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Agenda and minutes

Venue: Severn

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

Items
No. Item

9.

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:

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

10.

Apologies for Absence and Substitutions

To receive apologies for absence and advise of any substitutions. 

Minutes:

10.1          Apologies for absence were received from Councillors G J Bocking, R M Hatton and H A E Turbyfield.  There were no substitutions for the meeting. 

11.

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:

11.1           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.

11.2          There were no declarations made on this occasion.

12.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 134 KB

To approve the Minutes of the Licensing Committee meeting held on 14 June 2018 and the Licensing Sub-Committee (Licensing Act 2003 and Gambling Act 2005) meeting held on 19 June 2018.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

12.1          The Minutes of the Licensing Committee meeting held on 14 June 2018 and the Licensing Sub-Committee (Licensing Act 2003 and Gambling Act 2005) meeting held on 19 June 2018, copies of which had been circulated, were approved as correct records and signed by the Chair.

12.2          The Chair wished to record his thanks to Members and officers for their excellent work around the Witcombe Cider Festival and he indicated that he had received a number of reports that the festival had been run in an exemplary way.

13.

Review of Hackney Carriage (Taxi) and Private Hire Policy pdf icon PDF 125 KB

To agree to establish a Licensing Working Group to review the Hackney Carriage (Taxi) and Private Hire Policy and to approve the proposed Terms of Reference.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

13.1          The report of the Environmental Health Manager, circulated at Pages No. 21-64, asked Members to agree to establish a Working Group to review the Hackney Carriage (Taxi) and Private Hire Policy, and to name five Members to serve on the Working Group; and to approve the Terms of Reference for the Working Group, as set out at Appendix 1 to the report.

13.2           The Environmental Health Manager explained that, at the Licensing Committee meeting on 14 June 2018, Members were advised that Cheltenham Borough and Gloucester City Councils had raised concerns about the disparities between Tewkesbury Borough Council’s Hackney Carriage (Taxi) and Private Hire Driver Policy and their own policies.   This was causing problems as a large number of the taxis licensed in Tewkesbury Borough operated predominantly in Cheltenham and Gloucester.  Since that time, two meetings had been held with officers from Gloucester City and Cheltenham Borough Councils to go through the policies and identify the discrepancies which included: age of vehicles, age of driver, length of time the driver had held a UK/EU driving licence, requirement to take a knowledge test, driving assessment requirements and MOT requirements.  He indicated that there was an error in the report at Page No. 22, Paragraph 2.2 which stated that the Working Group would comprise three Members and clarified that this should be five Members - the Lead Member for Clean and Green Environment would also be invited to attend the Working Group meetings.

13.3          During the debate which ensued, a Member questioned why Tewkesbury Borough Council’s policy was the one which needed to be aligned with the other authorities’ policies rather than the other way around.  In response, the Environmental Health Manager explained that the Working Group would have an opportunity to look at the differences between the policies and consider the reasons for making changes, for example, there were issues with licensing older vehicles in terms of safety and emissions etc; assurance was provided that it was not intended to make changes for the sake of it.  As part of the review, it was proposed to consult with the licensed trade to see how they might be impacted by potential changes, for instance, Gloucestershire County Council used several private hire vehicles for school transport.

13.4           A Member indicated that there was a perception that it was easier to obtain a licence from Tewkesbury Borough Council than some of the other authorities in the county so she welcomed the opportunity to review the policy.  Another Member understood that Cheltenham Borough Council had recently approved plans to require all taxis to be wheelchair accessible which had caused a lot of unrest among licensed drivers; the Legal Adviser confirmed that this was being phased in over a period of time.  The Environmental Health Manager advised that there were several retro-fitted vehicles operating in Tewkesbury Borough and there was a need to have a broader discussion about what this would mean for those vehicles.  A Member pointed out that Tewkesbury Borough Council licensed a  ...  view the full minutes text for item 13.

14.

Review of Street Trading Policy pdf icon PDF 201 KB

To approve the draft revised Street Trading Policy for public consultation, which includes an amendment to require an enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service check as a pre-requisite to obtaining a street trading licence, as set out at Appendix 3.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

14.1          The report of the Environmental Health Manager, circulated at Pages No. 65-99, asked Members to approve, for public consultation, the draft revised Street Trading Policy, which included an amendment to require an enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check as a pre-requisite to obtaining a street trading licence, as set out at Appendix 3 to the report. 

14.2           Members were advised that, at the Licensing Committee meeting on 14 June 2018, it was agreed that street traders should be consulted on the inclusion of an enhanced DBS check as a pre-requisite to obtaining a street trader’s licence.  On 11 September 2018, a letter was sent to the 17 licensed street traders within Tewkesbury Borough seeking their view on the proposed changes.  One response had been received which was generally supportive but raised concern about street traders having to pay for the DBS check themselves and that the check was not necessary for all types of street traders so factors such as location should be taken into consideration in terms of the likelihood of them coming into contact with vulnerable children.  The Environmental Health Officer indicated that, whilst it may be less likely that vulnerable children were able to visit street traders in areas that were difficult to access without a vehicle, vulnerable adults may still be able to access such areas and therefore the enhanced DBS checks should be applied to all street traders.  On that basis, it was recommended that this amendment be included within the draft revised policy for public consultation.

14.3          Several Members reiterated the importance of recognising that adults could be vulnerable as well as children and that it was necessary to create a safeguarding environment where all vulnerable persons were protected.  A Member drew attention to Page No. 77, Paragraph 3.3.1 of the draft revised policy, which stated that the Council would have regard to a number of factors in determining whether an applicant was a suitable person to carry out business as a street trader, and she questioned whether it was necessary to take account of ‘failure to make use of a previous street trading consent’.  In response, the Environmental Health Manager explained that this intended to prevent applications being made purely to block other traders from using a certain area. 

