Agenda and minutes

Licensing and Regulatory Committee Spokespersons with Representatives of the Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Trade - Tuesday 27th January, 2009 10.00 am

Venue: Southport Town Hall

Contact: Ruth Appleby 

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies for Absence

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillor Hands, Councillor Dodd, Mr. J. Bridson, (North West  Taxi Association - NWTA),  Mr. J. Murrison and Mr E. Davies (Southport Station Taxi Association – SSTA)  and Mr. S. Johnston (Technical Services).

 

The Chair welcomed everyone to the meeting, in particular new members, Mr Richard Jarman, replacing Mr. Luke McCormick as representative of the SSHCDA and Mr. David Dale, replacing Mr. Mark Gregson as substitute representative for NSHCA. He also welcomed Mr. Peter Bridson, in attendance on behalf of Mr. Joe Bridson (NWTA).

 

Sympathies were extended to Mr. Murrison (SSTA), who had tendered apologies due the death of his father-in-law.  Best wishes were also sent to Mr. Davies who had been unable to attend as Mr. Murrison’s substitute because his father had been taken into hospital.

 

2.

Minutes

Minutes of the Meeting held on 28 January 2008.

 

Minutes:

RESOLVED:

 

That the Minutes of the meeting held on 28 January 2008 be confirmed as a correct record.

3.

Declarations of Interest

Members and Officers are requested to give notice of any personal or prejudicial interest and the nature of that interest, relating to any item on the agenda in accordance with the relevant Code of Conduct.

 

 

 

 

Agenda items 4 and 5 to be considered together as related items.

 

Minutes:

The following declaration of interest was received:

 

 

 

Interest

Action

 

Mr. A. Naisbitt, Trading Standards Manager

Minute No.4 Chair of Stakeholder Meetings.

Prejudicial because of his role as Chair at Stakeholder Meetings

Left the room and took no part in the consideration of this item.

 

4.

Chair of Stakeholder Meetings

To consider the suggestion by Mr. Murrison (SSTA) that it is inappropriate for Mr. Naisbitt to continue as Chair on the Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Trade Stakeholder Working Groups, because of a conflicting interest between his role as Chair and his role as Trading Standards Manager.

Minutes:

The SSTA representative had requested that this matter be considered by Members, because of concern about the Trading Standards Manager’s apparently conflicting position in respect of his dual role as Trading Standards Manager and as Chair of the Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Trade Stakeholders Working Group(s).

 

The Committee Administrator indicated that because he was unable to attend the meeting the SSTA representative had requested that this item be deferred to a future meeting. 

 

Councillor Griffiths ruled that the matter should not be deferred because the next meeting between the Stakeholders and the Licensing and Regulatory Committee Spokespersons would not be until January 2010.

 

Councillor Griffiths referred to Minute No. 37 of the Licensing and Regulatory Committee held on 24 February 2003 and Minute No. 61 (1) of 31 March 2008, reminding members that Mr. Naisbitt’s position as Chair of the Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Stakeholder was consistent with Council Policy;  that the purpose of the Trade Working Groups was to ensure effective liaison between the trades and the Council; that the Environmental Protection Director was responsible for determining the agendas for the Working Groups and that he had delegated the duty of serving as Chair on the Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Stakeholder Working Groups to the Trading Standards Manager (Mr. Naisbitt). As such, any complaints about his chairmanship of the Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Stakeholder Working Groups should be treated as a Corporate Complaint and directed in writing to the Environmental Protection Director.

 

The NSHCA representative reiterated the SSTA representative’s concern about Mr. Naisbitt’s conflicting position; whilst other members commended him for his hard work and commitment in championing the Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Trade, and addressing many issues which had previously remained unresolved.

 

RESOLVED:

 

That in accordance with Council Policy, Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Stakeholders be advised to submit any complaints about the Chair of the Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Stakeholders Working Group as a Corporate Complaint, in written form, with detailed reasoning, to the Environmental Protection Director.

5.

Cancelled Meetings / Agenda Items not included on Agendas

A request from both Mr. Crabtee (NSHCA) and Mr. Murrison (SSTA) both for discussion about cancelled meetings and items put forwarded by Stakeholders for inclusion on Agendas, being deemed inappropriate by Mr. Naisbitt and left off Agendas.

 

 

 

 

           

Minutes:

The NSHCA and SSTA had both raised the matter of cancelled meetings and non-inclusion of requested agenda items on Stakeholder Meeting Agendas, alleging that items requested for inclusion on the agendas had been vetoed by Mr. Naisbitt and then such meetings cancelled due to lack of business.

