Agenda and minutes

Licensing and Regulatory Committee Spokespersons with Representatives of the Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Trade - Tuesday 26th January, 2021 10.00 am

Venue: Remote Meeting

Contact: Ruth Appleby  Democratic Services Officer

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies for Absence

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Mr Tony Crabtree (North Sefton Hackney Carriage Association); Ms Paula Hodson (Disability Advisor); Mr Neil McGonigle (Uber); Mr Paul McLaughlin (Delta Merseyside); Mr John Murrison (Southport Station Hackney Carriage Association);  and Mr Mark Sanders (Delta Garages Association).

 

2.

Former Councillor Doreen Kerrigan

Minutes:

The Chair informed the Committee about the passing of former Councillor Doreen Kerrigan, on 26 December 2020.

 

Doreen had served as a Councillor for Linacre Ward from 2 May 1996 to 5 May 2016 and had been Chair of the Licensing and Regulatory Committee and Chair of Licensing and Regulatory Spokespersons meeting with representatives of the Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Trade from 2012 to 2016.

 

The Committee observed a minute’s silence in memory of Doreen Kerrigan.

 

3.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 116 KB

Minutes of the Meeting held on 28 January 2020

Minutes:

RESOLVED:

 

That the Minutes of the meeting held on 28 January 2020 be confirmed as a correct record.

 

4.

Declarations of Interest

Councillors are requested at a meeting where a disclosable pecuniary interest or personal interest arises, which is not already included in their Register of Members' Interests, todeclare any interests that relate to an item on the agenda.

 

Where a Councillor discloses a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest, he/she must withdraw from the meeting room, including from the public gallery, during the whole consideration of any item of business in which he/she has an interest, except where he/she is permitted to remain as a result of a grant of a dispensation.

 

Where a Councillor discloses a personal interest he/she must seek advice from the Monitoring Officer or staff member representing the Monitoring Officer to determine whether the Member should withdraw from the meeting room, including from the public gallery, during the whole consideration of any item of business in which he/she has an interest or whether the Member can remain in the meeting or remain in the meeting and vote on the relevant decision.

 

Minutes:

No declarations of any disclosable pecuniary interests or personal interests were received.

 

5.

Current Licensing Procedures Under Lockdown

Item submitted by Mr Richard Jarman (South Sefton Hackney Carriage Association)

 

To discuss current general procedures relating to taxi and private hire licensing in the One Stop Shop during the current lockdown.

Minutes:

The Committee considered an item submitted by Mr Richard Jarman (South Sefton Hackney Carriage Association) on general procedures relating to taxi and private hire licensing in the One Stop Shop during lockdown.

 

Mr Andy Cain, One-Stop Shop Team Manager, explained the current procedure for processing licence applications, indicating that currently vehicle licensing was administered through the One Stop Shop (on-line) mailbox, which involved applicants completing a licence application form, and submitting it for processing by the One-Stop Shop via email. The One-Stop Shop contacted the customer for payment; and plates and licences were posted out to drivers via Royal Mail. Mr Cain indicated that consideration was currently being considered for the auto renewal of drivers with licences that were due to expire.

 

Arising from discussion trade representatives raised the following issues:

 

·       Difficulties emailing completed documentation via email without access to a scanner.

 

·       Communication of procedural changes

Mark Toohey, Principal Licensing Officer, indicated that changes were implemented following consultation / conversations with the trade representatives and were put on the website immediately.  Trade representatives were also notified of updates and requested to share with drivers. Mr Toohey stated that steps were being taken to utilise social media to notify of updates, etc.

 

·       Time taken to renew licences

Concern was expressed that drivers’ licences were expiring but the renewal plates weren’t administered in time, whereas vehicle licences seemed to be turned around more quickly. Mr Cain indicated that no preferential treatment was given to vehicle licences, it was just that vehicle licences were easier to administer as only three documents were involved, whereas driver licensing entailed a visit to the One-Stop Shop for DBS checking purposes.  Mr Cain indicated that One-Stop-Shop staff responded to emails in the order received and currently the oldest one being dealt with had been submitted on 15 January 2021.  Delays occurred when the application was incomplete and the customer was required to provide additional information

 

·       Confusion about applying for licences

Some drivers believed they could work without having to apply through the driver’s licence procedure. Lack of communication had led to various people getting licences through the post on the day it expired, others felt they couldn’t work as they hadn’t received the licenses. Some drivers were telling others that they didn’t have to apply and their licence would be sent automatically through the post.   Mr Toohey indicated that he would send an email clarifying all of the procedures as detailed on the website.

