Agenda and minutes

Licensing and Regulatory Committee Spokespersons with Representatives of the Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Trade - Tuesday 30th January, 2018 10.00 am

Venue: Town Hall, Bootle

Contact: Ruth Appleby  Democratic Services Officer

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies for Absence

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillor Preece, Councillor Keith (Substitute for Councillor Preece) and Mr Mark Sanders (South Sefton Private Hire Fleet Operators Association).

 

2.

Minutes of last Meeting pdf icon PDF 124 KB

To approve the Minutes of the meeting held on 7 February 2017

Minutes:

RESOLVED:

 

That the Minutes of the meeting held on 7 February 2017 be confirmed as a correct record.

 

3.

Declarations of Interest

Councillors 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.

Southport Ranks pdf icon PDF 37 KB

Item raised by Tony Crabtree.

 

 

Minutes:

The Committee considered an item submitted by Mr Tony Crabtree, North Sefton Hackney Carriage Association representative.

 

‘North Sefton Hackney Carriage Association wish to discuss the issue of the three main ranks in Southport that the trade use at night being consistently full of private cars parking till 1am or 2am (or even all night long) on the shared bays leading to drivers unable to use the ranks or double parking’.

 

Mr Crabtree indicated that the problems were particularly prevalent at the Lord Street rank and the rank near to June the Florist, when the parking bays became taxi ranks after 8 p.m. However, private vehicle owners often left their cars on the parking bays after 8 p.m., not realising that they became taxi ranks after then.  This problem was exacerbated because Parking Enforcement Officers rarely operated after 6 p.m.  Mr Crabtree indicated that this issue had been a problem for a number of years and during that time he had taken many photographs of private cars parked on the taxi ranks with no resolution having been found. Councillor Kelly concurred that the signage on shared parking bays/taxi ranks was confusing for private drivers, who might not realise that they were not allowed to park on the bays after 8 p.m.

 

Mr. Terry Wood, Section Manager, Regulation and Compliance, indicated that parking enforcement and road signage came under the remit of the Highways Department.

 

Mr Toohey, Principal Licensing Officer, reported that he had been informed that Parking Services Enforcement Officers carried out occasional evening enforcement activities in Southport between 6.00 p.m. and approximately 8.30 p.m., depending on the level of parking activity in the town, but that it was unusual for any enforcement to take place after 8.30 p.m., also that the Parking Services Enforcement contract had recently been retendered and due to the need to make budget savings, the hours available for enforcement would decrease by approximately 30% from April 2018.  In addition, Officers would now be expected to carry out enforcement for environmental offences such as littering and dog fouling and that the combined impact of this would be that there would be a decrease in on-street enforcement in the coming months and that it would not be possible to dedicate any additional hours to the enforcement of ranks in the late evening / early morning, but that Hackney Enforcement Officers were able to issue Penalty Charge Notices outside of these hours.

 

RESOLVED: That

 

(1)

the Principal Licensing Officer consult with the  Manager, Highways Management  to seek a resolution to the confusing signage on the shared parking bays / taxi ranks in Southport; and

 

(2)

the Section Manager, Regulation and Compliance be requested to seek volunteers from Parking Services to undertake ‘out of hours’ parking enforcement operations funded from the Taxi Licensing budget.

 

5.

Licensing / Mitigation Panel pdf icon PDF 45 KB

Item raised by Joe Johnson.

 

Minutes:

The Committee considered an item submitted by Mr Joe Johnson, Berry Street Garage Association representative.

 

‘In view of recent newspaper articles and to protect the integrity of Sefton Council Trade I would suggest that we move back to the Council committee deciding on those applicants who fall outside the current conditions and those current drivers who breach them.

I am aware that we have licensed new applicants and permitted current licence holders to keep their badges when they clearly breach our standards and therefore cannot prove they are fit and proper persons to hold a badge. Is it that we have changed the conditions and our standards or is it simply the current decision makers have lowered their standards or have a different way of interpreting them?

