Agenda and draft minutes

Venue: The Oculus, Buckinghamshire Council, Gatehouse Road, HP19 8FF

Contact: Clare Gray 

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Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies for absence

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Cllrs Dominic Barnes, Richard Gaster, Paul Griffin, Caroline Jones, Nabeela Rana, Jonathan Rush and Gurinder Wadhwa

2.

Declarations of interest

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Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

3.

Minutes of the previous meeting pdf icon PDF 462 KB

To approve as a correct record the Minutes of the meeting held on 30 June 2021.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Minutes of the Meeting held on 30 June 2021 were agreed as a correct record.

4.

New Statement of Licensing Policy, Licensing Act 2003 pdf icon PDF 750 KB

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Minutes:

The Committee received a report on the draft Licensing Policy. The Licensing Authority had a legal obligation to publish a licensing policy statement, ‘Policy’, which set out its approach to promoting the licensing objectives when performing its licensing functions. A Policy must be published every five years under the Act, following a period of formal consultation and review. The Council’s licensing service was currently operating under separate legacy policies reflecting the four former district council areas. Under the terms of the transitional legislation, Buckinghamshire Council had two years to prepare and publish a new single licensing policy under the Act and align service provision. The deadline for publication and implementation of the new Policy was no later than 1 April 2022. A pre-draft policy consultation exercise had been carried out and the results have helped shape Buckinghamshire Council’s first draft Licensing Policy Statement. 107 individual responses were received which were broadly representative 30% from residents, 23% from businesses and 35% from councillors. Broadly there was support from those consulted to the new draft licensing policy.

 

It was proposed that historic cumulative impact and special hour’s policies were not included in the new draft Policy due to lack of sufficient required supporting evidence. ‘Cumulative impact’ was about the concentration of licensed premises in a particular area and the impacts of this. Currently only Aylesbury town centre had a cumulative impact policy. Evidence from the police and local residents had historically supported the view that a high concentration of late licensed premises has had a detrimental impact and contributed to public nuisance and crime and disorder. The police’s view was that the historic cumulative impact policy had been an effective tool in containing the negative impacts of late night licensed premises.

 

Whilst these views were valid they must be balanced against the available evidence provided and the views of all stakeholders. While there were clear concerns from the police that the removal of the cumulative impact policy linked to “high risk premises” would lead to an increase in crime and disorder related issues (and therefore in the costs of policing), the available evidence at this stage was arguably inconclusive. Furthermore, over 82% of stakeholders responding to the survey support the view that the cumulative impact should be removed but kept under assessment going forward. Cumulative impact policies could be re-introduced if supported by an assessment of the available evidence and this would be kept under review over the next 12 months with a further report to the Licensing Committee.

 

Five other areas were mentioned in the survey as being impacted by a high concentration of licensed premises: High Wycombe, Marlow, Beaconsfield, Buckingham and Amersham on the Hill. While no supporting evidence had been submitted to support this view at this stage, these areas would be closely monitored by the licensing service with a view to considering the introduction of CIA policies if evidence supports this approach.

 

There was also a terminal hour’s policy for Buckingham due to students from the university and  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.

5.

Pavement Licensing - The Business and Planning Act 2020 (Pavement Licences) (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2021 pdf icon PDF 514 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee received a report from the Licensing Manager (Chiltern and South Bucks) on pavement licensing. The Business and Planning Act 2020 obtained Royal Assent on 22 July 2020. The Act introduced a number of powers and requirements on local authorities that affected how they deal with a variety of issues, with the aim of supporting local businesses and helping economic recovery as the COVID-19 restrictions put in place by Government continue to be eased. The two most relevant sections of the Act cover:

 

  • The change in approach to outdoor furniture provision for relevant businesses (as defined in the Act) to enable them to increase their trading space ‘pavement licences’.
  • Relaxation of off sales of alcohol for licensed premises

 

The new powers were temporary, and were originally in place until 30 September 2021, however there are new draft regulations (Business and Planning Act 2020 (Pavement Licences) (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2021) which would amend The Business and Planning Act 2020, extending these powers to 30 September 2022, which were approved by parliament on 20 July 2021.

