Agenda and minutes

Licensing and Regulatory Committee Spokespersons with Representatives of the Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Trade - Tuesday 21st January, 2014 10.00 am

Venue: Town Hall, Bootle

Contact: Ruth Appleby.  Democratic Services Officer Tele: 0151 934 2181

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies for Absence

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillor Preece, Andrew Naisbitt, Trading Standards and Licensing Manager, Inspector Jason Lane and Constable Richard Quayle, Merseyside Police, Joe Johnson, Berry Street Garage Association and John Murrison, Southport Station Taxi Association.  

2.

Welcome and Introduction

Minutes:

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

 

3.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 97 KB

Minutes of the Meeting held on 22 January 2013

Minutes:

RESOLVED:

 

That the Minutes of the meeting held on 22 January 2013 be confirmed as correct record.

 

4.

Declarations of Interest

Members are requested to give notice of any disclosable pecuniary interest, which is not already included in their Register of Members' Interests and the nature of that interest, relating to any item on the agenda in accordance with the Members Code of Conduct, before leaving the meeting room during the discussion on that particular item.

 

Minutes:

No declarations of interests were made.

 

5.

Enforcement - December 2013 Joint Police Operation Results and Taxi Licensing Unit Statistics. pdf icon PDF 98 KB

Information provided by the Principal Trading Standards Officer attached

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The meeting considered information provided by the Principal Trading Standards Officer that detailed the statistics of the joint Police and Taxi Licensing Unit enforcement operation in December 2013 and the Taxi Licensing Unit enforcement statistics for the period 1 April to 30 September 2013 relating to:-

 

  • 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 discussions, the following matters were raised:

 

·       why was there only a caution issued for possession of cannabis? This situation was dealt with in accordance with Home Office policy and the officer who dealt with the matter was “fit test trained”

·       only one drink driving offence was recorded in the statistics. Were there any more? Yes and Constable Quayle would be able to update on this

·       did being found guilty of drink driving affect the ability of the driver to hold a vehicle owner’s licence? Further investigations would need to take place on this issue

·       explanation was sought on the possession with intent to supply offence. Details of the offence were provided and that the offender’s licence was immediately revoked and to date no appeal against such revocation had been received

·       to combat illegal plying for hire could we undertake more test purchase operations and in particular, could we utilise the services of “shoppers anonymous”? Numerous trade representatives supported this proposal. It was explained that traditionally, problems had been experienced getting volunteers to undertake test purchase operations and to obtain prosecutions due to the reliability of the witnesses/evidence; but that the use of  “shoppers anonymous” would be investigated

·       could the information detailed in paragraph 3 of the report be broken down into driver and vehicle licences? The licence type details could be provided but no names would be given

·       one trade representative asked for the ratio of private hire vehicles to hackney carriages being checked. Another trade representative countered that this question was always asked and stated that 80% of his fleet operated in Liverpool and maybe a reason for disproportionate figures. It was explained that enforcement officers dealt with what they came across on the road whilst they were on duty

·       did Sefton enforcement officers operate outside of the borough? Yes, lots of operations were undertaken in Liverpool, especially in the vicinity of entertainment venues in the city centre. Also, Sefton’s officers were invited to take part in joint operations in Liverpool. Finally, all the figures contained within the report related to operations in Sefton

·       could figures be provided for the whole of 2013 rather then the  1 April to 30 September period? Yes, this information would be provided at or before the next Trade Group meeting

·       why are fines so disparate? It was explained that it was the responsibility of Magistrates to impose fines/sanctions and ability to pay was taken into account

·       a comment was made that in the last 12 months the standard of vehicles being presented  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.

6.

Licence renewals pdf icon PDF 43 KB

Item raised by Richard Jarman attached

Minutes:

The meeting considered an item submitted by Richard Jarman, South Sefton Hackney Carriage Association regarding licence renewals. 