 

The NSHCA representative indicated that although he had been very impressed with a number of initiatives put into place by Mr. Naisbitt, for example, Test Purchasing, he was concerned that other matters had been left unresolved because they had not been included on meeting agendas and/or due to cancellation of meetings.  For example, the issue of roof lights on taxis which he indicated had remained unresolved for 6 months.

 

Mr. Naisbitt indicated that in 2007/2008 meetings had been scheduled as follows:

 

5 Meetings in 2008: -

 

(1)

28 January 2008

 

Meeting with elected Members went ahead chaired by Councillor Ibbs.

 

(2)

11 March 2008

 

Meeting went ahead chaired by Mr. Naisbitt.

 

(3)

10 June 2008

 

Meeting cancelled due to a dispute by some trade representatives over completion of the new stakeholder membership forms.  The dispute took approximately 2 months to resolve and concluded with a meeting between Councillor Griffiths, Chair of the  Licensing and Regulatory Committee, Mrs. S. Cain, Sefton Council’s Legal Advisor, Mr. Crabtree (NSHCA) and Mr. Naisbitt.  Therefore, the 10 June meeting effectively merged into the Autumn meeting on 2 September 2008.

 

(4)

2 September 2008

 

Meeting went ahead chaired by Mr. Naisbitt.

 

(5)

2 December 2008

 

Meeting was cancelled due to lack of ‘Borough wide’ business. Only the NSHCA and the SSTA representatives had submitted agenda items.

 

Mr. Naisbitt indicated that before cancelling the meeting he had met personally with the NSHCA representative and his colleague to talk through the issues, which related primarily to the NSHCA, following which the NSHCA representative had acknowledged that a trade meeting was not required for issues that primarily related to his organisation.

 

Mr. Naisbitt had responded personally to the SSTA representative advising that one issue was a corporate complaint and should be forwarded to Mr Thompson, Principal Licensing and Enforcement Officer for action.  The second issue regarding Taxi Marshals did not come under the remit of the Environmental Protection Director and therefore should be raised with the Community Safety Manager; and the third matter in relation to Mr. Naisbitt’s position as Chair of the Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Stakeholder Working Group Meetings, should be raised with the Environmental Protection Director as a Corporate Complaint.

 

5 Meetings in 2007: -

 

(1)

26 January 2007

 

Meeting with elected Members went ahead chaired by Councillor Hands.

 

(2)

17 April 2007

 

Meeting went ahead chaired by Mr. Naisbitt.

 

(3)

24 July 2007

 

Meeting cancelled due to submission of only two agenda items.

 

(4)

21 August 2007

 

Meeting of Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Stakeholders working Group had been inquorate and could not go ahead because none of the Private Hire Representatives were in attendance.

 

(5)

20 November 2007  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.

6.

Tariff 2 Fare Structure Changes pdf icon PDF 14 KB

Mr. Crabtree (NSHCA), Mr. Bridson (NWTA) and Mr. Murrison (SSTA) requested that the Committee consider the proposal of a restructure in the hackney carriage / private hire fare, involving an increase by 1 hour at Tariff 2 between 05.00 and 06.00 hours.

 

A letter from Mr Bridson is attached in support of this proposal.

 

Minutes:

The committee considered the proposal for a restructure in the hackney carriage / private hire fare, requested by the NSHCA, the NWTA and the SSTA.

 

It was suggested that fares be increased to Tariff 2 between the hours of 05.00 a.m. and 06.00 a.m.

 

The NWTA representative had stated in a letter attached as an annex to the agenda, that in most areas of employment unsociable night-time hours were subject to higher rates of pay and the extension would mean that Tariff 2 would be operated in the accepted unsociable ‘band’.

 

Mr. Thompson, Principal Licensing and Enforcement Officer reminded the Committee that the Council had only recently changed the hackney carriage fare tariffs (ref. Minute No. 12 of the meeting of the Licensing and Regulatory Committee held on 4 August 2008), when petrol prices had been at their peak.  Since then, petrol prices had dropped from £1.40 to £0.80 pence per litre.

 

Some Stakeholders expressed concern that a raise in fares between 05.00 am and 06.00 a.m. would have a negative impact on working people, who use cabs to get to and from work at this time, but who in the present economic climate might themselves be hard pressed to pay the increased fares and resort to using an alternative form of public transport.

