To consider a report by the Chief Officer Elections and Regulatory which sets out the findings of a Licensing Committee Working Group set up to examine the revision of the Minor traffic or vehicle related offences criteria within Table A of the Policy, and to recommend that Licensing Committee recommend to Executive Board that it approves Option 3 set out at paragraph 3.11 be subject to formal public consultation.
The Chief Officer Elections and Regulatory submitted a report which sets out the findings of a Licensing Committee Working Group set up to examine the revision of the Minor traffic or vehicle related offences criteria within Table A of the Suitability and Convictions Policy 2020.
Addressing the report, the Taxi & Private Hire Licensing Manager explained that the Suitability and Convictions policy was approved by Executive Board in October 2019, relating to taxi and private hire licence holders, following consultation in Leeds and across West Yorkshire, to commence with effect from 1st February 2020.
Members were informed that following numerous representations and protests from drivers’ groups and trade unions, the council did not implement the minor traffic or vehicle related offences criteria set out in Table A to the Policy. This related to the provision for a licence being refused where a DVLA driver’s licence was endorsed with seven or more penalty points as a result of minor motoring convictions. The council decided to retain the criterion for minor motoring convictions in the previous Convictions Policy.
A Working Group of the Licensing Committee was formed to enable Committee Members to consult with the Hackney Carriage trade, the Private Hire trade, officers and other stakeholders, enabling further consultation and representations to be made, with a view to the Working Group making recommendations to the Licensing Committee.
Members were informed that national restrictions in place as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic prevented a meeting of a Working Group until March 2021 where ultimately three options were considered. These were:
· Option 1- Retain the previous clause from the Convictions Policy, allowing candidates and licence holders to have up to 12 points for minor offences;
· Option 2 – to recommend the criteria as adopted be completely rewritten;
· Option 3 – to recommend the criteria as adopted be amended to include a sliding scale of actions linked to the number of points on the DVLA licence.
Referring to the business of the Working Group and the carrying out of further consultation with trade representatives, stakeholders and officers, Members suggested that some members of the trade remained unsatisfied suggesting the consultation was inadequate.
The Taxi & Private Hire Licensing Manager said Option 3 was the consensus of the Working Group.
One Member of the Working Group said that a large proportion of the Hackney Carriage Trade together with “Veezu” were also supportive of option 3, this was not a political issue but one that all parties should be in agreement with.
Members suggested that consultation with the Private Hire trade remained an issue given the number of licence holders without registered email addresses for communication purposes, and with English as a second language.
Members were informed that the consultation was in line with the Corporate Consultation requirements and also met the Council’s equality statistics.
The Chair said it was important that the consultation should reach as many people as possible, contacting licence holders in writing where they did not have an email address, and promoting language advice and support.
Members requested to know if any progress had been made in terms of the harmonisation project.
In responding the Taxi & Private Hire Licensing Manager said harmonisation was a political project, which due to lockdown implications and other priorities had resulted in delays to progress.
The Chair suggested that the harmonisation project would resume as local authorities emerged from lockdown, and he would contact the Licensing Chairs of the respective authorities.
(i) That the content of the report be noted
(ii) To support the recommendations of the Licensing Committee Working Group (option 3) as set out in the submitted report
(iii) To recommend to the Executive Board that it approves formal public consultation of option 3 for a period of 4 weeks with a view to amending the Suitability and Convictions Policy by replacing existing criteria with new criterion set out in paragraph 3.11 of the submitted report.