Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council

Big plans, bright future

Licensing Committee (ceased to operate 10/04/2017) Minutes

Date:
Tuesday, 27th January, 2015
Time:
10.00am
Place:
Council Chamber, Town Hall, High Street, Stockton on Tees, TS18 1AJ
 
Please note: all Minutes are subject to approval at the next Meeting

Attendance Details

Present:
Cllr Paul Kirton(Chairman), Cllr Mrs Kathryn Nelson(Vice Chairman), Cllr Michael Clark, Cllr Evaline Cunningham, Cllr Phillip Dennis, Cllr Ken Dixon, Cllr Eileen Johnson, Cllr Alan Lewis, Cllr Ray McCall, Cllr Maurice Perry, Cllr David Wilburn, Cllr Bill Woodhead
Officers:
Polly Edwards, Simon Mills, Colin Snowdon, Lorraine Wilford, John Wynn(PH), April Pilgrim, Sarah Whaley(LD)
In Attendance:
Applicant Ref - 066174 and his representative Mr M Vaines, Applicant Ref - 112390.
Apologies for absence:
Cllr Jean Kirby, Cllr Tina Large.
Item Description Decision
Public
L
86/14
EVACUATION PROCEDURE
 
L
87/14
DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST
 
L
88/14
MINUTES FROM THE LICENSING SUB COMMITTEE WHICH WAS HELD ON THE 1ST OCTOBER 2014.
RESOLVED that the minutes be approved and signed as a correct record.
L
89/14
MINUTES FROM THE LICENSING SUB COMMITTEE WHICH WAS HELD ON THE 28TH OCTOBER 2014.
RESOLVED that the minutes be approved and signed as a correct record.
L
90/14
MINUTES FROM THE LICENSING COMMITTEE MEETINGS WHICH WERE HELD ON THE 17TH OCTOBER 2014 AND THE 4TH NOVEMBER 2014.
RESOLVED that the minutes be approved and signed as a correct record.
L
91/14
PET ANIMALS ACT 1951 - PET SHOP LICENCE CONDITIONS
RESOLVED that the model conditions detailed within the main report be adopted in the most part, as they are. The new conditions would apply to all premises subject to particular circumstances which might require special additional conditions being attached to a licence in order to achieve the welfare of the animals. The special conditions may be added in line with the views of the licensing officer, council licensing policy and any veterinary advice.
L
92/14
EXCLUSION OF THE PUBLIC
RESOLVED that under Section 100A(4) of the Local Government Act 1972 the public be excluded from the meeting for the following items of business on the grounds that they involved the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in paragraph 1 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Act.
Confidential
L
93/14
APPLICATION FOR A HACKNEY CARRIAGE DRIVERS LICENCE - REF 066174
  • Application for a Hackney Carriage Drivers Licence - Ref 066174
RESOLVED that Applicant - Ref 066174's Hackney Carriage Drivers Licence be granted on condition that the Applicant - Ref 066174 satisfies all elements of the application process and subject to a warning as to future conduct.
L
94/14
APPLICATION FOR A PRIVATE HIRE DRIVERS LICENCE - REF 139127
  • Application for a Private Hire Drivers Licence - Ref 139127
RESOLVED that the item be deferred.
L
95/14
PRIVATE HIRE DRIVER - REF 112390
  • Private Hire Driver - Ref 112390
RESOLVED that Private Hire Driver - Ref 112390's Private Hire Drivers licence be revoked.
10.00am

Preamble

ItemPreamble
L
86/14
The evacuation procedure was noted
L
87/14
There were no declarations of interest.
L
88/14
Consideration was given to the minutes from the Licensing Sub Committee which was held on the 1st October 2014 for approval and signature.
L
89/14
Consideration was given to the minutes from the Licensing Sub Committee which was held on the 28th October 2014 for approval and signature.
L
90/14
Consideration was given to the minutes from the Licensing Committee which was held on the 17th October 2014 and the 4th November 2014 for approval and signature.
L
91/14
Members were presented with a report on the Pet Animals Act 1951 - Pet Shop Licence Conditions. Members were asked to consider adopting the revised model conditions for pet shops as detailed within the report.

A working group comprising of organisations with specialist animal knowledge including the British Veterinary Association, DEFRA, RSPCA and the CIEH published new model conditions for pet shop vending in 2013. These were designed to ensure pet vendors met welfare standards and requirements.

Members heard that Local authorities issued licences to proprietors of pet shops under the provisions of the Pet Animals Act (1951). Before granting a licence the local authority had to be satisfied that the animals were kept in accommodation that was suitable; that they were supplied with appropriate food and drink; and were adequately protected from disease and fire.


The local authority may attach conditions to the licence, may inspect the licensed premises at all reasonable times and may refuse a licence if the standards at the premises were unsatisfactory or if the conditions of the licence were not being complied with.

The Act defined an animal's needs as including:
- Its need for a suitable environment
- Its need for a suitable diet
- Its need to be able to exhibit normal behaviour patterns
- Any need to be housed with, or apart from, other animals
- Its need to be protected from pain, suffering, injury and disease.

