Agenda and minutes

Licensing and Regulatory Committee Spokespersons with Representatives of the Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Trade - Tuesday 7th February, 2017 10.30 am

Venue: Birkdale Room, Town Hall, Southport

Contact: Ruth Appleby  Democratic Services Officer

Items
No. Item

1.

Welcome and Introduction

Minutes:

Councillor John Kelly, (Chair) welcomed everyone to the meeting and invited everyone to introduce themselves.

 

2.

Apologies for Absence

Minutes:

Apologies for absence had been submitted by Councillor Preece;

Mr Joseph Johnson (Berry Street Garage Association);  Mr Neil McGonnigle (Uber);  Mr Thomas Robinson (Sefton Fleet Association) and Mr Frank McLaughlin (Substitute – Southport Station Hackney Carriage Association).

 

 

3.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 93 KB

To approve the Minutes of the Meeting held on 26 January 2016

 

(Matters Arising from the Minutes of this and other previous meetings will not be considered unless otherwise included on the Agenda)

Minutes:

RESOLVED:

 

That Minutes of the meeting held on 26 January 2016 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 any disclosable pecuniary interest were received.

 

5.

Consistency in Licensing Matters and Harmonisation of Local Authority Meetings pdf icon PDF 68 KB

Item submitted by Mr Richard Jarman

 

See attached

Minutes:

Attendees considered 2 agenda items submitted by Mr Richard Jarman regarding lack of consistency in taxi licensing matters across the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority and requesting harmonisation in licensing across the region.

 

Mr Jarman addressed the meeting and indicated that following devolution of powers across Liverpool City Region, Merseytravel had been tasked with the co-ordination and planning for public transport. As a result, the Taxi Quality Partnership (TQP) had been reconstituted for consideration of cross-regional taxi licensing matters. Membership of the TQP included representatives from Merseytravel, the 6 regional licensing authorities and the hackney carriage and private hire trades. In addition to this, a City Region Licensing Officers Group had been formed with the remit to explore the harmonisation of taxi licensing conditions – which was to be completed by May 2017.  Mr Jarman expressed concern that information had not been forthcoming from this latter group.

 

Mr Mark Toohey, Principal Trading Standards Officer, indicated that consideration of proposals was still ongoing and that he would be in a better position to report back to the taxi representatives with more concrete proposals following two further meetings of the City Region Licensing Officers Group scheduled to take place in February.

 

RESOLVED:

 

That Mr Mark Toohey, report back on the proposals of the City Region Licensing Group in relation to  cross regional taxi licensing harmonisation and consistency for consideration at the next meeting of the Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Joint Working Group on 14 March 2017.

 

6.

Constitution of the Trade Working Groups

Item submitted by Mr Richard Jarman

 

Request for a review of the constitution and terms reference of the Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Trade Working Groups

Minutes:

The Committee considered an item submitted by Mr Richard Jarman requesting a review of the constitution and terms of reference of the Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Trade Working Groups.

 

Ms Ruth Appleby, Democratic Services Officer, indicated that the current Terms of reference had been agreed by the Licensing and Regulatory Committee held on 31 March 2008, as part of the Review of Taxi Licensing Portfolio, undertaken by Mr Andrew Naisbitt ( the then Trading Standards and Licensing Manager). However, given the 9 year time lapse, and substantial cost cutting measures within the Council, whilst the remit of the Working Groups, remained the same, a number of changes had evolved whereby membership of and attendance at the Working Groups  was no longer as closely monitored and controlled as in previous years.

 

It was felt therefore, that a review of the Constitution/Membership and terms of reference of the Working Groups was long overdue.

 

RESOLVED:

 

That the Environmental Health and Licensing Manager be requested to:

 

1.

facilitate a review of the Constitution and Terms of Reference of the  Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Trade Working Groups in full consultation with said Working Groups;

 

2.

produce a draft updated Terms of Reference for the Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Working Groups; and

 

3.

submit a report to the meeting of the Licensing and Regulatory Committee, on 19 June 2017, seeking approval for the draft updated Constitution and Terms of Reference of the Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Working Groups.

 

 

 

7.

Enforcement

Update by Mr Mark Toohey - Principal Trading Standards Officer

 

8.

Enforcement Statistics pdf icon PDF 63 KB

Enforcement Statistics for the previous year including mitigation details

 

See attached

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee considered the Inspection and Mitigation Statistics for 2016.

 

RESOLVED:

 

That the Inspection and Mitigation statistics for 2016 be noted.

