The Committee considered the report presented by the Business Manager – Environmental Health & Licensing which sought to update Members on the completion of the consultation process on a revised Policy for Hackney Carriage & Private Hire Licensing.
The report set out that the last full review of the Policy had taken place in 2012 and that the current review had taken account of changes introduced by the Deregulation Act 2015, changes in best practice, changes previously agreed by Committee and had attempted to provide a more comprehensive guidance to applicants. It was noted that the draft Policy had been agreed by Members over a year ago but its introduction had been delayed to await the outcome of the Coroner’s case into a taxi driving incident and changes to the taxi drivers’ licensing process brought in by the Immigration Act. There had also been subsequent changes to the Equalities Act that had required small changes to the Policy. A summary of the main changes and the consultation undertaken were reported together with the proposed amendments.
In considering the report a Member commented that he had concerns in relation to some of the offences listed within the Policy as Major and Minor Traffic Offences. He stated that CD10 – Driving Without Due Care and Attention was listed as a major offence yet CU10 – Using a Vehicle with Defective Brakes, MS10 – Leaving a Vehicle in a Dangerous Position and TS30 – Failing to Comply with a “Stop” Sign were considered to be Minor Offences. He suggested that the Policy be amended to permit a margin of discretion for Members and Officers when considering an application rather than strictly adhering to the Policy as written. In response, the Business Manager advised that, as was the case now, if it was felt that there was a good reason for not adhering to the Policy then this was within the discretion of the Members.
A Member raised a query in relation to drivers who were registered within another local authority and whether they would be subject to the Policy. The Business Manager advised that drivers or vehicles licensed by another local authority would not be bound by the Policy as only the issuing authority could take action for any breach.
As a general comment a Member of the Committee referred to recent cases in the press of sexual grooming of young persons by taxi drivers and what, if any, reporting mechanisms were in place to inform Members if there were any concerns about drivers within the district. The Business Manager advised that the Council’s relevant policies had been updated following the revelations and findings from the subsequent reviews into child sexual exploitation and that there was a Corporate Safeguarding Group. He added that there was no specific reporting mechanism for the General Purposes Committee but that any concerns would be raised with the Chairman and Vice-Chairman thereof. Members agreed that the matter be referred to the Councillors Commission for consideration and that they be recommended to establish a protocol to include who would be responsible for ensuring that the relevant Members and Committees were informed should any issue arise.
AGREED (unanimously) that:
(a) the comments received from the consultation exercise on the Hackney Carriage & Private Hire Licensing Policy be noted;
(b) subject to any changes identified, the draft Hackney Carriage & Private Hire Licensing Policy and Guidance be adopted; and
(c) a report be presented to the Councillors’ Commission to consider a protocol for informing Members about any safeguarding concerns and/or issues (including ones relating to child sexual exploitation) that may arise in their local area or the District generally.