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To receive any apologies for absence from Councillors.
Apologies were received from Cllr J Bagwell, Cllr D Brown, Cllr B Dion and Cllr N Decent.
To receive information on any changes in the membership of the Committee.
Note – When a member of a Committee is unable to attend a meeting of a Committee or Sub-Committee, the relevant Political Group Leader (or their nominated representative) may, by notice to the Monitoring Officer (or their nominated representative) prior to the meeting, appoint a substitute member from within the same Political Group. The contact details on the front of this agenda should be used for notifications.
Cllr D Borthwick was substitute member for Cllr B Dion for this meeting.
Declarations of Interests
Councillors are requested to declare any interests on items included in this agenda. Please refer to the workflow on the preceding page for guidance.
Declarations received will be reported at the meeting.
Cllr G Farquhar declared a personal interest in the agenda item on the Statement of Licensing Principles – Gambling Act Policy 2022 – 2025 in that he had a moral objection to the gambling industry, particularly the exploitation of animals such as in greyhound racing and horseracing. He did not speak or vote on the item.
To confirm and sign as a correct record the minutes of the Licensing Committee meeting held on 16 September and the minutes of Licensing Sub Committee meetings held on 24 June 2021, 15 and 28 September, 13 and 28 October, 10 and 25 November, 8 and 22 December 2021 and 16 February 2022.
Note: The exempt versions of the minutes of the Sub Committees held on 24 June, 15 September, 10 and 25 November, 22 December 2021 and 16 February 2022 are also included as restricted documents. At each of these meetings the Sub Committee resolved that under Section 100 (A)(4) of the Local Government Act 1972, the public be excluded from the meeting for an item of business on the grounds that it involved the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in Paragraphs 1 and 2 in Part I of Schedule 12A of the Act and that the public interest in withholding the information outweighs such interest in disclosing the information.
The minutes of the Licensing Committee meeting held on 16 September and the minutes of Licensing Sub Committee meetings held on 24 June 2021, 15 and 28 September, 13 and 28 October, 10 and 25 November, 8 and 22 December 2021 and 16 February 2022, were confirmed as a correct record.
To receive any public questions, statements or petitions submitted in accordance with the Constitution, which is available to view at the following link:
The deadline for the submission of a public question is 4 clear working days before the meeting.
The deadline for the submission of a public statement is midday the working day before the meeting.
The deadline for the submission of a petition is 10 working days before the meeting.
The Chair reported that a public question and statement had been received from Mr David Lane, on behalf of the BCP Taxi and Private Hire Association, in relation to the agenda item updating members on the implementation of, and amendments to BCP Taxi and Private Hire Policies. The Chair welcomed Mr Lane and invited him to read out his question and statement:
Question from Mr David Lane, on behalf of BCP Taxi and Private Hire Association
Madam Chairman. Please can you confirm that arrangements are in hand for the next unmet needs survey to take place as required during the next financial year and for the findings to be subject to meaningful consultation?
Response from Chair
Thank you, Mr Lane, for your question. The last unmet needs survey for BCP was dated January 2020. This survey is required due to the current quantitative restrictions on the number of Hackney Carriage Licences in the Poole and Bournemouth zones. The Department for Transport best practice guidance states that
“If a local authority does nonetheless take the view that a quantitative restriction can be justified in principle, there remains the question of the level at which it should be set, bearing in mind the need to demonstrate that there is no significant unmet demand. This issue is usually addressed by means of a survey; It will be necessary for the local Licensing Authority to carry out a survey sufficiently frequently to be able to respond to any challenge to the satisfaction of a court. An interval of three years is commonly regarded as the maximum reasonable period between surveys.”
I can confirm that the Licensing Manager has already started the procurement process to arrange for a specialist company to carry out the necessary survey later this year, the costs involved have increased by some 15% on the last survey taking it to close to £30,000 this cost is recovered through the Hackney Carriage Licensing Fees.
The best practice guidance’s starting point on quantitative restrictions is set out in paragraph 47:
“Most local Licensing Authorities do not impose quantitative restrictions; the DfT regards that as best practice.”
However, the best practice guidance goes on to say that in cases where local authorities have opted for a policy restricting HCV licences:
“…the DfT would urge that the matter should be regularly reconsidered. The Department further urges that the issue to be addressed first in each reconsideration is whether the restrictions should continue at all.”
Once the survey has been completed and the report received, members will consider the information to determine if any changes to the current numbers of Hackney Carriage numbers is required or not. If it determines there is no unmet need, then the Licensing Authority have full discretion as to whether to continue with the current restrictions and the release of additional licences as set out within our Policy or not. In cases where there is unmet need then the restrictions must be removed altogether. ... view the full minutes text for item 24.
