Agenda and minutes

Licensing and Regulatory Committee Spokespersons with Representatives of the Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Trade - Tuesday 26th January, 2016 10.00 am

Venue: Town Hall, Bootle

Contact: Olaf Hansen  Democratic Services Officer

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies for Absence

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Bradshaw, Burns, Preece and Welsh

 

2.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 111 KB

Minutes of the Meeting held on 27 January, 2015

Minutes:

RESOLVED:

 

That the Minutes of the meeting held on 27 January, 2015 be confirmed as a correct record.

 

3.

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 any disclosable pecuniary interest were received.

 

 

 

4.

Enforcement Statistics and Mitigation Data pdf icon PDF 52 KB

Details of inspections and the work carried out by the mitigation panel for 2015 are attached

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The attendees considered information provided by the Principal Trading Standards Officer on statistics relating to the taxi licensing enforcement inspections for 2015; and new driver application statistics for 2015, providing information about approved and refused licence applications and reasons for refusal.

 

Paul McLaughlin explained the role of Delta’s fleet inspectors including their qualifications, frequency of inspections and the fact that the firm was now able to create a database from the information they had received from inspectors.

 

RESOLVED:

 

That the information be noted.

 

5.

One Stop Shop Statistics pdf icon PDF 169 KB

Information provided by Andy Cain, Bootle OSS Manager

Minutes:

The attendees 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.

 

The Chair requested that the statistical information be presented in a more ‘user-friendly’ format for future meetings.

 

RESOLVED: That

 

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

(2)          the Principal Trading Standards Officer be requested to present the statistical information in a more ‘user-friendly’ format for future meetings.

 

 

6.

Knowledge Test pdf icon PDF 52 KB

The new knowledge test is running alongside the old test till the end of March 2016.  New routes and places attached – these will be revised at the regular trade meetings. 

 

Further item raised by Richard Jarman. 

 

Proposals to conduct the test orally should be considered. New routes and places attached.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Attendees considered the new knowledge test which was running alongside the old test until the end of March 2016. The meeting were informed that the new routes and places, detailed within the accompanying documents, would be revised at the regular trade meetings.

 

Paul McLaughlin expressed his disappointment that the Council had decided to retain the Knowledge Test; commenting that Knowsley Borough Council had decided to replace the formal test with a more relevant essential skills test. He warned that over the next few years there would be an increase in the number of Knowsley registered drivers and a decline in the number of Sefton registered drivers.

 

Richard Jarman suggested that proposals to conduct the Knowledge Test orally should be considered.

 

RESOLVED:

 

That the information supplied regarding the Knowledge Test be noted.

 

7.

VRQ (Vocationally Related Qualifications)

The deadline for all drivers to have gained the qualification was 31st December 2015.  It is estimated that around 60 drivers did not complete the VRQ training and allowed their licence to lapse.

Minutes:

Mark Toohey advised that the deadline for all drivers to have gained the Vocational Related Qualifications (VRQ) was 31 December, 2015. It was estimated that around 60 drivers did not complete the VRQ training / qualification and had allowed their licence to lapse. He continued that the majority of those who had let their licences lapse had probably decided to retire.

 

Paul McLaughlin said that this was a good news story. Sefton now had a 100% fleet of drivers with relevant nationally recognised vocational qualification. He was aware that other authorities had used ‘grandfather rights’, but Sefton had avoided this soft option and should be singing its own praises.

 

RESOLVED: That

 

(1)          the information regarding VQRs be noted; and

 

(2)          the Principal Trading Standards Officer be requested to liaise with the Press Office with regard to issuing a Press Release in relation to the VRQ qualification.

 

8.

Handbook

Version 3 of the handbook has now been printed and is ready to be distributed

Minutes:

Mark Toohey circulated a copy of Hackney Carriage, Private Hire and Omnibus Licensing Scheme Handbook (version 3.1).

 

The Chair commented that she was pleased to see that both ‘safeguarding’ and the ‘wellbeing of the driver’ were addressed in the handbook.

 

Paul McLaughlin commented that there was a big disparity between drivers’ lifestyles. Some drivers used the flexibility of the job to live a healthy lifestyle, whilst others would simply go from sitting driving all day to sitting in front of the television when off duty. Mark Toohey commented that some studies had shown a marked increase in prostate cancer amongst sedentary jobs like driving. Chris Snellgrove added that it was sometimes difficult when you were starting out in the trade as you had to work long hours which did not automatically lend itself to a healthy lifestyle.

