APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE
Councillors Leach, M Smith, C Walsh and S Walmsley.
DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST
Members of the Licensing and Safety Panel are asked to consider whether they have an interest in any of the matters on the agenda, and if so, to formally declare that interest.
Councillor Rydeheard declared an interest that in his employment he had worked on a number of cases involving Private Hire and Hackney Carriage drivers.
The minutes of the meeting held on the 2nd September 2021 are attached. Members of the Licensing and Safety Committee are asked to consider whether these are a correct record of the meeting, and if so, to formally approve them.
Following the last Licensing and Safety Committee under the public questions agenda item it was reported that a number of topics raised at that meeting would be discussed at a future taxi trade meeting. These included topics on clean air and concerns in respect of an increase in the number of violent incidents and abuse towards taxi drivers.
Ben Thomson, Head of Public Protection provided the committee with an update about GMP data on reported incidents involving projectiles at vehicles. Figures suggested these incidents increased in the school holidays and it was confirmed that this was for the Bury area only and not across Greater Manchester. Information was also provided about a financial support scheme to upgrade or retrofit GM- licensed taxis and private hire vehicles to comply with the GM wide clean air zone and would be open to applications in January 2022.
That the Minutes of the last meeting held on the 2nd September 2021 be approved as a correct record and signed by the Chair.
PUBLIC QUESTION TIME
Questions are invited from members of the public present at the meeting on any matters for which this Panel is responsible.
Approximately 30 minutes will be set aside for Public Question Time if required.
Members of the public were in attendance at the meeting and submitted the following verbal questions:-
Mr Shafqat Mahmood asked the Licensing Department Officers about driver badges expiring and the renewal timelines and made reference to a particular case. He made reference to a specific driver.
The Chair stated that the topic being discussed was a private matter related to individuals so could therefore not be classed as a public question. The Council Solicitor added that matters for individuals were confidential and personal information, therefore they should not be dealt with in a public meeting setting.
An additional comment was provided by Mr Mahmood about an individual and again the Council Solicitor advised that it was not the remit of this committee to deal with such matters and stated that Officers present had noted the points made.
Mr Shafqat Mahmood requested a meeting with the Acting Chair of the meeting and the Chair of the Licensing and Safety Committee to look into his concerns.
Mr Muhammad Sajjad Warraich asked why some drivers who had points on their driving record had managed to keep their taxi licence whilst other had lost their licence. The Council’s Solicitor commented that the decision was decided on a case-by-case basis on individual circumstances.
A member of the public asked a question in relation to driver dress codes in relation to the proposed GM wide Minimum Licensing Standards (MLS), particularly in relation to wearing shorts. He requested details as to the source of the information. The Licensing Unit Manager explained that was included in a standard report produced by Greater Manchester Licensing Network and a request could be made for which area it came from along with examples of poor dress code.
The same member of the public then asked about proposals within the MLS that private hire vehicles need to be white in colour with yellow stickers and stated that this could make taxis a bigger target for anti-social behaviour. The Licensing Unit Manager stated this was currently only a proposal and may be subject to change following consultation.
Mr Shafqat Mahmood then asked if a meeting could be arranged with the trade and Councillors on the Committee before decisions are taken on MLS and how would they go about it. Information was provided about writing to the Licensing Department, Chief Executive or Chair of the relevant committee to submit a request.
The Licensing Unit Manager added there had been a full consultation undertaken in relation to the MLS with over 1,650 responses received from the public, taxi trade and other organisations.
Mr Muhammad Sajjad Warraich commented that there would be a risk of cross border drivers coming into the borough due to the MLS.
Mr Shafqat Mahmood then commented that taxi drivers were CRB checked as part of the application process and asked if the Council checked that staff who worked in the Licensing Department were regulated under the same process.
A report from the Executive Director (Operations) is attached.
The report set out updates in respect of the following issues:
AMENDMENTS TO THE LICENSING ACT 2003
The Licensing Service had been made aware that there had been some amendments to the Licensing Act 2003 which came into force on the 16th September 2021. The changes were detailed in the report.