 

 

8a

Current Plans and Resources

Item requested by Mr Richard Jarman for consideration of:

 

·       Misuse of stands near fast food outlets in Bootle

·       Use and misuse of stands by the Private Hire Trade

Minutes:

The attendees considered the item submitted by Mr Richard Jarman regarding misuse of stands near fast food outlets in Bootle and misuse of stands by the Private Hire Trade.

 

Arising from discussion, further concern was also raised about members of the public leaving their vehicles overnight on shared parking bays/taxi ranks in Southport (where ranks were allocated for use by public parking in the daytime and at night time as taxi ranks), thereby blocking use of the ranks by taxis during permitted time slots.

 

Representatives indicated that increased enforcement would help address problems in Southport and in Bootle and it was suggested that the appointment of an additional Enforcement Officer to cover the busy Friday and Saturday periods would help alleviate misuse of ranks and at the same time bring in additional revenue from parking fines etc.

 

Mr Terry Wood, Environmental Health and Licensing Manager, indicated that he would look into ways of possibly funding an additional enforcement officer to operate on Friday and Saturday nights.

 

RESOLVED: That

 

(1)

Enforcement Officers be instructed to check on misuse of stands near fast food outlets in Bootle and misuse of stands by the Private Hire Trade; and

 

(2)

the Environmental Health and Licensing Manager, look into the possibility of employing an additional Enforcement Officer to operate on Friday and Saturday nights.

 

 

 

9.

One Stop Shop Statistics pdf icon PDF 149 KB

Attached – 2016 statistics in respect of:

 

1.     One Stop Shop Appointments and Drop-ins

§  Bootle

§  Southport

§  Combined

 

2.     Driver Applications

3.     Vehicle Applications

4.     Knowledge Test

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The attendees considered the statistics relating to taxi licence scheduled and drop-in appointments; driver applications, vehicle applications and knowledge tests, provided at Bootle and Southport One Stop Shops in 2016.

 

RESOLVED:

 

That the One Stop Shop statistics be noted.

 

 

10.

Knowledge Test Format

To discuss the Knowledge Test Format

Minutes:

The attendees considered an item submitted by Mr Richard Jarman on the Knowledge Test format.

 

Mr Terry Wood, Environmental Health and Licensing Manager, indicated that in the light of deregulation and the use of satellite navigation (Sat Nav) by most taxi drivers, consideration was being given to reviewing the current Test format to test applicants on essential skills such as English and numeracy (e.g. giving the correct change to customers), route planning and Licensing conditions, etc.

 

Consideration would also be given to moving the Testing Venues out of the Council’s One-Stop - Shops and aligning to local education providers, possibly as a bolt-on module to the Vocationally Related Qualification (VRQ).

 

Stakeholders debated the pros and cons of abolishing the Knowledge Test with Hackney representatives being strongly in favour of retaining a local topographical knowledge test as a means of maintaining the professionalism of Sefton licensed drivers. This was particularly relevant to Hackney taxis, which were usually not pre-booked and therefore, the drivers were only informed the destination when the passenger got in the vehicle; whereas private hire drivers received details of destinations from their central control offices prior to picking up their passenger and in addition to information from central control, were more inclined to use sat nav to find the quickest route to destinations.

 

It was also pointed out that one of the direct consequences of deregulation meant that applicants wishing to avoid taking the Knowledge Test could simply apply to another Local Authority which did not require the Knowledge Test as a pre-condition to granting a license. Such drivers could then still work in the Sefton area, with the further consequence of a loss of licensing revenue for Sefton.

 

 

Mr Wood concluded that the main priority was the safe transportation of passengers and that training provision should focus on this.  He did indicate however, that in the light of discussion, consideration would be given to offering more than one type of test, with for example, the Knowledge Test only being required of Hackney license applicants.

 

RESOLVED:

 

That the Environmental Health and Licensing Manager be requested to

 

(1)

conduct a review of the current knowledge testing regime for taxi license applicants in consultation with the Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Working Group; and

 

(2)

submit a report on proposals for a new testing process to the Licensing and Regulatory Committee on 19 June 2017.

 

 

11.

Luggage pdf icon PDF 41 KB

Item submitted by Mr Richard Jarman

 

See attached

Minutes:

Attendees considered an item submitted by Mr Richard Jarman on the transportation of luggage, suggesting that the handbook should contain guidance on what was a reasonable amount of luggage for drivers to handle.

 

Arising from discussion, caution was made against being too prescriptive in defining a ‘reasonable amount’.

 

Mr Terry Wood reminded the meeting that consideration had already been given to this matter at the meeting of the Licensing and Regulatory Committee held on 9 January 2017, in the relation to the transportation of bulky items (white goods), where taxis were being used to transport white goods by passengers wishing to avoid retail outlet delivery charges and that it had been resolved that

 

‘the request, from the Hackney Carriage Trade,  for a charge of £5 for the carriage of bulky items be deferred until the 20 March 2017 meeting to enable officers to provide a written definition of the term ‘bulky item’.

