Agenda and minutes

Licensing Committee
Thursday 14th March, 2013 4.30 pm

Venue: Council Chamber, Wallfields, Hertford. View directions

Contact: Peter Mannings  Tel: (01279) 502174 Email:  peter.mannings@eastherts.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

690.

Apologies

To receive apologies for absence.

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were submitted on behalf of Councillors M McMullen and J Taylor.

691.

Minutes – 1 November 2012

To confirm the Minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on Thursday 1 November 2012 (Previously circulated as part of the Council Minute book for 12 December 2012).

Minutes:

RESOLVED – that the Minutes of the meeting held on 1 November 2012 be approved as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.

692.

Licensing Sub–Committee pdf icon PDF 32 KB

To receive the Minutes of meetings of the Licensing Sub-Committee:

14 January 2013
28 January 2013
13 February 2013.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

RESOLVED – that the Minutes of the Licensing Sub–Committee meetings held on 14 January, 28 January, 13 February 2013, be received.

693.

Taxi Licensing Policy: Recommendations From Community Scrutiny Committee pdf icon PDF 32 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Director of Neighbourhood Services submitted a report presenting the findings of the Community Scrutiny Committee and, in particular, recommendations for Members to consider for inclusion in taxi licensing policy.

 

The Licensing Manager advised that the Leader of the Council had made a commitment to a review of taxi licensing services following a series of articles in the press regarding the criminal convictions of taxi licence holders.  Members were reminded that Community Scrutiny Committee had set up a Task and Finish Group to undertake a review of the Taxi Licensing process.

 

The Task and Finish Group had been led by Councillor R Beeching and was assisted by Councillors K Crofton, Mrs D Hollebon, M Pope and M Wood, with Councillor Mrs R Cheswright attending as an invited observer.  The Task and Finish Group had considered whether the taxi driver licensing process was effective, efficient and economic.

 

Members had considered evidence from taxi driver representatives and from Members and Officers involved with Development Control at face to face meetings.  Best practice from other Authorities had been gathered through desk-based research, which had been reviewed alongside models from lead bodies of both the car insurance and the security licensing (doormen) industry.  Members had also taken written evidence from the local police.

 

The Community Scrutiny Committee, at its meeting held on 20 November 2012, had endorsed the approach and findings of the Task and Finish group, and resolved to recommend to the Licensing Committee that a robust Convictions Policy be introduced, with some powers delegated to Officers.

 

Members were referred to Essential Reference Papers ‘B’ and ‘C’ for the recommendations from the Task and Finish Group.  Members were also invited to consider the convictions grid suggested by the Task and Finish Group.  Members were advised that there had been a degree of benchmarking with other Local Authorities and East Herts Council’s approach was more robust than a number of other Councils in Hertfordshire.

 

Councillor E Bedford commented that the Authority should have a convictions policy for Taxi Driver Licensing.  Councillor R Beeching stated that a lot of work had been done by Officers and the Task and Finish Group in considering the economy, efficiency and reliability of the Taxi Licensing function.  He stressed that Members had considered the delegated decision making process used by Development Control Officers when considering planning applications.  He also stated that this report sought Members’ endorsement in principle of a Convictions Policy, as detailed in Essential Reference Paper ‘B’.

 

In response to a query from Councillor E Buckmaster, the Licensing Manager commented that the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act did not apply to Taxi Drivers.  Members were advised that the risk categories proposed by the Task and Finish Group focussed on the risk to the public rather than the severity of a taxi driver’s previous offences and subsequent convictions.

 

The Licensing Manager drew Members’ attention to proposed additional changes to the Taxi Licensing Policy set out in Essential Reference Paper ‘C’.  Officers had identified these matters as suitable for  ...  view the full minutes text for item 693.

694.

Review of Statement of Licensing Policy pdf icon PDF 28 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Director of Neighbourhood Services submitted a report updating Members in respect of the timetable for consultation on the review of the statement of licensing policy under the Licensing Act 2003.

 

Members were advised that Officers would submit a draft amended Statement of Licensing Policy to Licensing Committee on 11 July 2013.

The Licensing Manager stated that feedback to statutory consultation would then be presented to Licensing Committee on 14 November 2013.  Members would, at that stage, make recommendations on a final draft of the Statement of Licensing Policy to Council for approval.

The approved Statement of Licensing Policy would then be published for a five year period, expiring on 31 January 2019.

 

Members received the report.

 

RESOLVED – that the report be received.

695.

Licensing Act 2003 As Amended Police Reform And Social Responsibility Act 2011: Early Morning Restriction Orders And Late Night Levy pdf icon PDF 42 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Director of Neighbourhood Services submitted a report setting out the arrangements for declaring an Early Morning Restriction Order.  He invited the Committee to debate the extent to which an Early Morning Restriction Order (EMRO) should be implemented in the East Herts area.

