Venue: Civic Hall, Leeds
Contact: Governance Services 2243836
Appeals Against Refusal of Inspection of Documents
To consider any appeals in accordance with Procedure Rule 15.2 of the Access to Information Procedure Rules (in the event of an Appeal the press and public will be excluded)
(*In accordance with Procedure Rule 15.2, written notice of an appeal must be received by the Head of Governance Services at least 24 hours before the meeting)
There were no appeals against the refusal of inspection of documents.
Exempt Information - Possible Exclusion of the Press and Public
1 To highlight reports or appendices which officers have identified as containing exempt information, and where officers consider that the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information, for the reasons outlined in the report.
2 To consider whether or not to accept the officers recommendation in respect of the above information.
3 If so, to formally pass the following resolution:-
RESOLVED – That the press and public be excluded from the meeting during consideration of those parts of the agenda designated as containing exempt information on the grounds that it is likely, in view of the nature of the business to be transacted or the nature of the proceedings, that if members of the press and public were present there would be disclosure to them of exempt information
There were not items identified where it was considered necessary to exclude the press or public from the meeting due to the confidential nature of the business to be considered.
To identify items which have been admitted to the agenda by the Chair for consideration
(The special circumstances shall be specified in the minutes)
Although there were no late items of business, the Chair accept the inclusion of Supplementary information in the form of correspondence from the Secretary of Eurocabs Hackney Carriage Association, who wished to make representation in respect of Agenda Item No.8 - Taxi and Private Hire Licensing – Cross Border Working and Responses (Minute No. 65 referred)
Declaration of Disclosable Pecuniary Interests
To disclose or draw attention to any disclosable pecuniary interests for the purposes of Section 31 of the Localism Act 2011 and paragraphs 13-16 of the Members’ Code of Conduct.
There were no declarations of disclosable pecuniary interests made at the meeting.
Apologies for Absence
To receive apologies for absence (If any)
Apologies for absence were received for Councillor A Wenham.
To consider and approve the minutes of the last meeting held on 8th October 2019.
RESOLVED – That the minutes of the previous meetings held on 8th October 2019, were accepted as a true and correct record.
Matter Arising from the Minutes
To consider any Matters Arising from the Minutes
There were no issues raised under Matters Arising.
To consider a report of the Chief Officer, Elections and Regulatory which explains the current state of cross-border working as observed in Leeds, including vehicles not licensed in Leeds and recorded by the council as likely to be working in Leeds, and others licensed in Leeds but likely to be working elsewhere.
The report also seeks to inform Members of the range of responses which are available to different areas of government, and to the trade itself. This may include additional licensing conditions, in the absence of UK legislation.
The Chief Officer, Elections and Regulatory submitted a report which provided an overview of cross-border working, and the response from Central Government, various Working Groups, Taxi and Private Hire Operators and Licensing Authorities in the UK.
The Taxi & Private Hire Licensing Manager explained that taxi and private hire vehicles had been able to work away from their licensing district because of changes in the use of technology and since deregulation of some areas of taxi and private hire licensing in 2015. Private hire vehicles licensed by other authorities (including some which do not border Leeds) were a common sight in Leeds.
Members noted that, whilst these vehicles could add to the supply of vehicles and customer convenience, there were a range of issues which could have implications for the taxi and private hire trade, licensing authorities and central government.
The Taxi & Private Hire Licensing Managerreported that there had been a rise in cross-border working in Leeds and West Yorkshire in recent years which had highlighted a number of issues:
· Observed and recorded vehicles – other licensing authorities in Leeds, and Leeds in other authorities;
· Driver licences and home postcodes;
· The effect of regional geo-fencing;
· Perceptions/views on cross-border working;
· The implications for licensing authorities;
· Current licensing and enforcement responses, including West Yorkshire & York; and
· Possible future licensing and enforcement responses.
Reference was made to the use of smartphone apps which enabled customers to book and pay for their taxi/ private hire journeys using their phones. Members queried if the technology/ operator was able to allocate a local driver to a local booking.
In responding the Taxi & Private Hire Licensing Manager said there was no reason why a local driver could not be allocated to a local booking, but operators would need to change their operating methods to allow customers to preference a local driver.
It was suggested by Members that Leeds had robust driver/ operating conditions, could the same operating conditions be imposed on national operators working in Leeds.
