Agenda and draft minutes

Venue: Town Hall - Bridge Street, Bideford, EX39 2HS. View directions

Contact: Mary Richards  Email: democratic.services@torridge.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies For Absence

To receive apologies for absence for the meeting.

 

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillor Wiseman.

 

2.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 61 KB

Confirmation of the Minutes of the meetings of 27 February and 17 April 2019.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

It was proposed by Councillor Hackett, seconded by Councillor James and –

 

Resolved:

 

That the minutes of the meeting held on 27 February be agreed and signed as a correct record.

 

No vote was taken.

    

Matters Arising

 

Minute 42 – Taxi Drivers Liaison Committee and Taxi Rank Working Group

 

The Chair asked for an update on the Taxi Rank Working Group.  The Lead Licensing Officer advised that this will be brought to the next committee meeting.

 

Minute 46 – Business Report

 

A summary of the changes in animal licensing legislation was requested.  The Lead Licensing Officer explained that there had been substantial changes brought about by DEFRA introducing new regulations effective 1 October 2018. A different inspection regime and star rating scheme had been introduced which had to be adopted by all authorities.

 

It was proposed by Councillor Hackett, seconded by Councillor James and –

 

Resolved:

 

That the minutes of the meeting held on 17 April be agreed and signed as a correct record.

 

No vote was taken.

 

3.

Declarations of Interests

Members with interests to declare should refer to the agenda item and describe the nature of their interest when the item is being considered.

Minutes:

Members were reminded that declarations of interest should be made as and when the specific agenda item to which they related was under discussion.

 

4.

Agreement of Agenda Items Part I and II

Minutes:

There were no Part II items.

5.

Urgent Matters of Information to be Brought Forward with the Permission of the Chair and the Committee

Minutes:

There were no urgent matters.

 

6.

An Introduction to the role of the Licensing Committee pdf icon PDF 970 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Environmental Health & Community Safety Manager explained to the Committee that Licensing fell within Environmental Health and Regulatory Services.  The Lead Licensing Officer and the Senior Solicitor were very experienced in the legal procedural aspects of licensing and were there to support Committee Members in ensuring decisions made by the Committee were legal and could be supported within the legislative framework.

 

To emphasise the importance of the role of the Licensing Committee Member, the Environmental Health & Community Safety Manager referred to the independent inquiry carried out by Professor Alexis Jay into the Child Sexual Exploitation case in Rotherham and a further report by Louise Casey.   Licensing services had been heavily criticised in the report.  The executive summary had highlighted the failings of officers, management and Members.

 

The Environmental Health & Community Safety Manager went on to illustrate the robust measures Torridge had in place to safeguard and protect the public from harm.

 

The officer was asked whether a database was available to all councils which showed every taxi driver, regardless of where they operated, who had been classified as not fit and proper.  The response was that a database had been brought in which is voluntary at the moment.  However, the Government was reviewing it with the intention of making it mandatory. Torridge has signed up to the database but policies and procedures need to be reviewed.  The review will be carried out next year.   TDC’s corporate enforcement policy had been updated last year,  specifically around safeguarding.

 

Further information was requested about the amount of information which could be given to Members relating to investigations.  Committee Members will be provided with all of the information which can be legally provided.  Advice would need to be sought from the legal team and procedures within the licensing framework would have to be considered.

 

The Lead Licensing Officer delivered a presentation which focused on the 2 main activities of his role – taxi licensing and the Licensing Act 2003.

 

Taxi/Private Hire Vehicles outside of London are licensed by the local authority and are governed by the Town Police Clauses Act 1847 and the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976.  However, new legislation is expected within the next few years.  Although not a statutory requirement, Torridge District Council does have a taxi licensing policy.  This is reviewed every 3 years and is due for review in 2020.

 

Details were given about:

 

·         the difference between a taxi (hackney carriage) and a private hire vehicle and how these are designated within Torridge

·         driver, vehicle and operators licences

·         safeguarding – determining whether a driver is fit and proper

·         qualifications and standards

·         the hearing procedure – it is essential as much information as possible is provided to support complaints

 

The number of plates within Torridge is restricted to 49 plates.  This figure had been in place a number of years and was determined by an independent demand analysis which is reviewed every 3 years.  A number of aspects had been considered when reaching this figure including the size of  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.

7.

Consideration of the Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 40 KB

To develop the Committee work plan for 2019/2020.

Minutes:

The Chair explained the format of the Forward Plan

 

Items for the next meeting:

 

·         Hearing procedure

·         Annual business report – what the licensing team has done over the past year

·         Taxis - general discussion

 

Councillor McGeough asked that the taxi rank in Bridgeland Street be reviewed.

 

The Environmental Health and Community Safety Manager responded to a question on the licensing of caravan parks and swimming pools, advising that this was not area the Licensing Committee was responsible for.  To be discussed further outside of the meeting with Councillor Hames.

 

Certain items have to be reviewed at specific times and the Lead Licensing Officer will programme these into the Forward Plan.

 

The Committee discussed public houses:

 

A review of the public houses in Bideford was requested, particularly with reference to drug dealing.  The Lead Licensing Officer told the Committee that intel and police evidence were required for any enforcement to be implemented. 

 

There was concern that there is only one part time enforcement officer – it was felt this should be reviewed.

 

Pub Watch – currently the scheme was not in operation, however, it is in the business plan and the intention is to set this up this year.  Premises had been surveyed but the response had been poor, although Holsworthy and Westward Ho! had expressed an interest.  Councillor Bushby suggested that, if the council feel this is good practice, it should be a condition of the licence.  The Environmental Health and Community Safety Manager advised that the Pub Watch Scheme had to be run by the trade and the council would facilitate it.  A launch event is planned where the benefits to the trade will be illustrated.

 

The Chair spoke about the sub-committees which are often required after meetings.  Councillor Mckenzie will chair any sub-committees pertaining to taxi drivers and Councillor James will head up any sub-committees relating to licensing.