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LICENSING COMMITTEE

 

Minutes of a meeting held on 30th May, 2012.

 

Present: Councillor A.G. Powell (Vice-Chairman in the Chair); Councillors P.J. Clarke, G.A. Cox, Mrs. P. Drake, K.J. Geary, H. Hamilton, Mrs. V.M. Hartrey, K. Hatton, Mrs. A.J. Moore, Mrs. A.J. Preston, J.W. Thomas, R.P. Thomas and Mrs. M.R. Wilkinson.

 

 

14        COUNCILLOR MARGARET ALEXANDER -

 

Councillor Powell opened the meeting by referring to the recent death of Councillor Alexander, a dear friend and colleague who had worked diligently during her 17 years as a Member of the Council in serving not just her ward constituents but the whole of the Vale.  Members and officers then stood in solemn silence as a mark of respect.

 

 

15        APOLOGY FOR ABSENCE -

 

This was received from Councillor Ms. R.F. Probert.

 

 

16        MINUTES -

 

RESOLVED - T H A T the minutes of the meeting held on 17th April, 2012 be approved as a correct record.

 

 

17        LICENSING SUB-COMMITTEE -

 

RESOLVED - T H A T the minutes of the Licensing Sub-Committee held on 30th April, 2012 be noted.

 

 

18        DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST -

 

The Chairman declared an interest in Agenda Item No. 7, Application to Waive Age Policy Guidelines, in that the applicant was a sponsor of a club of which he was a member.  The Chairman vacated the room during consideration of the above matter.  Councillor J.W. Thomas was elected Chairman for that item.

 

 

19        IMPROVING SECURITY FOR HACKNEY AND PRIVATE HIRE LICENCES (REF - MINUTE NO. 981) -

 

The Scrutiny Committee (Housing and Public Protection) had, on 14th March, 2012 considered the above matter which had formed the subject of a Request for Consideration from Councillor R.J. Bertin.  Councillor Bertin had requested a report from both the police and the Council's officers on how security had been improved in relation to the issuing of Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Licences given that a terrorist involved in a London bomb plot had been investigated for posing as a taxi driver in Wales.  Councillor Bertin had also requested that a representative of the taxi operators attend that meeting and give evidence.  The Principal Regulatory Services Officer had amplified the comprehensive report submitted by the Director of Legal, Public Protection and Housing Services, in addition, Inspector Winslade-Gregory had addressed the Committee.  He indicated that he was extremely satisfied with the conduct of the Council's Licensing Officers and referred to the very good partnership working relationship between the Council's officers and the police which was preventing harm and assisting the country in preventing terrorism activity.  Mr. Thomas, Secretary of the Vale of Glamorgan Taxi Association, had also addressed the Scrutiny Committee and referred to a recent decision of the Licensing Committee to grant a driver's licence without a current CRB being obtained.  Since that was not a matter which fell within the remit of the Scrutiny Committee, the Chairman invited Councillor John Thomas as Chairman of the Licensing Committee to comment further.  Councillor Thomas referred to a previous meeting with the Vale of Glamorgan Taxi Association where all matters relating to the application concerned had been explained in detail to the representatives.  The concerns expressed at that meeting would be borne in mind by the Licensing Committee in the future. 

 

In response, Mr. Thomas had requested that the Council's Licensing Committee in future give more weight towards its recommendations prior to the granting of any application in such circumstances. 

 

The Scrutiny Committee subsequently recommended that the Council's Licensing Committee give more weight to officer recommendations in its deliberations when considering any applications for Hackney Carriage or Private Hire Vehicle Licence where a current CRB was not in place. 

 

RESOLVED - T H A T the recommendation of the Scrutiny Committee be agreed.

 

Reason for decision

 

To ensure that the protection of the public was at the forefront of the Licensing Committee’s deliberations when considering such applications.

