Venue: Committee Room, Town Hall, Bootle
Contact: Mark Toohey Tel: 0151 934 2274
Apologies for Absence
Apologies for absence were received from:
Mark Sanders – Delta Garages
Paul McLaughlin – Delta
Minutes of the meeting held on *
RJ – Queried the removal of point 4 in the Sefton license conditions not being recorded. This is subsequently covered in agenda point 8. Apart from this, the minutes were agreed as a true record.
Matters Arising from the Minutes
JJ – Asked for individual figures on stop notices issued
MT – Stated these can be provided and apologised for them not being included for todays meeting.
To discuss the contents of the PWC report and the financial speadsheet.
All trade representatives are asked for their comments/views.
MT – Read council statement to group members concerning the reserve account, the uplifting of fees and the amount that will potentially be taken from the reserve account and backdated. Brief overview of the PWC report and spreadsheet that had already been circulated.
RJ – I have read this report. It does not seem to be a joint report. However, it does appear that SMBC has done its best to comply with legislation. I have no objection as to how the surplus is used. I have submitted the report to an accountant and I am awaiting their response.
CS – perhaps licence fees should have been raised as required over the years rather than building up a reserve and keeping fees at the same level.
JJ – I do not fully understand this report as I am not an accountant but I do not have any issues and am happy with it.
RJ –I have no objections to cost recovery going back to 2011/12.
JJ – Queried the figures going forward – how can best value be established for future costs. He also objects to recovery going back 5 years as errors have been made by the council and not the trade. Mr. Johnson would rather go back just four years and have a larger reserve account.
RJ – Agrees with Joe’s comments about retrospective financial adjustment not being fair on the trade. Also stated that he would like some of the budget to be spent on driver training.
JJ – Four years is a reasonable timescale.
This was backed up by panel members. Panel members had no specific objections to proposed fee increases and no objections to a proposed increase of 11% per annum for the next 2 years.
RJ – Agreed that the PWC report says Sefton has tried to comply with the legislation but it was not a joint report. If the report is accurate then he has no objection to the surplus being used. He has no comment on or objection to the proposed increase in fees if the figures can be shown to justify this.
JJ – The council needs to be more accountable in future for how trade income is spent by them and Arvato.
CS – The trade are paying for the councils economic mistakes
JJ – I do not feel we are getting value for money with Arvato and the OSS, although service has improved in recent years.
MT – the purpose of the discussion was to examine the report and gauge the views of the trade but this will ultimately be a decision for members. Informed JJ that we can look at costings of materials etc. moving forward but that was not the purpose of the item today.
New Knowledge Test routes and places included for discussion.
MT – Explained how the routes and places questions work
JJ – Enquired whether the knowledge test can be reviewed annually?
MT – The test will be reviewed by this group regularly now.
CS – Re iterated his desire for the knowledge test to become an oral test.
MT – Resources are an issue with that option and it may not be that easy to accommodate.
JJ – Oral test is simply not an option cost wise.
RJ – Expressed support for this option.
MT – The council will consider this option. The council will also expect comments on the new routes moving forward so we can prevent any routes/places becoming outdated.
Inspections carried out between 1st September and 26th November 2015:
Hackney Carriages – 20 (no faults)
Private Hire Vehicles – 131. 92 were ‘fault free’ (70%)
Defects: Bodywork – 17
Wheels & Tyres – 6
Lighting – 12
Engine – 2
Interior – 2
As requested by the trade – monthly licence data is now included (attached).
Further enforcement item raised by Richard Jarman:
“There is a PHV company licensed in Sefton which has no operations within the borough”.
JJ – Bodywork is being treated differently for hackneys & phv’s, private hire vehicles are being treated a lot more harshly than hackney vehicles.
RJ – Queried a Sefton PHV operator being licensed in Sefton but not having any PHV’s.
MT – An operator does not have to have any vehicles at any particular point in time in order to continue to hold a licence.
RJ – I beg to differ – can this be looked at please?
MT – Agreed to this.
Item submitted by Richard Jarman:
“The De – Regulation Act 2015 reads as follows:
Section 11 : Private hire vehicles: sub-contracting
In the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976, after section 55 insert—
“55ASub-contracting by operators”
(1) A person licensed under section 55 who has in a controlled district accepted a booking for a private hire vehicle may arrange for another person to provide a vehicle to carry out the booking if—…….
