Agenda and draft minutes
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Contact: Vicki Yull (Principal Democratic Services Officer)
To approve as a correct record the Minutes of the meetings of this Committee held on 21 June and 8 November 2021.
The Minutes of the meeting held on 21 June 2021 were approved as a true and accurate record subject to the following amendments:
· Item 6. Draft Statement of Gambling Principles – correction to show that ‘The amendment to Recommendation 1 as proposed by Councillor Bridgman was approved’.
· Item 7. Review of Hackney Carriage Tariffs – correction to show that Councillor Bridgman spoke to the report.
The Minutes of the meeting held on 8 November 2021 were approved as a true and accurate record.
The Chairman referred to the following matters:
· The statement of gambling principles discussed by this Committee at its meeting on 8 November 2021 which had been agreed by Council and published ahead of the January deadline.
The resolution from Newbury Town Council to petition this Council on potential changes to its Licensing Policy to include requirements on late night venues to ensure the health and safety of staff when travelling home. Officers had thanked Newbury Town Council for their concerns but had advised that it was not possible to introduce a blanket condition and this matter would therefore not be pursued.
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.
There were no declarations of interest received.
The Committee considered a report (Agenda Item 4) which provided an update on and raised any issues that had emanated from the most recent Taxi and Private Hire West Berkshire Council Liaison Group.
Mrs Fraser introduced the report and confirmed that the Liaison Group had met on 17 January 2022 where two substantive matters had been discussed. The first had been the taxi fees discussed by this Committee at its meeting on 8 November 2021 which had been consulted on, and the second was taxi tariffs. It had previously been agreed that tariffs would be discussed with the trade every January (to determine if there was an appetite for increases) should they choose to do so. The trade confirmed that they wanted a discussion to take place this year, and suggested a proposal to increase the tariffs in line with the Consumer Prices Index (CPI). Mrs Fraser advised that a report on this matter would be submitted to this Committee for consideration at its meeting on 4 July 2022.
Mrs Fraser advised that there had been a low turn-out from the trade at the recent electric vehicle event, but those that attended had been given the opportunity to test drive vehicles. Feedback suggested they had found the range of vehicles provided disappointing since they were not suitable for use as taxis. However, all attendees had found the day useful overall.
Councillor Bridgman referred to the trade suggestion of a two-tier tariff (one for saloon cars and the other for multi-seat vehicles), and proposed that this was acknowledged as a debating point this year in the discussions on potential increases in tariffs, and also incorporated in to any discussion paper circulated to the trade for consultation. The Chairman advised this matter would be discussed by this Committee at its meeting on 4 July 2022 and instructed officers to consider this proposal whilst preparing the report.
Councillor Marsh expressed his hope that the issue of greener taxis would continue to be pushed with the trade, especially given their reaction to the test vehicles on the day. He referred to a recent press article on the progress local authorities were making towards zero carbon, and highlighted that in Nottingham City Council 50% of the licenced vehicles were ultra-low emission vehicles. In West Berkshire this figure was 0% and Councillor Marsh suggested that the Council needed to find a way to encourage the trade by having high speed charging points at taxi ranks for example. Councillor Marsh also referred to the potential business opportunity of providing electric vehicles to service those consumers who would actively chose that option.
Councillor Abbs suggested that the Euro 6 standards should be looked at as a minimum standard for any taxi because that had been in place in most vehicles since 2015 and would help with emissions. Councillor Abbs noted that range anxiety still existed on charging point locations, and also the costs of charging, and these were matters that the Council could influence.
Mrs Fraser referred ... view the full minutes text for item 22.
The Committee considered a report (Agenda Item 5) which set out how, save for the private hire operator and hackney carriage and private hire vehicle licence fees, the Committee had already agreed that the fees and charges proposed at its meeting on 8 November 2021 be recommended to full Council for approval. The report also contained the matters which had arisen from the statutory 28 day consultation period relating to variations to operators and vehicle licence fees, and their impact on the proposed fees. The Committee was invited to agree a recommendation to Council.
Mrs Fraser introduced the report and advised that the consultation had been undertaken as agreed and two responses had been received from members of the public. No objections had been received from the trade which indicated that the trade appeared to be relatively supportive of the fees proposed. The two members of the public had expressed support around the introduction of a scheme to reduce or remove payments for electric or hybrid vehicles. Mrs Fraser also referred to the fee of £94 agreed on 8 November 2021 for DBS checks and advised that this had been reduced to £79 following work undertaken by officers.
Councillor Abbs talked about how the Council had declared a climate emergency but had difficulties in getting others to make that move towards zero carbon where it had no direct control. Councillor Abbs noted that the Council did, however, have levers which could help persuade others such as the taxi trade to, for example, switch to greener vehicles. This in turn could contribute towards a groundswell of residents purchasing greener vehicles.
Councillor Bridgman referred to the feedback provided by the trade that issues other than the Council’s fee structure was stopping them from moving to greener vehicles. He also noted that the report had set out driver concerns over using an electric vehicle for work which primarily related to limited mileage range on the vehicles, the purchase price, and the lack of sufficient public charge points. Councillor Bridgman explained that he would prefer to see a straightforward, equal method of charging for the items set out in the report in order to encourage the trade to move over to low emission vehicles and help further ambitions towards zero carbon. He suggested that a wider debate could be held at Council, looking at examples (such as Oxford) around subsidising vehicle purchases, and the range and state of the Council’s electric charging points, to help encourage the use of greener vehicles across the district. Councillor Bridgman confirmed that he would prefer to have a regime in place which provided a level playing field for those coming in to the trade on the fees currently being debated, and indicated his support for the recommendations proposed in the report regarding increases, decreases and adjustments.
Councillor Barnett referred to the issue of encouraging the trade to move towards the use of greener vehicles. He reflected that there had been a similar issue relating to vehicles suitable for ... view the full minutes text for item 23.
The Committee considered the Forward Plan for July 2022 to July 2023 (Agenda Item 6).
Councillor Abbs highlighted feedback provided at the recent Liaison Group meeting that indicated that the trade did not all purchase brand new vehicles. This provided an opportunity for the Council to start to set a minimum standard for euro ratings in emissions, from the fossil fuel cars that remained to Euro 6 standards. Councillor Abbs requested that this matter be added to the Forward Plan for discussion. The Committee noted that the Draft Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Policy was on the Forward Plan for consideration by this Committee at its meeting on 4 July 2022 and agreed that officers would investigate and incorporate in to that report the suggestions put forward by Councillor Abbs.
Councillor Bridgman referred to the Forward Plan item regarding the consideration of the Sex Establishments Policy, and queried if this was a new policy and what legislation it related to. Mrs O’Brien advised that it related to the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011 and so was due for review. However, there were currently no establishments in West Berkshire and Mrs O’Brien invited members to consider whether they felt it therefore required a review. Councillors Linden and Pask both noted that a policy should be in place in the event that someone intended to open an establishment in the future. The Chairman noted that the item was tabled for 18 months’ time giving Members the opportunity to consider this matter further before then.