Agenda and minutes

Licensing and Regulatory Committee - Monday 11 July 2022 5.30 pm

Venue: Conference Chamber, West Suffolk House, Western Way, Bury St Edmunds IP33 3YU

Contact: Helen Hardinge: Democratic Services Officer  Email: helen.hardinge@westsuffolk.gov.uk

Note: NB: The minutes of this meeting are published but are yet to be approved by the Committee, this will take place at the next formal meeting held 

Media

Items
No. Item

Procedural matters

 

13.

Election of Chair 2022/2023

Minutes:

This being the first meeting of the Licensing and Regulatory Committee since the Authority’s Annual Meeting in May 2022, the Business Partner (Litigation and Licensing) opened the meeting and asked for nominations for the Chair of the Committee for 2022/2023.

 

The following nominations were duly proposed and seconded:

 

1.   Councillor Clive Springett

2.   Councillor Michael Anderson

 

In light of there being two nominations for the position of Chair, the Business Partner (Litigation and Licensing) explained that each nomination would be voted on in turn, with each Member of the Committee only being able to vote for one of the two, and the Member with the highest number of votes would be appointed as Chair.

 

Upon being put to the vote:

1.   Councillor Clive Springett received 8 votes in support

2.   Councillor Michael Anderson received 5 votes in support

 

Accordingly, it was

 

          Resolved:

 

          That Councillor Clive Springett be elected as Chair for 2022/2023.

 

Councillor Springett then came forward to the top table and took the Chair for the remainder of the meeting.

14.

Election of Vice Chair 2022/2023

Minutes:

The Chair sought nominations for the Vice Chair of the Committee for 2022/2023.

 

The following nominations were duly proposed and seconded:

 

1.   Councillor Rachel Hood

2.   Councillor Michael Anderson

 

In light of there being two nominations for the position of Vice Chair, the Chair explained that each nomination would be voted on in turn, as before and the Member with the highest number of votes would be appointed as Vice Chair.

 

Upon being put to the vote:

1.   Councillor Rachel Hood received 7 votes in support

2.   Councillor Michael Anderson received 5 votes in support

 

Accordingly, it was

 

          Resolved:

 

That Councillor Rachel Hood be elected as Vice Chair for 2022/2023.

 

 

 

15.

Apologies for absence

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Carol Bull and Rachel Hood.

 

Councillor Richard Rout was also unable to attend the meeting.

16.

Substitutes

Any member who is substituting for another member should so indicate, together with the name of the relevant absent member.

Minutes:

The following substitution was declared:

 

Councillor Mike Chester substituting for Councillor Carol Bull.

17.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 111 KB

To confirm the minutes of the meeting held on 27 January 2020 (copy attached).

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 27 January 2020 were confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chair.

18.

Declarations of interest

Members are reminded of their responsibility to declare any pecuniary or local non pecuniary interest which they have in any item of business on the agenda, no later than when that item is reached and, when appropriate, to leave the meeting prior to discussion and voting on the item.

Minutes:

Members’ declarations of interest are recorded under the item to which the declaration relates.

19.

Public participation

Members of the public who live or work in the District are welcome to speak and may ask one question or make a statement of not more than three minutes duration relating to items to be discussed in Part 1 of the agenda only.  If a question is asked and answered within three minutes, the person who asked the question may ask a supplementary question that arises from the reply.

 

A person who wishes to speak must register at least 15 minutes before the time the meeting is scheduled to start.

 

There is an overall limit of 15 minutes for public speaking, which may be extended at the Chair’s discretion.

Minutes:

The following members of the public spoke under this item in relation to Agenda Item 8 (Report number LIC/WS/22/001 - Review into West Suffolk Council’s Hackney Carriage Fares Table for Zone A and Zone B 2022):

 

1.           Rob Dorling (Bury Travel)

Rob Dorling referred to the Council meeting, which he had attended on 22 March 2022, to ask the Council to consider implementing an emergency increase in the Hackney Carriage Fares and sought the convening of an extraordinary Licensing and Regulatory Committee meeting to do this. However, although this request had been acknowledged by Councillor Andy Drummond, Portfolio Holder for Regulatory and Environment, it was considered that the request for a fare review was already being responded to in a timely manner and an extraordinary meeting was therefore, not required at that time.

