Agenda and minutes
Venue: Pittville Room - Municipal Offices. View directions
Contact: Sophie McGough, Democracy Officer
Councillor Whyborn, Councillor Boyes, Councillor McCloskey.
Councillor Fisher attended the meeting as a substitute for Councillor Whyborn
Declarations of interest
Councillor Dr Willingham and Councillor Fisher declared an interest in Item 8, as they sit on the Gloucestershire County Council Task and Finish Group. Their interest is not prejudicial.
These must be received no later than 12 noon on the fourth working day before the date of the meeting
There were none.
To approve the minutes of the full committee meeting held on 4th September 2019.
Minutes of the Licensing Committee meeting, held on 4th September 2019 was approved and signed as a true record of the meetings.
To approve the minutes of the miscellaneous sub-committee meeting held on 6th November 2019 and the alcohol and gambling sub-committee meeting held on 7th November 2019.
- Licensing – miscellaneous sub-committee, 6th November 2019;
- Licensing – alcohol and gambling sub-committee, 7th November 2019
were approved and signed as a true record of the meeting.
Before the start of the meeting, the Chairman made the following announcements:
- The achievements of the licensing team have recently been recognised: the licensing team as a whole has received an iESE certificate of excellence, awarded to any public sector body to mark significant innovations in transforming local public services; and the licensing team leader was runner-up in the Institute of Licensing Jeremy Allen award, a national award for excellence in licensing;
- There have been five prosecutions for illegal plying for hire during race week in March this year All drivers were fined and received at least six points on their licences; three further cases are going to trial early next year, and one has been dealt with by way of caution. He congratulated the licensing enforcement team for their hard work to achieve these outcomes.
The Licensing Team Leader thanked Sarah Hughes, licensing enforcement officer, for the enormous amount of work involved, including formal cautions and recorded interviews, resulting in 5 pleading guilty on the initial hearing and only three going to trial. In response to a Member’s question, he confirmed that one driver was formally cautioned only, as for various circumstances, it was not in the public interest to go through to full trial.
The Licensing Team Leader reminded Members that the miscellaneous licensing sub-committee granted consent in April for a fruit and vegetable stall in Cambray Place. The applicant never took up trading and has recently fallen behind on his licence fees. Officers have tried to engage with him but failed to get any response, and in the meantime he is blocking a trading location that could be used by others. Officers are asking the committee to revoke the licence to free the location for others to use. CBC has the power to revoke street trading consents at any time; this power has been delegated to licensing committee, and is not a decision for officers.
In response to a Member’s question, the Licensing Team Leader confirmed that the amount currently owed is £336, and will accumulate. Action could be taken to recover the fees, but this will cost more than the amount owed; it will therefore be written off. He confirmed that the applicant was invited to attend tonight’s meeting, and that while it is acceptable for Members to make a decision in his absence, they can defer if they prefer.
In the absence of any communication, correspondence or apologies, the Chairman was minded to proceed. Members had no further comments.
Vote on officer recommendation to revoke street trading consent of Mr Mohamed.
The consent is revoked
The Licensing Team Leader confirmed that if the applicant turned up tomorrow and started trading, enforcement action would be taken. He will receive the committee’s decision tomorrow.
The Licensing Team Leader reminded Members that under the constitution of the Council, the licensing committee acts as lead consultee to the Cabinet Member for Development and Safety. A consultation on the revised sexual entertainment venue (SEV) policy has been launched, and Members are invited to feed in comments and put forward any recommendations to Cabinet. The substantial changes are listed in the report.
A Member said he could not see any reference in the report, but when licensing committee is required to review SEV policies through scrutiny sessions and interested parties are invited to address the committee, he would like legal representation to be present.