 

 

20        FOR INFORMATION REPORT - POLICE REFORM AND SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY ACT 2011 (DLPPHS) -

           

Some of the provisions of the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011 came into force on 25th April, 2012.  Paragraphs 5 - 20 of the report outlined those amendments.  It was anticipated that the further amendments to the Licensing Act 2003 would be introduced later in the year and it was noted that updates would be provided as those amendments were introduced.  The Principal Regulatory Services Officer drew particular attention to the expected amendment in relation to fees and charges which would allow Licensing Authorities to set their own.  In response to questions (para. 10 of the report), the position in relation to Environmental Health Officers (EHOs) now being able to object to applications for Temporary Event Notices was clarified in that EHOs could object to an application they felt undermined any of the Licensing Objectives.  The amendment referred to in para. 15 was also clarified in that a Licensing Authority could now add conditions to a Temporary Event Notice where it felt it was appropriate to do so rather than if it was necessary providing a premises licence was in existence where the temporary event would be taking place.  Members considered that this amendment would strengthen the hand of the Licensing Authority.

 

RESOLVED - T H A T the report be noted.

 

Reason for decision

 

For information.

 

 

21        APPLICATION FOR APPROVAL AS AN AUTHORISED HACKNEY CARRIAGE METER TESTER - PANDA MOTORS LIMITED (DLPPHS) -

 

Consideration was given to an application from Panda Motors Limited of Llandore, Swansea for approval to test Hackney Carriage meters in the Vale of Glamorgan and issue meter certificates for Hackney Carriages licensed by this Council.  A copy of the application was appended to the report.

 

RESOLVED – T H A T the application from Panda Motors Limited to test Hackney Carriage meters in the Vale of Glamorgan be approved.

 

Reason for decision

 

To provide Hackney Carriage proprietors with a greater choice of approved meter testers.

 

 

22        DRIVING STANDARDS AGENCY (DSA) DRIVING ASSESSMENT FOR TAXIS AND PRIVATE HIRE VEHICLE DRIVERS (DLPPHS) -

 

Approval was sought to amend the application process for Vale of Glamorgan Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licences to require all new applicants to pass the DSA Driving Assessment for Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles prior to being granted a licence.  The process included a written test in which applicants’ basic skills would be tested as well as their knowledge of the Highway Code, taxi legislation, the Vale of Glamorgan’s conditions and the geography of the area.  In accordance with the decision of this Committee in February 2012, a letter was sent to all licensed Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Drivers and Private Hire Operators seeking their views on the above proposal, a copy of which was appended to the report.  No responses were received by the due deadline.

 

Discussion ensued as to whether the above requirement would apply to existing Hackney Carriage / Private Hire Drivers on renewal of their licences.  Reference was also made to the fact that some applicants kept failing various elements of the current tests and, as a consequence, the CRB check they were required to take at the commencement of the process could be as much as 12 months old when they eventually passed.  Although the Council had set an end date of 3 years for a CRB check, concern was expressed that offences might have occurred between the issue of the CRB and the applicant being licensed.  Consideration was then given as to whether or not such applicants should be required to undergo a further CRB check or whether the current process should be amended to require an applicant to apply for a CRB check after having passed all the necessary tests.

 

RESOLVED -

 

(1)       T H A T the requirement for all new applicants for Vale of Glamorgan Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Driver Licences to pass the DSA Driving Assessment for Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles prior to being granted a licence be approved.

 

(2)       T H A T a date of 1st July, 2012 be set for the implementation of the amendment to the application process in order to allow time for the administrative changes that would be required.

 

(3)       T H A T any applications for Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Driver Licences submitted prior to the implementation date be processed in accordance with the current criteria.

 

(4)       T H A T the Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Vehicles Drivers Policy for Late Renewals approved in October 2008 be amended to include a statement that existing Licensed Drivers applying for late renewals would not be required to undertake the DSA Driving Assessment for Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles prior to being granted a licence.

 

(5)       T H A T, where any licences were granted after 1st January 2013, the applicant be required to pass the DSA Driving Assessment for Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles.