I would like to see a review of how we manage the mitigation process and just because someone comes up with several written references they are deemed to be ok. I know through my own checks that the review panel/Council do not or certainly have not on these cases checked the origin of references submitted by the applicant/licence holder.  How can this be correct and ensure the safety of the public and the integrity of the process’?


Mr Toohey, Principal Licensing Officer, indicated that the Council’s Risk and Audit Service was currently undertaking a review of the procedures for the granting of taxi licences and reporting of criminal records (Casey Report Findings - Rotherham MBC), to provide assurance that licences have been granted to applicants who have satisfied the relevant conditions and that licenses have been revoked / applications unsuccessful when the licence holder/applicant had a criminal record.

 

Mr Wood, Section Manager, Regulation and Compliance, indicated that the outcome of this Risk and Audit Service review would be reported to the Licensing and Regulatory Committee at its meeting in June 2018.

 

RESOLVED: That

 

(1)

it be noted that a report on the Risk and Audit Service review of the procedures for the granting of  taxi licenses and reporting of criminal records will be submitted to Licensing and Regulatory Committee on 18 June 2018; and

 

(2)

any action taken in respect of the Council’s Taxi Licensing mitigation process will be guided by the recommendations of the Risk and Audit Service report.

 

6.

Council Service Reviews - Future of One Stop Shops pdf icon PDF 43 KB

Item raised by Joe Johnson.

 

Minutes:

The Committee considered an Item raised by Joe Johnson, Berry Street Garage Association representative.

‘Update of future of taxi and private hire services with the Council taking back all licensing from the one stop shop. Can we be kept fully informed and used for ideas as we are the best placed to assist and have ideas on the running and what best serves both sides? I would suggest the Council set up a working party to include a sub group from the trade to better understand the needs of both sides to move forward. Taxis are completely self-funding and our services cost the Council nothing. What better way when deciding on how to change things for the future to ensure we get it right than to understand and by getting an insight from those who use it?’ 

 

Members concurred that it would be beneficial for representatives of the Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Trades to be consulted on planning for the future of the One-Stop Shops, in relation to taxi licensing matters, to ensure that the efficiency and quality of the existing service is retained.

 

Trade representatives stressed the importance of retaining the taxi licensing services in both the north and south of the Borough and expressed concern about the possible loss of trained staff in the processing of taxi licences.

 

Mr Wood, Service Manager, Regulation and Compliance, indicated that planning for the future of the One-Stop Shop shops was in its early stages and that as soon more information was available, he and Mr Toohey would ensure that the trade representatives were consulted.

 

RESOLVED:

 

That the Service Manager, Regulation and Compliance be requested to ensure that the Trade Representatives are fully consulted in planning for the future of the One-Stop Shops in respect of taxi licence renewal services.

 

7.

Tariff Cards in Vehicles pdf icon PDF 36 KB

Item raised by Paul McLaughlin

Minutes:

The Committee considered an item submitted by Mr Paul McLaughlin, Delta Merseyside representative.

 

‘With a fare calculator now being used in many vehicles and prices clearly available before contacting an operator is there any need for tariff cards in vehicles?’

 

Arising from discussion, there was general consensus that there was no longer need for tariff cards as fares could be viewed on apps, websites, etc.

 

 

RESOLVED:

 

That the Taxi Licensing Handbook be amended to remove the requirement for Fare Tariff Cards in vehicles, with the proviso that fare details should be readily available on operator websites and/or apps.

 

8.

Driving with no Insurance - Prosecutions pdf icon PDF 53 KB

Item raised by Richard Jarman

Minutes:

The Committee considered an item submitted by Richard Jarman, South Sefton Hackney Carriage Association representative.

 

‘Several years ago I prepared a detailed, 7 page note for SMBC taking issue with the practice of charging out of area taxis with an offence of driving without insurance, when a policy is actually in force. My opinion was not accepted prosecutions continued. In December 2016 an appeal case (stare decisis applies) reference [2016] EWHC 3597 (Admin) was reported. This decision is entirely on the (legal) grounds I advanced earlier and shows I was correct.