 

In order to promote consistency in approach, it was recommended that subject to the new regulations coming into effect, the Council continued to issue pavement licences for the maximum permitted length. This would mean that although premises with existing licences would have to re-apply, their newly issued licences would be valid until 30th September 2022. 38 licences issued to date would expire at the end of September 2021.  Similarly, all new licences issued would also be valid until 30th September 2022. It was also recommended that the same fee of £100 for each pavement licence be retained in line with the maximum amount specified by Government. This would go part way towards the costs of the provision of this service and the associated regulatory activity. The cost to the service was £300 per licence.

 

During discussion the following questions were responded to:

 

·         Clarity was sought on the definition of street furniture particularly pillars and temporary roofing. The Licensing Manager reported that there were conditions on each licence to make sure that there was accessibility and no obstruction to ensure health and safety requirements were met. The Transition Head of Licensing, Cemeteries & Crematoria Services also responded that the powers introduced were a temporary lift on planning permissions on temporary structures outside in order to assist business which would have previously required planning consent. However, if this guidance was made permanent (which was currently being looked at by the Government) then the Council would feedback to the Government the importance of criteria for long term structures. Inspections were carried out when any concerns were reported to the Licensing Team. It was predominantly reactive as it was part of a permissive regime to help businesses. Planning permission exemptions were attached to the licence when issued and would be extended with the licence.

·         A Member commented that the Council was losing £200 on each licence and if the Government was thinking about making this permanent how this could be  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.

6.

Taxi and Private Hire Licensing Fees and Charges pdf icon PDF 769 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee received a report on taxi and private hire licensing fees and charges. The Chairman provided an update for the Committee as follows:

 

Following agreement with the Cabinet Member for Regulatory Services, Nick Naylor and herself as Chairman of the Committee, she provided an update on a minor amendment to the Taxi Licensing Policy which would come into effect from the 6th September 2021.

 

The agreed amendment enabled existing licensed vehicles that were not already subject to the age requirements set down within the Policy to continue to be licensed until the vehicle was 15 years old or until the 1st September 2024 (whichever was the sooner). This would include wheelchair accessible vehicles that were previously licensed by Wycombe District Council as hackney carriage vehicles.

 

This gave the majority of the licensed trade who were not already subject to a 10 year vehicle age limit additional time to prepare and plan to change their vehicles and was aimed specifically at maintaining the level of supply of wheelchair accessible vehicles available for passengers across the Council area. It should also mean that there was a greater choice of affordable electric wheelchair accessible vehicles available in the market at the time of replacement which supported the Council’s environmental objectives. Consideration was also being given to extending the maximum age limit of larger more specialist wheelchair accessible vehicles and feedback would be provided to the Committee on this in due course.

 

This amendment had been made following feedback from the licensed trade on the possible impacts of this part of the Policy. Members and Officers were committed to working with the licensed trade to implement the new Policy from the 6th September 2021.

 

Turning to the report, the Licensing Team Leader (Wycombe area) reported that the new Buckinghamshire Council Taxi and Private Hire Licensing Policy was approved at the Council meeting on the 24th February 2021 and was due to be implemented on the 6th September 2021 when the existing legacy area zones would be removed and replaced with one single operating area. As a result, it was now necessary to align all fees and charges relating to taxi licensing to enable full implementation of the policy and provide consistency across the Council area for both applicants and licence holders. Taxi fees were required by law to be cost neutral and the relevant legislation and case law set out the elements of the licensing process which can be included in the calculation of fees.

 

At its meeting on the 14th April 2021, the Committee agreed to approve the then proposed fees for a full consultation process. Since that meeting the fees have been advertised in newspapers throughout the council area as required by the legislation. All licence holders have also been contacted and provided with a link to information on the fees along with a feedback survey. The consultation ended on the 7th July 2021 and 84 responses were received. 81 of these were received via the website feedback  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.

7.

Date of next meeting

7 September 2021 at 6.30pm - The Oculus, Buckinghamshire Council, Gatehouse Road, HP19 8FF

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The date of next meeting was 7 September and an additional meeting of 20 October was agreed both at 6.30pm.