 

RESOLVED: 

 

That the decision of the Licensing and Regulatory Committee held on 9 January 2017, that ‘the request, from the Hackney Carriage Trade, for a charge of £5 for the carriage of bulky items be deferred until the 20 March 2017 meeting to enable officers to provide a written definition of the term ‘bulky item’,  be noted.

 

12.

Review of Testing Procedures

Item requested by Mr Richard Jarman

 

Update by Mr Mark Toohey - Principal Trading Standards Officer

 

Minutes:

Attendees considered an item submitted by Mr Richard Jarman on the Review of Testing Procedures which he indicated was long overdue.

 

Mr Mark Toohey, Principal Trading Standards Officer advised that work on compliance testing specifications was linked into the work being carried out across Merseyside in relation to vehicle conditions as a whole, along with cross border authorisations. Once a revised set of testing station conditions had been drafted they would be circulated for consultation.

 

 

RESOLVED: 

 

That it be noted that any changes or updates in relation to testing stations will be shared with the hackney carriage and private hire working groups in the first instance.

13.

Drivers' Hours - Duty of Care pdf icon PDF 56 KB

Item submitted by Mr Richard Jarman

 

Request that a duty of care policy in respect of drivers’ hours be implemented and monitored.

 

Previously considered at the meeting of the L&R Spokespersons with Representatives of the Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Trade, held on 27 January 2015, (Minute No. 9 refers).

 

See attached

Minutes:

Attendees considered an item submitted by Mr Richard Jarman on the adoption of a ‘Duty of Care’ by the Council in relation to hours worked by drivers.

 

It was noted that this matter had previously been considered at the meeting of the Licensing and Regulatory Committee Spokespersons with Representatives of the Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Trades held on 27 January 2015, where concern had been expressed at the long hours expected by some multi-national and local private hire firms in return for a fixed monthly income; but that different drivers had different tolerance levels and what might be ‘excessive hours’ by 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; and it had been resolved    …..“That further consideration be given to the Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Trades Working Group…. adopting a ‘duty of care’ approach in respect of driver hours, involving the inclusion of appropriate working in the Taxi Drivers’ Handbook advising drivers against driving a vehicle for more hours than they ‘feel fit to do so’ ”.

 

Mr Mark Toohey, Principal Trading Standards Officer, referred to page 69 of the Driver’s Handbook which stated:

 

”Although there are no legal controls over the maximum number of hours a driver may work, the Council would urge all drivers to take regular breaks and immediately stop driving when they feel tired”

 

Arising from discussion, there was general consensus that the Council’s enforcement of the numbers of hours which drivers worked was not possible and that the Council could only take an advisory approach as indicated in the handbook extract above

 

RESOLVED:

 

That the current advisory approach to drivers working hours be endorsed.

 

14.

Non-Payment of Settle Fees pdf icon PDF 50 KB

Item submitted by Mr Alan Campbell

 

See attached

Minutes:

Attendees considered an item submitted by Mr Alan Campbell on non-payment of ‘settle fees’ by drivers engaged by taxi firms.

 

Mr Campbell advised that 2 drivers engaged by his company over the Christmas period had absconded without paying their settle fees at the end of the Christmas period; and what was particularly disturbing was that the same individuals had previously absconded from other companies in the same way.

 

Mr White suggested that such individuals be identified, reported and given appropriate sanctions – namely suspension of their licence until the settle fee was paid – thereby preventing them from moving from firm to firm without penalty.

 

Arising from discussion there was general consensus that non-payment of settle fees was a matter for the company affected to deal with and if necessary report to the Police.  However, Mr Toohey did indicate that in the case of known persistent offenders, fleet owners had in the past been advised to put their concerns in writing to the Licensing Department which dealt with complaints on a case by case basis.

 

RESOLVED:

 

That the above discussion and advice by the Principal Trading Standards Officer relating to reporting drivers for non-payment of settle fees, be noted and endorsed.

 

15.

The British Golf Open / Grand National

Item requested by Mr John Murrison

 

To consider, and debate a suitable rank for the forthcoming British Golf Open, which takes place later this year at the Royal Birkdale Golf Club.

Minutes:

Attendees considered an item submitted by Mr John Murrison on the installation of a suitable taxi rank to cater for the forthcoming British Golf Open Championship at the Royal Birkdale Golf Club 17–23 July 2017.

