Agenda and minutes
Venue: Meeting Room A, Old Town Hall
Welcome & Apologies
The Chair welcomed everyone to the meeting.
Apologies were received from Councillors D Hardman, L Salton, D Gee and T Fazal
RESOLVED - The Minutes of the previous meeting held on Tuesday 22nd November 2022 were approved as a correct record.
Declaration of Interest
There were no Declaration of Interests.
Members discussed a report which presented the Revised Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Licensing Policy. The purpose of this report was to present the outcome of the recent consultation with the trade and other stakeholders on the on the proposed Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Licensing.
The Principal Licensing Officer asked members if they would like to reconsider the contents of the draft policy in light of the consultation response for the following areas of the proposed Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Licensing Policy.
DBS Update Service
· All Licensed drivers are required to sign up to the DBS Update Services and maintain their registration throughout the licensed period. This had enabled the Council to undertake periodic checks at least every 6 months, in accordance with the Statutory Taxi and Private hire Vehicle Standards.
· Licensed drivers who had failed to register with the update service, or who had allowed their registration to lapse would have been required to provide a new enhanced certificate every six months
· Where the Council were unable to check the drivers status due to failings on the part of the driver, it may suspend the driver’s licence until such time as it is satisfied that there is no new information recorded against the driver
· Nothing in this section will negate the requirement for licensed drivers to inform the council within 48 hours of any arrests and release, charge or conviction of any sexual offence, any offence involving dishonesty or violence or any motoring offence.
· If there had been any change to the information held by the DBS, the driver would be required to provide a new certificate to the council and register that one with the update service.
Members were informed that there was some resistance at the Taxi Forum to any automatic suspension of driver licenses if licensed drivers were not on the update service. However, it was explained that the power to suspend was discretionary and would only be used where drivers had failed to respond promptly to requests for new certificates, if they had not maintained their registration with the update service.
Members agreed not to amend this section
· The Statutory Taxi and Private Hire Vehicle Standards 2020 identify that a lack of language proficiency could impact on a driver’s ability to understand written documents, such as policies and guidance, relating to the protection of children and vulnerable adults and applying this to identify and act on signs of exploitation. Oral proficiency will be of relevance in the identification of potential exploitation through communicating with passengers and their interaction with others.
· A licensing authority’s test of a driver’s proficiency should cover both oral and written English language skills to achieve these objectives.
· The Council requires all applicants for new driver’s licences to demonstrate their language proficiency, either by providing evidence of formal qualifications such as GCSE, GCE, Functional Skills Level 1 or 2 in English, or ESOL certificate at Level 1 or 2.
· Applicants who do not hold any formal qualifications in ... view the full minutes text for item 14.
The Committee received an update on the work of the Council’s Public Protection and Environmental Health Services (PPS) where there was a connection with businesses and persons who required a licence from the Council. It also provided an update for Members on national policy changes and proposals affecting licencing work.
Joint Operational Work
Licensing and Environmental Health Officers have worked with Lancashire Police and BwD Children’s Services on Operation Latimer. On 19 December visits were carried out at three businesses – 2 in Blackburn and 1 in Darwen following concerns around possible child sexual exploitation (CSE).
During the visits business owners and staff were spoken to and educated about CSE and the premises were inspected to ensure they were complying with health and safety, licensing and hygiene requirements.
In quarter 3 of 2022/23, 2 drivers have had their hackney/private hire drivers’ licences revoked by officers for issues which needed immediate action.
Since the last Licensing Committee 2 appeals against the decision of officers or general licensing sub-committees to revoke private hire vehicle driver licences have concluded. The Magistrates Court agreed with the decision made by the Licensing Sub-Committee and awarded costs against the driver of £1500. This is now subject to a further appeal to the Crown Court. The appeal against the officer decision was withdrawn with costs awarded of £2844.
Blackburn with Darwen Taxi Forum meeting
At November’s meeting of the Taxi Forum the focus was on the consultation on the proposed amendments to the Council’s Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Licensing Policy.
Complaints to Licensing Team
During the period 21 complaints have been made to the Licensing Team – 17 related to taxi/private hire licensing and 4 were about alcohol or late night hot food licensed premises.
The most common complaints were about verbal abuse/threatening behaviour by licensed drivers and refusal to take passengers with guide dogs or making additional charges for carrying passengers using wheelchairs.
Environmental Health have also received 2
complaints about noise and disturbance emanating from licensed
Routine work carried out
The following table provides figures on some of the key work carried out from 1 October 2022 to 31 December 2022.
Licensing Committee Member Resources
Members were advised that the Local Government Association has published a range of resources and handbooks to help councillors with their role sitting on licensing committees.
The committee were provided with the links to the training courses and had agreed to complete the training and provide the certificates by the end of the fiscal year.
RESOLVED - The update be noted
Minutes of Licensing Sub Committees
The Committee received the proceedings of the following Sub Committees:
General Licensing Sub Committee held on 15th November 2022
General Licensing Sub Committee held on 13th December 2022
RESOLVED – That the proceedings of the Sub Committees as outlined above were approved as a correct record and were duly signed by the Chair.