 

The Chair indicated that the Licensing and Regulatory Committee would require unanimous support by the trade for any tariff changes.

 

RESOLVED: That

 

(1)

the Principal Licensing and Enforcement Officer undertake a  postal survey of hackney carriage trade to ascertain support for the proposal of an increase to Tariff 2 between the hours of 5.00 a.m. and 6.00 a.m.; and

 

(2)

subject to consensus by the Trade, the Principal Licensing and Enforcement Officer submit a report to Licensing and Regulatory Committee proposing the increase indicated in (1) above.

 

7.

National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) / Vocationally Related Qualification (VRQ) - 'Funding and Grandfather Rights'

Item requested by Mr. Crabtree (NSHCA) and Mr. Murrison (SSTA) in respect of

 

(a) individual funding for for NVQ’s /VRQ’s – a number of drivers are not entitled to receive ‘Train to Gain’ funding;

 

(b) ‘Grandfather Rights’ – request that drivers who have worked continuously in the hackney carriage / private hire trade  for a given number of years (e.g. 10 or more) be exempt from the requirement to undertake NVQ / VRQ training.

 

Minutes:

The Committee considered requests from the NSHCA and the SSTA for clarification about drivers receiving funding to undertake the National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) / Vocationally Related Qualification (VRQ); together with a request that drivers who had worked continuously in the hackney carriage / private hire trade for a given number of years (e.g. 10 or more) be given exemption from having to undertake vocational training.

 

Mr. Thompson fervently disputed the suggestion that funding for training was unavailable for some drivers, stating that to date he had received no evidence to suggest otherwise. He stressed that ‘Train to Gain’ in association with both the Hugh Baird College in Bootle and Southport College, offered funded vocational training to hackney carriage and private hire drivers and that should any association / driver be refused funding they should contact himself and/or Tony Norbury, Training Co-ordinator (Train to Gain / Merseylearn) immediately, to enable them to investigate / resolve the matter.

 

In respect of ‘Grandfather Rights’ providing exemption from training for long-term drivers, the Chair reminded stakeholders that this was not the case and referred them to the  resolution of the Licensing and Regulatory Committee held on 27 October 2008  - Minute No. 26 – Review of Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Licensing Conditions, and that ‘Grandfather Rights provided a period of 5 years lead-in period for long-term drivers before bring required to complete the training.  Mr. Thompson indicated that he was presently liaising with the course providers to investigate if the national qualification framework would allow drivers’ prior experience to be taken into account (Prior Experiential Learning) which would allow exemption from relevant course modules.

 

Discussion took place and a number of differing views and comments were offered:

 

  • Providing training for hackney carriage and private hire trade gives the opportunity for the trade to demonstrate its professional competence.

 

  • The qualification is a good idea, but some drivers might be nervous about going back to college later on in life, especially drivers with literacy problems.

 

  • Attendance at college provided drivers not just with the opportunity to increase their knowledge, but also, through meeting other drivers, to exchange skills, share ideas.

 

  • Concern that potential new recruits might be deterred from joining the trade if they had to wait to undertake a qualification prior to being able to commence working.

 

  • Mr. Thompson stressed that colleges were geared up to meet demand and reduce waiting times and that tutors were experienced in helping students who might be anxious about attending college for various reasons.

 

RESOLVED: That

 

(1)

applicants experiencing problems obtaining funding to undertake the VRQ and NVQ in Transporting Passengers by Taxi and Private Hire, be required to contact the Principal Licensing and Enforcement Officer with written evidence of this;

 

(2)

on receipt of written evidence indicated in (1) above, the Principal Licensing and Enforcement Officer investigate instances where funding was not forthcoming and if unresolved report such instances to the Licensing and Regulatory Committee; and

 

(3)

the Principal Licensing and Enforcement Officer investigate the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.

8.

Airport Transport Companies pdf icon PDF 777 KB

Mr. Crabtree (NSHCA) requested this item because of concern that Airport Transport Companies do not display private hire plates on their vehicles and are not required to undertake Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) checks.

 

Refer to attached Annex – Extract from Private Hire Taxi Monthly (January 2009).

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The NSHCA had requested that this item be considered because of concern that Airport Transport Companies were not subject to the same checks as Hackney Carriage and Private Hire vehicles.

 

Attached as an annex to the agenda was an article from Private Hire Monthly (January 2009) which also expressed concern about this issue.