(3) Where a person licensed under section 55 in respect of a controlled district is also licensed under that section in respect of another controlled district, subsection (1) (so far as relating to paragraph (b) of that subsection) and section 55B(1) and (2) apply as if each licence were held by a separate person.
55B Sub-contracting by operators: criminal liability….
The explanatory note to the Act reads:
59.This section [section 55 A] inserts two new sections (55A and 55B) into the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 in relation to the sub-contracting of bookings from one private hire vehicle operator to another. It applies in England and Wales, but not in London or in Plymouth where different legislation applies.
60. In the new section 55A, :
subsection (1) allows an operator who accepts a booking for a private hire vehicle to sub-contract it to four types of operator –
(a) an operator licensed and located in the same district as the initial operator;
(b) an operator licensed and located in a different district from the initial operator (a different district but one which is still governed by the same legislation – in practice this means a district in England or Wales but outside London or Plymouth);
[Case law can be quoted in support]
The activity defined as ‘operating’ which gives rise to marketing MUST be directed on behalf of each operator licence as if it were held by a separate person.
An ‘app’; advertised by a Liverpool firm may not be directed to a Sefton licenced operator; or even an international one.
The Liverpool or Sefton firm may accept a booking & then pass it on. The booking media whether telephone, email or ‘app’ will need to be unique to each licencee.
The licenced operations are separate.
This situation mirrors the position existing before the ‘de-regulation’ provision above.
A letter, phone call, email etc is directed to the person “making provision” which can / could only be directed toward customers for that single operator [or operators within the same licencing district].
It has been said at earlier trade meetings that an ‘application’ or ‘app’ arranges for a booking in cyber space & that this is a nebulous place allowing a booking for any operator. This is quite untrue. An application is a computer programme, which does exactly as instructed on a machine so programmed; see paragraphs 12- 14 of the “Uber” taximeter case report, for example.
See also PHTM Nov 2015 at pages 18 & 19.
It cannot be true that “an ‘app’ is a novel ... view the full agenda text for item 106.
RJ – A booking should be directed straight to an operator. Therefore, a piece of software deciding which operator to give the job to, this software will require an operators licence, consequently this is a legal breach. Mr. Jarman requested that this issue is looked into further. Mr. Jarman further asserted that section 55A of the act clarifies this requirement.
JJ – This should be looked at nationally not locally.
RJ – Sefton legal department is one of the best legal departments in the country, therefore, they should consider this issue as it has come to a head.
JJ – This should be treated as a national issue and the panel should see how it develops on a national basis.
RJ – The sefton legal department should forward this to the local government association.
MT – Asked that the Delta and Uber reps submitted their legal opinions on this matter. Also stated he would take this issue to the spokespersons meeting in January.
Handbook/PH Conditions of Licence
Item submitted by Richard Jarman:
PHV conditions of licence;
“Sefton conditions stipulate that at Part 4:
e) When an operator accepts a hiring, they shall ensure that a Sefton licensed private hire vehicle or hackney carriage attends at the appointed place and as near to the appointed time as is possible.
This prevents the ‘Rossendale’ or Berwick’ loophole.
All constituent Boroughs in the region may adopt this wording.
There should be a clause added to SMBC conditions:
If an operator adopts the procedure allowed by S 55 A of the 1976 Act he shall require his agent to use a vehicle [whether a hackney or PHV] licensed by his own [the agent’s] licensor.”
RJ – In the absence of the requirement for a sefton licensed vehicle, RJ would like this to read with the following extention:
‘Except where the operator sub-contracts.’
MT – Can this not simply read that sub contracting must be done in compliance with s.55A.
JJ – Has no issue with slight change in conditions wording.
Spoken English Test
Item raised by Richard Jarman:
A test should be mandatory for new drivers
This is the most sought after tested requirement amongst the trade.
Complaints are rife that drivers are not able to communicate well with customers. This is a safety concern as well a practical problem.
The chair of the Liverpool licensing committee made this point at a recent meeting. Harmonisation is already policy, in this instance such policy is supported.
SMBC have been keen to look at practice elsewhere; but this is not a pre-requisite as the proposal is “common sense”.
Many regions now have this requirement; there is an NQF standard available.