 

SMBC should seek to recompense any persons convicted after the decision was reported and I would argue prior to the decision (itself based on my interpretation of first instance decisions). Drivers may have been wrongly disqualified, many were unable to continue working because of difficulty with obtaining insurance, others have suffered other hardship’.

 

Mr Toohey, Principal Licensing Officer, indicated that the Council had taken its own legal advice on this matter and as soon as notification had been received that insurance companies cannot put geographical restrictions on insurance claims it had been removed as a reason for disqualification and no further prosecutions were undertaken.

 

Mr McLaughlin expressed the opinion that any penalties placed on drivers plying for hire outside their licensing authority area should be welcomed.

 

Members indicated that it was the responsibility of individual drivers to challenge disqualifications from holding a taxi licence.

 

9.

Uber Booking System pdf icon PDF 64 KB

Item raised by Richard Jarman

Minutes:

The Committee considered an item submitted by Mr Richard Jarman, South Sefton Hackney Carriage Association representative, stating that UBER app did not comply with proper booking procedures.

 

Mr Neil McGonigle, Uber representative, explained the booking process and compared its similarity to other operators.

 

Mr Toohey, Principal Licensing Officer, confirmed that Uber’s booking app and process had been examined at the time of issuing the licence and had been found to be compliant. Mr Toohey indicated that the Council was currently awaiting the outcome of TfL (Transport for London) case before re-examining the Uber booking system.

 

 

10.

The Benefits of Regulation pdf icon PDF 51 KB

Item raised by Richard Jarman

Minutes:

The Committee considered an item submitted by Mr Richard Jarman, South Sefton Hackney Carriage Association representative, outlining the benefits of regulation of the taxi trade and suggesting that Sefton Council should take action when regulations are not enforced, for example, Data Protection breaches.

 

Mr Toohey, Principal Licensing Officer, indicated that certain regulations were dealt with by other agencies and  did not necessarily fall within the Council’s remit.

 

11.

Local Government Miscellaneous Provisions Act 1976 pdf icon PDF 39 KB

Item raised by Richard Jarman

Minutes:

The Committee considered an item submitted by Mr Richard Jarman, South Sefton Hackney Carriage Association representative.

 

‘Councils including SMBC and local police are not acting intra vires in that they fail to give the statutory notice period and periodically (wrongly) remove ‘plates’.

 

Mr Toohey, Principal Licensing Officer, suggested that this matter could be discussed in further detail at a future meeting of the Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Working Group and representatives from Merseyside Road Traffic Police and the Council’s own Enforcement Team could be invited to such meeting.

 

RESOLVED:

 

That Merseyside Road Traffic Police and the Council’s Taxi Enforcement Team be invited to a future meeting of the Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Working Group to facilitate full consideration of enforcement practice and procedure.

 

12.

Outstanding Work Streams pdf icon PDF 57 KB

Item raised by Mark Toohey / Richard Jarman

Minutes:

The Committee considered the issue of non-completion of planned work streams / outstanding items raised by Mr Toohey and Mr Jarman:

 

·       Finalising advice for drivers of wheelchair accessible vehicles advice;

·       unmet demand survey;

·       testing station review;

·       Handbook Version 4; and

·       Review of the Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Trade constitution

 

Concern was also expressed that some drivers were refusing to accept guide dogs and it was suggested that a ‘mystery’ shopping exercise could be undertaken to identify drivers who breached this rule.

 

RESOLVED: 

 

That the following action be taken by the Taxi Licensing Department in relation to outstanding / ongoing work streams:

 

 

 

Due date

(1)

Finalising advice for drivers of wheelchair accessible vehicles to be completed by

 

March 2018

(2)

Guide dog mystery shopping exercise

 

TBC (2018)

(3)

Unmet demand survey

 

TBC 2018

(4)

Testing Station Review

 

18 June 2018

(5)

Handbook Version 4 – to be submitted to Licensing and Regulatory Committee

 

18 June 2018

(6)

Review of the Constitution –requirement for this to be discussed further by the Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Trade Joint Working Group.

TBC

 

 

13.

