Agenda and minutes

Licensing and Regulatory Committee Spokespersons with Representatives of the Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Trade - Tuesday 22nd January, 2013 10.00 am

Venue: Town Hall, Southport

Contact: Ruth Appleby. 

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies for Absence

Suggested Timeslot:  10 Minutes for Agenda Items 1-4

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Mr John Murrison (Southport Station Hackney Carriage Association); Mr Bill Richey (North Sefton Hackney Night Drivers’ Association); Mr Joseph Johnson (Berry Street Garage Association); Mr Gary Beesley (Substitute Member – Delta Merseyside Limited); Ms Paula Hodson (Ability Network); Inspector Jason Lane and Constable James Riley (Merseyside Police); and Mr David Packard (Head of Environment).

 

2.

Welcome and Introduction

Minutes:

The Chair welcomed everyone to the meeting and Councillors, Members and Officers introduced themselves and provided details of their respective roles.

 

3.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 115 KB

Minutes of the Meeting held on 24 January 2012

Minutes:

RESOLVED:

 

That the Minutes of the meeting held on 24 January 2012 be confirmed as correct record.

 

4.

Declarations of Interest

Members and Officers are requested to give notice of any disclosable pecuniary interest and the nature of that interest, relating to any item on the agenda, in accordance with the relevant Code of Conduct, before leaving the room during discussion on that particular item.

 

Minutes:

No declarations of interests were made.

 

5.

Taxi Ranks pdf icon PDF 223 KB

To consider the current procedure for the provision of Taxi Ranks in Sefton

 

Report on current policy as approved by the Cabinet Member -Technical Services on 27 September 2006, attached.

 

Mr Steve Johnston, Team Leader - Traffic Management and Road Safety, in attendance to answer questions on this matter.

 

Suggested Timeslot:   20 minutes

Minutes:

The Committee considered a report on the current policy for the provision of taxi ranks in Sefton, as approved by the Cabinet Member – Technical Services on 27 September 2006.

 

The report highlighted that the procedure for the establishment and disestablishment of ranks was undertaken via the Traffic Management/Technical Services Department, whereby initial requests for a statutory rank in a particular location was made to the Service Manager – Traffic and Transportation, who would investigate the viability of the rank in the said location and produce a report recommending a Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) for consideration by the Area Committee covering the Ward in which the rank was requested. 

 

The report indicated that in investigating the viability of a proposed rank, consultation was undertaken with Trade Representatives and other interested parties and that comments and suggestions received were included in the Area Committee report to help guide Councillors in making an informed decision.

 

Mr Naisbitt explained that non-statutory ranks did not have an approved TRO in place and usually became established where standing or plying for hire arose out of circumstance, for example in a busy area, such as outside a supermarket. 

 

Arising from discussion, the provision of raised kerbs at hackney ranks for improved access by disabled passengers was raised and Mr Johnston indicated that whilst he accepted that raised kerbs might be beneficial at Hackney Stands, each location was unique and as such would need to be assessed on its own merits, taking account of any physical matters, such as drainage, etc., before a rank could be altered. However, he indicated that he would be more than happy to investigate the possibility of installing raised kerbs at any ranks identified by trade representatives as potentially benefitting from this facility.

 

Concern was also expressed by Trade representatives, at the location and removal of existing ranks and also problems with numbers/anti-social behaviour of people  waiting at taxi ranks in the early hours of the morning, particularly at weekends.

 

The Chair indicated that clearly, rank issues required further discussion and as such, suggested that this matter be considered at the next meeting of the Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Trade Joint Working Group. Mr Johnston was requested to attend this meeting to participate in the discussion and answer questions raised by Trade Representatives.

 

RESOLVED: That

 

(1)

Rank issues be considered at the next meeting of the Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Trade Joint Working Group;

 

(2)

Mr Johnston be invited to the meeting to answer questions in relation to the provision of ranks in Sefton; and

 

(3)

Trade Representatives be asked to submit details of rank issues to be raised, prior to the meeting to enable meaningful consideration of matters raised.