 

Rob Dorling explained to the Committee of the extremely hard financial challenges being faced by the Hackney Carriage Drivers in the current climate. Some drivers had decided to leave the trade, as it was no longer a viable financial prospect for them, as some drivers were only earning £5.00 per hour.  He also referred to his ‘Compromise Proposal’, which had been circulated to the Licensing and Regulatory Committee, which proposed a minimum of £4.60 per mile, alongside an annual review of the Hackney Carriage Fares, which could assist with keeping some taxi drivers in the town.

 

2.           Jason Crooks (Registered Hackney Carriage Driver)

(Note: Jason Crooks is also an elected West Suffolk Councillor, but attended the meeting in a public capacity as a registered Hackney Carriage Driver)

 

Jason Crooks referred to the ‘Addendum’ which had been circulated to the Licensing and Regulatory Committee in relation to the revised table of fares for Zone A and Zone B (revised Appendix A).  He specifically queried the information in this Table of Fares with regards to yards/meters distance which had been used.  In his view, this was unlawful and, therefore, should not be approved by the Licensing and Regulatory Committee.

 

3.           Mark Goodchild (Goodchilds Cars)

Mark Goodchild referred to the statement made by Jason Crooks in relation to the unlawful use of the yards/meters distance and also supported that this should not be approved by the Licensing and Regulatory Committee.

 

In addition, he also referred to the feedback which had been provided from the Trade and which had been included within Appendix D to the ‘Addendum’ report.  He stated that a further review of the Table of Fares should be undertaken again in April 2023 and should then be reviewed annually and that the review should also take into account the National Minimum Wage.

20.

Review into West Suffolk Council's Hackney Carriage Fares Table for Zone A and Zone B 2022 pdf icon PDF 219 KB

Report No: LIC/WS/22/001

Additional documents:

Minutes:

(Report number LIC/WS/22/001)

 

The Committee received Report number LIC/WS/22/001 which explained that in light of significant increases in hackney carriage operating costs, it was considered appropriate to review the current fare table for both Zones.  Therefore, a copy of the revised fare tables for Zone A and B were attached at Appendix A to the Report.

 

Section 65 of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 made provision for the Council to fix the rates of fares for time, distance and all other charges in connection with the hire of a hackney carriage.  When setting the fares, the legislation did not prevent the Council from considering any external factors and there was no limit on the amount of increase or variation (subject to reasonableness).

 

As the Council wanted to encourage the provision of high-quality hackney carriage vehicles, it was important that fares were balanced.  Thereby, ensuring proprietors were able to support the running costs associated with the high standard of vehicles required by the Council, but at the same time, the fares should not be so high as to preclude use by passengers.

 

West Suffolk Council currently offered six different tariffs across two zones (A and B), which reflected that, prior to the merging St Edmundsbury and Forest Heath Councils, they had operated as two separate councils.  It was noted that the fares proposed were the maximum which may be charged, with drivers having to option to charge less than the metered fare, should they choose to do so.

 

Section 4. of the report set out the proposed amendments to these tariffs, taking into consideration the increased overall running costs associated with the sector:

 

a.            Increase the fare up to the first mile (commonly referred to as the flag drop) by 14%, in respect of all six tariffs for both Zone A and Zone B.

b.            Increase the charge for subsequent distance travelled by 14% for all six tariffs for both zones.

c.            To bring forward the time at which tariffs 2 and 5 (night-time rates) take effect from midnight to 10pm, and subsequently end tariffs 1 and 4 two hours earlier at 10pm across both zones.

d.            To reword the additional charge from “if the vehicle is left unfit to work” to “soiling a vehicle to the extent that it is taken out of work”. This would bring the phrase in line with commonly accepted terminology.

 

The increases had been calculated using a defined methodology that drew a comparison across the average wage and associated running costs in 2019 (when the fares review was last undertaken) as well as 2022.  Further information on the sources used was set out in Appendix B.  This explained which sources of data had been used as part of the Council’s procedure for setting taxi fares for distance and time and other changes in connection with the hire of a taxi.  This involved comparing the current annual running costs and salary, against what was present when a fares review was last undertaken.  The  ...  view the full minutes text for item 20.