 

Mr Murrison advised that the Open Golf Championship was an excellent opportunity for local taxi drivers to be able to benefit from the increased numbers of visitors to the region.  However, at the last Championship in 2008, the nearest taxi rank had been placed a fair distance from the Golf Course in Selworthy Road, and that this and inadequate signage had prevented people from using the rank.  This had been inconvenient for visitors, particularly wheelchair users.  Mr Murrison indicated that whilst he appreciated the need for security and safety in and around the course, which precluded a rank being placed in the immediate vicinity of the golf course, a rank more accessible than Selworthy Road, such as in Greenbank Drive and with improved signage directing visitors to the rank, would be beneficial to all concerned.

 

Mr McLaughlin indicated that a similar situation had arisen at last year’s Grand National event, when a location for a taxi rank a reasonable distance from the race course had been agreed and then changed at the eleventh hour, which meant that racegoers had been unable to find the ‘new’ rank and pre-bookings with taxi firms had been rendered invalid, because people did not know where to locate their taxis.  It was suggested that Trade representatives should be invited to planning meetings for key events, to influence decision making on placing of taxi ranks.

 

Mr Terry Wood indicated that it was not ‘within the gift’ of’ the Council to invite taxi representatives to planning meetings for key events, but that the Council would make every effort represent the interests of Sefton’s taxi trade in the strategic and beneficial placing of taxi ranks.

 

RESOLVED:

 

That the Environmental health and Licensing Manager be requested to make concerted efforts in representing the needs of Sefton’s Taxi Trade to enable advantageous locations and adequate signage of taxi ranks for the forthcoming Open Golf Championship at Royal Birkdale Golf Club in July 2017 and the next Aintree Grand National event in April 2017.

 

16.

National Taxi Fare Rates pdf icon PDF 586 KB

Item submitted by Mr Tony Crabtree in relation to the proposed Tariff increase

 

Fare comparison table attached

Minutes:

Attendees considered an item submitted by Mr Tony Crabtree on National Taxi Fare Rates. 

 

A table providing the different rates applied by different local authorities was perused and considered by attendees.

 

Mr Crabtree expressed concern that Sefton’s tariff, at £4.60, was one of the lowest in the country being placed number 349 out of a total of 365 local authorities.

 

Arising from discussion, it was pointed out that taxi tariffs were driven by market forces and as such, it would be difficult for Sefton to raise its tariff any higher because Sefton’s hackney carriage trade was in competition with the much larger private hire trade.

 

RESOLVED:

 

That the National Tariff Comparison Table be noted.

 

17.

The Sun Newspaper

Item requested by Mr Trevor Jones

 

To discuss the display of an advertisement on some Hackney vehicles, seeking to ban the Sun Newspaper

Minutes:

This item had been submitted by Mr Trevor Jones, who was absent from the meeting.

 

Mr Jones had expressed concern about hackney vehicles being able to display advertisements urging people to boycott the Sun Newspaper.

 

Mr Toohey indicated that the Council was not in a position to prevent drivers from displaying advertisements which did not breach the Advertising Standards Authority codes of practice or Council conditions or any relevant legislation therefore the advert had been approved.

 

18.

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:

In accordance with Minute No. 37(iii) of the meeting of the Licensing and Regulatory Committee of 24 February 2003, it was deemed that there be ‘No Other Business’ for consideration.

 

19.

2017/18 Meeting Dates pdf icon PDF 54 KB

To agree dates for next year’s meetings

 

See attached

Minutes:

Attendees considered the propose dates for meetings in the 2017/18 Municipal Year.

 

It was noted that the meeting cycle for the Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Trade Working Groups were scheduled to take place at least 2 weeks prior to each quarterly meeting of the Licensing and Regulatory Committee and accordingly, it was

 

RESOLVED:

 

(1)      That the 2017/18 meeting cycle be approved as follows:

 

1.

Hackney & Private Hire Working Group Meetings

June 2017- March 2018

 

Tuesday 06 June 2017 – Southport Town Hall

 

Tuesday 29 August 2017  - Bootle Town Hall

(NB Aug Bank Hol is on 28 Aug)

 

Tuesday 12 December 2017 –Southport Town Hall

 

Tuesday 6 March 2018 – Bootle Town Hall

 

 

 

 

2.

Next Annual Meeting of Licensing and Regulatory Committee

Spokespersons with Representatives of the Hackney Carriage and

Private Hire Trade

 

10.30 a.m. on Tuesday 30 January 2018, Bootle Town Hall.

 

 

(2)      It be noted that the next date for Hackney Carriage and Private Hire          Working Group meetings, falling within the current – 2016/17 Municipal         Year is Tuesday 14 March 2017, at Bootle Town Hall.