 

Paul McLaughlin suggested that he could get his fleet inspectors to  carry and distribute copies of the handbook to drivers; he would also put it on the newsfeed.

 

Joseph Johnson said that he did not believe that Uber Cars used a tariff card. Mark Toohey replied that Uber Cars should carry tariff cards and he would check that this was the case. Richard Jarman said that he saw an Uber Car carrying so many gadgets the driver’s view of the highway would be obscured. Mark Sanders commented that no gadget should be attached to the ‘swipe zone’ on the windscreen.

 

RESOLVED: That

 

(1)          the Handbook and its content be noted; and

(2)          the Principal Trading Standards Officer be requested to check that Uber Cars were carrying the requisite tariff card.

 

9.

Consultation with Trade

Item raised by Richard Jarman.  

 

A change was made to the handbook following the implementation of the Deregulation Act (which allowed private hire operators to sub contract to any other licensed operator). Following this, it was agreed in the last trade meeting held on 30th November 2015 that all future changes would be discussed with the trade representatives prior to making any changes and the amendment that was made to the handbook will be revised. The existing consultation process should continue with increased effort for regional co-operation and harmonisation.

Minutes:

Attendees considered a request from Richard Jarman: A change was made to the handbook following the implementation of the Deregulation Act (which allowed private hire operators to sub contract to any other licensed operator). Following this, it was agreed in the last trade meeting held on 30th November 2015 that all future changes would be discussed with the trade representatives prior to making any changes and the amendment that was made to the handbook would be revised. The existing consultation process should continue with increased effort for regional co-operation and harmonisation.

 

Terry Wood commented that Sefton was committed to continuing meetings with the trade. Paul McLaughlin requested that, when necessary, legal officers attend future meetings to advise on possible areas of conflict.

 

RESOLVED:

 

(1)          the comments raised above be noted; and

(2)          the Environmental Health & Licensing Manager be requested to liaise with the Head of Regulation and Compliance regarding the attendance of a legal officer when needed at  future trade meetings.

 

10.

Hackney Carriage Stands

Item raised by Richard Jarman.

 

The ranks surrounding Bootle are regularly being used by the private hire trade.  Mr Jarman requests the assistance of the private hire operators in educating the drivers as to the legality of using official ranks.

 

Minutes:

Attendees considered a request from Richard Jarman: The ranks surrounding Bootle were regularly being used by the private hire trade.  He requested the assistance of the private hire operators in educating the drivers as to the legality of using official ranks. Paul McLaughlin replied that this was an enforcement matter. He was not about to lecture his drivers about matters of which they were already aware. Joseph Johnson added that many of the loading bays around the Strand were occupied by Hackney drivers. Attendees also commented that sometimes bus stops were also used as stopping points for cars; however, some stops ceased being bus stops after the bus service had ended for the night. Richard Jarman concluded that the use of ranks by private hire cars was excessive.

 

RESOLVED:

 

That the discussion be noted.

 

11.

Compliance Checks

Item raised by Richard Jarman. 

 

Sefton should continue (by test purchase or otherwise) to check that only Sefton licensed vehicles ply for hire within the borough.

 

Minutes:

Attendees considered a request from Richard Jarman: Sefton should continue (by test purchase or otherwise) to check that only Sefton licensed vehicles ply for hire within the borough. Mark Sanders replied that there had been a request to use an outside agency to conduct test purchases but the Council had declined. Paul McLaughlin requested a report on the compliance checks to come to the trade meeting.

 

RESOLVED:

 

That the Environmental Health & Licensing Manager be requested to present a report to a future meeting of the Trade Group.

 

 

12.

Road Conditions

Item raised by Richard Jarman. 

 

There are regular holes in local roads which cause severe damage to licenced vehicles.  Nationally, there have been occasions when authorities compensate vehicle owners. Discuss how locally such facility may be available?

Minutes:

Attendees considered a request from Richard Jarman: There were regular holes in local roads which caused severe damage to licensed vehicles.  Nationally, there had been occasions when authorities compensated vehicle owners.

 

Mark Toohey replied that he would obtain information and report back to the Trade Group meeting.

 

RESOLVED:

 

That the Principal Trading Standards Officer be requested collate information on vehicular damage and compensation caused by holes in the road surface and report back to the Trade Group meeting.

 

13.

Testing Stations

Item raised by Joe Johnson. 

 

A review of the all the testing stations and conditions is about to start. 

 

Will Sefton Council agree to limit any new testing stations until the review is completed?

