Agenda for Hackney Carriage/Private Hire Joint Working Group on Tuesday 5th March, 2019, 10.00 am

Agenda and minutes

Venue: Committee Room - Bootle Town Hall, Trinity Road, Bootle, L20 7AE. View directions

Contact: Mark Toohey  Tel: 0151 934 2274

Items
No. Item

15.

Apologies for Absence

Minutes:

Tony Crabtree – North Sefton Hackney Carriage Drivers Association

James Kelly – Uber

John Murrison – Southport Station Hackney Carriage Association

Mark Sanders – Sefton Private Hire Fleet Operators Association

 

16.

Minutes

Minutes of the meeting held on *

Additional documents:

Minutes:

All agreed recorded as a true record.

 

17.

Matters Arising from the Minutes

Minutes:

RJ – Asked for clarification on plying for hire and prosecutions.

 

MT – Clarified that Sefton Council will prosecute private hire vehicles for plying for hire and no insurance.  However licensed Hackney Carriage Vehicles will be prosecuted for plying for hire only and we will not purse for no insurance.

 

PMcL - Stated he is still waiting for a response to his email regarding Licensed Operators who are breaking licensing conditions (tariffs).

 

MF – Stated he has not yet had the time to properly consider breaches of conditions of licence.

 

MT – Said he will consider this and respond.

 

JJ - Raised item 4: Enforcement Statistics and could the Group have a breakdown on this for every meeting.

 

MT – Made apologies for this meeting and said they will be available for future meetings.

 

JJ – Asked for update training for staff on GDPR.

 

MT – Stated that training is to be arranged with Solicitors – still ongoing.

 

18.

Upfront fee for new driver applicants

Item raised by the Chair.

 

To discuss the proposed introduction of an upfront application fee for new driver applications only. The Council can offer up to 27 appointments per day for new applicants - the current attendance rate for these appointments is in the region of 75%.

 

The committee report that went to the Licensing & Regulatory Committee on 7th January considered the introduction of an upfront fee for new driver applications but deferred any decision until the meeting to be held on Monday 18 March 2019.

 

The cost of a 3-year driver licence for 2019/20 will be £73.

 

Trade representatives are therefore asked for their views on the following;

 

a.     Do they support the introduction of an upfront fee which will be offset against the total cost of a new licence? (new applicants only)

 

b.     The suggested fee is around £25 - £30. Again, trade representative’s views are welcomed on the suggested level of the upfront fee.

 

The views from the trade will be incorporated into a report to be considered by the committee on the 18th March 2019.

 

Note - suggested fees for knowledge tests have been suspended until further notice.

 

Minutes:

MT – Opened discussion on upfront fees for new driver applicants.

 

PMcL – Stated that there should be some cost involved for everyone who uses the Council’s service.  Whether they complete the licensing process or not.  The Licensing Service must be run as efficiently as possible.  It should be seen a business offering a service.  It should not be for free.  An administration fee if you would like to call it.  The Service should not be out of pocket to timewasters, or people who do not finish the process.  It cannot be run at a lost.

 

TJ – Asked is there any reason why we do not charge a fee? And is there a disadvantage to charging a fee?

 

JJ – Stated that the fee should be refundable on completion of licence.  It should be charged at start of the application process and come off the final bill at the end.

 

It was agreed by all for to an upfront cost.  To prevent time wasters and no shows for knowledge tests.

 

MT – Stated £50 maybe too much.  Especially for one year licences. He will confirm final details once an amount has been agreed and share with the Group (fee was set at £25 by committee).

 

19.

Task and Finish Group Report/DfT Draft Statutory Guidance

Item raised by the Chair.

 

The Task & Finish group (TFG) on Taxi Licensing produced a report on 24/09/18 which contained 34 recommendations for local authorities covering a whole range of topics such as safety, accessibility, training, DBS checks and cross border hiring. Following on from this, the Government has now produced its response to that report along with draft statutory guidance for licensing authorities which will be introduced using the Policing and Crime Act 2017. The guidance will not be mandatory but the Minister (Nusrat Ghani) has indicated that she expects all licensing authorities to adopt the guidance unless there is a compelling reason for not doing so. The draft guidance is subject to a consultation period until 22nd April 2019.