This module was actually attached to [but not part of] the VRQ when I took the course; it is not onerous and should be an entry requirement.
Testing this should / must entail a route planning module.
Bedford Borough Council
A basic English language assessment, delivered by a Council officer, to determine that applicants have a basic level of proficiency in oral and written English and the ability to accurately give change in sterling. All new applicants have to take the assessment.
The assessment includes questions about the applicant, charging fares and change to be given, identifying street names and understanding of licensing conditions.
Bournemouth Borough Council
Provide evidence of an acceptable NQF Level 2 English literacy qualification or to have completed a BTEC/NVQ qualification in Transporting Passengers by Taxi and Private Hire.
Leeds City Council
All applicants must undertake an English comprehension test. The test is set and run by a recognised training organisation and covers the following key areas: Speaking clearly: giving information Reading signs and documents Writing: transferring information Dealing with fares
Leicester City Council
Applicants not born in the UK have to undertake an English assessment that meets the requirement of NQF Entry Level 3. The assessment is delivered by a college of further education independent of the licensing authority.
Manchester City Council
Assessment of basic English and maths including verbal questions and responses; reading and comprehending written English; and mental arithmetic. Currently delivered in-house but MCC are looking to find an external partner to deliver it”.
MT – We have very few record of complaints regarding a drivers lack of spoken English.
CS – Most current drivers would like a spoken English test for new drivers. A verbal knowledge test as described previously would achieve this goal.
RJ – English literacy was covered in my VRQ.
MT – We will consider the knowledge test query prior to this one.
Item raised by Joe Johnson:
“Vehicles over 8 years old. Inconsistency and confusion between officers on "exceptional condition" to allow first time vehicles to be tested over 8 years old”
JJ – Officers are not being consistent on the standards that need to be met, vehicles are being presented for test in a not exceptional condition after examination by an officer. This is causing confrontations at testing centres. The definition of exceptional needs to be more clearly defined by the council.
TW – The definition of exceptional needs to be worked through by both the trade and the council.
JJ – All enforcement staff are working to different standards.
MT – This needs to be looked into further and perhaps the expected standard needs clarifying.
CS – Up the age and then point blank refuse to grant new licences to vehicles over 10 years old for example.
TW – We need to make sure conditions are not unreasonable.
JJ – Testing Stations should all be meeting the same standards. Some of the issues here can be included in testing station review.
Item raised by Joe Johnson:
“Following a recent issue having one of our vehicles inspected on a call back I have contacted other fleet owners who complain of similar issues when trying to have their vehicles inspected following a council request.
Either officers not present at bridle road or follow up requests at Trinity Road being difficult to have completed. Discussion in line with what is reasonable to stay in line with the act so we can clarify a way forward please”
MT – Vehicle inspections cannot be done on spec at Magdalen House.
JJ – It is not unreasonable for a member of staff to come down and look at a vehicle. Could officers provide mobile numbers?
MT – agreed. Inspection letters will now include better contact information so that alternative appointments can be made.
Item raised by Richard Jarman:
“The DVLA taxi drivers test should be mandatory for all newly licensed drivers”
It was decided amongst the panel members that this should not be implemented.
Upcoming L & R reports:
Knowledge Test update
TFL v Uber (Taximeters)
Testing Station review
MT – Testing Station review - advised would complete this by March 2016.
Date of next meeting
The next meeting will be the Licensing and Regulatory Spokespersons with Representatives from the Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Trade meeting at Southport Town Hall on 26th January 2016 starting at 10am.
(The following joint trade meeting will be held on 1 March 2016 at Southport Town Hall at 10:00am).
Any Other Business
In accordance with Minute No. 37 (iii) of the meeting of the Licensing and Regulatory Committee of 24 February 2003, other business may only be considered if agreed by the Chair and a majority of the trade and if it is of an urgent nature. i.e. requires consideration prior to the next scheduled meeting of the Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Joint Trade Working Group.
RJ – lost/found property is not something Merseyside police wish to deal with any more.
JJ – Can we review this at the next meeting if we have issues this can be raised in due course. If no issues arise, then there is no need for concern.
MT – When drivers re-licence, they will be receiving updated numbers due to a new computer system that is being implemented for both vehicle and driver records.
Complaints about drivers
GB – Do we need to investigate complaints when drivers are not working?
MT – We are going to get some new guidelines drawn up regarding this.