Venue: Council Chamber, Municipal Buildings, West Street, Boston, PE21 8QR
Contact: Janette Collier, Senior Democratic Services Officer Telephone: 01205 314227 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
To sign and confirm the minutes of the last meeting, held on 13th June 2017.
The minutes of the meeting held on 13th June 2017 were agreed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.
To receive apologies for absence.
There were apologies for absence from Councillors David Brown, Maureen Dennis, James Edwards, Felicity Ransome and Judith Skinner.
DECLARATION OF INTERESTS
To receive declarations of interests in respect of any item on the agenda.
No declarations of interests were made.
(A report by Fiona White, Principal Licensing and Land Charges Officer)
The Principal Licensing and Land Charges Officer presented a report, which sought the Committee’s support for the intention to suspend the licences of those drivers who had not submitted certificates to evidence the mandatory safeguarding training had been completed, using authority delegated to officers in Part 3(a) of the Council’s Constitution.
On 28 June 2016, the Committee had adopted a revised Application Policy and Relevance of Convictions Guidelines in relation to Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Vehicle Drivers and Private Hire Operators.
The revised policy included a requirement that applicants completed the Licensing Authority’s Safeguarding Awareness Training. Initially, existing drivers were required to undertake the training at the time their licence renewal was due. However, in consultation with the Solicitor to the Council, following two cases of child safeguarding issues in Boston which led to the revocation of the drivers’ licences, it was considered necessary to meet the Council’s safeguarding obligations, that the training to be undertaken without further delay.
Drivers were advised in writing of the requirement to undertake the training by 31 August 2017 and that a recommendation would be made to the Regulatory & Appeals Committee that the licences of drivers who had failed to complete the training be suspended until this requirement was met.
At the time the report was published, 33 licensed drivers had failed to submit certificates to evidence that the training had been satisfactorily completed. That number was now 30. There was also an additional four licences that were already suspended, mainly on medical grounds, and these too would also have to complete the safeguarding training but as their licences were currently suspended, they could not be suspended for a second time.
The licences could be suspended under the provisions of Section 61(1) of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 using the grounds of “any other reasonable cause”. In Part 3a of the Constitution there was an officer delegation to the Solicitor to the Council to suspend Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licences. The Solicitor to the Council had further delegated this authority to the Principal Licensing & Land Charges Officer.
Whilst drivers were regularly referred to the Regulatory & Appeals Sub-Committee for consideration of their case, there were cases where it would be more appropriate to deal with the matter using authority delegated to officers and it was suggested that this was one of those cases for several reasons, including the number and similarity of cases, and also that the drivers had been given the opportunity to put forward any grounds to be considered prior to their licence being suspended and had been made aware that if they have not completed the training then suspension of their licence would be considered.
These suspensions would not take effect until after the 21 day appeal period or, if appealed, until after the appeal was disposed of. Providing the training was undertaken during the appeal period, no driver would be disadvantaged by a licence suspension.
It was recommended that the Committee supported the intention of ... view the full minutes text for item 17.
(A report by Fiona White, Principal Licensing and Land Charges Officer)
The Principal Licensing and Land Charges Officer presented a report, which asked the Committee to adopt a revised wheelchair accessible vehicle specification for hackney carriage and private hire vehicles.
It was recommended that the revised specification, attached at Appendix B, be adopted with the inclusion of an amendment to specify a 3-point seat belt system and an additional condition for ramps to be indelibly marked with vehicle registration numbers. The Committee was also asked to note that the Principal Licensing and Land Charges Officer would carry out the outstanding previously delegated tasks listed at paragraph 3.1 of the report.
Provisions of the Equality Act 2010, in respect of wheelchair accessible hackney carriages and private hire vehicles, commenced on 6 April 2017. The provisions allowed a licensing authority to create a list of “designated vehicles” which were capable of carrying passengers in wheelchairs (section 167) and then required drivers of those vehicles to provide mobility assistance (section 165).
On 13 June 2017, the Committee had resolved to introduce a list of wheelchair accessible vehicles; approved draft amendments to the specification for wheelchair accessible vehicles; and adopted a procedure for applying driver exemptions from carrying a passenger in a wheelchair.
The Committee also delegated a number of tasks to the Principal Licensing Officer, which had been undertaken, including:
· Notifying proprietors of identified vehicles and advising them that the authority proposed to include their vehicle on the authority’s list of designated vehicles.
· Consulting vehicle proprietors and other relevant parties on the amendments to the specification for wheelchair accessible vehicles.
The Committee was now requested to adopt the revised wheelchair accessible specification, with suggested amendments, one being a result of consultation, and note that the outstanding tasks, delegated to the Principal Licensing and Land Charges Officer, would be undertaken.
All of the borough’s vehicles had 3-point seat belts, but it was considered prudent to make this explicit in the policy. If the Committee was minded to adopt it, it was recommended that the condition regarding securing passengers be amended to say a“3-point seat belt system”.
A further change, which would not be problematic and would be at no cost to the trade, was to add a condition to require ramps to be indelibly marked with the vehicle’s registration number to ensure that they could not be moved from one vehicle to another. In addition, the condition would state that they did not have grandfather rights. It was noted that registration numbers rather than plate numbers should be used, as these could change if a vehicle went from a being hackney carriage to a private hire licence or vice versa.
Members asked various questions. In response, the Principal Licensing and Land Charges Officer explained that the requirement to mark ramps was necessary because the Council’s policy stated that all Hackney Carriage vehicles of more than four passengers must be wheelchair accessible and if a vehicle did not have a ramp then it was not wheelchair accessible. It would not cost proprietors anything. They had to ... view the full minutes text for item 18.