Agenda and minutes

Licensing and Regulatory Committee Spokespersons with Representatives of the Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Trade - Tuesday 27th January, 2015 10.00 am

Venue: Town Hall, Southport

Contact: Ruth Appleby.  Democratic Services Officer

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies for Absence

Minutes:

Apologies for absence had been received from Councillor Preece and his substitute Councillor Hands and Mr Joseph Bridson, North West Taxi Association.

 

2.

Mr Guy Wilkinson - Sefton Hackney Carriage Night Drivers' Association

Minutes:

The Chair reminded the Committee of the untimely and tragic death following illness in July 2014, of Mr Guy Wilkinson, who had played a key role as a Member  of the Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Trades Working Group, representing the Sefton Hackney Carriage Night Drivers’ Association. The Committee expressed their deep and heartfelt sadness at his passing and conveyed their condolences to his wife and family.

 

As a mark of respect, the Committee held a minute’s silence.

 

 

3.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 94 KB

Minutes of the Meeting held on 21 January 2014

Minutes:

RESOLVED:

 

That the Minutes of the meeting held on 21 January 2014 be confirmed as a 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 interest were made.

 

5.

Enforcement Statistics - Inspections and Mitigations pdf icon PDF 41 KB

Information provided by the Principal Trading Standards Officer (Attached)

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Meeting considered information provided by the Principal Trading Standards Officer on statistics relating to the taxi licensing enforcement inspections for the period 1 January 2014 to 31 December 2014; and new driver application statistics for the period 9 January 2014 to 18 December 2014, providing information about approved and refused licence applications and reasons for refusal.

 

Arising from discussion the following points were raised:

 

·         Whether future enforcement statistics could indicate where non-Sefton Licensed vehicles were stopped by Sefton enforcement officers.

·         Newly appointed enforcement officers should be suitably qualified to carry out the role.

·         There should be a standard recognised qualification for enforcement officers across the Merseyside  authorities.

·         Concern that enforcement officers in other local authorities did not recognise Sefton’s enforcement standards and drivers were penalised for ‘faults’ not recognised by Sefton (e.g. a Liverpool enforcement officer had stopped a Sefton licensed driver for not having a fire extinguisher in his vehicle).

·         The need for more Sefton Council enforcement staff.

 

Mr Mark Toohey, Principal Trading Standards Officer, indicated that consideration of enforcement staffing levels was presently being undertaken as part of a wider review of the Trading Standards and Licensing Unit by Mr Andrew Naisbitt, Trading Standards and Licensing Manager on which further consultation with the Trade Representatives would take place.

 

RESOLVED: That

 

(1)

the enforcement and driver application statistics and comments and suggestions of the trade thereon, be noted; and

 

(2)

the review of enforcement staffing levels being undertaken by the Trading Standards and Licensing Manager as part of a wider review of the  Trading Standards and Licensing Unit, be welcomed

 

 

6.

One Stop Shop Statistics - Knowledge Tests and Appointments pdf icon PDF 13 KB

Statistics Attached

Additional documents:

Minutes:

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

 

Arising from discussion, the following points were raised:

 

·         Acknowledgement of the huge improvements to the services provided to the Trade by the One-Stop Shops.

 

·         Suggestion of a bigger room/ additional rooms for the Knowledge Tests - Mr.  Foulkes, Enforcement Officer, indicated that the use of a smaller room facilitated easier monitoring of test candidates.

 

·         The One Stop Shop had in the past inserted additional test slots on request by private hire operators to cater for peak demand by prospective new drivers (e.g. leading up to the Christmas period).

 

·         There was general approval for the appointment system, whereby drivers are required to book appointments between 9.00 and 10.00 am, and 16.00 to 17.00 pm respectively, whilst the core part of the day 10.00 to 16.00 is kept free for ‘drop-in’ customers.  However, it was queried whether it would be possible to allow ‘drop-in’ customers to be seen during the 4-5 pm appointment slots if booked appointments were not kept.  Mr Toohey indicated that he would raise this suggestion with the One Stop Shop Manager.

 

RESOLVED: That

 

(1)

the One Stop Shop statistics on knowledge tests and appointments be noted;

 

(2)

the One Stop Shop be commended for its improved service to the hackney carriage and private hire trade; and

 

(3)

the Principal Trading Standards Officer be requested to discuss the issues raised by the Trade Representatives with the One Stop Shop Manager and report back accordingly to the next meeting of the Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Working Group.

 

 

7.

Handbook Review pdf icon PDF 61 KB

Table of suggestions Attached.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Meeting considered the table of recommended suggestions / amendments and additional pages to be inserted into the Taxi Drivers’ Handbook as detailed in the Appendix to Agenda Item 6.

