Agenda and minutes
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Contact: Moira Fraser
To approve as a correct record the Minutes of the meeting of this Committee held on 30 November 2020.
The Minutes of the meeting held on 30 November 2020 were approved as a true and correct record and signed by the Chairman.
Declarations of Interest
To remind Members of the need to record the existence and nature of any personal, disclosable pecuniary or other registrable interests in items on the agenda, in accordance with the Members’ Code of Conduct.
Lobbying letters were received by members from the taxi community and in regards to the fireworks motion.
Purpose: To allow Members to consider the responses received during the 28 day statutory consultation period concerning the proposed fees in relation to hackney carriage and private hire licensing. A further update will be provided at the Licensing Committee on 8th February on additional responses received prior to the consultation closing on 11th February 2021.
Sean Murphy introduced the report to Committee (Agenda Item 4) and went over the history of taxi fees and charges; he stated that consultation had taken place and a range of issues had been reported.
It was proposed, that given the pandemic, and how it affected the trade, that the fees not be increased and that further dialogue with the trade needed to be pursued.
Councillor Phil Barnet said that the pandemic had terribly affected hospitality and trickled down to the taxi industry. He stated that it must not be forgotten the vital service taxis have provided to vulnerable residents and it would be irresponsible not to take action to prevent more loss of taxis to the area. Councillor Barnet recommended that any increases to fees could be re-examined in the future once the effects of the pandemic had passed.
Councillor Graham Bridgeman stated that there were two fundamentals about the licensing regime in West Berkshire Council (WBC) that were to be considered. The fees they paid for whatever they were licensed to do and then a question of the business support they would have received during the pandemic. He was in favour of not raising the fees this year.
Councillor Adrian Abbs agreed with Councillor Bridgeman and further stated that what needed to be done was two-fold. The restructure of fees and then what can be done to help the taxis trade to ensure its survival. He suggested that any of the lost taxis could be reissued with a license as a way of helping them back into trading again.
Councillor Jeff Beck stated that it was asked what funds could be allocated to assist taxi drivers at the Gold meeting earlier and Councillor Bridgeman stated that it was not for the Committee to make that decision and that the purpose of the Committee was to make a recommendation to the Council.
Joseph Holmes discussed the measures that have been put in place by the Government and the Council. On the WBC website all grants have been listed and are referred to as the Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG). Gabrielle Mancini added that it was worth noting that the need was required to be demonstrated and that hardship had occurred before the funding was issued because not all taxi companies have experienced the same level of hardship and the grant was meant to reach those who had been impacted the most.
It was also noted that the issues around fees and grants were two separate issues and that the grant was to cover hardship; rather, than fees. Gabrielle Mancini stated that the ARG must last the Council until March next year and if a broad approach were applied to one industry, it would be needed to bear in mind that there are other businesses and other industries that needed financial assistance and therefore it all needed to be balanced.
Gabrielle Mancini clarified that businesses did not need to go out of business to have been eligible for funding and that ... view the full minutes text for item 11.
Purpose: To provide a response to a motion to Full Council on 10th September 2020 and outline some information for the committee concerning the legal provisions the PPP have with respect to fireworks such as storage, point of sale, intelligence led promotional campaigns and the use of appropriate licensing conditions and noise management plans to minimise the impact.
Anna Smy introduced the report to the Committee; the motion was contained on page 52 and recommendations and the summary were as follows:
· The motion’s purpose was to require advance advertising for fireworks displays and its aim was to protect vulnerable people and animals.
· Impact awareness on the above and to mitigate risks.
· Legislation to limit the noise of fireworks sold to the public.
· Was born from an RSCPA report, reiterated in environment leaflet attached.
· Has been formed around animal welfare, trading standards and licensing standards for selling fireworks.
· 20/33 complaints sent to WBC based on fireworks, a quarter was in regards to noise and impact on animals.
· Area for concern in terms of noise was 90 decibels.
· Amendment of wording of the proposal was to deal with acoustic element and its human response as opposed to animal.
Discussion took place regarding enforcement and Councillor Bridgeman asked what part of this could was enforceable and how would someone advertising a firework display have broken the law? He said that, furthermore, WBC licensing had no power over firework displays and that although he had sympathy for what the RSPA were trying to achieve the motion was poorly worded and drafted.
Councillor David Marsh added that the committee was getting too bogged down in the details of the motion and that they were not being asked to enforce this; they were only being asked to support it. He said that it simply sent out the message that the Council does not like loud fireworks because of the distress it caused to animals in the district and it was a good message to send out.
It was also noted that WBC residents would appreciate that stance on this because lots of correspondence has been received regarding this issue and that the distress reported was often due to the volume of private display fireworks.
Councillor Tony Linden stated that often timings of private fireworks displays were linked to anti-social behaviour and Councillor Claire Rowles was supportive of this motion on a number of levels. Councillor Rowles said that lobbying parliament to improve things meant that the Council had gone as far as it could go with the policy.
It was agreed that the motion was supported by the Committee so that WBC could bring awareness and attention to the public.
Purpose: Members to note that the next meeting would take place on the 21 June 2021 and to consider any changes needed to the forward plan.
In regards to the minutes from the last meeting, taxi and private hire, and meeting discussions with trade, it was suggested that these items be added to the forward plan.
Sean Murphy proposed that an update on those discussions would come out in June and that the discussions with trade would take place over the next few weeks.