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LICENSING COMMITTEE

 

Minutes of a meeting held on 5th November, 2013.

 

Present: Councillor A.G. Powell (Chairman); Councillor H.C. Hamilton (Vice-Chairman); Councillors P.J. Clarke, G.A. Cox, K.J. Geary, Mrs. V.M. Hartrey, K. Hatton, Mrs. A.J. Moore, Ms. R.F. Probert, J.W. Thomas and R.P. Thomas.

 

 

541     APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE -

 

These were received from Councillors Mrs. P. Drake, N. Moore and Mrs. M.R. Wilkinson.

 

 

542     MINUTES -

 

RESOLVED - T H A T the minutes of the meeting held on 3rd September, 2013 be approved as a correct record.

 

 

543     DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST -

 

No declarations were received.

 

 

544     MINUTES OF THE LICENSING-SUB COMMITTEE -

 

RESOLVED - T H A T the minutes of the following meetings of the Licensing Sub-Committee be noted:

  •  29th April, 2013
  • 28th August, 2013
  • 19th September, 2013.

 

545     PUBLIC PROTECTION: REGULATORY SERVICES COLLABORATIVE PROJECT (PRESENTATION) (DDS) -

 

Committee received a presentation on the progress being made to create a shared Regulatory Service between Bridgend, Cardiff and Vale of Glamorgan Councils.

 

Each Council had received reports on potential collaborative working projects and bids to the Welsh Government's Regional Collaboration Funds.  This included proposals to create a regional regulatory service. 

 

At their July Cabinet meetings, each Council agreed the following recommendations which were now being implemented:

  • The Chief Executive from Bridgend Council is undertaking the role of Chief Executive Project Sponsor.
  • The Head of Regulatory Services from Cardiff Council had assumed responsibility as the Interim Project Manager for the initial development phase of the project.
  • During the preparation of the detailed Business Case  the Heads of Regulatory Services from each Council be authorised to continue to work together to support preparations for the proposed collaborative service whilst ensuring continuity of service.
  • A Shadow Joint Committee had been established to provide overall direction for the project pending decisions by each Authority as to the way forward and that the Shadow Committee should comprise two Members from each Authority.
  • The Shadow Joint Committee considers a range of collaborative models, including a Joint Committee, to provide governance to the proposed Regional Regulatory Service and collectively make a recommendation to each Council's Cabinet.
  • Should the Shadow Joint Committee recommend a governance model that required a host (employing) Authority, that a Business Case subsequently be developed on the basis that the Vale of Glamorgan Council would be the host (employing) Authority.
  • The governance arrangements be a matter for the Authorities to finally determine when reporting back to Cabinets.
  • The proposals would be the subject of detailed consultation with the staff affected by the proposals and their Trade Unions during the development of the detailed Business Case.
  • That Cabinet delegate authority to the Head of Paid Service, in consultation with the Leader, to enter into an interim collaborative working agreement to facilitate the further development of the Regional Regulatory Services proposals.

Committee were advised that the drivers for the change included:

  • financial pressures for savings and efficiencies within the service (at least £400,000 over three years within the Vale of Glamorgan)
  • the Welsh Government Collaboration Agenda following the publication of the Simpson Report
  • need to ensure future service resilience/long term sustainability
  • opportunity to 're-model' Regulatory Services
  • the Welsh Government Regional Collaboration Fund opportunity.

It was the intention of the Collaborative Project to create a full integrated Regulatory Services function working across Bridgend, Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan operating within one Management Structure. 

 

By way of explanation, the phrase 'Regulatory Services' included:

  • Trading Standards
  • Environmental Health
  • Licensing.

The shared service would:

  • employ over 200 people
  • have a controllable budget of approximately £8m
  • would serve approximately 615,000 people
  • would possibly include other areas of service at a later date.

A shared Regulatory Service would mean that all Councils would benefit operationally and financially from the project i.e.

  • customer services would be maintained via a more integrated and co-ordinated approach
  • savings in excess of £1m by 2016, comprising efficiency savings and budget reductions
  • increased service resilience across the region
  • enhanced technical capability of staff teams
  • dynamic operating model.