 

Mr Toohey, Principal Trading Standards Officer, indicated that a review of the Handbook had been ongoing in consultation with representatives from the Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Trade, throughout the past year and as such a number of the suggested amendments had come directly from the Trade.

 

Mr Toohey presented the table of suggested/requested amendments and additions and answered questions thereon.

 

Finally, Mr Toohey drew Members’ attention to the suggestion of the following additional pages being added to the Handbook on:

 

·         Safeguarding Children and Young People; (suggested by the Safeguarding Children Unit to help increase drivers’ awareness of child exploitation issues)

·         Healthy Lifestyle Information (suggested by the Public Health Team to help drivers improve their awareness of health and fitness)

 

Mr Toohey concluded that all of the suggested amendments and additions would be given further detailed consideration as part of the Handbook Review, to be submitted for approval by the Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Working Group on 3 March 2015;  and thereafter, for approval by the Licensing and Regulatory Committee on 30 March 2015.

 

RESOLVED: That:

 

(1)

the suggested amendments and additions to the Taxi Licensing Handbook be noted and endorsed;

(2)

it be noted that further consideration will be given to the suggested amendments and additions to be incorporated in the final draft  version of the Handbook, at the next meeting of the Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Trade on 3 March 2015; and

(3)

it be noted that the final version of the Taxi Licensing Handbook will be submitted for approval by the Licensing and Regulatory Committee on 30 March 2015.

 

 

8.

Local Transport Plan (LTP) pdf icon PDF 25 KB

Item submitted by Mr Richard Jarman (See attached).

Minutes:

The Meeting considered an item submitted by Mr Richard Jarman, South Sefton Hackney Carriage Association, on the Merseyside Local Transport Plan (LTP3).

 

Mr Jarman introduced the item and indicated that the Taxi Quality Partnership (TQP) which had arisen from the LTP had not met or functioned for 3 years.

 

Arising from discussion, general concern was expressed by the Trade Representatives at the lack of recognition in the LTP3 of the vital role of the hackney and private hire trades in the provision of public transport across the Merseyside region and the lack of consultation with the Trade in preparing the LTP3. Comment was made that taxis and private hire vehicles hardly featured at all in the document - it was ‘.....as if they don’t exist’.

 

It was suggested by the Trade Representatives that it might be helpful for Members to raise the concerns of the Trade with their elected Merseytravel colleagues.  It was also suggested that a representative / representatives from Merseytravel be invited to attend a future meeting of the Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Working Group to consult on the Local Transport Plan.

 

RESOLVED: That

 

(1)

the concern expressed at this Meeting at the lack of consultation with the hackney carriage and private hire trades and lack of reference in the Local Transport Plan to the key role of the taxi and private hire trade in respect of the provision of public transport on Merseyside, be raised with Officers and Council representatives at Merseytravel; and

 

(2)

a representative / representatives from Merseytravel be invited to a future meeting of the Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Trade Working Group to consult on the Local Transport Plan.

 

 

9.

Driver Hours

Item submitted by Mr Richard Jarman

 

“The Road Traffic (Drivers’ Ages And Hours Of Work) Act 1976 provides that taxi & PHV drivers, when self – employed are not restricted in the hours they may work.

 

Multinational taxi / Private hire firms have recently offered guaranteed monthly revenue in return for a 55-hour week.

 

This is an excessive requirement; SMBC should advise, specifically, that drivers retain discretion over working hours”.

Minutes:

The Meeting considered an item submitted by Mr Richard Jarman, South Sefton Hackney Carriage Association, on driver hours.

 

Mr Jarman introduced the item and expressed concern that multi-national taxi and private hire firms ‘were able’ to guarantee a monthly income for their drivers in return for a 55 hour week.  He stated that this was ‘an excessive requirement’ and suggested that the Council should advise drivers on the dangers of working excessive hours.

 

Arising from discussion comment was made that different drivers had different tolerance levels and what might be ‘excessive hours’ for one driver would not be excessive for another.  Also, some drivers drove cabs to supplement their income in addition to their main employment and as such it would be difficult to monitor the total number of hours they had worked.

 

It was suggested that the best way to approach this matter might be for the Council to take a ‘duty of care’ approach and include appropriate wording in the Handbook cautioning drivers about driving when they do not feel fit enough to do so.

 

RESOLVED:

 

That further consideration be given by the Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Trades Working Group of the Council adopting a ‘duty of care’ approach in respect of driver hours, involving the inclusion of appropriate wording in the Taxi Drivers’ Handbook advising drivers against driving a vehicle for more hours than they feel fit to do so.

