Venue: Council Chamber, Bury Town Hall
Contact: Michael Cunliffe Democratic Services
APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE
Apologies for absence were submitted by the Assistant Director of Operations Strategy, L Swann.
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 both Private Hire and Hackney Carriage drivers.
The minutes of the meeting held on the 8th June 2023 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.
That the Minutes of the last meeting held on the 8th June 2023 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.
No questions had been pre submitted and no members of the public were in attendance at the meeting.
A report from the Executive Director (Operations) is attached.
The report set out updates in respect of the following issues:
The Licensing Service had dealt with a number of compliance and enforcement
Matters between the 29th May and the 2nd July 2023.
LICENSING HEARING SUB-COMMITTEE HEARING
On the 27 March 2023, Greater Manchester Police submitted an application to the Licensing Authority for a Review of the Premises Licence in respect of Club 66, 24 Silver Street, Bury. Members will recall that an urgent item was listed at the Meeting of the Licensing and Safety Committee on the 17 April 2023to request that the period for the hearings be extended. Under the relevant legislation, time limits can be extended where it is in the public interest to do so and that by reason of special circumstances relating to the local government election and timing of committee appointments, the Licensing Authority requested that the deadline for holding the hearing be extended until the week commencing the 12th June 2023. This would also allow for any new Members of the Licensing Committee to receive the appropriate training.
The Licensing Hearings Sub-Committee took place on the 13 June 2023, Members considered the application and appropriate evidence from Greater Manchester Police and decided to revoke the premises licence and to remove the designated premises supervisor.
The Licensing Service had received an application to Transfer the premises licence and to vary the designated premises supervisor at Club 66, 24 Silver Street, Bury. Greater Manchester Police have made representations to both of these applications which were scheduled to be considered by the Licensing Hearings Sub-Committee on the 4July 2023.
The Licensing Service had been advised that the proposed designated premises supervisor no longer wishes to be named on the premises Licence and the new Limited company have confirmed that they do not wish the licence to be transferred to them. The premises licence has now reverted back to the previous owners.
Officers from the Licensing and Trading Standards Services locate with Public Protection worked on the 9th- 11th June covering the Courteeners and Parklife events held at Heaton Park. Officers dealt with issues relating to the following matters:-
· Illegal Street Trading
· Enforcement of Hackney Carriage and Private hire legislation.- 78 Vehicles licensed by other authorities identified for reporting for, various issues e.g., plying, damage, missing signs or refusing to move on and causing obstruction
· Checking of Pedlars Certificates
· Checking of Licensed Premises
· Unlicensed Takeaways
· Assisted GMP with seizure of a private hire vehicle
Officers will feedback their findings at the debrief meeting that will be held in due course. A thank you has been received from Greater Manchester Police regarding the Officers from Public Protection for their hard work during the event and, keeping young people safe and looking after residents.
MULTI AGENCY VISITS – TOBACCO DOG
On Friday the 23rd June, Officers from Trading Standards, Licensing and
Greater Manchester ... view the full minutes text for item LSP.5
A report from the Executive Director (Operations) is attached.
The Executive Director (Operations) submitted a report relating to representation received from the Private Hire Drivers Association in relation to the recently advertised proposed increase to the Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Vehicle licence fees and Private Hire Operator License fees.
The Head of Public Protection outlined the report to the committee.
The Committee was informed that in February 2023, Full Council approved increases in fees and charges for 2023/2024. The proposed increase was detailed in the report attached to the agenda packs and should have come into operation on the 4th May 2023.
The total cost of the Taxi Licensing Service for the financial year 2022/23 was
£372,000 and the total income received by the service was £327,000. This
resulted in an under recovery of costs to the value of £45,000. The licensing
service continue to work with the finance department to develop a full cost
In addition, the cost of operating the service will increase in 2023/24 due to
inflation therefore Council fees and charges need to be increased.
Each licensing authority considers their own fees and charges in line with the
costs of operating their own service and the income received. It should be noted
that Wolverhampton have significantly more vehicles licenses than Bury (in the
region of 20,000) therefore a direct comparison cannot be made.
Wolverhampton’s current related fees were included in Appendix 1 of the report.
Members were reminded that this matter was previously considered at the last meeting on the 8th June 2023. The Assistant Director of Operations Strategy and the Licensing UnitManager outlined the report and the options available to the members contained within the report. Members considered the content of the report and resolved to defer the consideration of the report until this meeting and Members requested that the following questions were answered.
Why have we put charges up by the amounts we have??
A council wide review of fees and charges took place across a number of service areas. Examples include, but are not limited to, replacement bins, Leisure Membership, Market Rents, Licensing administration costs. The review was undertaken by the Head of Commercial Services in conjunction with Finance and the proposed increases in fees and charges were considered by Full Council in February 2023.
The review considered the levels of fees and charges across other Greater Manchester Authorities to ensure any proposed increases were in line. The Licensing Service has since collated the current (July 2023) fees and charges that relate to this report from other GM Licensing Authorities and attached at Appendix 1. Due to variations of how each Local Authority sets and structures their fees, a direct like for like comparison is not able to be achieved, but the attached shows the fees for Bury are broadly in line with other authorities.
