Link to homepage

Agenda and minutes

Venue: Tewkesbury Borough Council Offices, Severn Room

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 advised to those present.

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 C Reid and C Softley.  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 of interest made on this occasion.

12.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 67 KB

To approve the Minutes of the meeting held on 15 July 2021.

Minutes:

12.1          The Minutes of the meeting held on 15 July 2021, copies of which had been circulated, were approved as a correct record and signed by the Chair. 

13.

Mobile Homes and Caravan Sites Licensing Policy 2021-24 pdf icon PDF 81 KB

To approve the revised Mobile Homes and Caravan Sites Licensing Policy 2021-24. 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

13.1          Attention was drawn to the report of the Interim Environmental Health Manager, circulated at Pages No. 4-46, which attached the revised Mobile Homes and Caravan Sites Licensing Policy 2021-24.  Members were asked to approve the policy.

13.2          The Interim Environmental Health Manager explained that legislative changes to the regulations required mobile home and caravan site owners or managers to be assessed as fit and proper persons and the Council’s Mobile Homes and Caravan Sites Licensing Policy had been updated to reflect that.  The draft revised policy had been considered by the Licensing Committee at its meeting on 18 February 2021 where it had been approved for public consultation.  The consultation had ended on 13 October 2021 and no responses had been received.  Members were now asked to approve the policy as set out at Appendix 1 to the report.

13.3          A Member sought clarification of the definition of a fit and proper person in this context and was advised that applicants would be assessed in the same way as taxi and private hire drivers.  A Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check would be required to ensure the applicant had no relevant convictions or claims against them and Officers would check the records held by the Council to see if any issues had been raised in relation to the applicant at any sites.  A Member noted that the Council was required to set up and maintain a register of fit and proper persons to manage sites within its area and he questioned whether that was publicly available.  He also drew attention to Page No. 13, Paragraph 32 of the policy, which stated that enforcement charges would be based on an hourly rate reflecting the costs of enforcement, plus any additional costs incurred, and he asked whether there was an established national hourly rate. In response, the Interim Environmental Health Manager clarified that licensing fees were always based on Officer time.  Whilst the register had not yet been published, it was in the process of being set-up and would be available online. 

13.4          A Member drew attention to Page No. 11, Paragraph 16 of the policy, which stated that a site could not be licensed unless planning permission had been granted.  He indicated that he was aware of a site within his Ward, which was partially in Tewkesbury Borough and partially in Gloucester City, where parcels of land with caravans and mobile homes located on them were being sold off and he asked how the policy would come into play in that situation.  The Interim Environmental Health Manager explained that it was a pre-requisite for a caravan site like that to have planning permission; however, Officers were aware of a number of sites which did not have planning permission or did not have a site licence.  Once the policy had been approved, it was intended to put in place a programme to deal with those sites, as soon as resources allowed.  With regard to Page No. 12, Paragraph 22 of the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 13.

14.

Common Licensing Standards for Taxi and Private Hire Licensing pdf icon PDF 80 KB

To adopt the Gloucestershire Common Licensing Standards for Taxi and Private Hire Licensing, as outlined at Appendix 1 to the report.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

14.1          The report of the Interim Licensing Team Leader, circulated at Pages No. 47-73, advised the Committee on the outcomes of the consultation on the Gloucestershire Common Licensing Standards for Taxi and Private Hire Licensing.  Members were asked to adopt the common standards, as outlined at Appendix 1 to the report.

14.2          Members were reminded that the Department for Transport had published its statutory Taxi and Private Hire Vehicle Standards in July 2020 with a strong focus on protecting all passengers and users of taxi and private hire transport services.  The statutory guidance made clear that the government expected the recommendations to be implemented unless there was a compelling local reason not to do so.  In light of that, the licensing authorities across Gloucestershire had collectively undertaken a review of their hackney carriage and private hire licensing policies and procedures and had drawn up a set of proposed common licensing standards for the county based on the national guidance.  This would mean there was no incentive for drivers to apply to one particular authority for a licence over another; the same fit and proper standard would apply irrespective of where drivers applied for their licence.  It was noted that consultation had been undertaken in April 2021 and no responses had been received, therefore it was not proposed to make any changes to the proposed standards attached at Appendix 1 which Members were asked to adopt.

14.3          A Member queried whether there were any significant changes for Tewkesbury Borough Council and the Interim Licensing Team Leader confirmed that the previous policy had not been very long so the proposed common standards extended the document by around 30 pages.  The statutory guidance had changed a number of things and the most significant changes included Tewkesbury Borough Council signing up to the national refusal database – this was an additional check which ensured that drivers applying to Tewkesbury Borough Council had not previously been refused a licence elsewhere - and a new English language requirement.  A Member questioned whether the common standards had been adopted by the other Gloucestershire authorities and was informed that Tewkesbury Borough Council would be the last to adopt.  A Member thanked everyone who had taken part in this piece of work as it was something Members of the Licensing Committee had wanted for some time and she was pleased there was now a robust document which could be relied upon.

14.4          It was

RESOLVED           That the Gloucestershire Common Licensing Standards for Taxi and Private Hire Licensing be ADOPTED, as outlined at Appendix 1 to the report.

15.

Update on the Licensing Function and Progress of the Service Review pdf icon PDF 67 KB

To consider the update on the licensing function and progress made in relation to the review of the licensing service. 

Minutes:

15.1          Attention was drawn to the report of the Interim Environmental Health Manager, circulated at Pages No. 74-77, which provided an update on the progress of the service review which aimed to deliver an effective and responsive licensing service.  Members were asked to consider the general update on the licensing function and the progress of the service review.

15.2          The Interim Environmental Health Manager advised that the Interim Licensing Team Leader had been with Tewkesbury Borough Council for three months which had made a huge difference to the progress of the licensing service review; there was still a long way to go but things were improving.  There continued to be issues with long term sickness within the team and there would shortly be a vacancy arising for a permanent member of staff.  The Interim Licensing Team Leader would be leaving at the end of the month and a new Licensing Operations and Development Team Leader would be joining the authority on a fixed term one year contract from the end of November.  It was noted that the review was now being monitored by the Corporate Programme Board to ensure progress was reviewed regularly and any issues identified and resolved quickly.

15.3          A Member drew attention to Page No. 75, Paragraph 2.3 of the report which stated that requests for temporary events remained high and she asked how long Temporary Event Notices (TENs) were valid for.  The Interim Environmental Health Manager confirmed that TENs related to a specific event and could apply for a number of occasions within a 12 month period depending on whether the venue was already a licensed premises.  She explained that the number of occasions had been increased by the government recently to give more opportunities for people to hold events following the easing of COVID-19 restrictions.  Another Member raised concern that the Licensing section was under-resourced and he felt this needed to be considered in order to feed into the budget for next year; even without the issues brought about by the pandemic it seemed that the department had been struggling.  This view was shared by another Member who felt that the Licensing section had quite clearly been under-resourced for some time.  He noted from the report that an Officer had been seconded from another authority and he asked which one that was. He raised concern that the introduction of online applications would involve a lot of administrative work which would put more pressure on existing staff.  He drew attention to Page No. 76, Paragraph 2.7 of the report, which stated that a shared service with another Council would be investigated as part of the review and he suggested that another authority may already have an IT system in place which could be utilised and he asked if that had been given any thought.  In response, the Interim Environmental Health Manger advised that the secondment referenced in the report was the current Interim Licensing Team Leader who was from Cheltenham Borough Council which had already implemented  ...  view the full minutes text for item 15.