The Council is required to publish a Statement of Licensing Principles under section 349 of the Gambling Act 2005 (the Act) every three years. The purpose of the Statement is to define how the Licensing Authority will exercise its responsibilities under the Act. This will be the first Statement of Licensing Principles to be published by BCP Council since its creation in April 2019. The draft policy was approved by Committee on 16th September 2021 and public consultation took place for 12 weeks between October and December 2021.
In total nine responses were received, and these were considered by a Members’ workshop on 26th January 2022. The draft policy is now offered for final consideration by the Committee, taking into account the consultation responses received and any recommendations put forward from the Members’ workshop.
The Interim Head of Licensing presented a report, a copy of which had been circulated to each Member and a copy of which appears as Appendix 'A' to these Minutes in the Minute Book.
The Committee was reminded that the draft Gambling Act Policy was approved by members for consultation on 16th September 2021. A full public consultation had taken place for 12 weeks between October and December 2021. Responses to the consultation were considered at the members’ workshop in January 2022. The draft policy with suggested changes was now presented to the Committee for final consideration and recommendation to Council for adoption.
The Chair invited members to ask questions and make comments, focussing in particular on the suggested changes highlighted in the policy document and taking into account the consultation responses received and the views of the members’ workshop.
In his response it was noted that the Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) had referred to a recent Government commissioned report on gambling harms and their associated costs. The Interim Head of Licensing confirmed that the policy would be kept under review in light of the Government’s intention to review the 2005 Act.
The Interim Head of Licensing reported that one of the consultation responders, Gosschalks LLP (on behalf of the Betting and Gaming Council), had requested that the suggested changes at Sections 15.3 and 15.4 of the policy be removed as unnecessary. The Committee agreed that there was no detrimental reason not to include the changes, particularly in view of the PCC’s comments on the risks associated with gambling harm.
The Committee noted that the suggested change in Section 18.1 was intended to address the concerns raised by Gosschalks around the imposition of conditions.
In addition to the suggested changes in the report which the Committee approved, further amendments were agreed as follows:
· Appendix 1, Direct Consultation List – The Committee agreed that Neighbourhood Forums and Neighbourhood Watch Associations should be added to the list of consultees for all future Licensing Policy public consultations
· Section 7.2 – ‘Located on the Jurassic Coast’ – The Committee asked that this statement be checked for factual accuracy and removed as required.
· Section 7.3 – ‘Two Universities’ – The Committee asked that this statement be checked for factual accuracy and amended to three as required.
· Section 7.3 – The Committee agreed to add the words ‘and ferry port’ after ‘airport’.
· Section 19.1 – The Committee agreed that the word ‘like’ as well as ‘most’ be deleted to read ‘that are adult only amusement arcades.’
· Section 31.2 – The Committee agreed that the reference to ‘Criminal Records Bureau’ be updated to read ‘Disclosure and Barring Service’
· The Committee also agreed that any incorrect references to a ‘premise’ in the document be amended to ‘premises’.
The Committee noted that the Equalities Impact Assessment (EIA) circulated at Appendix 6 of the report had been considered and approved by the Council’s EIA Panel.
RESOLVED that having considered the public consultation and the recommendations put forward ... view the full minutes text for item 25.
On 1 June 2021 the new BCP Taxi and Private Hire Policies for Drivers, Vehicles and Operators were implemented.
These were the first new taxi and private hire policies for BCP Council which replaced the preceding three separate legacy authority arrangements. These policies introduced several new requirements on drivers and vehicle licence holders. This included:-
· All vehicles will be mechanically inspected every six months, once at a Council testing station and then at any garage for an MoT
· harmonised livery requirements for new hackney carriages
· an age limit for all new vehicles
· an upper age limit for existing licenced vehicles
· safeguarding training for all licence holders refreshed every three years
· requirement for drivers to sign up to the DBS update service to allow checks every six months
Since the introduction of these policies feedback and suggested improvements have been provided by the trade and licensing officers.
As a direct result of feedback this report seeks to amend the policies to clarify requirements, remove unnecessary sections and amend inconsistencies.
The Interim Head of Licensing presented a report, a copy of which had been circulated to each Member and a copy of which appears as Appendix 'B' to these Minutes in the Minute Book.
The Committee was reminded that the new BCP Taxi and Private Hire Policies for Drivers, Vehicles and Operators were implemented on 1 June 2021. Since the introduction of these policies, feedback and suggested improvements had been provided by the trade and licensing officers. As a direct result of this, the Committee was asked to consider some minor amendments to the policies to clarify requirements, remove unnecessary sections and amend inconsistencies.
The Chair invited members to ask questions and make comments, focussing in particular on the suggested changes highlighted in the policy documents. Unless specified below, these suggested changes were agreed. Additional matters raised included:
· Paragraph 7.6 – The Committee agreed the suggested amendment subject to the removal of the duplicate word ‘first’, to read ‘from the date of first registration’.