 

10.

Use of Mobile 'Phone Applications pdf icon PDF 32 KB

Item submitted by Mr Richard Jarman (See attached).

Minutes:

The Meeting considered an item submitted by Mr Richard Jarman, South Sefton Hackney Carriage Association, on ways in which some private hire operators interpreted legal guidance on the use of mobile ‘phone applications (apps).

 

Arising from discussion, it was pointed out that the legal requirements of using mobile ‘phone apps did not directly apply to licensing (any more than the legal requirement by private hire companies to complete VAT returns).

 

The Principal Trading Standards Officer indicated that the Taxi Licensing Unit would, however, investigate any complaints received from members of the public about alleged misuse of mobile phone apps by private hire firms, on a case by case basis.

 

RESOLVED:

 

That the issues raised on the legal requirements relating to the use of mobile ‘phone applications by private hire operators be noted.

 

11.

Vehicle Owners - Is the Fit and Proper Test Applicable?

Item Submitted by Mr Richard Jarman

 

“Vehicle owners are, in the proposed new handbook, subject to the fit and proper test. This has never been necessary before, is not elsewhere and must be limited to instances where there are serious breaches of the Act(s) themselves. [1847 & 1976]”

Minutes:

The Meeting considered an item submitted by Mr Richard Jarman, South Sefton Hackney Carriage Association, on whether the ‘Fit and Proper Test’ was applicable to vehicle owners.

 

Mr Mark Toohey, Principal Trading Standards Officer, indicated that he concurred with Mr Jarman’s view that whilst it was appropriate for drivers to be subject to the ‘Fit and Proper Test’ it should not be necessary for vehicle owners, who did not have any dealings with the public. However, if an owner was found to be in serious breach of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976, appropriate action should then be taken.

 

Mr Toohey concluded that this matter would be given further consideration as part of the Handbook Review.

 

RESOLVED:

 

That issues raised in respect of the ‘Fit and Proper Test’ be considered as part of the Handbook Review, for approval by Licensing and Regulatory Committee on 30 March 2015.

 

12.

Lifetime Rules for E7 Vehicles

Item Submitted by Mr Richard Jarman

 

“The Lifetime rules for an E7 vehicle should be the same as TX vehicles (as is the case with Liverpool City).”

Minutes:

The Meeting considered an item submitted by Mr Richard Jarman, South Sefton Hackney Carriage Association, on whether the lifetime rules for an E7 vehicle should be the same as TX vehicles. 

 

Mr Toohey explained that the current rules state that Metropolitan type vehicles with a separate chassis (such as a London Taxis TX ‘black cab’) can be licensed up to 11 years old automatically whereas ordinary saloon type vehicles may only be automatically licensed up to 8 years old. 

 

Discussion took place about the different conditions between Liverpool and Sefton.

 

RESOLVED:

 

That further consideration be given to this matter by the Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Trades Working Group on 3 March 2015.

 

13.

The Knowledge Test - Should it last a lifetime -Similar to Vocationally Related Qualification (VRQ)?

Item Submitted by Mr Richard Jarman

 

“If a driver’s licence lapses the VRQ test in spite of continually changing regulations and requirements is a once and for all test.  The knowledge test must be re-taken after 2 years, but changing conditions in this respect vary little, the two should have equal ‘shelf life’”.

Minutes:

The Meeting considered an item submitted by Mr Richard Jarman, South Sefton Hackney Carriage Association, on whether it should be necessary for drivers to retake the ‘Knowledge Test’ every two years or whether it should last a lifetime as with the Vocationally Related Qualification (VRQ).

 

The Principal Trading Standards Officer indicated that this matter would be considered as part of the Knowledge Test review to be undertaken in the coming year.

 

RESOLVED:

 

That this matter be given full consideration in the review of the Knowledge Test to be undertaken by the Principal Trading Standards Officer in the coming year.

 

14.

Group 2 Medical - Request to Revert back to Group 1

Item submitted by Mr Richard Jarman

 

“The Group 2 medical test is not necessary; there has been in the past no problem with the old medical form; SMBC are unable to quantify any such problems.  Group 1 is sufficient”.

Minutes:

The Meeting considered an item submitted by Mr Richard Jarman, South Sefton Hackney Carriage Association, on a request for drivers to be able to qualify for licences under Medical Group 1 rather than the more stringent Medical Group 2.

 

The Principal Trading Standards Officer indicated that the Department for Transport (DfT) recommended Medical Group 2 as best practice for the safety of the travelling public. Also, the requirement for drivers to pass Medical Group 2 to qualify for a licence had been requested and agreed by the trade representatives as part of the Taxi Licensing Review in 2008.