Merseytravel pdf icon PDF 37 KB

Item raised by Richard Jarman

Minutes:

The Committee considered an item submitted by Mr Richard Jarman, South Sefton Hackney Carriage Association representative.

 

‘SMBC should support taxi & PHV licensing being centralised at Merseytravel (possibly by supporting an extension to the powers of the Metro Mayor).’

 

Mr Toohey, Principal Licensing Officer, indicated that he was not aware of any plans for centralisation of taxi and private hire vehicle licensing at Merseytravel.  Arising from discussion, members indicated that whilst they could see the benefits of centralisation of taxi licensing since deregulation, they were content with the service currently provided by Sefton Council and hailed it as the best in Merseyside. Mr McGonigle, Uber representative, stated that from his own experience, Sefton provided the best taxi licence service nationally. Mr McLaughlin, Delta representative did state however, that Merseytravel had been instrumental in setting up the National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) as a standard recognised qualification for drivers across all of the Merseyside authorities.

 

RESOLVED: That

 

(1)

Mr Toohey, Principal Licensing Officer, be requested to notify the Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Trade Joint Working Group of any developments / discussions about centralising the taxi licensing function; and

 

(2)

the accolades of Trade Representatives about the taxi licensing function provided by Sefton Council be welcomed.

 

14.

Staffing pdf icon PDF 35 KB

Item raised by Richard Jarman

Minutes:

The Committee considered an item submitted by Mr Richard Jarman, South Sefton Hackney Carriage Association representative.

 

‘Some years ago there was at least one full time officer at Mr Toohey’s level; the job has grown and more staff are needed (with the knowledge – not shuffled from elsewhere)’.

 

Mr Toohey indicated that a new member of staff had recently been appointed at enforcement officer level and that 95% of his own time as Principal Licensing Officer was spent dealing with taxi licensing matters. 

 

Mr Wood, Service Manager, Regulation and Compliance indicated that there were currently no plans to increase staffing levels.

15.

Theft and Fraud Act pdf icon PDF 35 KB

Item raised by Richard Jarman

Minutes:

The Committee considered an item submitted by Mr Richard Jarman, South Sefton Hackney Carriage Association representative.

 

‘Local Police agreed (together with the CPS) some years ago that non-payment is an indictable offence (as are offences under the Fraud Act). Police now refuse to act on this and therefore co-operation should cease’.

 

The Licensing and Regulatory Committee Spokespersons indicated that whilst they supported the principle of the Police attending incidents of non-payment of fares by passengers, they were conscious that the police, like the Council, had experienced Government cutbacks and as such it was not always possible for them to attend what would be considered to be a ‘low level’ crime incident.

 

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:

RESOLVED:

 

That in accordance with Minute No. 37(iii) of the meeting of the Licensing and Regulatory Committee of 24 February 2003, the following item of business be considered as agreed by the Chair and a majority of both sections of the trade because 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.

 

17.

2018/19 Meeting dates

Minutes:

The Committee considered the proposed dates for meetings in the 2018/19 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 two weeks prior to each quarterly meeting of the Council’s Licensing and Regulatory Committee and accordingly it was

 

RESOLVED:

 

(1)

That the 2018/19 meeting cycle be approved as follows:

 

 

(i).

Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Trade Working Group Meetings to be held at 9.30/10.00 on Tuesdays:

 

 

·       5 June 2018 – Southport Town Hall

·       28 August 2018 – Bootle Town Hall (NB Stakeholders may agree to change this date as 27 August 2018 is a Bank Holiday)

·       11 December 2018 – Southport Town Hall

·       5 March 2019 – Bootle Town Hall

 

(ii).

next annual meeting of the Licensing and Regulatory Committee Spokespersons with Representatives of the Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Trade:

 

10.00 am on Tuesday 29 January 2019 – Bootle Town Hall; and

 

 

(2)

it be noted that the next Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Working Group meetings, falling within the current 2017/18 Municipal Year, will be held on Tuesday 13 March 2018, Bootle Town Hall as follows:

 

·       9.30 am – Hackney Carriage Trade Working Group

 

·       10.00 am – Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Joint Working Group.