 

The Principal Licensing and Enforcement Officer explained there were two licensing systems which could use cars for hire and reward

 

  1. Local Authority was responsible for policing the hackney carriage and private hire trade, concentrating on the fitness of drivers, the safety of the vehciles and the accuracy of private hire operator records.  Such vehicles were hired per car and not on a passenger ‘per head’ charging basis.

 

  1. The Public Service Vehicle (PSV) or bus regime which covered cars charged at separate fares ‘per head’, all of which journeys should exceed 15 miles in distance or be registered as a local route.  This regime was policed by the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) on behalf of the Traffic Commissioners and concentrated on vehicle maintenance records and the financial standing of the operator.  Mr. Thompson indicated that drivers of PSV’s were not required to undertake Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) checks or Driver Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA) checks and groups such as the National Association of Licensing and Enforcement Officers (NALEO) had raised this matter with the Department of Transport on a number of occasions.

 

RESOLVED:

 

That the NSHCA representative be requested to address concerns about Public Service Vehicle licensing directly with the North West Traffic Commissioners based in Leeds.

 

9.

Second Southport Testing Station

Request by Mr. Crabtree (NSHCA), for an additional hackney carriage and private hire vehicle testing station in the Southport area.

Minutes:

The NSHCA expressed concern that there was only one garage licensed to provide MOT testing for Hackney Carriage and Private Hire vehicles in the Southport area.

 

Mr. Naisbitt indicated that the Principal Licensing and Enforcement Officer would be reviewing the provision of Testing Stations across Sefton (with particular regard to Southport). However, he did emphasise that the department had no control over which garages came forward to offer licensed vehicle testing and that a report would be submitted to Licensing and Regulatory Committee in December 2009.

 

RESOLVED: That

 

(1)

The Principal Licensing and Enforcement Officer review the provision of  additional licensed vehicle testing stations in Sefton, with particular emphasis on the Southport area; and

 

(2)

a report on (1) above be submitted to the Licensing and Regulatory Committee in December 2009.

 

10.

Revisions to Driver Handbook

Mr. Crabtree (NSHCA), requested that the Committee give consideration to the monitoring and review of the Driver Handbook, the frequency with which review of the document should take place and expressing concern about revisions suggested by the NSHCA, which have not yet been implemented.

 

 

Minutes:

The NSHCA had requested that the Licensing and Regulatory Committee give consideration to the monitoring and review of the Driver Handbook, expressing concern that revisions suggested by their association had not been incorporated into the handbook.

 

The Trading Standards Manager indicated that although it was not possible to alter the hard copy of the handbook, any expansions to the guidance were provided on the Council’s website, in which respect, the Handbook was a ‘living document’.

 

Discussion took place and it was agreed that the Handbook should be subject to review on an annual basis by the Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Trade Stakeholder Working Group, with ultimate sanction by the Licensing and Regulatory Committee. Mr. Thompson was congratulated on his hard work and commitment in producing the thoroughly comprehensive Driver’s Handbook in full consultation with the Trade, which often held conflicting views on the contents of the handbook.

 

RESOLVED: That

 

(1)

the Driver Handbook be subject to annual review by the Licensing and Regulatory Committee; and

 

(2)

Congratulations be extended to Mr. Thompson, Principal Licensing and Enforcement Officer for his hard work and commitment in producing the Driver Handbook under often challenging circumstances.

 

 

11.

Complaints and Enquiries to the Enforcement Team

Requested by Mr. Crabtree (NHSCA), for clarification on the procedure and turnaround period on questions and complaints to the Enforcement Team.

Minutes:

The NSHCA had requested clarification on the procedure and turnaround period on questions and complaints to the Enforcement Team.

 

Mr. Thompson indicated that the published response time from an initial contact with the department was 5 working days, following which the turnaround on a specific issue would be influenced by the complexity of the matter in question. However, general issues were typically resolved within 21 days.

 

Mr. Naisbitt explained that with respect to a potential criminal investigation, the matters were usually completed within three months.  However, the difficulty with many of the allegations made by the trade was the lack of substantive evidence and the reluctance to follow-up  complaints with witness statements.

 

RESOLVED: That

 

(1)

Stakeholders be requested to inform members of their associations that hearsay allegations about offences by other drivers could not be investigated by the Enforcement Team; and

 

(2)

Stakeholders be requested to inform members of their associations that complaints about other drivers must be substantiated with accurate statements to enable the Enforcement Team to effectively act on allegations.