 

·       Taxi Companies couldn’t accept drivers who hadn’t got a licence

·       Pre-Covid it was possible for licence applicants to have their vehicle tested, obtain their licence, receive a radio, and be on the road.  Mr Cain reiterated that copies of licences were emailed to applicants and posted out with the licence plates via Royal Mail.  Mr Toohey indicated that it was sufficient for drivers to have a copy of the licence emailed by the One-Stop Shop to be able to work, pending receipt in the post of the licence and plates.

 

·       There had been  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.

6.

One Stop Representation at Future Trade Meetings

Item submitted by Mr Richard Jarman (South Sefton Hackney Carriage Association)

 

Request for the One-Stop-Shop to have representation at all future trade meetings

Minutes:

The Committee considered an item submitted by Mr Richard Jarman, requesting that the One Stop Shop was represented at all future meetings of the Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Trade.

 

Mr Mark Quillan, Head of Customer Service, Sefton Council One Stop Shops, indicated that regular meetings of the Trade Representatives with One-Stop-Shop and Licensing Officers were welcomed and that monthly meetings might be helpful, dependent on demand from Trade Representatives.

 

Mr Mark Toohey stated that pre-Covid meetings of the Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Trade Working Group had been held quarterly.  He indicated that he would reinstate the quarterly meetings (with additional meetings slotted in if required) to be held remotely and involving One-Stop-Shop representation.

 

Arising from discussion, Trade Representatives welcomed the reinstatement of regular meetings incorporating One-Stop Shop representation but expressed concern at difficulties they had experienced contacting the One-Stop-Shop about urgent matters over the past year and suggested that a direct telephone line be provided.  Mr Quillan indicated that consideration would be given to this suggestion and he would approach the Trade Representatives with options in due course.

 

RESOLVED: That

 

(1)

Mr Mark Toohey be requested to schedule  regular meetings of the Hackney Carriage and Private Hire and Private Hire Trade with Licensing and One-Stop-Shop officers; and

 

(2)

Mr Mark Quillanbe requested  to suggest workable options for the Trade being able to contact the One-Stop Shop  in respect of urgent matters.

 

 

 

7.

Liverpool City Region (LCR) Driver Grant

Item submitted by Mr Mark Toohey (Principal Officer – Licensing)

 

To provide an update on the distribution of driver grants on behalf of the LCR

Minutes:

The Committee considered an item submitted by Mr Mark Toohey, Principal Licensing Officer, that provided an update on the distribution of driver grants on behalf of the Liverpool City Region (LCR).

 

Mr Mark Quillan indicated that funding had been made available to the LCR for a taxi grant at the end of October 2020 and Sefton had introduced its own local scheme. He indicated that eligibility criteria for a taxi grant, was as follows:

 

·       drivers had to have been Sefton licence holders on the 23rd of March 2020 (lockdown date); and

·       had to live in the LCR.

 

4402 eligible drivers had been identified as being eligible and had been invited to apply for the grant.  £269,100 had been paid out in grants with 2691 applicants having each received a grant of £100. The scheme was now effectively closed, but the Council was still dealing with late applications and last week 43 late applications, had been submitted with applicants indicating that their applications were late because they had not received the notification letter in time, or they had had problems completing the e-form. These 43 drivers had been paid their grant, but the scheme would be closed at the end of this week.

 

Concern was expressed by trade representatives at the meagre grants paid by Merseyside, which equated to a mere 27 pence a day. In comparison, the grants paid by other areas were far more generous.  For example, Bury Council provided a roll-on scheme paying drivers £677 per month; Sheffield and Birmingham had paid drivers £500 each last year; Scotland had given each driver £1,500; Ireland £1,500 and Wales £4,000.

 

Mark Toohey indicated that the Government had made the money available to regional authorities to help local businesses and of the money allocated, the LCR had set aside £1.5 million specifically for private hire and taxi drivers and had decided that each driver should receive £100.  Sefton Council’s role had been to facilitate the grant.

 

The total grant allocation to Sefton had been £440,000 and trade representatives queried what had happened to the unclaimed balance of £170,900 and suggested that the remaining monies should be split and shared with Sefton licensed drivers.