Members were informed that national operators working in Leeds could be asked to change their operating conditions but it was a question of public safety and evidence was required if operating conditions were to change.
Members queried the number of drivers registered in Leeds but who did not have an LS postcode
Members were informed that of 4,983 current taxi and private hire drivers renewing their licence with Leeds in 2019, just over 55% (2,738) lived at a ‘Leeds’ or LS postcode, with 36% (1,814) living in Bradford or a BD postcode, with just over 2% living elsewhere in West Yorkshire (62 at an HX postcode, 42 at an HD postcode and 8 at a WF postcode).
Members queried why drivers working in Leeds would seek to register elsewhere.
Members were informed that the driver operating standards/ conditions were far more robust in Leeds than some other smaller authorities who did not necessarily have the resources to operate to the same standards as Leeds
Commenting on the effect of reginal geo-fencing, ... view the full minutes text for item 65.
To consider a report of the Chief Officer, Elections and Regulatory which provides an update on the purpose and progress of the taxi and private hire policy harmonisation across the six authorities.
The aim of the collaboration is for the authorities to work more closely together to strengthen any areas of weakness in licensing or enforcement across the region, which would place the travelling public at risk.
The Chief Officer, Elections and Regulatory submitted a report which provided an update on the purpose and progress of the taxi and private hire policy harmonisation across the six authorities.
The Taxi & Private Hire Licensing Manager explained that the primary aim of the West Yorkshire and City of York authorities was to increase or strengthen the standards of some authorities to meet an agreed minimum standard, so that there was no weak licensing link in the region, which would affect passengers throughout the region because of the prevalence of cross-border journeys and cross border working.
Members were informed it would still be possible for an authority to have standards above the minimum, for example where local circumstances required, but all authorities would be at or above the agreed minimum standard for:
· CCTV in vehicles;
· Convictions policy;
· Vehicle specifications;
· Driver training;
· Information sharing between authorities; and
· Effective cross-border enforcement.
Section 3.10 of the submitted report provided an update on each of the above areas
Referring to CCTV in vehicles, Members queried if drivers were supportive of the scheme.
The Taxi & Private Hire Licensing Manager said the use of CCTV in vehicles was welcomed by both drivers and operators. There were a number of issues to be addressed around funding of the equipment and a preferred supplier of the equipment was still to be identified.
On the issue of the Convictions/ Suitability Policy Members were informed that all six authorities have now agreed to implement very similar Suitability and Convictions policies, based on that developed by the Institute of Licensing, Lawyers for Local Government, National Association of Licensing and Enforcement Officers. Five authorities consulted between November 2018 and January 2019, and developed a policy which departed from the national policy guidance. Bradford City Council did not undertake consultation, but engaged with the local licensed trade, and its February 2019 Regulatory Committee in January 2019 planned to adopt the policy for new applicants, but amended paragraph 17 to state would not apply it at renewal. Calderdale, Kirklees, Wakefield and York adopted the new policy between May and September 2019. Leeds adopted the policy, with a number of additions in October 2019.
Members were informed that work on Vehicle Comfort and Passenger Safety was ongoing but more work was required. It was reported that significant work had been undertaken to identify those elements in each of the six authority vehicle specifications which relate to safety and passenger comfort including the vehicle testing regimes and to assess the feasibility of harmonising them.
The Taxi & Private Hire Licensing Managerreported that a draft Driver Training Policy was agreed across the area to include requirements to undertake training in a range of areas including tests as necessary (for example, an English Test). Five of the six authorities agreed to go out to consultation on the draft policy. The consultation exercises concluded in January 2019. The responses have been considered collectively and appropriate amendments made. The final policy were considered by the five Councils between March and ... view the full minutes text for item 66.
To note and approve the contents of the Licensing Committee Work Programme for 2019/20.
Following discussion at today’s meeting, it was agreed that the De-Brief Report for the Leeds Festival 2019 Event scheduled to be submitted to the January meeting of this Committee be now brought forward to the December meeting.
RESOLVED – That with the inclusion of the above, the Licensing Committee Work Programme be approved
Date and Time of Next Meeting
To note that the next meeting will take place on Tuesday, 10th December 2019 at 10.00am in the Civic Hall, Leeds.
RESOLVED - That the next meeting of the Committee arranged for Tuesday, 10th December be now rescheduled to Tuesday, 3rd December 2019 at 10.00am in the Civic Hall, Leeds.