Agenda and minutes

Venue: The Paralympic Room, Buckinghamshire Council, Gatehouse Road, Aylesbury HP19 8FF. View directions

Contact: Elly Cook 


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No. Item


Apologies for absence

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Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Joseph Baum, Nick Southworth, Sir Beville Stanier Bt and Heather Wallace.


Declarations of interest

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There were no declarations of interest.


Minutes of the previous meeting pdf icon PDF 119 KB

To approve as a correct record the Minutes of the meeting held on 5 September 2023.

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The Minutes of the Meeting held on 5 September 2023 were agreed as a correct record.


Buckinghamshire Council Draft Animal Licensing Policy pdf icon PDF 161 KB

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In accordance with the Animal Welfare Act 2006, Buckinghamshire Council, in its role as Licensing Authority, was responsible for licensing operators of businesses carrying out prescribed activities involving animals. In addition, the Council was also responsible for licensing keepers of animals that were defined as dangerous wild animals and for the licensing of zoos.  

There was currently no animal licensing policy covering the Buckinghamshire Council area. Whilst there was no statutory requirement for a policy under any of the legislation relating to these types of licence, it was considered appropriate to produce a single policy which sets out a clear and consistent framework for the Council’s approach to animal licensing. The adoption of a policy supported the Council’s commitment to transparency, fairness and openness when determining applications and ensuring compliance with the relevant legislation.

The draft Animal Licensing Policy (“the Policy”) provided guidance on the various application processes, a brief overview of relevant legislation and links to statutory guidance. The legislation and regulations, under which animal licences were issued, required the Council to determine, among other factors, whether the applicant was suitable or in the case of The Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018 “fit and proper” in terms of their ability to comply with licence conditions and to be an operator for that type of activity. Whilst there was no legal definition of “fit and proper” in the regulations, the Policy provided an opportunity to outline matters, which the Council would take into consideration when deciding if someone was suitable to hold a licence. 

As well as the need to comply with the different statutory licensing requirements, it was of public interest to ensure the general safety and wellbeing of animals, those responsible for them and members of the public who might come into contact with them.  The adoption of a policy would also give the Council an opportunity to set out its expectations around safeguarding for operators of businesses whose activities took place around children and vulnerable persons.

On the 11 April 2023, the Licensing Committee approved a new draft Animal Licensing Policy for consultation. The Policy had now been subject to a full consultation process, which ran from 20 April 2023 to 31 May 2023. The purpose of this report was to provide feedback on the responses received as part of the consultation and to identify any changes to be made to the draft Policy in response to the consultation. 

In total there were 26 responses to the consultation survey. 25 were received via the online consultation through Your Voice Bucks and one response was posted to the Council. The summary of these responses was attached as Appendix 1. The comments provided with responses were shown in Appendix 2. Following this consultation process, the draft Policy with proposed amendments was attached as Appendix 3.   A summary of the proposed amendments was set out in section 2 of the report.

If approved by Committee, an implementation date for the new Animal Licensing Policy would  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.


Hackney Carriage Fare Review pdf icon PDF 252 KB

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The Committee received a report on the proposal to restructure and increase Hackney Carriage fares (tariffs) for the Buckinghamshire Council area.  The proposal had been made in light of significant increases in costs and further to requests from the licensed hackney carriage trade. The Committee were asked, in advance of a Leader Key Decision, to note and comment on the proposals.  It was noted that it was a Leader Key Decision and not, as was stated in the report, a Cabinet Member Decision.

Where tariffs were set by the local authority, drivers of hackney carriage vehicles (taxis) could not charge more than the maximum specified fare, apart from in certain exceptional circumstances, although they could charge less.  Local authorities had no powers in relation to setting the fares charged for the use of private hire vehicles.  Buckinghamshire Council currently licenced approximately 340 hackney carriage vehicles and 2025 private hire vehicles.

