the issues involved. It was acknowledged that the current procedure did not specifically allow for this, but the Assistant Director of Governance stated that it was open to Members to raise questions of policy and procedure at any point during the proceedings as it would not look fair to the participants if advice was received by the Sub-Committee prior to the meeting. Members were invited to inform Officers of previous issues which could be addressed for future meetings.

 

Cllr Sartin suggested that Members could examine the DVLA Licence with the relevant convictions listed for each Applicant at a pre-meeting. The Assistant Director of Governance stated that this information could be given to the Sub-Committee prior to the meeting if it could be distributed confidentially, along with a list of the DVLA offence codes. This would be considered evidence so it would not cause any problem with the actual meeting itself. Alternatively, the meeting could be adjourned for ten minutes while the Sub-Committee retired to consider this information. The Assistant Director of Neighbourhoods stated that he would be very wary of giving copies of any disbarring notices to Members of the Sub-Committee, although they usually received a copy of the DVLA Licence issued as a ‘pink’ document which was not published for public consumption. The Licensing Manager reminded the Committee that they would not receive a  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.

8.

Review of Current and Future Training Needs for the Committee

(Director of Neighbourhoods) To highlight any further training considered necessary for the Members tasked with discharging the Council’s Licensing function.

 

(a)        Town & Parish Councils

 

There has been a request made on behalf of Town and Parish Councils that they be invited to attend the annual Member training event.  Members are asked to consider this request.

Minutes:

The Committee considered whether any further training was necessary for the Members tasked with discharging the Council’s Licensing function. There had been a request made on behalf of the Town and Parish Councils that they be invited to attend the annual Member Licensing training event.

 

The Assistant Director of Neighbourhoods (Neighbourhood Services) informed the Committee that the training provider would probably be changed next year, simply to give Members a different perspective. Officers were also content to extend the invitation to the Licensing Training to Members of the District’s Town and Parish Councils. The Committee generally felt that there was no reason to exclude Local Councillors from Licensing training. Local Councils commented on Licensing applications, and encouraging their participation at the Member training sessions would make their comments on applications more relevant, as well as improve their understanding of and performance at Licensing Sub-Committee meetings.

 

Cllr Morgan highlighted that Local Councils sometimes objected to applications, but a dual hatted Member who was also a Member of that Local Council would then sit on the Sub-Committee considering the application. The Assistant Director of Governance (Legal Services) reminded the Committee that Members should declare an interest at the meeting if necessary, but this situation could leave the Council open to objections so it was probably better if the membership of Sub-Committees ensured that this situation could not arise. Cllr C P Pond stated that Loughton Town Council avoided dual hatted Members sitting on their Planning and Licensing Committees. Cllr Sartin felt that this was more of a perception problem; with only three Members sitting on each Sub-Committee to determine applications, there could be a perception of bias if the Local Council had commented/objected to an application and that Sub-Committee included a dual hatted Member.

 

Resolved:

 

(1)        That Members of Town and Parish Councils be invited to attend future Licensing Training events organised by the District Council.

9.

Any Other Business

(Director of Governance) 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:

The Committee noted that there was no other urgent business for consideration.

10.

Matters Arising

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

Minutes:

Cllr Sartin commented that all members of the Licensing Committee received a paper copy of the agenda for every meeting of a Licensing Sub-Committee, despite only four members of the Committee were required to be in attendance. Cllr Sartin suggested that only the four members of each Sub-Committee should receive a paper copy of the agenda, and the Committee felt that this was a sensible course of action for the future.

 

Resolved:

 

(1)        That paper copies of an agenda for a Licensing Sub-Committee meeting only be distributed to the four Members scheduled to attend that meeting.

11.

Date of Next Meeting

(Director of Governance) The next meeting of the Licensing Committee has been scheduled for 18 April 2018 at 2.00pm in the Council Chamber.

Minutes:

The Committee noted that the next meeting was scheduled for 18 April 2018 at 2.00pm in the Council Chamber.