To date, progress on the project had included:

  • a bid for funding from the Regional Collaboration Fund had been approved - £250,000 for the next three years
  • an officer project team had been formed
  • reports had been made to all three Council's Cabinets in July 2013
  • consultants had been engaged in accordance with the Cabinet's decisions which required outputs to be provided within ten weeks
  • senior stakeholder, trade union and project work stream lead meetings had taken place
  • a 'Health Check' review of collaborative model had been presented to Shadow Joint Committee, staff and manager workshops in each Authority
  • activity based costings had been undertaken.

Key staff issues to be resolved included:

  • job losses/terms and conditions of staff
  • location
  • service offerings
  • communication
  • management structure
  • training and development
  • organisational structure.

Members were offered an opportunity to ask questions.

 

Questions ensued as to whether the proposed service would represent a compromise, resulting in a reduced level of service provision.  In reply, Committee were advised that the collaborative service would result in greater specialisation which could be 'sold’ to other organisations, thus giving the shared service and income.

 

Members enquired as to where the staff would be based and were advised that the Consultants were investigating the availability of property and also different ways of working but it was likely that administration would be required in outlying areas. 

 

A further point raised concerned the use of IT systems which would be crucial to the work of the shared service.  With each of the constituent authorities currently using their own systems, how would the shared service manage ?

 

In response Members were advised that this was a matter that would be considered by the Consultants.

 

Following the question and answer session, Committee were advised that the final recommendations concerning the shared service would be brought before the Committee, whereupon it was

 

RESOLVED – T H A T the proposal to prepare a detailed Business Case for a regionalised Regulatory Service comprising Environmental Health, Trading Standards and Licensing which would be reported back to each Authority for approval by the end of the calendar year be noted.

 

Reason for decision

 

To apprise Members of the proposed changes to the support arrangements for the Licensing Committee and the Licensing Sub-Committee.

 

 

546     AMENDMENT TO HACKNEY CARRIAGE AND PRIVATE HIRE VEHICLE AGE POLICY GUIDELINES (DDS) –

 

Committee were requested to approve an amendment to the Vale of Glamorgan’s Age Policy Guidelines for the granting of Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Vehicle Licences to remove the Prestige 1 class.

 

Mr. S. Thomas was present in support of this item. 

 

At the Taxi Consultative Panel meeting of 29th August, 2013, the Members present requested that consideration be given to the removal of the class of vehicles defined in the current Age Policy Guidelines as Prestige 1. 

 

The Prestige 1 Class was originally included in the policy to allow grant applications to be accepted for 'superior’ vehicles up to 10 years of age.

 

Because  the models of modern vehicles change frequently and are available with a range of specifications for each model, it would have proved difficult for criteria to be set to specify which models fell into the Prestige 1 Class.

 

Both the Licensing Officers and the Fleet Manager believed that this system was problematic as it required that a somewhat objective decision had to be made as to the Prestige of each vehicle. 

 

An amendment to the policy would enable operators to procure vehicles without any ambiguity regarding whether the vehicle in question would meet the requirements for the grant of a Hackney Carriage or Private Hire Vehicle Licence. 

 

There were currently two vehicles licensed as Prestige 1.

 

It was suggested that, for clarity, the remaining categories of vehicle in the age policy are renamed as follows:

  • Class 2, mini-bus type vehicles with an automated wheelchair lift
  • Class1, all other suitable vehicles.

RESOLVED – T H A T the Age Policy Guidelines be amended by removing Prestige 1 from the Council’s Age Policy Guidelines and that the remaining categories of vehicles be renamed as follows:

  • Class 2: mini-bus type vehicles with an automated wheelchair lift.
  • Class 1: all other suitable vehicles.

Reason for decision

 

In order to simplify the Policy for the granting of Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Vehicle Licences and remove an unnecessary and problematic distinction between vehicle types from the policy.

 

 

547     APPLICATION 1/2013 – TO REGISTER LAND AT SULLY TERRACE, PENARTH AS A TOWN OR VILLAGE GREEN UNDER S15 OF THE COMMONS ACT 2006 (LS) –

 

On 17th May, 2013, an application was received by the Registration Authority to register an area of land bounded by Sully Terrace, Archer Terrace and Westbourne Road, Penarth. 

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council is the Registration Authority for the administrative area by virtue of the Commons Act 2006.  The Registration Authority has the responsibility under the Commons (Registration of Town or Village Greens) (Interim Arrangements) (Wales) Regulations 2007 in determining applications made under the Act.  The Council’s statutory functions and responsibilities as a Registration Authority were independent to its other statutory and non-statutory functions and the Registration Authority was not therefore to consider any impact upon the Vale of Glamorgan Council when considering the application. 