The process and requirements for the fixing of fares for hackney carriage was set out in Section 65 of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 and included the requirement for advertising and a statutory 14-day consultation period. There was no prescribed methodology for calculating maximum fares and each local authority was responsible for adopting its own approach to devising local rates.  Common methods included a consideration of changes to inflation, associated vehicle running costs, comparisons with other licensing authorities and the views from the hackney carriage trade.

Buckinghamshire Council first introduced a single set of hackney carriage tariffs in September 2021.  It was intended that an annual review of fares would take place each April, starting 2023, taking into account any rise in CPI figures along with local and national benchmarking.  However, significant increases in fuel prices and other costs faced by the trade in 2021/22 led to this review being brought forward and a revised schedule of fares was introduced in August 2022.

The licensing service had received a further request from the hackney trade representatives to review the fares once again.  The service had met with trade representatives on a number of occasions to discuss this request and representatives had produced a number of reasons and supporting information to justify the request for a review.  The basis for the review was on two grounds, firstly in response to significant increases in costs impacting the trade and secondly because it had been identified that there were anomalies with the fare structure introduced last August 2022 that the trade would like to see rectified. 

The licensing service had also conducted its own research, reviewing changes to CPI and other influencing factors such as fuel prices and motor insurance premiums.  An analysis of fares charged nationally and locally in neighbouring local authority areas had been conducted.  Of particular interest was the finding that average hackney carriage fares had increased nationally by 16% since fares were last reviewed by Buckinghamshire Council in August 2022.

Arising from the trade meetings, the hackney trade representatives had put forward a new fare structure  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.


Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Licensing Annual Review pdf icon PDF 295 KB

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The Committee received a report on the Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Licensing Annual Review.  Prior to service alignment following the creation of the new Unitary Council in April 2020 and the implementation of the Council’s new Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Licensing Policy, the Licensing Service committed to providing reports to the Licensing Committee related to service delivery and policy impact.  This was the second annual report, focusing on the period 1 October 2022 through to 30 September 2023. 

The report provided an overview of application outcomes, an update on enforcement activity, key changes to service provision and improvements in service delivery, legislative changes and other matters considered to be of relevance or interest to the Committee such as communication with the trade, updates on safeguarding training and English language assessments.   The report also contained an overview of hackney carriage and private hire related matters on the horizon that were likely to impact the service and the trade over the coming year. Financial considerations such as income, expenditure and other budgetary matters had been excluded from the report.  A separate report was being prepared for consideration by the Licensing Committee at a future meeting and this information would form the basis for licence fee review.  

As part of the introduction to the report, the Principal Licensing Officer explained that an error had been made in the information provided in appendices 1 and 2, as not all the information for the month of October 2022 had been included.   Updated versions of appendices 1 and 2, which included all the October 2022 information, were circulated to Members of the Committee at the meeting. These would be made available on the Council’s website. The Principal Licensing Officer went through the report highlighting the updated information and an updated copy of the report, showing this updated information, would also be made available on the Council’s website. 

Members were invited to ask questions of officers. A Member asked what the difference was between a renewal and a new licence application and whether new applications were made by new drivers. In response, officers explained that licences were granted for 3 years and drivers were required to renew their licence before the 3 years expired.  Often drivers, for whatever reasons, despite receiving reminders from the Council, did not reapply on time.  If a driver did not apply by the expiry date, they were required to apply for a new licence. Therefore, not all new applications were made by drivers who were new to the trade. 

A Member expressed concern over the number of offences being carried out by drivers in the trade. Officers explained that there was a national picture around the hackney and private hire trade where a minority of people working in those trades had been associated with criminal activity, particularly around child sexual exploitation.  As a result of this, the Department for Transport published new standards for taxi and private hire vehicles in July 2020 with the aim of safeguarding children and vulnerable  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.


Date of next meeting

Tuesday 28 November 2023 at 6.30pm

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It was noted that the date of the next meeting was 27 February 2024 at 6.30pm.