 

Members were advised of the operational elements of a Late Night Levy and EMRO  and the implications for the Authority and the Police in terms of the funding that would be raised by imposing a Late Night Levy.  Members were advised that 70% of the levy would go to Hertfordshire Constabulary.

 

The Licensing Manager advised that an EMRO would re-impose a restriction on the time that premises could open until across East Herts.  Members were reminded that licensing hours had been previously deregulated as a blanket closing time of 11 pm had presented significant challenges for police.  The staggered closing times currently in place allowed the police to plan shift patterns around when premises closed.

 

Members were advised that Hertfordshire Constabulary were more in favour of EMROs in terms of controlling crime and disorder, so long as the problems associated with an 11 pm blanket closure were not replicated by all premises closing at the same time early in the evening.  The police were also not in favour of a blanket late closure as this would cause problems with managing shift patterns.

 

The Licensing Manager referred to Cumulative Impact Areas as an additional or alternative option for Members to consider, as the police had previously requested for this to be considered in Hertford and Ware.  Members were reminded that such a measure should only be implemented if this was appropriate for the promotion of the 4 licensing objectives and there must be support from the business community.

 

Councillor R Beeching stated that there must be more information for Members and Officers to consider before EMROs, Late Night Levies or Cumulative Impact Areas were put in place.  Councillor K Crofton stated that he would not support these measures without more supporting evidence from the police.  The Licensing Manager stated Officers had sought more evidence from Hertfordshire Constabulary.

Members received the report and deferred a decision on the recommendations now detailed to the next meeting on 11 July 2013, subject to the receipt of information from Hertfordshire Constabulary in respect of crime and disorder and the need for an EMRO and/or Late Night Levy.

 

RESOLVED – that (A), subject to the receipt of information from Hertfordshire Constabulary in respect of crime and disorder and the need for an Early Morning Restriction Order (EMRO) and/or Late Night Levy, a decision on the principle of an EMRO and/or Late Night Levy being implemented in East Herts be deferred; and

 

(B)   the consideration of the potential advantages of Cumulative Impact Areas as an alternative to either or both the Late Night Levy and EMROs be deferred.

696.

Options for Improvement of Bishop’s Stortford Taxi Rank Provision pdf icon PDF 29 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Director of Neighbourhood Services submitted a report detailing the options for additions to taxi rank provision in Bishop’s Stortford.  He also sought authorisation for consultation with the licensed taxi trade for further evaluation of the available options.

 

Members were reminded that the main taxi rank in Bishop’s Stortford was a significant distance from the upper town area of North Street and South Street.  The Licensing Manager stated that a number of suggestions for alternative provision had come to light following a walk around the town centre with Town Councillors.  These were discussed.

 

Members received the report.

 

RESOLVED – that the consultation with the licensed taxi trade to further evaluate the options for additional taxi rank space in Bishop’s Stortford be approved.

697.

Expression of Interest from Taxi Vehicle Condition Garages pdf icon PDF 28 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Director of Neighbourhood Services submitted a report in respect of expressions of interest from 5 garages to provide taxi vehicle condition certificate testing facilities.  Members were advised that 4 of these garages had since confirmed their expressions of interest in writing.

 

The Licensing Manager advised that a taxi vehicle condition garage had been removed from the approved list as the garage had lost its capacity to conduct MOT tests.  Members were advised that Officers had contacted a number of garages that had previously expressed an interest in working with the Authority.

 

Members were advised that Hertford Autocentre had first approach East Herts Council in 1992 in respect of assisting the Authority with vehicle condition certificate tests.

 

Members received the report and supported the addition of one or more garages to the Council’s approved list of Taxi Vehicle Condition Certificate garages, and selected Hertford Autocentre for inclusion on the list.

 

RESOLVED – that Hertford Autocentre be approved for inclusion on the Council’s approved list of Taxi Vehicle Condition Certificate garages.

698.

Attendance at Licensing Sub-Committee pdf icon PDF 22 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Director of Finance and Support Services submitted a report detailing Members’ attendance at Licensing Sub–Committees including those attending as observers.  Councillor Mrs R Cheswright commented that she had attended the 13 February 2013 meeting of the Licensing Sub–Committee as an observer.

 

Members received the report.

 

RESOLVED – that the report be received.

699.

Report On Licensing Activity Quarter 4 Of 2012 pdf icon PDF 27 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Director of Neighbourhood Services submitted a report providing an update on processing licences, enforcement activity and the implementation of the Service Plan for Quarter 4, the detail of which was set out in the report now submitted.

 

Members received the report.

 

RESOLVED – that the report be received.