Stockton Borough Council currently had 13 pet shops licensed, with 2 applications pending. The premises varied in size and in the number of species listed on each premise schedule.

A copy of the current conditions covering all pet shops was detailed in Appendix 1.

In 2013 the CIEH published Model Licence Conditions for pet vending which had been drawn up by the national working group. The model conditions for pet shop licensing were the recommendations for the basic minimum standards considered necessary to ensure the health, safety and welfare of animals in pet shops and reflected the advances and developments in animal welfare standards that had occurred since our previous model conditions were adopted in 2005.

If adopted this would mean a change to current licence conditions as of February 2015, with inspections using the new conditions to be carried out after this date. A copy of the draft model conditions was attached at Appendix 2.

CONSULTATION
Copies of the model conditions along with a covering letter were sent to all pet shops, asking for responses for the report. To date no comments either for or against the new conditions had been received from current licence holders. A copy of the covering letter was attached at Appendix 3.

In addition to views from the trade a number of charity and rescue organisations were contacted for comments. The most common concern raised related to the sale of cats and dogs from retail pet shops, with most responses asking for a complete ban. Replies were received from 5 organisations.

In addition a response was received from Mark Berry on behalf of Stockton Borough Councils Animal Welfare Section. A summary of all of the comments received were attached at Appendix 4.

Full copies of the comments received were available at the meeting for members to read.

A further letter was sent to everyone who responded to the consultation clarifying the position relating to the sale of cats and dogs from pet shops. A copy was attached at Appendix 5.

SALE OF CATS AND DOGS FROM PET SHOPS
There had been some confusion surrounding the issue of the sale of cats and dogs from pet shops with officers, welfare organisations and the trade believing that current conditions did not allow the sale of these animals from pet shops. This was not the case as the Pet Animals Act 1951 did not allow for the imposition of a blanket restriction on species sold from pet shops.

Independent legal advice had been sought in relation to blanket bans for specific species being sold from pet shops. The advice confirmed that there may be substantial argument as to whether a blanket ban could be imposed given that the current legislation and statutory regimes were in essence permissible to sales.

It was clear that the Act did allow for species to be restricted on an individual basis where applicants could not show for example that they had sufficient knowledge or expertise to ensure the welfare needs of the animals they wish to sell could be met. As part of the application process the Council's veterinary surgeon carried out an inspection at premises to ensure this was the case and schedules were attached to all Pet Shop Licences specifying which species could be sold by a specific premise.

On Thursday 4 September MPs took part in a debate in the House of Commons Chamber relating to an e-petition on the regulation of the sale of puppies and kittens. This debate was scheduled by the Backbench Business Committee. During the debate the Minister was asked to consider, amongst other things a blanket ban on the sale of cats and dogs from pet shops. He responded by stating: Pet shops were a key item of today's debate. It was important to recognise that only about 2% of pet shops sold cats and dogs—around 70 in total—and they were already regulated and licensed. They were regulated under the Pet Animals Act 1951. The hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent South asked for clarification whether local authorities had the additional power to place restrictions on which animals could be sold at a licensed pet shop establishment. It was confirmed that there was the power to restrict the number of animals that could be sold. Questions were raised about the issue of ambiguity and contestability in that context. The response stated that the intention of the provision was for local authorities to judge on a case-by-case basis whether a particular premise was suitable for a particular animal to be sold. It was not necessary for local authorities to change the law; it was for them to have considerable discretion in making a judgment about whether it was appropriate for certain animals to be sold on the authority's premises.

A full record of the debate could be found at :http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/backbenchbusiness-committee/news/mps-debate-regulation-of-the-sale-of-puppies-and-kittens/

The new model conditions contained very detailed and onerous requirements for the sale of cats and dogs from pet shops, which applicants would struggle to meet. For example for dogs this included a minimum level of contact and socialisation with members of staff of 4 separate occasions lasting 20 minutes each day.

FEES
At present the Pet Shop application fee was £82, plus vet fees associated with the initial inspection of the premises.

The renewal fee was £82, but no vet inspection was arranged unless there had been issues at the premises or there were changes to the schedule of animals, layout or operation of the premise.

Following a review of costs involved with processing and issuing licences, it was proposed that the fee was increased to £120 for a new or renewal application.

If members approved the adoption of these model conditions this would mean a change to the current licence conditions as of 1 February 2015.
L
93/14
Consideration was given to a report for Members to determine what action to take in relation to an application for a Hackney Carriage Drivers License from Applicant - Ref 066174 who had his licence revoked in September 2014 after he had failed to undertake the driver improvement course as an alternative to appearing before this Committee. Applicant - Ref 066174 refused to undertake the driver improvement course and was referred to this Committee in September 2014 but failed to attend the hearing, and as a result his licence was revoked.

Applicant - Ref 066174 and his representative Mr M Vaines were in attendance at the meeting and had been provided with a copy of the Committee report prior to the meeting and given the opportunity to make representation.

The report detailed:

- Applicant - Ref 066174's background.

Attached to the report were copies of:

- A copy of Applicant - Ref 066174 application for a Hackney carriage Drivers Licence.

- A letter explaining Applicant - Ref 066174's non-attendance at Committee which was scheduled for September 2014.