 

The application was made in respect of land which was owned by the Vale of Glamorgan Council.

 

The Council as Registration Authority was under a duty to maintain registers of Town and Village Greens.  Registrations under the Act may result from:

 

1.         a new green being dedicated by the owner

 

2.         20 years use by local inhabitants before the date of application for registration

 

3.         corrections to errors made under the Commons Registration Act 1965

 

4.         corrections under the Commons Act 2006

 

5.         an exchange of land.

 

The application had been made on the basis of 20 years use by local inhabitants before the date of the application and was in respect of the land shown on the Plan at Appendix 1 to the report.

 

The procedure for dealing with the application was set down in the Regulations.  The original application and supporting documentation was forwarded to those interested in the land for consideration of objections.  A notice was also placed in local newspapers and on site providing a six week period for objections to be received.  Three letters of objection were received in respect of this Application and the applicant was subsequently invited to provide further comments on these objections.  Further representations had now been received from the applicant as a result.

 

An objection to the Application was received from the Vale of Glamorgan Council as landowner of the land comprised within the Application.  The basis of the objection was that the use of the land for sports and pastimes had been 'by right’ (i.e. in exercise of a legal right to do so) and not 'as of right’ as submitted in the Application.

 

Two other letters of objection had been received which disputed the evidence produced with the Application.

 

The courts had emphasised on a number of occasions the importance of the Registration Authority adopting a fair procedure.  It was considered good practice where the Council exercising its function as Registration Authority was also the landowner, that a non-statutory inquiry chaired by a suitably qualified independent person be convened to consider an application and thereafter report on it.

 

An inquiry would provide the opportunity for the applicant and the objectors to submit further evidence, call witnesses and cross examine the other party’s witnesses.  A legally qualified independent chair person who had experience in Town and Village Green applications would be appointed to hear the Inquiry and submit a report on their findings to the Registration Authority together with a recommendation as to whether to register the whole or any part of the land comprised in the application as a Town or Village Green.

 

It was recommended that such an Inquiry be convened in respect of this application given the disputed evidence and the fact that the Council was the landowner.

 

Following consideration of the report, a number of questions arose:

 

Questions

Answers

Members enquired as to the existence of an appeal process following a decision of the Registration Authority.

There was always the opportunity of a party seeking a Judicial Review. 

If this area of land were deemed to be a Village Green, would the Council still be the landowner, and how would this decision affect the cycleway?

The land ownership would not change.

 

The solicitor present at the meeting advised Committee that he represented the Registration Authority and was not therefore able to comment on matters concerning the cycleway.

If the application were granted, what restrictions would be placed on the land in question?

If granted, restrictions would be placed on the 'disturbance of lawful pastimes’ i.e. the causing of disturbance or disruption.

If the Inquiry went the Council’s way, would the applicants have to pay the Council’s costs?

It was believed that there was no scope for this in the legislation.

Would the Council be required to employ a barrister to defend its case?

The solicitor present stated that he represented the Registration Authority and as such, had no part in any decision of the Council to employ a barrister.

 

There being no further questions, it was

 

RESOLVED –

 

(1)       T H A T on the basis of the evidence submitted in support of and against the application as well as the status of the Vale of Glamorgan Council as landowner and objector, a non-statutory Public Inquiry be convened to consider the application.

 

(2)       T H A T the Operational Manager (Legal Services) be given delegated power to appoint a legally qualified and suitably experienced independent Chair-person to hold a non-statutory Public Inquiry to consider the application.

 

(3)       T H A T the cost of appointing Counsel to chair the non-statutory Public Inquiry, and his costs ancillary thereto be met from Legal Services Counsel budget.

 

(4)       T H A T at the conclusion of the non-statutory Public Inquiry the Chair-person shall be requested to produce a report for the Registration Authority which considers the evidence submitted in support and against the application together with the evidence heard at the Inquiry and to provide a recommendation for Licensing Committee whether or not to register the land as Town or Village Green under the Act.

 

(5)       T H A T the further report be presented to Licensing Committee upon receipt of the Chair-person’s report following the non-statutory Public Inquiry in order to determine the applications.

 

Reason for decisions

 

(1-5)    In order for the Council as Registration Authority to discharge its obligation to adopt a fair and transparent procedure and to determine the application in accordance with the relevant legislation.