 

The original TFG report can be found here;

 

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/taxi-and-private-hire-vehicle-licensing-recommendations-for-a-safer-and-more-robust-system

 

The Government response to the TFG report can be found here:

 

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/taxi-and-private-hire-vehicle-licensing-government-response-to-independent-report

 

The draft statutory guidance and further information on the consultation process can be found here:

 

https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/taxi-and-private-hire-vehicle-licensing-protecting-users

 

 

 

Minutes:

MT – Gave the group an update on were the Task and Finish Group were up to and on the new DfT statutory guidance.

 

MT – Stated it is at consultation stage and is trying to set minimum standards for all licensing authorities to comply with. 

 

PMcL - Stated some of the recommendations will not work for larger licensing authorities, as it will be impractical to enforce.

 

MT – Agreed and he will be submitting a response on behalf of Sefton Council with comments and recommendations.  He also added it’s setting the foundations for all Councils to have, at least, minimum standards.

 

RJ – Stated that the document is aimed for Guidance only it is not set as law for local authorities.

 

JJ – Asked if three-year driver licences could be made to have DBS checked every year?  Three years is too long for checks not to be made.

 

MT- Stated that the new guidelines are recommending all driver applicants must sign up to the DBS update service and DBS checks to be carried out every 6 months.  Sefton Council will try to follow what is recommended. He also stated that the guidance gives advice for on-line applications.

 

RJ – Mentioned the guidance on CCTV in vehicles and what was Sefton Council position on this?

 

MT – Stated that Sefton Council have no plans to change what is already in place and will not be making it compulsory to have CCTV in all licenced vehicles.  It is down to the individual driver have it installed or not.  This will give the responsibility to the driver to follow the rules governing this.  They will be the data controller and it will not be Sefton Council’s responsibility.

 

20.

Outcomes from the Spokespersons meeting on 29 January 2019

Item raised by the Chair.

 

To discuss any issues arising from the meeting held on 29th January 2019.

 

Minutes:

MT – Gave group update from the meeting.  Said that Finance are in process of completing the review and will share information once it has been given.  All Arvato staff have now come back in-house to the Council.  We are still waiting for approval to recruit any new enforcement officers as this will need to be assessed once once the final calculations have been completed. 

 

PMcL – Added that he has called the office on numerous occasions and does not get an answer.

 

MT – Said he will address this but it is always easier to contact him on his mobile.  He also gave an explanation on the new telephone system in the office.  Officers must log onto a telephone and must share phones and put phones on divert when out of the Office.

 

JJ – Stated that he can get hold of Nigel, Carl and Liz on their mobile numbers.  He also added that there is an obvious issue with staffing.  He also questioned number of admin staff as compared with enforcement staff.  He stated it will be interesting to see the figures from finance to see how much the service is costing to run.

 

MT – Gave update on Operation Brooklyn which checked licenced vehicles and drivers.  The Road Policing Unit have asked if we can offer more support in the future. 

 

JJ – Stated that the route of the problem is Testing Stations and they need to be managed with regards to unroadworthy vehicles being passed at inspection.  Who’s checking the Testing Stations?

 

21.

Ongoing Work Streams

Item raised by the Chair.

 

To update the group on the following work streams;

 

a.     Testing Station Review (Item also requested by Joe Johnson)

b.     Unmet demand survey (Item also requested by Richard Jarman and Trevor Jones)

c.     Group constitution

d.     LCR harmonisation

Minutes:

MT- Gave an update to the Group regarding outstanding work.

 

1.    Testing Stations

 

MT- Testing Station Review is paramount and dates need to be fixed so that it can move forward and be finalised.

 

2.    Unmet Demand Survey

 

PMcL – Stated if we did not have cap on the number of Licensed Hackney Carriages we would not need to have the survey.  Who pays for this?

