Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council

Big plans, bright future

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

Tuesday, 28th August, 2012
10.00 a.m.
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

Cllr Paul Kirton (Chair); Cllr Michael Clark, Cllr Phillip Dennis, Cllr Miss Tina Large, Cllr Alan Lewis, Cllr Mrs Kathryn Nelson, Cllr Maurice Perry and Cllr Bill Woodhead.
M Vaines (DNS); J Nertney, P K Bell (LD).
In Attendance:
Apologies for absence:
Cllr Evaline Cunningham, Cllr Ken Dixon, Cllr Eileen Johnson, Cllr Jean Kirby, Cllr Ray McCall and Cllr David Wilburn.
Item Description Decision
There were no interests declared.

1. Members comments be received.

2. The Head of Community protection incorporate Members comments in his reply to the Law Commission to this consultation.

3. A copy of the reply be sent to the local MP's.
10.00 am - 12 noon.


Consideration was given to a report on the proposed reform of the legislation appertaining to hackney carriage and private hire licensing and to invite Members comments on the proposals and questions contained in the consultation paper issued by the Law Commission.

In July 2011, the Law Commission agreed to undertake an independent law reform project on the law of taxis and private hire vehicles.

Their terms of reference were as follows:-

"To review the law relating to the regulation of taxis and private hire vehicles, with a view to its modernisation and simplification, having due regard to the potential advantages of deregulation in reducing the burdens on business and increasing economic efficiency."

A consultation paper had been published on their provisional proposals, ‘Reforming The Law Of Taxi And Private Hire Services’, a full copy of which together with its summary document had been placed in the Members library and could be accessed in both electronic and hard copy formats.

The Law Commission stressed that these proposals were only provisional, so that they could form the basis of a discussion on consultation. They were not firmly wedded to any of the proposals and suggested that from experience their final report was likely to differ substantially from the provisional proposals.

The main changes that might follow from the provisional proposals include:-

(1) National minimum safety standards for both taxis and private hire vehicles.

(2) Changes to standard-setting: additional local standards, above the national standards would continue to apply to taxis (e.g. topographical knowledge and vehicle requirements). However, for private hire vehicles, only the national standards would apply and there would be no scope for additional local standards. However views are sought on possible exceptions where local private hire standards may be retained, e.g. in respect of signage.

(3) It would be easier for private hire services to operate on a national basis. They suggest private hire operators would no longer be restricted to accepting or inviting bookings only within a particular locality; nor to only using drivers or vehicles licensed by the same licensing authority. Sub-contracting would be allowed, as is already the case in London.

(4) London would be regulated under the same flexible framework as the rest of England and Wales

(5) Licensing authorities could no longer limit the number of taxi licences

(6) More enforcement powers for licensing officers against out-of-borough vehicles and drivers

(7) Disability awareness training for drivers

(8) Introduction of a statutory definition of “plying for hire” (but without changing it in substance)

(9) Wedding and funeral cars would no longer be exempted through primary legislation

(10) Allowing leisure use of taxis and private hire vehicles

(11) Bringing more vehicles within the licensing system (including for example limousines, motorbikes and pedicabs) - but giving the Secretary of State and Welsh Ministers power to make exclusions, and to set separate standards, in respect of different categories of vehicle

(12) Clearer exclusions for volunteers and other services where transport is not the main service provided, such as childminders

(13) Powers for government to issue binding statutory guidance to create greater consistency in how taxi and private hire legislation is applied

The consultation also asks questions about the following:-

(1) a new category of wheelchair accessible vehicles;

(2) extending operator licencing to taxi radio circuits

(3) possible use of the term “taxi” in respect of private hire services if used in phrases like ”pre-booked taxi only”;

(4) reintroducing a (revised) contract exemption;

(5) improving the enforcement powers of licensing officers; and

(6) a new “peak time” taxi licence that could only be used at particular times of the day as decided by the licensing authority

This list only provided simplified, headline points and did not include all the changes proposed. A full copy of the chapters from the consultation paper that contained all the provisional proposals and questions, together with officers comments were attached to the report.

The consultation period lasted until 10 September 2012 after which a final report and draft Bill would be published in November 2013.

Members agreed with the officers comments and also felt that a one tier system would be less confusing for the public and clearer for enforcement purposes.

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