Agenda and draft minutes

Licensing Committee
Wednesday 10th March, 2021 7.00 pm

Venue: Online meeting - Livestreamed. View directions

Contact: William Troop  Tel: (01279) 502173 Email:  william.troop@eastherts.gov.uk

Media

Items
No. Item

408.

Apology

To receive apologies for absence.

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Minutes:

An apology for absence was submitted on behalf of Councillor Jones.

 

409.

Minutes - 25 November 2020 pdf icon PDF 67 KB

To approve the Minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on Wednesday 25 November 2020.

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Minutes:

It was moved by Councillor Bolton and seconded by Councillor Crofton, that the Minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 25 November 2020 be confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman. After being put to the meeting and a vote taken, this motion was declared CARRIED.

 

RESOLVED – that the Minutes of the Committee meeting held on 25 November 2020 be confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.

 

410.

Chairman's Announcements

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Minutes:

The Chairman said that the Local Authorities and Police and Crime Panels (Coronavirus) (Flexibility of Local Authority and Police and Crime Panel Meetings) (England and Wales) Regulations 2020 came into force on Saturday 4 April 2020 to enable councils to hold remote committee meetings during the COVID-19 pandemic period. This was to ensure local authorities could conduct business during the current public health emergency. This meeting of Licensing Committee was being held remotely under these regulations, via the Zoom application and was being recorded and live streamed on YouTube.

 

411.

Declarations of Interest

To receive any Members’ declarations of interest.

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Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

 

412.

Licensing Sub-Committee Minutes - 20 November, 9 December 2020, 8 January, 5 February 2021 pdf icon PDF 81 KB

To receive the Minutes of meetings of the Licensing Sub–Committee held on:

 

20 November 2020

9 December 2020

8 January 2021

5 February 2021

Additional documents:

Minutes:

RESOLVED – that the Minutes of the Licensing Sub-Committee meetings held on 20 November, 9 December 2020, 8 January and 5 February 2021, be received.

 

413.

Department for Transport (DfT) Statutory Taxi and Private Hire Vehicle Standards – Consultation Responses pdf icon PDF 212 KB

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Minutes:

The Service Manager for Licensing and Enforcement introduced the report. He said that there had been eight responses during the eight week consultation. Some amendments to policy had been made in response, such as recognising that it might not always be possible for a taxi firm to obtain a passenger’s name prior to pick-up, particularly on corporate accounts or where the taxi had been booked for the passenger by someone else. It was also recognised that it might have been too onerous for drivers to demonstrate their English proficiency at each licence renewal, and proof of a suitable English qualification would be accepted instead. There had been broad support for the wider use of CCTV, and further work would be done on this issue and presented to the Committee in due course.

 

Councillors Wilson and Goldspink asked about the possibility of the Council being challenged on its more stringent standards on drug-related convictions and said this might leave the Council open to challenge if there was no ‘compelling local reason’ for this.

 

The Service Manager said that the current standards had been approved by the Committee, but he understood Members’ concerns. It was agreed that he would establish the reason for the original decision and respond to Members outside of the meeting. However, the Council’s policy on handheld devices was in line with the Department for Transport’s (DfT) minimum standards and consultee’s responses that the policy seemed harsh would not constitute a compelling reason to amend it.

 

The Chairman said that he was disappointed with the low level of engagement with the consultation given the careful consideration and work on these matters by Committee and Officers. He was also concerned that the DfT considered taxis to be high-risk environments.


Councillor Crofton said that taxis could potentially be high-risk environments, but he was satisfied that the work of the Committee and Officers had significantly reduced this risk.

 

The Chairman asked how the Council could regulate firms outsourcing their booking operations. The Service Manager said that the Council had a right of inspection and firms would have to show that any third-party contractor was operating to the same required standards if this was requested. However, it was not mandatory for firms to inform the Council that they were outsourcing work.

 

Councillor Goldspink asked what the specific suggested steps to the Council were from response four in the consultation.

 

The Service Manager referred Members to Appendix B where the full wording of each response could be found and said Officers explained to the respondent the stringent standards the Council upheld and what checks were carried out on each taxi driver.

 

The Chairman and Councillor Bolton said that they were supportive of the increased use of CCTV within taxis across the District. This would protect both drivers and passengers, and could be gradually phased in alongside the requirement for drivers to have more environmentally friendly vehicles. The cost of in-vehicle CCTV systems was no longer prohibitive and could be used to record  ...  view the full minutes text for item 413.

414.

Review of Licensing Activity in Quarter 3 of 2020 pdf icon PDF 147 KB

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Minutes:

The Service Manager for Licensing and Enforcement introduced the report and highlighted the main points to the Committee.

 

The Chairman thanked the Service Manager and Officers for their work. He asked about licenses for scrap metal collection and waste removal within the District and said it may be beneficial for licensed operators to have a badge to display on their vehicles in the same way that taxi drivers did.

 

The Service Manager said that there was a low level of this activity within the District. However, information was passed on to the police where intelligence was garnered about illegal practises or unlicensed operators. The Council did provide notices for display in operators’ windscreens, as well as a badge to prove they were licensed.

 

Councillor Symonds said she had been unaware of the need for operators to be licensed for waste removal and suggested that awareness was raised amongst residents about this.

 

The Head of Legal and Democratic Services said that there was a legal obligation on residents to ensure that any operator collecting their waste was appropriately licensed.

 

Councillor Crystall asked for further details on the settling of the Jungle Bar licence application by a consent order.

 

The Service Manager and the Chairman explained that a compromise had been struck between the Licensing Authority and the applicant, both having taken a steer from Members of the relevant Sub-Committee. All of the conditions and restrictions had remained, but the licensed hours had been slightly extended. This was agreeable to the applicant and the appeal had been withdrawn.


RESOLVED
– that the report be received.

 

415.

Urgent Business

To consider such other business as, in the opinion of the Chairman of the meeting, is of sufficient urgency to warrant consideration and is not likely to involve the disclosure of exempt information.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

There was no urgent business.