- A copy of a decision letter to Applicant - Ref 066174 dated the 3rd October 2014.

Members were respectfully reminded of their powers under the provisions of Section 61(1)(a) of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 and of the power to suspend or revoke a licence with immediate effect if the interests of public safety so require.

The Committee considered the report, appendices and oral evidence given by Applicant - Ref 066174 during the meeting. The role of the Committee was to determine if Applicant - Ref 066174 was considered a fit and proper person to hold a hackney carriage drivers licence with this Authority.

The Committee noted Applicant - Ref 066174's revocation in September 2014 for failing to declare a conviction for speeding which he acquired on 18 June 2013 within 7 days as stipulated under the conditions of his licence and his subsequent refusal to undertake to the Driver Improvement Course due to Applicant - Ref 066174 accumulating 9 live DVLA penalty points.

Applicant - Ref 066174 advised at the Committee Hearing that he had misunderstood the conversation and correspondence between himself and the Licensing Officer and due to attending a speed awareness course Applicant - Ref 066174 didn't think he could do the driver improvement course.

Members noted that Applicant - Ref 066174 did undertake and pass the driver improvement course, in January 2015. Members noted the comments of Applicant - Ref 066174's representative who advised that you Applicant - Ref 066174 was apologetic for not attending the Committee Hearing in September 2014 and that his reason for non-attendance was due to Applicant - Ref 066174 undergoing a hospital procedure on the day of the Hearing.

The Committee took into consideration all of the information before them, however, Members did have concerns as to Applicant - Ref 066174's poor driving history and trusted that he had learnt his lesson and that the Committee would not have cause to speak to Applicant - Ref 066174 about such matters in the future.
L
94/14
Members were informed that Private Hire Driver Licence - Ref 139127 was not in attendance at the meeting however as this was an application for a new licence and members were required to decide whether Private Hire Driver Licence - Ref 139127 was a fit and proper person then he should be in attendance at the meeting when the item was considered and therefore agreed to defer the item.
L
95/14
Consideration was given to a report for Members to determine what action to take in relation to Private Hire Driver - Ref 112390 who had been convicted at Teesside Magistrates for ‘Theft' and 'Make/Supply' article for use in Fraud'

Private Hire Driver - Ref 112390 was in attendance at the meeting and had been provided with a copy of the Committee report prior to the meeting and given the opportunity to make representation.

The report detailed:

- Applicant - Ref 112390's background and details relating to the suspension of Private Hire Driver - Ref 112390's licence in January 2014.

Attached to the report were copies of:

- A copy of the notification from Cleveland Police under the
Notifiable Occupations Scheme Home Office Circular 6/2006.

- A copy of a transcript dated the 16th December 2013 between Private hire Driver - Ref 112390 and Licensing Officers.

- A copy of a letter suspending Private Hire Driver- 112390's Private Hire Drivers licence.

- A copy of the notification from Cleveland Police under the Notifiable Occupations Scheme Home Office Circular 6/2006.

- A copy of an email account of an interview between Private Hire Driver - Ref 112390 and Police Officers.

- A copy of the warning letter to Private Hire Driver - Ref 112390.

The issue before the Committee was to consider Private Hire Driver - Ref 112390's fitness to hold a Private Hire Drivers Licence following her conviction for ‘Theft' and ‘Make/supply article for use in Fraud offences on 6th October 2014.

The Committee carefully considered the report, appendices and oral evidence given by Private Hire Driver - Ref 112390, however the Committee were particularly concerned about the conflicting accounts Private Hire Driver - Ref 112390 had given to the police and licensing officers about the incident on 17 October 2013, which ultimately led to Private Hire Driver - Ref 112390's conviction. In this regard, the Committee noted that on the evening in question, a passenger reported his wallet containing £500 cash and a blank cheque missing having taken a journey in Private Hire Driver - Ref 112390's taxi. The Committee noted that the blank cheque came into the possession of Private Hire Driver - Ref 112390's, daughter's boyfriend who later attempted to cash it. The Committee were very concerned about Private Hire Driver - Ref 112390's involvement, and the dishonest nature of the offences for which she was convicted. The Committee also took into account the fact that the victim was a passenger in Private Hire driver - Ref 112390's vehicle at the material time and that, as a passenger, there was an expectation that the driver was trustworthy and honest.

Having considered the evidence on balance of probabilities, the Committee considered the convictions to be relevant to Private Hire Driver - Ref 112390's fitness to remain a licensed driver with this Authority under the provisions of Section 61(1)(a)(i) of the Local Government (Miscellaneous) Provisions Act 1976. The Committee were satisfied that Private Hire Driver - Ref 112390 had been convicted of offences involving dishonesty. The Committee also had regard to the Council's "Guidelines on the Relevance of Convictions, Cautions, Reprimands, Warnings and Complaints" which suggested that a licence would normally be refused in such circumstances.

The Committee, therefore, resolved to revoke Private hire Driver - Ref 112390's Private Hire Licence, under section 61(1)(a)(i). The Committee were also of the view that public safety was an issue in this case, and therefore, the revocation would take immediate effect pursuant to Section 61 2(B) of the said Act.

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