 

 

 

 

6.

Unmet Demand Survey

Andrew Naisbitt, Trading Standards and Licensing Manager to provide a verbal update.

 

 

Suggested Timeslot:  10 minutes

Minutes:

Further to Minute No. 22 of the meeting of the Licensing and Regulatory Committee held on 24 September 2012, Mr. Naisbitt, Trading Standards and Licensing Manager, provided an update on the unmet demand survey commissioned by the Council on a three yearly basis, as an impartial means of allowing the Council to continue to numerically restrict the number of hackney carriage vehicles.

 

Mr Naisbitt indicated that of the six companies requested to tender (as market leaders in the field), only two had returned tender applications by the closing date; and that following the initial selection process, carried out in accordance with Council procurement procedures, a report recommending the preferred tenderer would be submitted for consideration by the Licensing and Regulatory Committee on 11 March 2013.

 

Mr Naisbitt indicated that, whilst wishing to avoid jeopardising the impartiality of the survey, he also wanted the hackney trade to be involved in helping to ensure that the survey of hackney ranks was systematic and comprehensive.  As such, the Trade would be requested to provide a list of specific ranks on which they would like to see data.  Furthermore, 2 or 3 volunteers representing the the Hackney Carriage Trade would be invited to meet with the successful tenderer when that company visited Sefton to meet Officers for the preliminary survey scoping exercise.

 

Arising from discussion the following matters were raised:

 

·         a number of Southport ranks were in the ‘wrong place’

·         lack of data relating to specific ranks was an issue from the last survey

·         request for the survey to be widened and include, for example, the age demographics of cab users at different ranks and different times of the day/night

·         would ‘unofficial’ ranks be surveyed?  No

·         a survey of rank usage across Merseyside was currently being undertaken by Merseytravel

 

RESOLVED: That

 

(1)

Mr Naisbitt’s verbal update and the comments of the Trade arising thereon be noted;

 

(2)

the intention to submit a report to the Licensing and Regulatory Committee in March 2013, proposing the preferred tenderer to carry out the unmet demand survey be noted;

 

(3)

the importance of the Council’s need to maintain impartiality and distance from the survey be noted; and

 

(4)

the intention to garner the opinions of the Trade Representatives in scoping the survey, whilst retaining impartiality be welcomed and endorsed.

 

 

7.

Draft Handbook Version 2 pdf icon PDF 181 KB

Copy of Handbook attached

 

To receive feedback from the Handbook Sub-Group meeting held on 10 January 2013

 

Suggested Timeslot:  20 minutes

Minutes:

The Committee considered the Draft Hackney Carriage, Private Hire and Omnibus Licensing Scheme Handbook (Version 2).

 

Mr Toohey, Principal Trading Standards Officer, indicated that the Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Trade Joint Working Group had been consulted about the contents of the draft handbook, and that a Sub-Group of Trade Representatives and Officers had been formed to scrutinise and comment on the handbook in detail. He handed out the ‘minutes’ of the last meeting of this Sub-Group which had met on 10 January 2013.

 

Mr Toohey referred to a number of issues raised at the Sub Group meeting in relation to driver medical testing, continuing education of drivers once the VRQ has been obtained; licence conditions for private hire drivers and operators; licensing enforcement; suspension and revocation of licenses; drivers with previous convictions and motoring convictions.

 

RESOLVED: That

 

(1)

the Draft Hackney Carriage, Private Hire and Omnibus Licensing Scheme Handbook (Version 2) be given final consideration at the February meeting of the Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Working Group; and

 

(2)

the intention to submit a report on the final version of the Hackney Carriage, Private Hire and Omnibus Licensing Scheme Handbook (Version 2), for approval by the Licensing and Regulatory Committee, on 11 March 2013, be noted.

 

 

8.

