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Agenda and minutes

Venue: Committee Room 1

Contact: Democratic Services Tel: 01684 272021  Email:  democraticservices@tewkesbury.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

3.

Announcements

When the continuous alarm sounds you must evacuate the building by the nearest available fire exit. Members and visitors should proceed to the visitors’ car park at the front of the building and await further instructions (during office hours staff should proceed to their usual assembly point; outside of office hours proceed to the visitors’ car park). Please do not re-enter the building unless instructed to do so.

 

In the event of a fire any person with a disability should be assisted in leaving the building.

Minutes:

3.1             The evacuation procedure, as noted on the Agenda, was taken as read. 

4.

Apologies for Absence and Substitutions

To receive apologies for absence and advise of any substitutions. 

Minutes:

4.1             Apologies for absence were received from Councillors G F Blackwell, J M Greening (Vice-Chair), P A Godwin and P N Workman.  There were no substitutions for the meeting.

5.

Declarations of Interest

Pursuant to the adoption by the Council on 26 June 2012 of the Tewkesbury Borough Council Code of Conduct, effective from 1 July 2012, as set out in Minute No. CL.34, Members are invited to declare any interest they may have in the business set out on the Agenda to which the approved Code applies.

Minutes:

5.1             The Committee’s attention was drawn to the Tewkesbury Borough Council Code of Conduct which was adopted by the Council on 26 June 2012 and took effect from 1 July 2012.

5.2             There were no declarations made on this occasion.

6.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 119 KB

To approve the Minutes of the meetings held on 8 February and 15 May 2018.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

6.1             The Chair drew attention to Minute No. LIC.14 of the meeting held on 8 February 2018 in respect of the Licensing Audit Action Plan and he sought an update on progress against that plan.  The Environmental Health Manager explained that the majority of issues raised during the audit were administrative and a lot of these had been resolved, for example, Officers had reviewed how they were using the Uniform software system and put in place measures to ensure that data was inputted accurately.  In terms of the action to carry out risk assessments of licensed premises, Members were advised that it was intended to train an Officer to do these assessments when carrying out food inspections; unfortunately, not as much progress had been made as anticipated due to resource issues following a Licensing Officer leaving the authority.  Notwithstanding this, assurance was provided that there were no high-risk premises within Tewkesbury Borough.  He went on to advise that the safeguarding training for hackney carriage and private hire drivers had been well attended; some drivers had already been trained so for them it was a case of obtaining that evidence.  For drivers who had not responded to the request to attend the statutory training, it was intended to run “mop-up” sessions with Cheltenham Borough and Gloucester City Councils which both offered ongoing training courses.  It would be necessary to make a judgement on the point at which drivers who did not attend training were in breach of the conditions of their licence.  A Member was of the view that drivers should not be granted a licence until they had attended training, as she understood was the case at other authorities.  In response, the Environmental Health Manager advised that the training had been held during April and May and licences had been granted throughout that period; the policy stated that training must be completed within a certain number of months following the grant of a licence and this would be strictly adhered to now the bulk of existing drivers had been trained.  Members were advised that a report on progress against the action plan would be provided at the next meeting of the Licensing Committee.

6.2             The Minutes of the meeting held on 8 February and 15 May 2018, copies of which had been circulated, were approved as correct records and signed by the Chair.

7.

Review of Hackney Carriage Tariff pdf icon PDF 135 KB

To approve the renewal of the current hackney carriage tariff until 31 July 2019. 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

7.1             Attention was drawn to the report of the Environmental Health Manager, circulated at Pages No. 5-9, which asked Members to approve the renewal of the current hackney carriage tariff until 31 July 2019.

7.2             The Chair indicated that there was a typographical error at Page No. 7, Paragraph 5.1 of the report, which stated that all licensed proprietors had been contacted in May 2016 inviting them to make suggestions to amend the current hackney carriage tariff and confirmation was provided that this should read May 2018.  The Environmental Health Manager advised that the hackney carriage tariff was reviewed on an annual basis taking into account the economic climate and any comments received during the consultation with licensed proprietors.  Members were informed that economic conditions were similar to when the tariff was last reviewed in June 2017 - although it was recognised there had been a recent spike in oil prices - and licensed proprietors were of the view that there was no need for an increase at this time.  As such, it was recommended that the current hackney carriage tariff be approved until 31 July 2019.