14.4           It was agreed that a minor amendment should be made to Page No. 76, Paragraph 3.2.1 of the draft revised policy to read: ‘Applicants applying for a new street trading consent will be expected to obtain will require an enhanced DBS certificate (formerly known as CRB) from the Disclosure and Barring Service, which must be no more than one calendar month old when submitted to the Council’ and that Paragraph 3.2.2 should be amended to state that: ‘The DBS certificate must be in the name and home address of the applicant as detailed on the application form’ as the DBS was personal to the applicant and separate from any business.  A Member noted that the draft revised policy had an implementation  ...  view the full minutes text for item 14.

15.

Licensing General Update pdf icon PDF 139 KB

To consider the updates in respect of the changes to the Houses in Multiple Occupation Regulatory Regime; and implementation of the Animal Welfare Regulations 2018.

Minutes:

15.1          Attention was drawn to the report of the Environmental Health Manager, circulated at Pages No. 100-102, which provided an update in respect of the significant changes to the Houses in Multiple Occupation regime and the implementation of the Animal Welfare Regulations 2018.  Members were asked to consider the report.

15.2          The Environmental Health Manager advised that the new legislation had come into effect on 1 October 2018.  With regard to Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs), there was now a requirement to licence properties that were two or more storeys with at least five tenants that formed more than one household.  It was a requirement that any fees applied relating to the licensing regime adequately reflected the costs to the Council of processing an application and managing that application during the period of the licence.  The previous countywide fee of £450 had been reviewed and would now be £870 for a five year licence; this had been worked out on a component basis taking into account the actual cost to the authority and was comparable with other local authorities in Gloucestershire.  To date, Tewkesbury Borough Council had been contacted by seven landlords wishing to apply to have their properties licensed which, although significantly less than predicted, was in line with similar authorities.  A strategy was being put in place to try to identify other HMOs that met the latest requirements.  The strategy would involve writing to all properties where the address of the Council Tax payer differed from the property address; writing to all estate and letting agents; carrying out a further publicity campaign; and engaging other Council departments/services and strategic partners with a view to gaining intelligence.  The onus would be on the owner to apply for a licence if they were affected by the legislation. A Member suggested that the Electoral Register could be used to identify HMOs and the Environmental Health Manager confirmed there was a specific exemption in the Housing Act which would allow that information to be used for this purpose and it might be possible to combine this with other sources of information, such as Council Tax, in order to identify properties to write to.

15.3           A Member sought clarification as to whether flats could be HMOs and was advised that they could be if they were single living units with five or more people from different households sharing facilities such as a bathroom or kitchen.  A Member raised concern about the difficulties which could arise in terms of Council Tax payment if a landlord failed to register a property as a HMO and he indicated that he had a particular case in mind.  In response, the Chair advised that Members could take any issues to officers at any time and he suggested this be taken up outside of the meeting so the Member could get a definitive answer from the officer in terms of his particular query. 

15.4           A Member questioned what the sanction would be for failing to register an HMO and  ...  view the full minutes text for item 15.

16.

Licensing Audit Action Plan pdf icon PDF 135 KB

To consider progress made against the Licensing Audit Action Plan.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

16.1          The report of the Environmental Health Manager, circulated at Pages No. 103-114, provided an update on the progress made against the actions arising from the internal audit of the licensing function.  Members were asked to consider the report.

16.2          The Environmental Health Manager advised that the Licensing Audit Action Plan, attached at Appendix 1, set out progress to date; whilst the majority of actions had been completed, four required further work and these were outlined at Page No. 104, Paragraph 2.2 of the report.  The requirement to provide Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations (LOLER) certificates required an amendment to the Council’s Hackney Carriage (Taxi) and Private Hire Policy and it was noted that a Working Group had been established earlier in the meeting to undertake that work.  Safeguarding training had been provided for the majority of taxi drivers in March and April 2018 and sessions had now been arranged for November and December 2018 for those who had been unable to attend the initial sessions, and for any new drivers.  Any drivers who did not take up the training opportunity would be in breach of their licence and the enforcement procedure would be commenced which could ultimately result in their licence being suspended.  In terms of future safeguarding training sessions, any new drivers would be directed to Gloucester City Council and would be required to provide their certificate of completion to Tewkesbury Borough Council.  With regard to the action in relation to cost recovery of fees associated with animal boarding establishments, since the original audit was carried out, a new inspections and ratings regime had been introduced as part of the Animal Welfare Regulations and a new charging scheme was being developed as a result.  It was intended to apply the model that had recently been used for the charging scheme for HMOs whereby the various tasks had been identified and associated costs calculated.  The Environmental Health Manager went on to advise that it had been intended to carry out a programme of inspections of licensed premises alongside food inspections; unfortunately, this had not been possible due to reduced resources.  A Senior Licensing Officer post had been agreed as part of the recent service review and an inspection programme would be put in place as soon as that post had been filled.  He stressed that, whilst there was currently no formal inspection programme, premises were inspected as and when necessary and officers would be aware of any issues and would deal with them accordingly.

16.3          In response to a Member query as to how often taxi drivers would be expected to undergo safeguarding training, the Environmental Health Manager understood this would be every three years.  He went on to explain that he was in discussion with Cheltenham Borough Council about the possibility of introducing a training day which would cover a range of key components including equalities training and the knowledge test as well as safeguarding training.  This would be considered as part of the review of  ...  view the full minutes text for item 16.