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Agenda and minutes

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No. Item


Minutes pdf icon PDF 268 KB

To approve as a correct record the Minutes of the meeting of this Committee held on 31 January and 10 May 2022.

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The Minutes of the meetings held on 31 January 2022 and 10 May 2022 were approved as true and correct records and signed by the Chairman.


Declarations of Interest pdf icon PDF 305 KB

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.


Draft Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Licensing Policy pdf icon PDF 267 KB

Purpose: To assist the Committee in considering the draft policy which has been prepared in response to the Department for Transport’s guidance on “Statutory Taxi and Private Hire Vehicle Standards” prior to it being consulted on. This guidance requires Local Authorities to review, revise and update their policies in relation to Hackney Carriage and Private Hire licensing.


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The Committee considered a report (Agenda Item 4), which looked at the new draft Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Licensing Policy which had been prepared in response to the Department for Transport’s guidance on “Statutory Taxi and Private Hire Vehicle Standards”. This guidance required local authorities to review, revise and update their policies in relation to Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Licensing. 

The Licensing team were looking for recommendations on several aspects of the policy, prior to consultation and would remain in draft until the consultation had been completed.

Mr James Button introduced the draft policy and highlighted that the purpose of the policy was to enhance public safety. He then worked through some of the areas where clarity from Members was being sought. He discussed the choice laid out on page 30 of the Agenda, which was whether to waive the second and third year licence fees for individuals over the age of 65, as after a certain age it was required that a taxi licence be renewed annually. Mr Button advised that by adding this to the policy, it would remove questions over age discrimination, however this would come at a financial cost to West Berkshire Council.

Councillor Graham Bridgman stated that there would still be administrative costs associated with the renewals and he wondered if a reduced fee should be applied. The Chairman replied that the Public Protection Partnership (PPP) stated that the administrative load and costs would be manageable.

Councillor Graham Pask added that, at a certain age, you had to renew your driver’s licence with the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) every three years and that this process was free. He therefore suggested that years two and three be free for renewal and queried whether there was an age limit where drivers would no longer be eligible for a licence. Mr Button replied that there was no upper age limit and that eligibility was usually decided by whether a driver was seen as ‘fit and proper’. Mr Button finished by adding that it would be incredibly difficult to add an upper age limit to the policy.

Councillor Jeff Beck explained that the Charity Commission restricted volunteers driving patients to hospital to 80 years of age. The Chairman added that he was not in favour of upper age limits but would instead insist on the provision of insurance documentation during renewal.

Councillor Steve Ardagh-Walter asked for clarification on why renewals occurred every year instead of every three years. Mr Button informed the Councillor that it would be possible not to implement a recurring one year renewal, however its implementation had been suggested for safety reasons, because of the potential for new medical issues to arise. Mr Button continued to specify that the one year checks could be done from the age of 70 and that this would be in alignment with DVLA practice. Members agreed that the wording should be amended to read ‘From the age of 70 on, licences will only be granted  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.


Helping West Berkshire Taxi Trade Go Greener (EX4215) pdf icon PDF 376 KB

Purpose: To assist the Committee in considering the options available to the Council to assist the local taxi trade to ‘go greener’ and provide incentives that entice them to switch to ultra-low emission vehicles. The discussion will also assist with formulating a response to the Motion tabled at the 18 January 2022 Council meeting for the Executive to consider. The Motion sought to introduce a fee based incentive scheme to help all forms of vehicles licensed by West Berkshire for public transport to ‘go green’.


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The Committee considered a report (Agenda Item 5), which outlined several options available to the Council to assist the  West Berkshire Taxi Trade to ‘go greener’ and provided incentives to the trade to encourage them to switch to ultra-low emission vehicles. This included suggestions such as free parking with charging points and subsidising the purchase of Electric Vehicles (EVs). This report was in response to a Motion submitted to Council by Councillor Adrian Abbs which sought to introduce a fee based incentive scheme to help all forms of vehicles licensed by West Berkshire for public transport to go green.

The Chairman emphasised that West Berkshire Council should not become a money lender.
Councillor David Marsh questioned whether there was a fully electric cab within West Berkshire and Moira Fraser confirmed there was at least one.