Operator Conditions - Sufficient Identifiers pdf icon PDF 80 KB

Submissions attached from:

 

·         Mr Richard Jarman (South Sefton Hackney Carriage Association)

·         Mr Paul McLaughlin (Delta Taxi Association)

·         Mr George Gawith (Gawith Taxis, Liverpool) regarding the mobile phone application used by Delta

 

Suggested Timeslot:  30 minutes

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Further to Minute No. 22 of the Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Joint Working Group held on 4 December 2012, the Committee considered the matter of Operator Conditions – Sufficient Identifiers and also the use of mobile phone applications by private hire operators.

 

Written and verbal submissions from Mr Jarman, South Sefton Hackney Carriage Association and Mr McLaughlin, Delta Merseyside, were considered in relation to the matter of sufficient identifiers and a written submission from Mr Richard Gawith, of Gawith Taxis Ltd, in relation to the use of mobile phone applications for the booking of private hire vehicles.

 

The Committee also considered a letter of response sent by the Head of Environment to Mr Joe Anderson, the Mayor of Liverpool, in response to his request for information on Sefton Council’s stance on the use of mobile phone applications for the booking of private hire vehicles.  This letter, which was tabled at the meeting by Mr Toohey, stated that having sought legal advice on the matter, it was not believed that the use of a mobile phone application which routed all taxi bookings via an operator, breached Sefton Council’s operating conditions, as it recorded all the information required by the Council at the time of booking and before a vehicle was dispatched.

 

RESOLVED:

 

That this issue would be included in the report on the final version of the Hackney Carriage, Private Hire and Omnibus Licensing Scheme Handbook (Version 2)for final decision by the Licensing and Regulatory Committee on 11 March 2013.

 

 

9.

Enforcement pdf icon PDF 62 KB

To consider the combined Annual Police and Taxi Licensing Unit  Enforcement Statistics (attached).

 

Suggested Timeslot: 20 minutes

Minutes:

The Committee considered the Police and Taxi Licensing Unit Enforcement statistics for January 2012 to January 2013 which provided details of:

 

  • test purchase operations;
  • prosecutions and sentences;
  • allegations still in progress and/or under investigation;
  • hackney carriage and private hire vehicle inspections; 

·         refused drivers’ licences;

  • revoked Drivers’ licences;
  • Licenses immediately suspended; and
  • vehicle inspection results

 

Arising from discussion, the following matters were raised:

 

·         the introduction of joint enforcement activity by the Police and Taxi Licensing Unit involving spot checks of vehicles presenting faults was fully endorsed and welcomed by the Trade;

·         it would be helpful if the enforcement statistics could be presented in graph form, highlighting trends and differences;

·         the proposed use of MOT qualified officers for carrying out spot checks was welcomed;

·         the appointment of two new enforcement officers following the loss of two officers who had left the Taxi Licensing Unit over the summer was imminent and would greatly increase the Department’s capacity for carrying out enforcement activity; and

·         in the interests of passenger safety, vehicles exhibiting faults were stopped whether or not they had passengers on board

 

RESOLVED: That

 

(1)

the introduction of joint enforcement activity by the Police and Taxi Licensing Unit be welcomed; and

 

(2)

the Taxi Licence Unit Enforcement Team and Police Tactical Team be thanked and commended for their hard work and dedication, as evidenced by the comprehensive statistical data.

 

 

 

10.

Time Limit for obtaining the Vocationally Related Qualification (VRQ) pdf icon PDF 142 KB

Copy of letter sent to all drivers who have not yet passed the VRQ attached.

 

Suggested Timeslot:  10 minutes

 

 

 

 

Total Meeting Time:  2 hours

Minutes:

The Committee considered the requirement stated in the current Licensing Handbook as amended by the Licensing and Regulatory Committee on 17 January 2011, for Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Drivers to have completed the Vocationally Recognised Qualification (VRQ) Level 2 in ‘Transporting Passengers by all existing Taxi and Private Hire’, no later than 31 December 2015.

 

Mr Toohey indicated that a letter had been sent to existing licence holders who had not yet obtained the qualification.

 

The letter indicated they would not be granted a full three year licence on renewal of their licence badge and that they would be offered either: a one or two year licence or a licence that would run and expire on 31 December 2015, which could then be extended to a full 3 years licence on production of an approved qualification.

