Agenda and draft minutes

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Contact: Elly Cook 

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Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies for absence

Additional documents:

Minutes:

There were no apologies for absence.

2.

Declarations of interest

Additional documents:

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

3.

Minutes of the previous meeting pdf icon PDF 412 KB

To approve as a correct record the Minutes of the meeting held on 2 November 2020.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 2 November 2020 were agreed as an accurate record.

4.

Implementation of the Department for Transport's Statutory Taxi & Private Hire Vehicle Standards pdf icon PDF 787 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee received a report which set out the actions taken by the Council’s Licensing Service in response to the Department for Transport’s Statutory Taxi & Private Hire Vehicle Standards.

 

In accordance with the Policing and Crime Act 2017, the Department for Transport published new standards for taxi and private hire vehicles in July 2020 with the aim of safeguarding children and vulnerable adults from abuse and exploitation. Councils must have regard to these new standards and it was expected that they were to be adopted unless there was compelling local reason not to.

 

The publication of the new standards coincides with the preparation of the new Buckinghamshire Council Taxi and Private Hire Licensing Policy. The majority of the recommended standards had been included in the draft copy of the Policy which had been subject to recent consultation. A separate report was due to be presented to the Licensing Committee with results of the Policy consultation.

 

This report had been prepared in respect of the Secretary of State’s expectation that licensing authorities publish their response to the standards, with details of the policies and plans to deliver the recommended measures. A summary of each recommended standard was provided in the report, together with an indication whether the standard would be adopted and how the Licensing Service plans to ensure the standard would be met. The content of the report was without prejudice to the final decision in respect of the new Policy and it was acknowledged that measures might need to be revised should alternative policy decisions be made.

 

Members were invited to ask questions of officers. In response to a query regarding how the informed consent of the booker of a PSV vehicle was recorded, officers advised that the operating conditions set out comprehensive requirements in terms of operator record keeping. Officers agreed to double check the wording of the requirement in the operating conditions. 

 

Following a concern raised regarding the proposal, as set out 2.42 of the report, to slightly reduce the test pass mark of the English language assessment currently used by Aylesbury Vale, the Committee were assured that the safeguarding objectives would still be achieved with the slight reduction in the pass mark.  It was noted that it was anticipated that with the additional training and slight reduction in test pass mark that the pass rate of existing drivers would be 75%.  Officers advised that if the Policy was adopted, a further report would be presented to the Committee at a later date with more detailed information on the pass mark level.  In response to a question regarding what the procedure would be for those drivers who were unsuccessful in passing their English Language test, officers explained that those drivers would be directed to additional sources of support to help improve their English language skills. They would also have the opportunity to take further tests for which an additional cost would be incurred.

 

In response to a question regarding how the identity of a driver undertaking an  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.

5.

Buckinghamshire Council Taxi and Private Hire Licensing Policy - review of consultation responses and proposed policy changes pdf icon PDF 1 MB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee received a report on the final draft Buckinghamshire Council Taxi and Private Hire Licensing Policy.

 

Officers from the Licensing Service have drafted a new policy in collaboration with the Council’s policy team. The new policy, as set out in appendix 1, had been benchmarked against existing policies and the new Statutory Taxi and Private Hire Vehicle Standards which were published in July 2020 (see appendix 2). Measures proposed in the new policy would impact on the existing licensed trade to varying degrees depending on the legacy area within which they currently operate and on their own current operational arrangements (e.g. current age and specification of vehicles), with some potentially more significantly affected than others. New entrants to the trade would also be impacted as a result of higher standards required of vehicles, drivers and operators. The policy also considers the application of “grand-father” rights in respect of the existing trade.

 

Pre-engagement consultation with stakeholders had been carried out including an online survey, which ran from the 7th – 27th September, and the associated communications plan which included targeted communication with the taxi trade. Licensing Committee member workshops were held on 15th and 16th September and the responsible Cabinet Member and the Chair of the Licensing Committee have also been fully engaged throughout the process. A progress update paper was presented at the Environment & Localism Select Committee on the 24th September. Feedback received throughout the pre-engagement period was incorporated into the draft policy which was presented to the Licensing (Regulatory) Committee on the 2nd November who tasked officers with carrying out a full public consultation on the Policy as drafted.

 

A public consultation on the Policy was undertaken between 10th November 2020 and 4th January 2021. The consultation period was extended for a further 2 weeks from the initial proposed end date of the 21st December by agreement with the Cabinet Member for Regulatory Services and the Chair of the Licensing Committee following requests from the taxi trade and the Licensed Private Hire Car Association. During the consultation period officers carried out meetings with the taxi trade, as well as providing an Executive Summary of the Policy, a summary of key policy areas and providing a video Q&A session which were made available on the website and sent directly to the taxi trade via email and SMS where correct contact information was held.A copy of the full consultation executive summary and survey report was attached as appendix 3, a copy of a response from the Licensed Private Hire Car association (LPHCA) was attached as appendix 4 and a copy of the pre-engagement summary public survey results was attached as appendix 5. The Consultation raised a number of minor Policy wording amendments which have been considered and changes made where required. Details of all wording changes made to the Policy following the consultation were attached as appendix 6 to this report.

 

A key policy issue concerns hackney carriages and the proposal that the five current geographical hackney zones,  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.

6.

Date of next meeting

Tuesday 23 March at 6.30pm

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The date of the next meeting is Tuesday 23 March 2021 at 6.30pm.