Licensing Committee Minutes

Licensing Committee Minutes

Date:
Monday 3 September 2012
Time:
1:30 p.m.
Place:
Mandela Room, Town Hall, Middlesbrough
 

Attendance Details

Present:
Councillor Taylor (Chair), Councillor J Walker (Vice Chair); Councillors Arundale, Harvey, Kerr, Mawston and G Purvis.

Officers:
B Carr, T Hodgkinson and S Vickers.
Apologies for absence:
Councillor S Biswas, Councillor R Brady, Councillor M Hudson, Councillor P Sharrocks, Councillor M B Williams
Declarations of interest:

There were no Declarations of Interest made by Members at this point in the meeting.

Item Number Item/Resolution
PUBLIC
Reports of the Assistant Director Community Protection Service
12/20 ITEM FOR INFORMATION - LAW COMMISSION CONSULTATION - PROPOSED REFORM OF TAXI AND PRIVATE HIRE LEGISLATION.

The Assistant Director of Community Protection submitted a report to inform Members about proposed reforms with regard to the law relating to taxis and private hire vehicles following a proposal by the Department of Transport.

 

In May 2012, the Law Commission had produced a document which outlined the Law Commission’s proposals for reform. The document was the subject of a consultation process with various parties including local authorities and the taxi trade. The Law Commission had indicated that in their view the law in relation to taxis and private hire vehicles was fragmented, complex and out of touch with modern life and many key concepts and distinctions were unclear and difficult to apply.


The aim of the reforms was to streamline and simplify the legal framework. The Law Commission had suggested a number of proposals which included:- 

  • retaining a 2 tier system with both hackney carriage and private hire vehicles;
  • abolishing the ability of local authorities to limit the number of hackney carriage vehicles;
  • setting national minimum standards for private hire and hackney carriage vehicles, which would replace an estimated 340 different sets of local regulations;
  • allowing local authorities to impose additional local standards for hackney carriage vehicles;
  • making it easier for private hire services to operate on a national basis;
  • the provision of disability awareness training for drivers;
  • the provision of national standards, including statutory guidance on the licensing of limousines and other novelty vehicles;
  • the introduction of a statutory definition of plying for hire;
  • improvement of enforcement powers of licensing officers, particularly in relation to out of borough drivers and vehicles.

Members were advised that the consultation period was due to end on 10 September 2012 and the Law Commission hoped to publish a final report including recommendations and a Draft Bill by the end of 2013.

 

NOTED
 

12/21 ITEM FOR INFORMATION - POLICE REFORM AND SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY ACT 2011 - EARLY MORNING RESTRICTION ORDERS (EMROS) AND LATE NIGHT LEVY (THE LEVY)

The Assistant Director of Community Protection submitted a report to advise Members of two new powers to be introduced by the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011 to enable local authorities to address specific problems caused by the late night supply of alcohol. The provisions were due to come into force in October 2012.

 

Members were advised that the introduction of a Late Night Levy could realise income of approximately £80k - £90k which could be used by the Police and the local authority to tackle problems associated with the late night economy. The figures were based on those levy fees proposed in the Home Office consultation document which suggested fees based on the rateable value of each licensed premises. Local authorities could however if they preferred, offer a discretionary rate as permitted by the regulations. It was highlighted however that if premises with later licences chose to reduce their trading hours it would impact on the amount of income realised from the levy fees.

 

Members were advised that many new measures had already been introduced by the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011 which gave local authorities and the Police greater powers to tackle problem premises which included:- 

  • making licensing authorities a responsible authority in their own right for reviews etc;
  • making primary care trust and local health and wellbeing boards responsible authorities;
  • abolishment of the vicinity test to allow any residents or business in the wider licensing authority, to object to licensing applications;
  • giving licensing authorities the power to suspend a premises licence for the non payment of annual fees;
  • increase in the maximum fine for underage sales from £10k to £20k.

 

Members were advised that the introduction of an Early Morning Restriction Order (EMRO) would allow licensing authorities to restrict alcohol sales in the whole or part of a designated area for a specified period of time between 12 midnight and 6am, if the authority considered it appropriate in order to promote the licensing objectives. The introduction of an EMRO would override any existing permissions for premises with late licences. Any proposal to introduce an EMRO would need to be advertised and a hearing would have to be held if any representations objecting to the order were received.

 

The Late Night Levy gave local authorities the power to introduce an additional fee for premises that operated a late night alcohol licence after 12 midnight up to 6am. It was at the discretion of each local authority whether to introduce a Late Night Levy and in areas where the levy was introduced, the levy would be collected annually with the revenue being split based on 70% to the Police and 30% to the local authority. The Late Night Levy would be applicable to all on and off licensed premises that were licensed to sell alcohol during the times that the levy applied.