 

Mr Toohey stated that remaining monies had to be returned to the LCR; that Sefton had no discretion over how unclaimed grant funding could be spent and that issues with the grants would have to be taken up with the LCR.

 

RESOLVED:

 

That Officers be requested to continue to investigate avenues of support funding for the Trade and promote any opportunities if grants became available.

 

8.

Coronavirus Advice for Licence Holders

Item submitted by Richard Jarman (South Sefton Hackney Carriage Association)

 

To clarify the current advice for any licence holder working during the pandemic.

 

The latest Government advice on actions that drivers, operators and owners of taxis or private hire vehicles (PHVs) can take to protect against coronavirus can be found here:

 

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-taxis-and-phvs

 

Minutes:

The Committee considered an item submitted by Mr Richard Jarman, seeking clarification of current advice for licence holders working during the Covid pandemic.

 

Mr Terry Wood, Service Manager – Environmental Health and Licensing, indicated that national guidance (https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-taxis-and-phvswas specifically aimed at taxi drivers, private hire drivers and operators and this guidance had been distributed to all of the trade representatives.

 

Mr Jarman indicated that he was seeking clarification on guidance issued, for example advice about people not wearing masks in taxis and drivers handling shopping and luggage items.

 

Mr Wood stated that drivers did not have to take a customer who was not wearing a mask (unless medically exempt) and that he appreciated the difficult balance faced by drivers trying to earn living whilst working safely during the pandemic.

 

RESOLVED:

 

That it be noted that national guidance to the PHV and taxi trade working during the Covid pandemic can be found at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-taxis-and-phvs.

 

9.

Regional Harmonisation

Item submitted by Mr Richard Jarman (South Sefton Hackney Carriage Association)

 

To report progress on regional harmonisation and set out any points of difference

Minutes:

The Committee considered an item submitted by Mr Richard Jarman (South Sefton Hackney Carriage Association) on the progress on regional harmonisation.

 

Mr Mark Toohey indicated that due to the Covid pandemic, regional meetings with LCR licensing officers had not taken place.  However, the LCR meetings had now been reinstated and were due to consider the introduction of Department for Transport Statutory Standard Conditions with a view to their being introduced in part during the next 12 months. He indicated that consultations with the trade representatives would be held for consideration of the Statutory Standings, with sub-groups being formed if necessary.

 

Mr Ricard Jarman requested that information arising from the LCR meetings be fed back to the trade as the Trade had no contact with the LCR and it ‘is important that we all have a chance to get involved’.  Mr Toohey indicated that the meetings were discussions between Licensing officers about issues affecting everyone, but they were not formal meetings with minutes.

 

However, any issues that would affect Sefton licence holders, e.g. Department for Transport Statutory Standards and changes to conditions, would involve full consultation with trade representatives.

 

RESOLVED:

 

That it be noted that the Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Working Groups will be fully consulted on regional matters having implications for Sefton Licence holders; for example, the introduction of Department for Transport Statutory Standards.

 

 

10.

Consultation and Regulatory Progress

Item raised by Mr Richard Jarman (South Sefton Hackney Carriage Association)

 

Request to clarify arrangements for future consultation process on matters relating to regulation affecting the taxi and private hire trade.

Minutes:

The Committee considered an item submitted by Mr Richard Jarman (South Sefton Hackney Carriage Association) requesting clarification on arrangements for future consultation arrangements on matters relating to the taxi and private hire trades.

 

Mr Mark Toohey indicated that this issue had already been touched on (Minute No. 9 above) and reiterated that the trade representatives would be fully consulted when amending standards and proposing changes to current handbook conditions, etc., and that this would be done via email and remote  Microsoft Teams’ meetings.

Trade representatives queried whether there were service level agreements in place between the Licensing Department and the One-Stop Shop requiring the latter to observe service level agreements in the discharge of taxi licensing functions.

 

RESOLVED:

That service level provision for the One-Stop Shop for the operation of licensing functions  be considered at the next meeting of the Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Working Group which would be held remotely via Microsoft Teams and would include representation from the One-Stop Shop.

 

 

11.

Date of Next Meeting

To advise that the next meeting of this Committee will be held at 10.00 am on Tuesday 25 January 2022

Minutes:

RESOLVED:

 

That it be noted that the next meeting of the Licensing and Regulatory Committee Spokespersons with Representatives from the Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Trades would be held at 10.00 am on Tuesday 25 January 2022.