Report of a meeting between Members, Taxi Proprietors and Officers held at Knowle, Sidmouth on Wednesday 1 April 2015
- Steve Hall - Chair, Licensing and Enforcement Committee
- Jim Knight - V. Chair Licensing and Enforcement Committee
- Charlie Stone
- Steve Glover
- George Shorters
- Alan Hill
- Brian Bailey
- John Tippin - Licensing Manager
- Douglas Jackson - Licensing Officer
- Stephen Saunders - Licensing Officer
The meeting started at 13:33 and ended at 16:25
No apologies received
2. To receive the report of the meeting held 30 October 2014
3. Matters arising
4. Exmouth taxi and other ranks
Cllr Knight had a declaration of interest in this item (beer rank)
Mr Jackson stated that a decision had been made to remove the taxi rank at Beer. Mr Tippin informed the meeting a report had gone to the Licensing and Enforcement Committee and it had been agreed the rank should go. To comply with the legislation a public notice had been placed in the local press to see if there were any objections, before a final conclusion was agreed.
Devon County Council had finalised the lowering of the kerb at the Stand rank. Cllr Hall apologised for the time it had taken to complete but it was DCC who were completing the works. There was a general feeling that the rank was in the wrong place and a lively discussion ensued highlighting such issues as dangerous exits, bad parking etc. It was agreed that Mr Glover and Mr Jackson would attend the next Exmouth Transport Partnership meeting on 8 April 2015 to highlight these issues to the group.
5. Driving licence changes update
Mr Tippin informed the meeting that as from 8 June 2015 the counter part (paper) driving licence was to be discontinued and after this date the counterpart driving licence could be destroyed, and the plastic part of the licence retained. The old paper licence (pre 1998) should be retained if applicable. The details of the changes were explained by Mr Tippin. There was a way to check driving licences for endorsements etc. but that had to be done with the consent of the driving licence holder. The systems to be used by the council to check licences had still to be finalised but would have to be in place for 8 June 2015.
6. Updates/DBS checks
Mr Jackson gave an update on the new DBS procedure which seemed to be working well, the meeting was reminded that the applicant had to do the DBS online and then contact the licensing office with the fee and relevant documentation to ensure the application is completed. The checks seemed to be very quick with some coming back in twenty four hours. Mr Jackson further stated that we have the ability to help applicants to complete the DBS at the council offices (with the applicant) if they experience any difficulties completing the online procedure.
7. Wheelchair accessible vehicles (WAVs)
Mr Jackson informed the meeting that there is still a need to licence more WAV s. They are thinly spread across the district. DCC use local operators with WAVs for the school runs etc. Applications for this type of vehicle would be welcomed.
8. Video surveillance in licensed vehicles update
Mr Jackson asked if there was still no need for video surveillance in licensed vehicles. A J Hill stated that he was now considering fitting all of his fleet with CCTV. The meeting was informed that there were certain legal requirements which needed to be met, for example signs in vehicles and the issue of sound recording.
A J Hill stated that there were guidance notes at DCC on CCTV conditions for the County Council.
Mr Jackson will check CCTV conditions to see what they state in relation to requirements, locally and nationally.
9. Taxi roof signs and how they are placed on vehicles
This was an issue previously raised by Mr A J Hill. Operators were asked to place them correctly on the vehicle. An operator stated there were two licensed East Devon hackney vehicles working at the Exeter airport that did not appear to have any roof signs. Also there were different coloured light bulbs in some EDDC roof signs making the sign appear a different colour. The meeting was asked to report any breaches of the conditions in order that hackney vehicle licence holders can be contacted and advice given. The issue of the airport taxi/private hire licensing was discussed and a general update was given that Apple cars from Exeter hold the contract and operate private hire vehicles from the airport which are licensed in Exeter. There are a number of East Devon hackney licences which also operate at the airport for Apple Cars. The question was asked by the meeting “who owned the land and could East Devon cars pick up at the airport”. In answering the question Mr Jackson stated the contract for the airport was with Apple cars and they could operate from the private land immediately outside the arrivals lounge. East Devon cars and any other licensed vehicle could pick up/drop off their pre booked fares at the airport.
10. Safety of drivers and vehicles in general
Mr Jackson asked if there were any safety issues at the moment. The answer was no. Mr Jackson stated MOT test certificate advisories were causing a problem and that if they showed worrying faults then the licence may be suspended until defects were rectified. Mr Jackson stated he was very happy with the fact that some operators were considering CCTV for their vehicles as it is a great safety measure.
Mr Tippin informed the meeting that fees had not risen for two years, and now may need to rise possibly by around 2.3 to 2.5 %. The decision would be taken by full Council. The new fees would then be subject to a public notice in the press before being implemented.
12. Any other business
The meeting was informed by A J Hill, and others that over the Christmas and New Year period there were various posts on media sites advertising lifts into town or to pubs/clubs for fees or drinks. It was widely assumed that the vehicles used for these journeys were not licensed vehicles and therefore acting illegally. The meeting was asked to draw things of this nature to the attention of the licensing authority or the police at the time so some kind of action could be taken.
Mr Jackson explained that from the 2 March 2015 the law changed to make it easier for police to catch and prosecute drivers who were driving under the influence of drugs. It is now an offence to drive with certain drugs above a specified level in your blood. Mr Jackson handed out a leaflet in relation to driving whilst under the influence of drugs which highlighted the use of eight drugs commonly associated with medicinal use that are sometimes abused for example morphine, diazepam etc. The hand out covered the new testing procedure, the list of drugs and a short update on drink driving changes in Scotland.
13. Date of next meeting
The date of the next meeting – Thursday 29 October 2015 commencing at 2.30 pm in the Council Chamber, Knowle, Sidmouth.