Minutes:

Attendees considered a request from by Joe Johnson: A review of the all the testing stations and conditions was about to start.  Would the Council agree to limit any new testing stations until the review was completed. He added that an overhaul of the test was required; many garages had never been told how to examine a Hackney Carriage, sometimes his garage had failed a vehicle only for the same vehicle to be passed by another garage.

 

Mark Toohey replied that this was a sensible suggestion whilst the review was on-going. Terry Wood added that that was the purpose of the review. It was a good idea to close the list until the review was completed.

 

RESOLVED:

 

That the discussion be noted.

 

14.

Local Government Devolution and Regional Government

Item raised by Richard Jarman.

 

The combined authority proposals seek harmonisation (the wording falls short of amalgamation) of all licensing functions. Discussion of this & participation may be appended to the trade meetings / consultation structure. Please discuss.

Minutes:

Attendees considered a request from by Richard Jarman: The combined authority proposals sought harmonisation (the wording falls short of amalgamation) of all licensing functions. Discussion of this and participation may be appended to the trade meetings / consultation structure.

 

Attendees commented that the talk of harmonisation was possibly more aspirational than immediately practical.

 

RESOLVED:

 

That the discussion be noted.

 

15.

Taxi and Private Hire Vehicles pdf icon PDF 86 KB

Item raised by Richard Jarman

 

See attached

Minutes:

Attendees considered a request from by Richard Jarman: It was usually overlooked that a Private Hire Vehicle (PHV) was a private car licensed for hire and reward with NO privileges (although by an anomaly locally a PHV may use a bus lane).  The item dealing with stands showed the need for continuing information and education – a process universal elsewhere in any event. Provision for updates should be available in the new budget structure – whether by email, internet or printed format (as had been the case in the past). It was not sufficient for a particular PHV operator to stand aloof. Even some hackney carriage drivers with an NVQ thought a local Council could restrict PHV numbers.

 

Key matters to be educated upon should be:

·  do not park facing against the traffic flow

·  stop as close as you can to the side

·  do not stop too close to a vehicle displaying a Blue Badge: remember, the occupant may need more room to get in or out

·  you MUST switch off the headlights and fog lights

·  you MUST apply the handbrake before leaving the vehicle

·  you MUST ensure you do not hit anyone when you open your door. Check for cyclists or other traffic

·  it is safer for your passengers (especially children) to get out of the vehicle on the side next to the kerb

·  put all valuables out of sight and make sure your vehicle is secure

·  lock your vehicle.

You MUST NOT stop or park on:

·  a pedestrian crossing, including the area marked by the zig-zag lines (see Rule 191)

·  taxi bays as indicated by upright signs and markings

You MUST NOT park on a road at night facing against the direction of the traffic flow unless in a recognised parking space.

Cars, goods vehicles not exceeding 1525 kg unladen weight, invalid carriages, motorcycles and pedal cycles may be parked without lights on a road (or lay-by) with a speed limit of 30 mph (48 km/h) or less if they are:

·  at least 10 metres (32 feet) away from any junction, close to the kerb and facing in the direction of the traffic flow

·  in a recognised parking place or lay-by.

Laws RVLR reg 24 & CUR reg 82(7)

Bus stops:

It was an offence to stop at a bus stop; however, the Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 2002 contain an exemption for taxis (defined as HCVs not PHVs).

 

Attendees suggested that these matters were matters relating to the observance of the Highway Code. It would not be appropriate for the Licensing Department to lead / educate on such matters. If such information was contained in the Handbook it would become unnecessarily unwieldy.

 

RESOLVED:

 

That the discussion be noted.

 

 

16.

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:

Further to the meeting of the meeting of the Licensing and Regulatory Committee held on 25 January, 2016, Joseph Johnson requested an update on the status of the Taxi Licensing Reserve Account and the recovery costs that the Council incurred in fulfilling its licensing function. He added that the relevant officer should be held responsible. He asked if a report could be presented to the Trade Working Group meeting.

 

Attendees explained that the matter had now been addressed and the error was being appropriately dealt with.

 

Richard Jarman added that he would like to consider the below ‘matters arising from the 27 January 2015 Minutes at the next Trade Group meeting:

 

  • Enforcement Statistics -  Inspections and Mitigations
  • Handbook Review
  • Lifetime Rules for E7 Vehicles
  • The Knowledge Test - Should it last a lifetime -Similar to Vocationally Related Qualification (VRQ)?
  • Testing Stations

·         Taximeters

 

RESOLVED:

 

That the Principal Trading Standards Officer be requested to liaise with the Chief Finance Officer to produce a report for the next meeting of the Trade Group.