Members of the Committee asked if the licence trade had been consulted with in relation to Licensing Act changes.
The annual Parklife festival at Heaton Park took place on Saturday 11th and Sunday 12th September with New Order on Friday 10th. Public Protection Officers worked throughout all the events over the three days and were joined by the Covid marshals.
Officers carried out checks found the following issues: -
· Licensed vehicles with incorrect signage
· Large number of licensed private hire vehicles from outside of Bury being moved on
· Various street traders (including 2 ice cream vans) were moved on for not having a valid street trading consent for Bury.
· Visits to Licensed premises including off licences were undertaken
· Pedlars who did not hold a valid pedlars certificate issued by the police were moved on.
· People trading from their driveways closed down due to lack of street trading consent despite prior warning being given.
Officers are currently reviewing their findings to inform any future events that take place at Heaton Park.
Councillors commented on the Parklife section of the report, querying its licensing arrangements and raising the question why Covid Marshals were present at the event and requested a job description of the role. Members also questioned the issue of trading from private driveways.
Details were listed in the report about the Licensing Service dealing
with Licensing Act and Hackney Carriage/Private Hire compliance
and enforcement matters (Between the period 30th August- 27th
ENGAGEMENT WITH THE TAXI TRADE – Stage 2
On the 22nd September 2021, a taxi trade liaison meeting took place, the Licensing Unit Manager briefed national and local trade representatives on the stage 2 proposals of the common minimum licensing standards relating to vehicles.
GAMBLING ACT 2005 – STATEMENT OF PRINCIPLES
The Licensing Authority (the Council) are consulting on the 3-year review of the Councils Statement of Principles. The consultation period will close on 22 October 2021. At the end of the consultation period, the review will be brought before the Licensing and Safety Committee for consideration. The new Statement of Principles including any amendments to the existing policy will become effective from the 31January 2022.
EV CHARGING POINTS
The Licensing Service had been liaising with the Hackney Carriage
and Private Hire Trade regarding the siting of dedicated electric
vehicle charging points that are specifically for the trade. 2
proposed locations detailed in the report had been identified and
they are currently undergoing feasibility studies.
The Licensing Service had asked trade representatives to identify another suitable location and this ... view the full minutes text for item LSP.5
Any other business, which by reason of special circumstances, the Chair agrees may be considered as a matter of urgency.
No urgent business was reported at the meeting.
EXCLUSION OF PRESS AND PUBLIC
To consider passing the appropriate resolution under section 100 (A)(4) of the Local Government Act 1972 that the press and public be excluded from the meeting during consideration of the following item of business since it involves the likely disclosure of the exempt information stated.
That in accordance with Section 100(A)(4) of the Local Government Act 1972, the press and public be excluded from the meeting during consideration of the following items of business since it involved the likely disclosure of information relating to individuals who hold Licences granted by the Authority or Applicants for Licences provided by the Authority.
SUSPENSION/REVOCATION OF PRIVATE HIRE DRIVER LICENCE
A report from the Executive Director (Operations) is attached.
Licence Holder 18/2021
The Executive Director (Operations) submitted a report relating to Licence Holder 18/2021 who was in attendance at the meeting. The Chair made introductions and the Council Solicitor outlined the procedure to be followed and clarified that all those in attendance had read the report. The report was accepted by the Licence Holder and the Licensing Unit Manager set out the reasons for the Licence Holder being before the Committee.
The report stated the licence holder had held a private hire driver’s licence continually since 24th October 2018 until its expiry on the 23rd October 2021. He had also held a private hire operator’s licence since 21st August 2020.