 

Mr. Jarman indicated that vehicle licence renewals were subject to section 60 of the 1976 Act which said refusal may be due to an unfit vehicle, non compliance with the governing statute or any other reasonable cause; that

refusal must be followed by written notice specifying the grounds and that there was a right of appeal to the magistrates court even though discretion was involved; that driver licences renewals were subject to section 61 and refusal to renew may be because of convictions since the grant of the licence (the fit and proper test), failure to comply with the governing statutes, or another reasonable cause; and that the appeal provisions were the same as for vehicle licences.

 

Mr. Jarman than referred to recent case law involving Exeter City Council;  the vehicle licence procedure operated by Sefton as set out in the handbook; driver renewals and the checks that should be put in place; and Vocationally Related Qualifications (VRQ).

 

The full text of Mr. Jarman’s comments was attched to the agenda as Item No. 6.

 

Mark Toohey explained the existing policy of “one year one day” and that thereafter, if a licence was not renewed then a fresh application would need to be made.  

 

RESOLVED:

 

That a Sub-Group be established to consider the issue of licence renewals and thereafter report to the Joint Trade Working Group; and that the Sub-Group comprise of Mark Toohey, Richard Jarman and Guy Wilkinson.

 

 

 

 

7.

Unmet Demand Survey - update by Mr Toohey on progress of current survey.

Mr Toohey, Principal Trading Standards Officer to provide an update on progress of the current survey.

Minutes:

Mark Toohey, Principal Trading Standards Officer, provided an update on progress of the current unmet demand survey (the Survey).

 

Mr. Toohey indicated that Halcrow had issued initial reports on the Survey; that the initial reports indicated that there was no unmet demand; and that a report on the issue would be submitted to the next meeting of the Licensing and Regulatory Committee.

 

RESOLVED:

 

That the update on the unmet demand survey be noted.

 

8.

One Stop Shop pdf icon PDF 60 KB

Statistics attached for information and/or discussion

Minutes:

The meeting considered statistics relating to taxi licensing appointments and knowledge tests at Bootle and Southport One Stop Shops together with the total number of licence applications compared against previous years. 

 

Arising from discussions, the following matters/comments were raised:

 

·       feedback was always positive from his drivers about the operation of the One Stop Shop; that he was happy with the costs charged; and that a Freedom of Information request had been made to Liverpool City Council seeking the costs associated with their respective service so that a comparison could be made with Sefton’s

·       various representatives indicated that they were very happy with the service provided.

·       Could a charge be imposed for applicants who did not turn up for appointments? It was explained that one Stop Shop did impose penalties for regular non-attendees

·       It was acknowledged that licence fees were used to provide a dedicated service for the trade at One Stop Shops, but a number of representatives felt uneasy about being called to be dealt with quickly as it appeared that they were queue jumping other customers. Could an area be set aside for licence applicants etc so it was clear that they were receiving a different service than other customers? Mark Toohey agreed to look into this with the One Stop Shop Manager

 

RESOLVED: That

 

(1)

a review of the operation of the One Stop Shop service be undertaken and it be noted that the Trade would support the continuation of the service; and

 

(2)

an update report be submitted to the Joint Trade Working Group on fees and charges.  

 

 

 

 

9.

Vocationally Related Qualifications pdf icon PDF 38 KB

Item raised by Richard Jarman attached

 

(Note: Reminder to all Trade Representativesthat the deadline for completion of the VRQ is 31 December 2015) 

Minutes:

The meeting considered an item submitted by Richard Jarman, South Sefton Hackney Carriage Association regarding Vocationally Related Qualifications (VRQ).

 

Prior to consideration of the item Mark Toohey again reminded all trade representatives that the deadline for completion of the VRQ was 31 December 2015. 

 

Mr. Jarman stated that the continuing education nettle must be grasped; that the surplus could be used to disseminate material as there had been no written review sent recently; that key matters were still not being taught, in particular that a local authority was not allowed to restrict PHV vehicle licences and that a PHV or hackney was allowed to undertake a PHV type booking anywhere not simply within the district and that this had always been a key part of the statutory framework; and concluded that the trade should have input into the VRQ syllabus other than through Merseylearn.