 

 

548     EXCLUSION OF PRESS AND PUBLIC –

 

RESOLVED - T H A T under Section 100A(4) of the Local Government Act 1972, the press and public be excluded from the meeting for the following items of business on the grounds that they involve the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in Part 4 of Schedule 12A (as amended) of the Act, the relevant paragraphs of the Schedule being referred to in brackets after the minute heading.

 

 

549     FOR INFORMATION REPORT – D. (DDS) (EXEMPT INFORMATION – PARAGRAPHS 12, 13 AND 14) –

 

Committee were informed of action taken by officers of the Licensing Section in relation to the events leading to the arrest of  D.

 

D. had been licensed as a Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Vehicle Driver in the Vale of Glamorgan since 9th December, 2010.

 

In October 2013, the Licensing Section of the Council were notified by a Private Hire Operator that two Court Bailiffs had visited the Private Hire Operator’s office looking for D. as he had failed to attend court and had accumulated penalty points on his DVLA driving licence. 

 

The Licensing Authority were subsequently informed by the Notifiable Occupations Data Management Unit of South Wales Police that D. had, in January 2012, been charged with an offence.  Details of the offence were read to the Members of the Committee.

 

Furthermore, in March 2013, D. had failed to give information relating to the identification of the driver of a vehicle who was alleged to have been guilty of an offence. 

 

D. did not appear at Cardiff Traffic Summons Court in July 2012 and was fined £600 in his absence.

 

In September 2013 a Bailiff had visited the home of D. and he was arrested and subsequently given a 28 day custodial sentence at Cardiff Magistrates Court.

 

In October, 2013 the Licensing Authority received further information from South Wales Police alleging that D.’s DVLA driving licence had expired substantive.  In effect, this meant that D. was not permitted to drive any motor vehicles until his DVLA driving licence had been returned from the DVLA with the accumulated points recorded on his licence and the DVLA licence was back in his possession.

 

Subsequently, D. came to the Licensing Section of the Council to notify that he had been released from prison that morning after serving 10 days of a 28 day sentence for non-payment of fines.

 

During that meeting, D. was invited to attend a meeting with the Council’s Head of Public Protection and the Licensing Team Leader the following day to discuss his offences and his expired DVLA driving licence.  At that meeting, D.’s Vale of Glamorgan Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Driving Licences were revoked under delegated authority as D. did not give any reason or evidence to support his retaining the licences.

 

RESOLVED – T H A T the contents of the report be noted.

 

Reason for decision

 

To ensure Members are aware of the action taken by officers under delegated authority.

 

 

550    APPLICATION TO GRANT HACKNEY CARRIAGE AND PRIVATE HIRE VEHICLE DRIVER’S LICENCES – S (DSS) (EXEMPT INFORMATION – PARAGRAPHS 12, 13 AND 14) –

 

S was present in support of the application.

 

S, in response to questions confirmed that he had read the report before the Committee and that he understood the procedure that would be adopted in the hearing.

 

S. had held Vale of Glamorgan Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Driver’s Licences between October 2008 and October 2011.

 

In August 2013, S. made application for the grant of Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Driver’s Licences.  On the application form at Question 8a, S. was asked to declare all previous convictions, cautions, fixed penalty notices, warnings or any other penalty notices.  S. recorded one offence dating from 1996 as his answer to this question.

 

In October 2013 S. produced his BDS Disclosure Certificate.  The disclosure certificate contained a matter not disclosed by S. on his application form.

 

The matter recorded took place whilst S. held Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Driver’s Licences but there was no record of S. informing the authority at the time as required by the Vale of Glamorgan’s Conditions.

 

S. had produced to the Licensing Section a completed Group 2 Medical carried out by his own GP and a Driving Standards Agency pass certificate as part of his application.  S. had also passed the Vale of Glamorgan Council’s Driver Knowledge Test.

 

S. stated that the matter was not something which he wished to hide – it had just past his mind.

 

There being no further questions, Members considered the matter in private.  Upon being recalled to the meeting, S. was notified that the Committee had considered the report presented by the officers, and having considered S.’s representations, had

 

RESOLVED – T H A T S.’s application for the grant of a Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Vehicle Driver’s Licence be granted with a warning as to his future conduct.

 

Reason for decision

 

To ensure decisions of the Licensing Authority are consistent with its policy on the treatment of convictions, cautions and charges.

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