The decision noted at Full Council in February 2023 was:
“At the invitation of the Mayor, Councillor Gold, Cabinet Member for Finance and Communities, made a statement on the ... view the full minutes text for item LSP.6
Any other business, which by reason of special circumstances, the Chair agrees may be considered as a matter of urgency.
The Chair agreed that the following matter may be considered as a matter of urgency.
Hackney Carriage & Private Hire Policy Revisions.
The Head of Public Protectioninformed the committee via a report which had been circulated from the Executive Director (Operations) advising Members on some of the challenges facing licensing authorities due to the negative impacts of extensive out of area working within the private hire industry, including the decline in taxi and private hire licence numbers in Bury and the approach made by trade representatives for amendments to key policy areas.
It has also been almost 2 years since this Committee approved Stage 1 of the Minimum Licensing Standards (MLS) for Taxi and Private Hire (Drivers and Operators) and over 18 months since the approval of Stage 2 (Vehicles) as part of the harmonisation of standards project across Greater Manchester (GM). These standards are still not fully adopted or implemented across GM in large part due to the continued delay of the Clean Air Plan which has in turn delayed access to Clean Taxi Funds upon which many policy decisions are dependent.
Shortly after the MLS policy positions were initially agreed across GM, the Department for Transport (DfT) issued proposed Best Practice Guidance for Taxi and Private Hire licensing and ran a consultation from March – June 2022. Elements of this draft guidance departed significantly from the MLS that had been initially agreed across GM, namely the vehicle age and private hire sticker policies. The DfT is yet to respond to that consultation and has not committed to a timetable for issuing the final guidance.
With the ever-changing industry, continued licence shopping impacting many licensing authorities, and without final completion of Stage 1 & 2 of the MLS project being achieved (with three districts still yet to approve MLS vehicle standards for their current fleets) some GM districts have already felt compelled to review their position and depart from MLS policies they had previously approved. Consequently, the MLS project is currently under full review.
There are a range of related factors that encourage this behaviour all related to policy, customer service, cost and levels of enforcement. Officers from the Licensing Service have engaged with trade representatives through the trade liaison meetings and the most common reasons cited for licensees leaving Bury or not choosing to be licensed here are:
· Vehicle Livery including front vehicle licence plates, and vehicle sticker policy.
· Fire Extinguisher/First Aid Kit
A graph in the report showed how the number of licences issued by Bury has declined over the past 5 years.
The graph illustrates that Bury is continuing to lose licensees and without intervention from the government, with no current plans to prevent licence shopping through legislative change, this trend is only likely to continue. It is important to also note that the pandemic had a detrimental impact on the trade.
Information was provided on the Council’s current policy which requires that council issued non-magnetic stickers were placed in the correct location in and ... view the full minutes text for item LSP.7
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 PUBLIC / PRIVATE HIRE DRIVER LICENCES
A report from the Executive Director (Operations) is attached.
Licence Holder 3/2023
The Executive Director (Operations) submitted a report relating to Licence Holder 3/2023 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 present had read the report. The report, which was accepted by the Licence Holder and presented by the Licensing Unit Manager, set out the reasons for the Licence Holder being before the Committee.
The report stated that the Licence Holder had held a private hire driver’s licence continually since the 5th April 2007. They also held a Private Hire Operators Licence since the 12th March 2012. The Private Hire Operators’ Licence expired on the 3rd June 2020 and their private hire driver’s licence is current until the 6th November 2025.
When the Licence Holder renewed his private hire driver’s licence in October 2022, the Licensing Service were alerted to a conviction not disclosed and full details were attached in the private agenda packs.
The Licence Holder was before members for consideration to be given as to his suitability to remain a Private Hire Driver and also become a Private Hire Operator in Bury.
The Committee carefully considered the report, and oral representations by the Licence Holder. The Committee noted the explanations provided but reminded the Licence Holder to adhere to the conditions of a licence and to obtain a reference number when having communications with the Council in future.
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 licensee as to future conduct and grant a new private hire operator’s licence.
Licence Holder 4/2023
The Executive Director (Operations) submitted a report relating to Licence Holder 4/2023 who was in attendance at the meeting alongside 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 Licence Holder and presented by the Licensing Unit Manager, set out the reasons for the Licence Holder being before the Committee.
The report stated that the Licence Holder had held a private hire driver’s licence continually since the 15th November 2016 and their current licence was not due to expire until the 17th October 2025. On the 27th May 2023, the Licence Holder completed an online declaration form and the report included in the private agenda packs stated full details.
The Licence Holder was before members for consideration to be given as to his suitability to be a private hire driver in Bury.
The Committee carefully considered the report, and oral representations by the Licence Holder and his family member. The Committee noted the explanations provided but reminded the Licence Holder that this was serious incident which was not acceptable or be tolerated and advised of local services which are available to ... view the full minutes text for item LSP.9