 

Arising from discussions, the following matters/comments were raised:

 

·       The modern way to disseminate information was via websites and electronic mail, not by letter; also, that it was the responsibility of trade representatives  to inform their members of changes/events taking place within the trade; that the Knowledge Test and VRQ provided an adequate, minimum service standard; and that the use of letters to disseminate information would not be an economical use of funds

·       Could an update letter/information be added to letters advising drivers of the need to renew their licences?

·       As a minimum the hackney carriage trade wanted the handbook distributed to all drivers; and on the licence renewal letter information be provided as to where the handbook could be viewed on the Council website

·       When would the updated version of the handbook be available? Mark Toohey advised that a number of changes were still required and once completed, the handbook could be released; and that he would ensure that information be provided on the licence renewal letter as to where the handbook could be viewed on the Council website

 

RESOLVED:

 

That it be noted that information would be provided on the licence renewal letter as to where the handbook could be viewed on the Council website.

 

 

 

 

 

10.

Taxi Ranks pdf icon PDF 32 KB

Item raised by Guy Wilkinson attached

Minutes:

The meeting considered an item submitted by Guy Wilkinson, North Sefton Hackney Night Drivers’ Association regarding taxi ranks.

Mr Wilkinson referred to the need for an allowance at ranks being made for increased vehicle lengths; rank indiscipline due to drivers not pulling right up to the vehicle in front and thereby reducing space for other vehicles; and detailed the up to date situation regarding the proposed changes to the Southport main rank on Lord Street and that the trade representatives had a good dialogue with the Council on this matter.

 

Steve Johnston, Team Leader, Traffic Management and Road Safety advised that the number of spaces on ranks was determined using vehicle lengths of 5 metres; acknowledged that increased vehicle lengths reduced the availability of spaces on ranks; and that the way to resolve this problem would be to increase the size of ranks. However, this would necessitate the potential use of pay and display/disabled persons parking bays and may be very problematic, particularly in Southport. With regard to the issue of drivers not pulling right up to the vehicle in front, this needed self policing by the trade.

 

The Chair indicated that it would be more appropriate if these issues were discussed in detail at the Hackney Carriage Trade Working Group.

 

RESOLVED:

 

That the issues referred to by Mr. Wilkinson relating to hackney carriage ranks be considered at the next meeting of the  Hackney Carriage Trade Working Group.

 

11.

Dates of Meetings 2014/15 pdf icon PDF 47 KB

See attached

Minutes:

The meeting considered a schedule of recommended dates for Meetings of the Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Trade Working Groups and the Annual Meeting of Licensing and Regulatory Committee (L&R) Spokespersons with Representatives of the Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Trade for the 2014/15 Municipal Year, namely:-

 

Meetings of the Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Trade Working Groups

 

The following dates had been suggested to enable trade meetings to be held at least 3 weeks, where possible, prior to meetings of the L&R.

 

(Note: L&R dates for the 2014/15 Municipal Year had not yet been agreed but the dates set out below were the anticipated dates)

 

Anticipated date of L&R Committees 2014/15

 

Proposed date of Hackney & PH Working Group Meetings

 

Monday 23 June 2014

Tuesday 10 June 2014

Monday 22 September 2014

Tuesday 29 July 2014

Monday 12 January 2015

Tuesday 9 December 2014

Monday 30 March 2015

Tuesday 3 March 2015

 

 

Annual Meeting of Licensing and Regulatory Committee Spokespersons with Representatives of the Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Trade

 

10.00 a.m. on Tuesday 27 January 2015 at Southport Town Hall

 

 

RESOLVED: That

 

(1)

with the exception of the date of the Trade Working Groups being held on 10 June 2014, the schedule of dates be approved; and  

 

(2)

the Principal Trading Standards Officer be requested to consult with  trade representatives to arrange a revised date for Hackney Carriage/Private Hire Working Groups to be held in March or April 2014.