 

(6)       T H A T a further report be submitted to the next meeting relating to the concerns expressed above in relation to CRB checks.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1-5)    To ensure that the Vale of Glamorgan Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licences are granted only to individuals with the appropriate standard of driving skills.

 

(6)       To allow further consideration of the matter and the need, if any, to amend the current application process.

 

 

23        REFORMING THE LAW OF TAXI AND PRIVATE HIRE SERVICES (DLPPHS) -

 

Committee was notified of the above consultation paper published by the Law Commission, a summary of which was appended to the report.  A number of key issues being considered for revision included more enforcement powers for licensing officers against out of borough vehicles and drivers and removing the exemption for wedding and funeral cars.  The consultation also looked to address national standards including national minimum safety standards, disability training for drivers and allowing leisure use of licensed vehicles.  In addition, the proposals also looked to clarify certain areas including the introduction of a statutory definition of “plying for hire” and exclusions for volunteers and other services where transport was not the main service provided, such as childminders.  Changes to the licensing system were also being considered by issuing binding statutory guidance to create greater consistency in how legislation was applied, bringing more vehicles within the licensing system.

 

RESOLVED –

 

(1)       T H A T the report be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T any comments or responses to the consultation be submitted to the Principal Regulatory Services Officer by 30th June, 2012.

 

(3)       T H A T the Principal Regulatory Services Officer provide a response to the consultation on behalf of the Licensing Authority.

 

Reason for recommendations

 

(1-3)        To ensure that the Vale of Glamorgan Council takes the opportunity to comment on the reform of the law on taxi and private hire services.

 

 

24        APPLICATION TO WAIVE THE VALE OF GLAMORGAN’S AGE POLICY GUIDELINES FOR THE GRANT OF PRIVATE HIRE VEHICLE LICENCES - RENAULT MASTER, RK53 AXU (DLPPHS) -

           

Consideration was given to the above application from Mr. C. Mort of CJ Contract Travel Services Limited as appended to the report, as was Mr. Mort’s accompanying letter which explained that the vehicle in question was an ambulance.

 

Within the current Age Policy Guidelines it was stipulated that Prestige 2 vehicles must be under 5 years old to have a licence granted for the first time.  The vehicle subject to the application had first been registered in September, 2003 and was, therefore, almost 9 years old.

 

Mr. Mort was not in attendance but his representative spoke in favour of the application being granted.  Mr. Morgan, representing the Vale of Glamorgan Taxi Association, was also in attendance but indicated that he had no comments to make in respect of the application.  The Licensing Officer explained that CJ Contract Travel Services Ltd. had previously been granted a waiver of the Age Policy Guidelines in respect of several vehicles.  The reason for this was because of the repeal of Section 75b of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 in January 2008.  Section 75b allowed for vehicles to be used for the carriage of passengers for hire and reward to be exempt from the requirement to hold a licence providing a contract was in place and the contract was for not less than 7 days. 

 

This waiver was granted to allow Mr. Mort to continue to provide the service of the carriage of children with special needs, often in specially adapted vehicles, without having to provide a large number of newer vehicles in a short space of time.  The Licensing Committee had resolved to waive the Age Policy Guidelines to allow Mr. Mort time to renew those vehicles in line with the Age Policy Guidelines. 

 

Mr. Mort’s representative confirmed that currently approximately two vehicles per year were being renewed and indicated his view that the vehicle that was the subject of the application would pass the necessary test. 

 

Members were reminded that the Committee had only recently adopted new Age Policy Guidelines and that consultation had been undertaken with the trade.  Having regard to the circumstances of the case, it was

 

RESOLVED – T H A T the application to waive the Age Policy Guidelines be refused.

 

Reason for decision

 

The vehicle is four years beyond the age limit set out in the Council’s Age Policy Guidelines for the grant of a licence for a vehicle of this type. 

 

(The Chairman, having declared an interest in the above matter, vacated the room and Councillor J.W. Thomas was elected Chairman for the consideration of the same.)

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