 

RESOLVED:

 

That in the interest of the safety of the travelling public, the requirement for drivers to pass Medical Group 2 in order to qualify for a licence be retained.

 

15.

Continuing Education

Item submitted by Mr Richard Jarman

 

“The manner in which further education to update how the Vocationally Related Qualification (VRQ) may be delivered is outstanding. Suggestions welcome.”

Minutes:

The Meeting considered an item submitted by Mr Richard Jarman, South Sefton Hackney Carriage Association, on how the Vocationally Related Qualification was delivered.

 

Arising from discussion, it was suggested that refresher courses should be offered to existing drivers on a periodic basis, in the same way that other professions were required to update their knowledge. However, representatives doubted whether most drivers would want to take ‘time off work’ to attend such a course, particularly if they would also have to fund the course themselves.

 

Mr Toohey, Principal Trading Standards Officer indicated that he was prepared to publish/send out updates to licence holders on any new requirements / legislation.

 

It was also suggested that local training providers should be invited to attend a future meeting of the Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Trades Working Group to consult on the whole issue of training course provision.

 

RESOLVED:

 

That the Principal Trading Standards Officer invites local training providers to a future meeting of the Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Trades Working Group to consult on the whole issue/future of training provision for existing and new drivers.

 

16.

Testing Stations

Item submitted by Mr Richard Jarman

 

“Firm and concrete advances (timetabled) should be achieved urgently with the outstanding testing station review in respect of fitness and methodology.

 

With no consultation further stations have been added. These permissions should be revoked.

 

No further testing stations should be added with recourse to the trade meetings; there is no excess demand from the trade, the review of testing stations, their methodology and is outstanding and has been for some time”.

Minutes:

The Meeting considered an item submitted by Mr Richard Jarman, South Sefton Hackney Carriage Association on hackney carriage and private hire vehicle testing stations.

 

Mr Jarman indicated his concern that a review of the testing stations was overdue and expressed the view that the Council should not have appointed additional testing stations without consulting the Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Trades Working Group.

 

Arising from discussion, trade representatives raised a number of concerns about the current testing station regime in relation to differing standards between testing stations, lack of monitoring / checks and quality control.

 

Mr Mark Toohey, Principal Trading Standards Officer, acknowledged concerns raised and indicated that a Testing Station Review was to be undertaken in the coming year which would involve full consultation with the trade representatives and testing station owners and take on board concerns raised.

 

RESOLVED:

 

That the forthcoming  Review of Testing Stations for licensed vehicles in full consultation with the trade representatives and testing station owners, to be undertaken in 2015/16, be welcomed.

 

17.

Vocationally Related Qualification (VRQ) pdf icon PDF 24 KB

Item submitted by Mr Richard Jarman (See attached)

Minutes:

The Meeting considered an item submitted by Mr Richard Jarman, South Sefton Hackney Carriage Association, on the Vocationally Related Qualification (VRQ).

 

Mr Jarman raised two matters for concern:

 

·         Firstly, following the liquidation of a training college, leading to the loss of training records and files, some drivers claimed to have passed the VRQ without having been issued with the actual certificate to prove that they had achieved the qualification.  He felt that these candidates should not be penalised for this and should be granted a licence without having produced evidence of the qualification

 

Mr Toohey indicated that the Council could not make an exception in this case, otherwise many  drivers could claim to have passed the VRQ without producing evidence of their qualification.

 

·         Secondly, the deadline for existing drivers to take and pass the VRQ was December 2015 and Mr Jarman expressed concern that a number of drivers would not achieve the deadline with the consequence of losing their licence.

 

Mr Toohey indicated that a written reminder had been sent out on Friday 23 January 2015, to the 506 drivers who had not yet completed the VRQ and that further written reminders would be sent out every three months until the end of 2015.

 

RESOLVED: That

 

(1)

the requirement for drivers to provide proof of having obtained the Vocationally Related Qualification (VRQ) in order to retain their licence, be supported; and

 

(2)

the provision of regular written reminders about the deadline for existing drivers to take the VRQ before the end of December 2015 in order to retain their licence, be endorsed.

 

 

18.

Taximeters pdf icon PDF 35 KB

Item submitted by Mr Richard Jarman (See attached).

Minutes:

The Meeting considered an item submitted by Mr Richard Jarman, South Sefton Hackney Carriage Association on taximeters.

 

He indicated that some private hire vehicles did not use a taximeter to assess distance travelled to generate a fare, relying instead on satellite navigation (sat nav) devices which were not accurate. 