· Paragraph 7.11 – The Committee asked that ‘and seat belts’ be added to this requirement, to be consistent with other references in the document.
· Paragraph 7.14 – The Committee asked that the wording of this requirement be amended to be grammatically correct.
· Paragraph 8.4 – The Committee agreed the suggested amendment, subject to amending the word ‘checked’ to ‘rechecked’.
· Paragraph 9.4 – The Committee did not agree to the Trade’s request that the date for licensed vehicles meeting Euro 6 emission standards be put back to December 2024 to be in line with the respray deadline. While appreciating the points made about costs, Members agreed this needed to be progressed in accordance with published timescales.
· Paragraph 16.6 – The Committee agreed the suggested amendment.
In the discussion there were differing views on whether this requirement constituted a business restriction on the licence holder or whether the licence should be returned to the Council as licence ‘owner’ to reissue.
· Section 17 – The Committee agreed the suggested amendments in relation to livery requirements, subject to the addition of the word ‘either’ before Christchurch and replacement of the word ‘Eurostyle’ with ‘Eurostile’ in Paragraph 17.1.
There was a discussion on the requirements for the new livery and it was acknowledged that unfortunately there would always be individual cases which fell just outside the timescales.
· Paragraph 22.1 – The Committee asked that the reference to ‘shall be’ be amended to ‘must be’.
It was confirmed that private hire vehicles were not required to have meter, but those that did had to provide a form of receipt.
· Section 27 – The Committee asked that the numbering in this section be checked and amended as required.
· Appendix D – It was noted that the highlighted text had been carried over from a previous version as an anomaly and should be amended.
In addition to the above, the Committee considered the following points raised in the debate:
Tinted Windows – Paragraph 7.7 of the policy
The Committee agreed ... view the full minutes text for item 26.
A request has been received by Mr David Lane on behalf of BCP Taxi and Private Hire Association for a 7% increase in the current Hackney Carriage Tariff.
The Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 allows the Council to fix the rates or fares within the district for time as well as distance.
Any change in the tariff will be reflected across all three current Hackney Carriage zones within BCP Council conurbation.
The Interim Head of Licensing presented a report, a copy of which had been circulated to each Member and a copy of which appears as Appendix 'C' to these Minutes in the Minute Book.
The Committee was advised that a request had been received from BCP Taxi and Private Hire Association for a 7% increase in the current Hackney Carriage fares and charges, as outlined in the tariff chart provided and with effect from 1 May 2022.
Mr Kevin Diffey addressed the Committee on behalf of the Association to explain the reasons for the request as originally submitted on 28 January 2022, including:
· The latest RPI indication of inflation of 8%.
· The price of fuel which had increased from £1.17 to £1.50 (approx. 30%) a litre on average from December 2020 to Dec 2021.
· Tyres and other motor parts had seen increases of up to 20%.
· The need for owners to update their vehicles (or at least the livery) in line with the policies
Since submitting the original request Mr Diffey referred to the extreme change in circumstances brought about by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. He reported that a 7% increase in the tariff would now not even cover fuel costs. The escalating price of fuel alongside the increase in the cost of living would very likely force the Trade to request a further rise in fares and charges at some point this year.
The Committee agreed that the impact of recent events was a major consideration. Members discussed whether to agree an 8% increase, the figures for which had been included in the original request, or agree a higher increase then review after six months. The Trade was asked whether it would prefer to defer its request to prepare and submit a more realistic figure rather than coming back at a later date with another submission. Mr Diffey confirmed that the Trade would be happy with an 8% increase now and then review as required.
The Committee noted that the BCP tariff was currently at the high end of the list of comparators, although it was acknowledged that requests to increase were likely to be submitted to other Councils. Members also commented that fuel costs were volatile, that passengers were also facing cost of living pressures and that it would be helpful to know if private hire rates were increasing at a similar level (although it was acknowledged that the Committee did not control these).
The Interim Head of Licensing outlined the statutory process to be followed should a change to the fares and charges be agreed. The Council was required to publish notice of the proposed tariff and allow 14 days for objections to be made. Any objections received would need to be considered by the Committee, otherwise if there were no objections the new tariff would come into effect at the end of the consultation period.
RESOLVED that the Committee approves the changes to the Hackney Carriage fares and charges at an amended percentage increase of ... view the full minutes text for item 27.
To consider the Committee’s Forward Plan and update as required.
The Committee considered its current Forward Plan and agreed to add the following items:
· Provision of Electric / Hybrid vehicles – to take forward the issues discussed in Minute number 26.
· Provision and Positioning of Taxi Ranks – to report back on outcome of discussions between the Licensing Office and the Trade.
· Unmet Needs Survey.