 

TJ – Said it’s all about balance.

 

MT – Said cost would be in the region of £12,500 and will come from Hackney Carriage budget.  There is still a hackney carriage waiting list.

 

3.    Merseyside Officer Group

4.     

MT – Work still in progress. Discussions still taking place on joint policies, complaint reporting, enforcement officer’s duties, minimum standards for drivers, and standardising the conviction policy.

 

5.    Constitution

6.     

MT – On going

 

7.    V4 Handbook

8.     

MT – On going looking like January 2020

 

22.

Enforcement Statistics

Item raised by the Chair.

 

To update the group on recent work carried out by the Taxi Licensing Unit.

Minutes:

MT – To send out statistics with minutes of this meeting.

 

23.

Private Hire Operator Tariffs

Item raised by Paul McLaughlin. “To discuss availability of online tariffs from PH Operators”

 

Item raised by Richard Jarman. “Visibility of tariffs in PH vehicles.”

Minutes:

PMcL – Raised issue of no response from an email sent to Senior Licensing Officer over a month ago regarding operators who maybe breaking licensing conditions regarding charging different tariffs as and when they like.  To date he has received no response. 

 

MF – Stated he has not had the time to reply.

 

PMcL - Said he would like a copy of the Councils complaint procedure, to make a formal complaint.

 

MT – To pass on details.

 

RJ – Stated tariffs should be visible to the public to see.

 

24.

One Stop Shops

Item raised by Joe Johnson.

 

“To discuss costs & staffing levels within the One Stop Shops.”

Minutes:

JJ – Raised issue of costing and staffing levels within the One Stop Shops - as previously discussed.

 

MT – Said there was no straight answer.  Finance are working on the figures and he will report back when available.

 

25.

Current Government Consultations

Item raised by Richard Jarman.

Minutes:

Item raised by RJ – said it was ok to pass on this

26.

Driver Drug Testing

Item raised by Trevor Jones.

 

“Due to the growing increase in Merseyside licenced private hire/hackney drivers being found positive for drug driving, the necessity for a drugs test to be included in all licence applications, new and relicensing.”

 

Minutes:

TJ – Asked if we can introduce drug testing as part of the application process.  Like other driving professions who insist on his?  Can it be extended to random and routine drug testing for all drivers?  Especially with reference to the recent Merseyside Road Policing Unit statistics that have publicised.

 

MT – Stated that the Council have already been approached on this and will be considering the operational impact and cost this will have on the service.  Also, we have been asked if we could work alongside the Police and possibly able to fund some operations within the Sefton area, targeting Sefton licensed drivers.  This is all at the proposal stage.

27.

Driver Licence Renewals

Item raised by Richard Jarman.

 

“Notice of driver licence renewals and lead times”

 

Minutes:

Item raised by RJ – and has been responded by email, no need to discuss.

 

28.

Property Left in Vehicles

Item raised by Trevor Jones.

 

“The return of luggage or shopping to the passenger that the driver has put in his boot, and who is legally responsible once the driver places the items in the boot of his car away from the passenger.”

 

Minutes:

TJ – Raised issue of items left in licensed vehicles.  Who is legally responsible?

 

MT – Stated that this has been an item in the past and has been agreed by the group. Operators have their own individual lost property policies and procedures.  This seems to be working and the Council’s view is that it is best to be managed this way by the operators themselves.

 

29.

Private Hire Operator Fees

Item raised by Trevor Jones.

 

“Provide a breakdown of Private hire operator licence fees. Snapshots over the last 10 years to where they stand now.”

 

Minutes:

TJ- Asked if the chair if the group could have a breakdown of the operator license fees.  He asked if they have been subjected to any inflation raises like the driver licences?

 

MT – Agreed to send out.  All licence fees have been included with any inflation rise.

 

 

30.

Date of next meeting

4 June 2019 – Southport Town Hall

Minutes:

TBC end of June 2019 (possibly Tuesday 25th June 2019)

 

 

31.

Any Other Business

Minutes:

None Raised