 

Arising from discussion, concern was also expressed that taximeters were not tested for accuracy and that they could be tampered with / adjusted to calculate fares in a driver’s favour.

 

Mr Toohey, Principal Trading Standards Officer, confirmed that it was a legal requirement under the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 (Section 71) that any taximeters installed in private hire vehicles should be tested and approved by the Authority when a licence was applied for.  However, once vehicles were on the road, taximeters were not subject to routine checks.  He indicated that the last time a borough wide check of taximeters had taken place had been when the fare tariffs had been changed in 2011.

 

It was suggested that checks of taximeters should be carried out as part of the routine vehicle check regime.

 

RESOLVED: That

 

(1)

the legislation regarding the installation of taximeters in private hire vehicles under the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 (Section 71) that any taximeters installed in private hire vehicles should be tested and approved by the Authority when a licence was applied for, be noted; and

 

(2)

the comments regarding routine monitoring of taximeters be noted.

 

 

19.

Agreements By and Between Operators and Drivers

Item submitted by Mr Richard Jarman

 

“Any and all contracts / agreements / written record of   agreed terms by and between licensees shall be subject to English Law, written in English and subject to the jurisdiction of English courts, to comply with the 1976 Act above.

 

Both driver and operator will contract with each other and passengers in a like manner and no part of the booking or contract effected pursuant to the Act shall be determined or governed other than by English law”.

Minutes:

The Meeting considered an item submitted by Mr Richard Jarman, South Sefton Hackney Carriage Association regarding agreements between operators and drivers.

 

Mr Jarman expressed the view that contracts and agreements between operators and drivers and operators/drivers and passengers should be made in accordance with UK Law – namely, the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976, as opposed to non-UK legislation.

 

RESOLVED: That

 

(1)

the Head of Corporate Legal Services be requested to provide clarification on legal precedence in relation to agreements between operators and drivers and operators/drivers and passengers; and

 

(2)

the Principal Trading Standards Officer report back the Head of Corporate Legal Service’s response at the next meeting of the Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Trades Working Group.

 

 

20.

Proposed Work Plan for 2015

The following areas are suggested for inclusion in the work plan for the coming year:

 

·         Testing Stations

·         Handbook

·         Vacant Licences

·         Bootle One Stop Shop

·         Knowledge Test

Minutes:

The Principal Trading Standards and Licensing Officer outlined the proposed Work Plan for 2015/16.

 

RESOLVED:

 

That the following topics be covered included in the Taxi Licensing Work Plan for 2015/16.

 

Topic/Area to be covered

 

 

Date for completion (Submission of final report to Licensing and Regulatory Committee)

 

·         Testing Stations

-

21 September 2015

 

·         Handbook

-

30 March 2015

 

·         Vacant Licences

 

Before end March 2016 (next Municipal Year)

 

·         Bootle One Stop Shop

-

On-going because of the Council’s current the scrutiny of Arvato

 

·         Knowledge Test

-

21 September 2015

 

 

 

21.

Dates of Meetings 2015/16 pdf icon PDF 48 KB

To consider proposed dates (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 the Licensing and Regulatory Committee Spokespersons with Representatives of the Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Trades for the 2015/16 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 Licensing and Regulatory Committee (L&R).

 

(Note: L&R dates for the 2015/16 Municipal Year had not yet been agreed by the Council but the dates set out below were the anticipated dates)

 

Anticipated date of L&R Committees 2015/16

 

Proposed date of Hackney & Private Hire Working Group Meetings

 

Monday 22 June 2015

Tuesday 02 June 2015

Monday 21 September 2015

Tuesday 1 September 2015

Monday 11 January 2016

Tuesday 8 December 2015

Monday 21 March 2016

Tuesday 2 March 2016

 

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

 

10.00 a.m. on Tuesday 26 January 2016 at Bootle Town Hall.

 

 

RESOLVED: That

 

(1)

the schedule of dates for the 2015/16 Municipal year be approved as indicated above; and

 

(2)

Members be reminded that the next meeting of the Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Trades Working Group falls within the current Municipal Year and will be held on Tuesday 3 March 2015 at Southport Town Hall, as per previous agreement.

 

 

22.

Any Other Business

In accordance with Minute No. 37(iii) of the meeting of the Licensing and Regulatory Committee of 24 February 2003, other business may only be considered if agreed by the Chair and a majority of both sections of the trade and it is of an urgent nature, i.e. it requires consideration prior to the next scheduled annual meeting of the Licensing and Regulatory Committee Spokespersons with Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Stakeholders.

Minutes:

There were no further items of business.