Venue: Council Chamber - Time Square, Market Street, Bracknell, RG12 1JD. View directions
Contact: Derek Morgan 01344 352044
Declarations of Interest
Members are asked to declare any disclosable pecuniary or affected interests in respect of any matter to be considered at this meeting.
Any Member with a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest in a matter should withdraw from the meeting when the matter is under consideration and should notify the Democratic Services Officer in attendance that they are withdrawing as they have such an interest. If the Disclosable Pecuniary Interest is not entered on the register of Members interests the Monitoring Officer must be notified of the interest within 28 days.
Any Member with an affected Interest in a matter must disclose the interest to the meeting. There is no requirement to withdraw from the meeting when the interest is only an affected interest, but the Monitoring Officer should be notified of the interest, if not previously notified of it, within 28 days of the meeting.
There were no declarations of interest.
To approve as a correct record the minutes of the meeting held on
Subject to Councillor Leake’s apologies being recorded, the minutes of the meeting held on 23 June 2022 were approved as a correct record.
Urgent Items of Business
Any other items which, pursuant to Section 100B(4)(b) of the Local Government Act 1972, the Chairman decides are urgent.
There were no urgent items of business.
Notice of Public Speaking
To note those agenda items which have received an application for public speaking
Naheed Ejaz, a BFC Operator, asked to address the Committee.
Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Licensing Policy Consultation Responses PDF 77 KB
To consider the consultation responses in relation to the draft Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Licensing Policy.
Julia O’Brien presented a report to the Committee on Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Licensing Policy Consultation Responses. The purpose of the report was to provide the Committee with the outcome of the consultation on the draft policy.
It was noted that there had not been time for legal clarification on a number of points, but legal colleagues would be consulted following the Committee meeting. This would result in the report coming to the Committee at a future meeting with legal considerations and a draft policy in its entirety.
The Public Speaker, Naheed Ejaz, spoke to the Committee about the pressure the local taxi trade was experiencing post-Covid. Naheed was speaking from a school transport perspective as this was her background. She explained how she felt the school transport license fees were too high and the need for a practical driving test regardless of experience was unnecessary. She asked for all fees and requirements to be revised due to their costs and the impact it was having on the local taxi trade.
Naheed highlighted the pressure competition with Uber drivers was putting on the local industry.
Following questions to the public speaker, the following points were noted:
· Naheed stated while the Council only required one year’s driving experience, it was financially beneficial to recruit drivers over the age of 30 due to the significant difference in the costs of insurance.
· It was explained the negative impact the costs of fees was having on recruitment. A significant problem because of Covid was that many people had left the trade. Therefore, more children were having to share taxis and drivers were having to spend more time transporting children.
· In response to a question of clarification on fees, it was explained that £207 was a fee to the Council in addition to a DBS fee, first aid fee, practical driving test fee, safety and safeguarding training fee, and the cost of a medical test. It was noted some fees were paid annually but others such as the training were every 3 years.
In response to the public speaker the officers stated the following:
· The safeguarding and disability awareness training had been bought in-house and were included in the licensing fee which also covered the initial tests.
· Officers were exploring the possibility of stopping the first aid training as part of the revised policy. Officers were also looking at removing the geographical element of the knowledge test given the prevalence of satellite navigation devices. Officers were also looking at moving refresher training online to ensure it was easier and more time efficient and could be undertaken by the drivers at times that suited them
· Public safety was paramount within the taxi industry and so a DBS and a medical were required to ensure a driver was a fit and proper person. The initial DBS needed to be completed by the licensing team because that was the only way the team could be confident that all the records had been checked properly. Drivers were ... view the full minutes text for item 16.
Fees and Charges 2023/24 PDF 93 KB
To consider the Public Protection Partnership’s Fees and Charges which had been proposed by the Joint Public Protection Committee at its meeting on the 05 October 2022.
Moira Fraser introduced the report on Fees and Charges 2023/24. It was proposed within the report to increase the discretionary element of the fees and charges by circa 8.5%. All fees were set on a full cost recovery basis which had meant that for the first time in three years the hourly rate had increased from £59 to £64. All fees were calculated using the time taken multiplied by the hourly rate.
The Statutory Fees were marked with Pale Gold and Class B Discretionary Fees were headed with blue text in Appendix A of the report.
The fees across both authorities had been standardised and had retained the additional options around street trading consents that had been agreed the previous year.
The Committee did however request that four fees were revisited. Officers explored this and proposed the following:
1. The change of address fee for taxi licences be set at £11.50.
2. In terms of Ice Cream Vans it was the intention for the BFC fees to be aligned with those in West Berks over the next two years. There were currently three ice cream van licences in Bracknell.
3. Knowledge Test fee was only payable if a driver had to resit the test as it was included in the initial fee otherwise. Proposals around the fees for testing would be included in the Annual report to committee in June 2023 ahead of the next budget setting cycle. The proposals were likely to include changes in respect of the removal of geographical testing and revisions to the way tests were conducted.
4. DBS fee would comprise £38 government fee plus half hour admin fee so a total of £70, a reduction from £79 this year.
Following questions to officers, the following points were noted:
· In response to a question raising concern on the increase in fees it was noted that the increase over the last five years had been very minimal. For instance, the vehicle license fee was only £6 more than what it was in 2019/20. Moreover, it was noted the hourly rate had not increased for the previous three years and was only being increased this year due to an increase in costs.
· It was explained West Berkshire Council did not issue home-to-school transport licenses, but BFC did. The reason BFC intended to keep the home-to-school transport licenses was because it was more cost efficient.
RECOMMENDED to the Executive and Council that
1 Save for the private hire operator, and hackney carriage and private hire vehicle licence fees, the 2023/24 fees and charges detailed in Appendix A of the report be approved for public consultation.
2 The charges for operators and hackney carriage and private hire vehicle licence fees be subject to a twenty eight day statutory consultation period from 9 November 2022 to 7 December 2022.
3 A public notice pertaining to the hackney carriage and private hire vehicles and private hire operator’s fees be placed in the Bracknell News.
4 A consultation letter be posted to ... view the full minutes text for item 17.
Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Trade Meeting Update PDF 83 KB
To summarise the work of the Taxi Trade Group since the last Licensing and Safety Committee.
Moira Fraser introduced the report on Hackney Carriage and Private Hire. The Licensing Liaison Officer contract had come to an end, but officers were looking to replicate this type of role in a new model for the service. Two apprentices would be starting in November and as part of their role they would be tasked with lower-level inspections.
Following questions from members of the Committee the following points were noted:
· In response to a query whether meetings were the best method to facilitate engagement from the local trade it was detailed how meetings could be well attended and often overran to allow as much feedback as possible. It was also mentioned by various members of the Committee how the existing relationship between the Committee and the local trade had improved. It was stated the relationship with the local trade representatives were productive because discussions with them easily facilitated a two-way dialogue.
The Committee noted the report.