Venue: Council Chamber, Town Hall, Bexhill-on-Sea
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To authorise the Chairman to sign the Minutes of the meeting of the Licensing and General Purposes Committee held on 15 July 2019 as a correct record of the proceedings.
The Chairman was authorised to sign the Minutes of the meeting of the Licensing and General Purposes Committee held on 15 July 2019 as a correct record of the proceedings.
Apologies and Substitutes
The Chairman to ask if any Member present is substituting for another Member and, if so, to declare his/her name as substitute Member and the name of the absent Member.
An apology for absence was received from Councillor K.M. Field.
It was noted that Councillor Gray was present as substitute Member for Councillor Field.
Additional Agenda Item
To consider such other items as the Chairman decides are urgent and due notice of which has been given to the Head of Paid Service by 12 Noon on the day of the meeting.
Agenda Item 7 - Licensing Act 2003 Appeals
The Chairman of the Licensing and General Purposes Committee had accepted an Additional Agenda Item onto the Agenda, which was considered as Agenda Item 7 (see Minute LG19/14 below) concerning Licensing Act 2003 Appeals.
The Committee received and considered the report of the Executive Director on the Council’s Criminal Convictions Policy and Immigration Guidance in relation to Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Drivers.
In 2015, the Council adopted a Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Driver Licensing: Criminal Convictions Policy, the purpose of which was to provide guidance on the criteria taken into account by the Council when determining whether or not an applicant, or an existing licence holder, was a fit and proper person to hold a dual drivers licence; a Hackney Carriage or Private Hire Vehicle Licence; and/or a Private Hire Operators Licence.
In September 2017, the Government established the Task and Finish Group (TFG) on Taxi and Private Hire Vehicle Licensing to consider evidence relating to the adequacy of taxi and private hire legislation and to make recommendations for actions to address any priority issues identified. In the following September (2018), the Group published its report ‘Taxi and Private Hire Licensing – steps towards a safer and more robust system’, which made a total of 34 recommendations, many of which had already been adopted by the Council. The report called upon the Government to legislate for national minimum standards and to set such standards at a level that ensured high minimum safety standards (recommendation 2). In addition it called for urgent guidance on the relevance of previous convictions and the period for which exclusions from licensing should apply (recommendation 21).
In February 2019, the Government published its response to the TFG report, accepting that there was a need for greater consistency and collaboration in regulation to address changes and the concerns of the public, the trade and regulators, and three key measures recommended to achieve a safe service for passengers, namely: national minimum standards, national enforcement powers and a national licencing database. The latter two measures were beyond the Council’s scope of powers but the Council could introduce measures towards achieving robust standards in advance of the introduction of any national minimum standards being ratified.
The Institute of Licensing (IoL) had published its ‘Guidance on Determining the Suitability of Applicants and Licensees in the Hackney and Private Hire Trades’ in April 2018, which was welcomed by the Government in their response to the TFG and had stated that, subject to consultation (which took place between February and April 2019), it was the intention to include this in the national minimum standards.
The Council’s Criminal Convictions policy presented to Members had been amended in line with the IoL guidelines and the Government’s draft guidance, which incorporated those omissions identified, along with other minor variations and was attached to the report at Appendix A.
Members had the opportunity to raise questions and the following points were noted:
· the guidance had been simplified by grouping offences together under general headings;
· when considering an application for a licence, allegations that did not result in a conviction could also be taken into consideration. Members requested that the sentence at 2.6 in the guidelines, ‘This will ... view the full minutes text for item LG19/12.
Members received and considered the report of the Executive Director detailing the Council’s statutory review of its polling districts and polling places.
The review considered the arrangements for polling districts and polling places at UK Parliamentary elections and thus covered the arrangements in place for the parts of Bexhill and Battle and the Hastings and Rye constituencies that fell within Rother. These arrangements remained in place for other elections. The review did not cover parliamentary, local government or parish boundaries, or the naming of these electoral areas, which were subject to a separate review process conducted by the Local Government Boundary Commission for England.
A total of 17 responses to the consultation were received, which were included in Appendix 2 to the report. Feedback from polling station staff and polling station inspectors had also been considered.
There were seven changes to the existing polling places and polling stations that the Committee was asked to recommend, as detailed in Appendix 2 to the report.
During the debate, the following points were noted:
· Rother currently had 81 polling districts, which would be reduced to 72;
· 190 staff were employed across the polling stations, consisting of 71 presiding officers and 119 poll clerks; the number of staff would not increase as a result of the proposed changes;
· access to polling stations was constantly reviewed and signage improved; and
· measures were taken to ensure polling stations were as centrally located and easily accessible within Wards as possible.
1) the Polling Places Scheme in Appendix B be approved; and
2) the Executive Director’s current delegated authority to agree necessary changes of polling place after consultation with the Chairman of the Licensing and General Purposes Committee, relevant District Ward Member(s), County Council Member and Parish Council be maintained. Should any of the consultees not agree the proposed change, the decision to be brought to the Licensing and General Purposes Committee and full Council for determination.
Members received and considered the report of the Executive Director which recommended delegated authority be granted to the Solicitor of the Council to settle appeals under the Licensing Act 2003, where appropriate.
Whilst the Council rarely found itself the Respondent in licensing appeals under The Licensing Act 2003, the right of appeal was within the Act to be utilised by applicants and interested parties.
When such an appeal was made, the process involved a full hearing before a Magistrates Court involving a full rehearing in a legal environment. In most cases that process would be necessary to defend a decision to refuse or revoke a licence, but equally could occur when a condition was attached to a licence that a party felt was inappropriate. In such cases where the issues were relatively straightforward, it would be pragmatic to have the ability to settle appeals with minor changes to the original decision, such as changing the time that doors had to be closed by, in order to avoid the expense and time of unnecessary court involvement.
The S.182 Guidance under the 2003 Act recommended that any such proposals to settle appeals involved consultation with the Interested Parties, and this consultation would be undertaken before the Solicitor and Chairman of the original Panel to consider the issue of settling the appeal by agreement.
RESOLVED: That delegated authority be granted to the Solicitor to the Council, in consultation with the Chairman of the respective Licensing Panel that decided the matter, to settle appeals under the Licensing Act 2003 where it is considered appropriate to do so.
(The Chairman of the Licensing and General Purposes Committee had accepted this item onto the Agenda as an Additional Agenda Item in order for the Committee to consider the request to grant delegated authority to the Solicitor to the Council to settle appeals in consultation with the Chairman of the respective Licensing Panel, where it was considered appropriate to do so.)