 

Arising from discussion the following issues were raised:

 

·         Following discontinuation of the NVQ, the VRQ had replaced the NVQ as the required qualification for taxi drivers, but the NVQ remained a valid qualification for those drivers who had achieved the qualification before it had been replaced and wished to obtain/renew their taxi licence

·         A number of drivers who had taken the VRQ/NVQ with training providers that had since ‘gone into liquidation’ and had ‘lost’ the course records.  Such drivers were therefore unable to prove they had obtained their qualification and without their certificates were unable to obtain a licence.

·         Mr Naisbitt stated that the Council could not give any leeway on this.  However, Merseylearn might be able to help/advise drivers in this predicament. Mr McLaughlin added that Nicola Lee and/or Andy Lee at Delta Training might be able to undertake checks on behalf of drivers, via funding records dating back to this time.

·         The issue of drivers with dyslexia or other conditions which might impede their ability to undertake the VRQ was raised and Mr Toohey indicated that Merseylearn had systems and experts in place to give advice and information to drivers. As such, Trade Representatives who were aware of drivers with concerns about undertaking the VRQ were urged to contact Tony Norbury at Merseylearn.

·         It would be helpful if a further letter could be sent to license holders reminding them of the requirement to present their VRQ Certificate when renewing their licence.

 

RESOLVED:  That

 

(1)

the information regarding the requirement for existing licence holders, who have not yet done so, to pass the VRQ by 31 December 2015 be noted; and

 

(2)

the Principal Trading Standards Officer be requested to send a further letter advising drivers of the need to produce their VRQ certificates when renewing their licence.

 

 

11.

Dates of Future Meetings

 

The following dates have been suggested to enable taxi trade meetings held at least 3 weeks prior to meetings of the Licensing and Regulatory Committee.

 

1.    Meetings of the Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Working Groups

 

The following suggested dates were approved by the Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Joint Working Group held on 4 December 2012.

 

However, as the trade meetings are only held on a quarterly basis, agreement is now sought on which dates the meetings should be held from those indicated below and 4 dates must be selected.  A decision will also need to be taken on whether or not the 4 meetings will include the Annual Meeting with L&R Spokespersons in January 2014

 

Date of L&R Committee

Proposed date of Hackney & PH Working Group Meetings

 

Monday 11 March 2013

Tuesday 19 February 2013

 

L&R dates for the 2013/14 Municipal Year have not yet been set, but anticipated dates (based on the L&R 2012/13 schedule) are as follows:

 

Estimated date of L&R Committee post March 2013

 

Proposed date of Hackney & PH Working Group Meetings

 

Monday 27 May 2013

Tuesday 30 April 2013

Monday 29 July 2013

Tuesday 2 July 2013

Monday 23 Sept 2013

Tuesday 27 Aug 2013

Monday 18 Nov 2013

Tuesday 22 Oct 2013

 

 

2.         Annual meeting of L&R Spokespersons Meeting with Representatives of the Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Trade

 

  • 10.00 a.m. on Tuesday 21 January 2014, at Bootle Town Hall (subject to consultation with L&R Spokespersons)

Minutes:

RESOLVED:  That the following dates be approved:

 

1.    Meetings of the Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Trade Working Groups

 

Tuesday 19 February 2013

Committee Room , Bootle Town Hall

 

Tuesday 30 April 2013

Birkdale Room, Southport Town Hall  

 

Tuesday 20 Aug 2013

Committee Room , Bootle Town Hall

 

Tuesday 22 Oct 2013

Birkdale Room, Southport Town Hall

 

 

·         Hackney Carriage Trade Working Group meetings commencing at 9.30 am

·         Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Trades Joint Working Group meetings commencing at 10.30 am

 

 

2.         Annual meeting of Licensing and Regulatory Committee Spokespersons with Representatives of the Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Trades

 

10.00 a.m. on Tuesday 21 January 2014, at Bootle Town Hall