On the 17th August 2021, the Licence Holder had made an application to renew his private hire operator’s licence and declared fixed penalties for two motoring convictions for speeding on 17th November 2018 and 26th May 2019, for which he received fines of £100 and penalty points for each conviction. Due to a technical issue this declaration relating to fixed penalties did not appear on the application form that was considered by the licensing service; therefore, his private hire operator’s licence was renewed until the 20th August 2022. Prior to the application to renew his private hire operator’s licence he had emailed the licensing department on 5th July 2021 to inform them that he had received two motoring convictions following an email that went to all licensed drivers to remind them of the conditions attached to their licence.
This Licence Holder had therefore failed to declare this motoring conviction within 7 days, as stipulated in the private hire drivers licence conditions.
The Licence Holder explained that he thought he had notified the Licencing Service but did so a second time when he received the email. He went on to state that it would be devastating to suspend or revoke his licence as he didn’t work during the Covid pandemic due to a family member suffering with an illness. His business had built up and he may employ another driver. The majority of his work was within the Jewish community, and he was a trusted person providing services to both women and children.
Upon questioning by the Licensing Unit Manager, the Licence Holder confirmed he had read the licensing conditions and apologised for the mistake.
The Committee carefully considered the report, and oral representations by the Licence Holder.
Taking into account the Council’s Conviction Policy and Guidelines and in accordance with the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976, the Committee resolved to admonish the License Holder as to his future conduct and reminded him of his responsibility for declaring future convictions within the timescales printed on the licence.
Licence Holder 22/2021
The Executive Director (Operations) submitted a report relating to Licence Holder 22/2021 who was in attendance at the meeting along with a family member. The Chair made introductions and the Council Solicitor outlined the procedure to be followed ... view the full minutes text for item LSP.8
APPLICATIONS FOR THE GRANT/RENEWAL OF PRIVATE HIRE DRIVER LICENCES
A report from the Executive Director (Operations) is attached.
Licence Holder 25/2021
The Executive Director (Operations) submitted a report relating to Applicant 25/2021 who was in attendance at the meeting along with Mr Khan his legal representative and a family member. The Chair made introductions and the Council Solicitor outlined the procedure to be followed and clarified that all those present had read the report. The report which was accepted by the Applicant and the Licensing Unit Manager set out the reasons for the Applicant being before the Committee.
This Applicant was first granted a hackney carriage driver’s licence on the 24th February 2015 which was held continuously until it was revoked at a meeting of the Licensing and Safety Panel on the 19th October 2017. This was due to a complaint from a female passenger which alleged that the Applicant, whilst driving her to her destination, had continually touched his private parts. This had resulted in the passenger feeling upset and shaken, reporting the matter to his operator and also the police. As a result, the Panel had decided the Applicant was no longer a ft and proper person to hold his driver’s licence.
The Applicant appealed that decision to the Crown Court which enabled him to drive until that appeal was rejected on the 22nd May 2018.
The Applicant then reapplied for a hackney carriage driver’s licence in 2019. The application was put before the Licensing and Safety Panel who determined to refuse the application due to his previous actions and that they were still not satisfied he was a fit and proper person to hold a driver’s licence.
On the 16th March 2021 the Applicant submitted a new online application for a hackney carriage driver’s licence. Due to his previous Panel appearances this licence application was before the Licensing Safety Committee to determine his suitability as a fit and proper individual to hold a hackney carriage driver’s licence.
A character reference in relation to this case was circulated to the Chair and Members of the Committee.
The Applicant’s legal advisor Mr Ahmed spoke on behalf of the Applicant and stated that the Applicant had set up a direct debit to pay off the costs and that in the past had been provided with very poor legal advice in relation to appealing previous decisions. He went on to explain that since the incident, the Applicant now understands the serious nature of the offence and means no harm or disrespect to any females. The misunderstanding would not happen again as he would not wish to cause any other offence. Due to the appeal costs he needed to earn more money to pay off the debt as he was only able to deliver food. Mr Ahmed went on the offer an apology to the female passenger and that he had had 4 years to contemplate his actions.
The Licensing Unit Manager confirmed with the Applicant that an English and maths assessment test had been undertaken and passed by the Applicant. Due to concerns by ... view the full minutes text for item LSP.9