 

The Home Office introduced the following provisions in respect of EMRO’s:-

  • a licensing authority would be able to make an EMRO if a situation arose where it was appropriate to restrict the late night supply of alcohol;
  • the Police and Crime Commissioner or the public may suggest the introduction of the EMRO;
  • should the licensing authority decide to make an EMRO they should decide the area, days
  • and times in which the order shall apply and then advertise the proposed order (in a local newspaper and on its website) and the means by which affected persons could make representations, for or against the proposed order;
  • 42 days would be allowed for representations to be made;
  • If representations were received a hearing would need to be held to consider the representations;
  • EMROs would not apply on New Years Eve;
  • there would be no exemptions from EMROs, however, there will be provision to ensure that premises with overnight accommodation, such as hotels, could still provide room service/minibars if they were included in the scope of an EMRO.

The Home Office introduced the following provisions in respect of Late Night Levys:-

  • there would be a discretionary local exemption from the levy available to premises with overnight accommodation, theatres, cinemas, bingo halls, certain community premises and country village pubs;
  • there would be no discretionary local exemption from the levy available to restaurants, casinos and private members clubs;
  • the levy would not be applied on New Years Eve;
  • licensing authorities would be able to offer a 30% reduction from the levy for premises participating in best practice schemes such as Best Bar None and Pubwatch;
  • licensing authorities would be able to fund services that were connected to the management of the night time economy and services that prevented and tackled alcohol related crime and disorder with their revenue from the levy. Examples of such services could include taxi marshals, night time buses and additional street cleaning.

In relation to EMRO’s and Late Night Levys it was noted that there was no right of appeal to the Magistrates Court against a local authority’s decision to implement these measures, however any operator aggrieved at a decision to implement could challenge the decision by way of a judicial review.

 

NOTED

 

12/22 EXCLUSION OF PRESS AND PUBLIC.

ORDERED that the press and public be excluded from the meeting for the following items on the grounds that, if present, there would be disclosure to them of exempt information as defined in Paragraphs 1, 2, 3 and 7 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972 and that the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighed the public interest in disclosing the information.

EXEMPT
12/23 APPLICATION FOR PRIVATE HIRE VEHICLE DRIVER LICENCE - REF: 29/12

The Assistant Director of Community Protection submitted an exempt report in connection with an application for a Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licence, Ref: 2912, where circumstances had arisen which required special consideration by the Committee.

 

The Chair introduced those present and outlined the procedure to be followed. The applicant verified his name and address and confirmed that he had received a copy of the report.

 

The Principal Licensing Officer presented the report setting out the circumstances of the case relating to the offences detailed at (1) to (12) and 15 convictions/cautions for juvenile offences relating to dishonesty and motoring which occurred between February 1997 and January 2003.

 

The applicant confirmed that the report was an accurate representation of the facts. The applicant presented his case and responded to questions from Members of the Committee.

It was confirmed that there were no further questions and the applicant and officers of the Council, other than representatives of the Council’s Legal Services and Members’ Office, withdrew whilst the Committee determined the application.

 

Subsequently all interested parties returned and the Chair announced the Committee’s decision.


ORDERED that the application for a Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licence, Ref No 29/12, be refused for the following reasons:-

 

The Council's Policy Guidance in relation to drug-related offences states that an applicant convicted of a serious offence or more than one offence involving drugs will normally be refused, or have their licence revoked, unless a period of at least 5 - 10 years free from conviction had elapsed since the date of conviction, completion of any sentence imposed or detoxification treatment, whichever is the latter. The applicant’s last conviction was dated 20 April 2011 and although Members acknowledged that the applicant had made a sincere effort to reform his behaviour they considered that he needed to have a longer period free from convictions before applying for a Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licence.

 

The applicant was reminded of his right of appeal to the Magistrates Court within 21 days from the date of the decision.
 

12/24 REVIEW OF COMBINED HACKNEY CARRIAGE/PRIVATE HIRE VEHICLE DRIVER LICENCE NO 120 - REF: 28/12

The Assistant Director of Community Protection submitted an exempt report in connection with the review of Combined Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licence, Ref: 28/12, where circumstances had arisen which required special consideration by the Committee.

 

The Principal Licensing Officer advised Members that one of the witnesses scheduled to attend the Committee was on holiday. The Principal Licensing Officer had also been advised by the other witnesses that the person who was on holiday had footage on his mobile phone which could prove the assertion that there were five people in the car on the night of the alleged offence.

 

ORDERED that consideration of the review of Combined Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licence, Ref: 28/12, be deferred to the next meeting in order to give all witnesses the opportunity to attend the Committee and for Members to view the above mobile phone footage.


 

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