Councillor Marsh believed there should be a fee based incentive, which included a full discount for EVs and a 50% reduction for hybrid vehicles. Councillor Marsh did not support the capping of EV charge points, as it was too complex and he emphasised the Committee should aim for simplicity. Councillor Marsh thought offering free parking was a valid option, but only during overnight hours and he favoured cash grants over loaning, as providing loans could be complicated and would slow down how quickly the Council could implement the policy. Councillor Marsh also noted that the Council needed to consider that the Government already provided a £1500 grant for the purchase of EVs, and Oxford City Council provided a £5000 grant for the same. Councillor Marsh surmised that moving in a more eco-friendly direction would benefit the Taxi Trade, as customers would favour using the greener option, however the Trade would need help to offer this service.

Councillor Pask explained that it would not be right to provide large grants, especially as market forces were working in favour of consumers that had switched to EVs, because of the rise in fuel prices. Councillor Marsh added that loaning and grants were two separate processes, as grants were easier to distribute and would encourage people to buy EVs. Councillor Bridgman fully agreed that a grant could be used to encourage the purchase of EVs, especially due to the expensive nature of these vehicles.

Councillor Bridgman noted that there were two issues with EVs brought up by the Taxi Trade; firstly, the expense of the vehicles and secondly, the distance that could be covered by EVs. Councillor Bridgman wanted to see the potential figures for the fee system, so the implications of the system on the Council budget could be reviewed. He did not agree with the capping of the costs of EV charging points and agreed with Councillor Marsh on the issue of overnight parking. Councillor Bridgman finalised that grants should not take on a lender model and that £5000 would be too much money to give as a grant.

Councillor Ardagh-Walter averred that he would be in favour of a reasonable grant, with an annual review and  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.


Statutory Consultation on Hackney Carriage Tariffs 2022 pdf icon PDF 411 KB

Purpose: For the Committee to review the published Hackney Carriage Fare Scale in light of the current fuel costs and to determine the consultation process that must be undertaken if the Executive resolves to vary the current table of fares.

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The Committee considered a report (Agenda Item 6), which set out options to increase the taxi tariffs as a result of the recent increase in fuel prices. Members were asked to consider whether or not they would recommend a variation to the Executive and if so if they would support an increase of five percent, eight percent or ten percent.

The Taxi Trade had been consulted informally over the potential tariff changes, of which those that had responded; three opted for no increase, 23 were in favour of the five percent increase and 22 in favour of a ten percent increase, as a result Officers recommended an increase of eight percent. Both proposed fee increases included an increased flag charge and the potential addition of a fouling charge for the first time.

Councillor Bridgman asked what the new flag distance would be and Moira Fraser confirmed that it was 1489.235 yards or every 11 out of 13 units in a mile.

Councillor Bridgman then suggested that the Committee go for the eight percent given the split amongst the trade. Councillor Barnett and Councillor Pask agreed.

The Chairman moved onto the fouling charge, of which Councillor Bridgman stated that in London the charge was at £60 for fouling, which would reflect the cost of cleaning, as well as the amount of time the cabs were off the road. It was suggested that interior damage would be £75 and exterior £15. 

The Chairman queried how much a car wash costed and Councillor Linden replied in Reading it would cost around £15, however the interior would be a huge problem, but £75 would be more than generous. Moira Fraser added that it was £50 interior, £10 exterior for Bracknell Forest Council taxis.

Moira Fraser asked about the length of the consultation period and gave the Committee the choice of either, 14 days (statutory minimum) or 28 days.

Councillor Bridgman argued that due to the urgency of the matter, because of the rise in fuel prices and the fact that a table of tariffs had already been created, the Committee should vote for the 14 day consultation period.

The Committee RESOLVED that that:

(1)  An eight percent increase in taxi tariffs would be recommended to the Executive.

(2)  A fouling charge of £75 pounds for interior damage and £25 for exterior damage be recommended to the Executive.

(3)  There should be a period of 14 days for consultation on the tariffs running from the 14 to the 28 July 2022.  


West Berkshire Council Licensing Annual Report 2021/22 pdf icon PDF 301 KB

Purpose: To set out the work of the Licensing Committee, Licensing Sub-Committee and Licensing Service in 2021/22.

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The Committee considered the Annual Report for 2021 to 2022 (Agenda Item 7)

There were no questions or comments from Members.

The Committee RESOLVED to note the contents of the report.



Licensing Committee Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 171 KB

Purpose: To consider and agree the Forward Plan.


The Committee considered the Forward Plan for July 2022 to July 2023 (Agenda Item 8).

The Chairman mentioned that he would like the ‘green’ policies to be revisited in 12 months’ time.