7.3             With regard to the rising cost of oil, a Member indicated that a similar thing had happened a few years ago and, at that time, Cheltenham Borough Council had introduced an emergency fuel charge which was added to the metre at the start of the journey.  This additional charge had remained in place whilst fuel prices stayed high.  She was concerned that fuel costs had already started to rise and she suggested it might be beneficial to approve a similar emergency fuel charge which could be introduced to ensure hackney carriage drivers in Tewkesbury Borough were not adversely affected.  Another Member was of the view that further research should be undertaken to establish whether rising costs were a problem across the county rather than being isolated to a few individual petrol stations.  The Chair considered that it would be appropriate to revisit this if a problem were to arise and the Legal Adviser confirmed that this could be dealt with at a special Licensing Committee meeting if necessary.  The Head of Community Services indicated that the situation would be monitored over the coming months and, if fuel costs continued to increase, a report could be brought back to the next Licensing Committee meeting.  In the interim, Officers would speak to colleagues at Cheltenham Borough Council about the emergency fuel charge that had previously been introduced.

7.4             A Member drew attention to the current tariff, attached at Appendix 1 to the report, and pointed out that Rate 1 should be amended to read: ‘Rate 1 – for hiring between 7am and 11pm (not including Sundays and Public Holidays)’.  In addition, Rate 2 should be amended to read: ‘Rate 2 – for hiring between 11pm and 7am (not including Sundays and Public Holidays)’.  As it stood, the two rates were inconsistent, and Rate 2 could be interpreted as being applicable at any  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.

8.

Licensing General Update pdf icon PDF 239 KB

To consider the progress made regarding reviews of existing licensing policies and recent changes to licensing legislation that is likely to have a significant impact on Council resources.

Minutes:

8.1             Attention was drawn to the report of the Environmental Health Manager, circulated at Pages No. 10-13, which provided an update on current licensing work being carried out by Community Services.  Members were asked to consider the progress that had been made regarding the reviews of existing licensing policies and recent changes to licensing legislation that was likely to have a significant impact on Council resources.

8.2             The Head of Community Services explained that there had been a number of temporary officers within the Licensing department since the Licensing and Systems Team Leader had left the authority in 2017 and he was pleased to report that a Senior Licensing Officer post was included in the new structure for Community Services which would be taken to the Executive Committee in July.  From his point of view, it was important to have a permanent dedicated post for licensing as this was key to ensuring that policies remained relevant and consistent. 

8.3             The Environmental Health Manager advised that it had been intended to bring a draft review of the Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Policy to this Committee for approval, prior to public consultation.  The various policies in place at local authorities across the county had been considered and Cheltenham Borough and Gloucester City Councils had subsequently raised concerns about the disparities between their policies and Tewkesbury Borough Council’s policy.  He indicated that a lot of taxis licensed in Tewkesbury Borough were operating in Cheltenham and worked to slightly different standards which resulted in complaints to Cheltenham Borough Council.  Given these concerns, a meeting had been arranged with Cheltenham Borough and Gloucester City Councils on 20 June to consider the issues and how they might be addressed; a report would subsequently be brought to the Licensing Committee meeting on 18 October 2018.  The Chair welcomed this review and felt that it may help to overcome the perception that it was easier to obtain a licence from Tewkesbury Borough Council than Cheltenham Borough and Gloucester City Councils.  He was of the view that it was important to consider fairness to other districts if drivers were operating in their areas under different conditions.  A Member indicated that the major complaint he was aware of was in relation to the age of vehicles as Tewkesbury Borough Council allowed licensed private hire vehicles to be slightly older than other local authorities.  The Environmental Health Manager agreed that this was one of the concerns; if Tewkesbury Borough Council did amend its policy it would be important to consider the impact on particular groups, for example, a lot of private hire vehicles within Tewkesbury Borough were adapted for disabled use.  Another aspect to consider was air quality.  The Member also raised concern that the area codes for telephone numbers could make it appear that a private hire driver was located within Cheltenham Borough when they were actually in Tewkesbury Borough, for example, in Bishop’s Cleeve - people may think they were contacting a local taxi when that was not  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.