In response to Members’ questions, the Licensing Team Leader confirmed that:
- once the consultation is complete, the report will go to Cabinet and then to full Council for debate in the new year;
- the ‘relevant locality’ will take in Bath Road from Vernon Place to Sandford Park entrance;
- the shaded area on the map is where policy designates SEVs to be appropriate;
- officers will look again at when and where fliers can be distributed, and make it clearer;
- proposed Condition 20 relates to the requirement for SEV premises to maintain a refusals log;
- under discretionary grounds, the authority can adopt a policy approach saying an 8.00pm start time is appropriate – to protect children and vulnerable people from harm from SEVs;
Members pointed out the following typographical errors:
Page 49, line 7 – ‘Town’ means Cheltenham and refers to it
Page 44, line 11 – ‘The
authority recognises however that the Central Shopping Area offers
- Page 44, para 12.3, where ‘council’ has been amended to ‘authority’, ‘recognise’ needs to be amended to ‘recognises’;
- The last paragraph on Page 47 is numbered ‘19. Specific Conditions’, and the first paragraph at the top of Page 48 is numbered ‘19. Duration of Licence’;
- No. 14 in the Purple Flag map is not listed underneath;
Page 39, under No. 2 Definitions, ‘The Authority means Cheltenham
A Member suggested that, given that paragraphs 12.4(c) and (d) state that licences could be refused in sensitive areas, and The Two Pigs has been granted a licence on several occasions despite being close to the children’s library, these paragraphs may need different phraseology as CBC could be going against its own policy if it grants a further licence at this location. Leaving the wording as ‘sensitive areas’, rather than specifying churches, schools, mosques etc., would be better.
In further response to Members’ questions, the Licensing Team Leader stated that regarding distribution of flyers, which are currently distributed on free buses, this type of bus may not be allowed in future, potentially addressing concerns about flyer distribution, subject to conditions.
The Chairman raised the following points:
- Page 50, para. 18, ‘no children/children and ... view the full minutes text for item 8.
The Senior Licensing Officer introduced the item, following on from a discussion of the draft statutory guidance for the taxi and private hire industry at the September meeting, and inviting Members to consider the improvements and direction of travel of this work. He said a few things have crystallised since September, but the Department of Transport has not yet confirmed the implementation of the statutory guidance. He highlighted aspects of his report as follows:
- some of the actions laid out in the previous guidance have already moved on and been implemented, and some are ongoing, as explained after each action;
- some work may sit better in GCC’s Taxi Licensing Task Group, such as flexible warranting under Action 2, which could be done through GCC or GLOG; this is a significant change;
- under Action 3, safeguarding training is being implemented – a few further tweaks are needed;
- having looked into the Disclosure and Barring Service, CBC does not have a legal obligation or duty to refer an individual to the DBS, but does have the power to do so – these are two different things. CBC will have to go through case by case process to make referral;
- CBC doesn’t carry out a disproportionately high or excessive level of enforcement action, but statutory guidance talks about reviewing work on a regular basis to pick up trends. This will be done;
- CBC officers will work on improving liaison with the trade. Officers have looked for advice from a representative body, with no response;
- the information at Annex 2 regarding safety advice for taxi users will be posted on the website when complete;
- Specific improvements require changes to policy or conditions, for example for drivers requiring use of the update service through the DBS; there are slight differences in conviction policies across councils, and the statutory guidance may provide a template;
- Improvements Action 4 deals with the CCTV issue, where it was clear last time that Members have concern. This could be brought about on a more consistent level nationally through the latest guidance – Information Commissioners Office (ICO) cases are going through now – but for the time being no requirements will be imposed on. However, it is incumbent on CBC to produce more guidance for drivers as many do not understand their responsibilities.
The Chairman thanked the officer for his report, saying that safeguarding is an essential piece of work doing – really good place for starting the issues. In response to Members’ questions, the Senior Licensing Officer made the following points:
- On the subject of flexible warranting – the variation of conditions between adjoining councils, and how to train and inform taxi drivers what it actually means and what their obligations are - at the recent race meeting, South Gloucestershire colleagues, including a full-time, permanent police officer dedicated to taxis – joined Cheltenham officers for a night of enforcement. Whereas CBC officers cannot do anything about Tewkesbury vehicles in the ... view the full minutes text for item 9.
The Licensing Team Leader said that the authority has recently adopted a strategy to manage Cheltenham’s evening and night-time economy (ENTE), and that as part of this, there is an action is to appoint an ENTE champion, with sufficient political influence. This report is seeking a nomination and appointment. The role and responsibilities are set out in the report.
The Chair of Licensing was happy to put himself forward for this role, and was proposed and seconded by other Members. He suggested tying the role to the Chair or Vice-chair of licensing committee, to be reviewed annually or biennially. Other Members agreed that it was logical to attach the role to the post of Chair rather than to a specific person, and were happy to proceed on that basis.
Review of previous decisions
There were none.
Any other items the Chairman determines urgent and requires a decision
There were none.
The Licensing Team Leader reported a disproportionate number of issues in the town during the recent November race meeting, more in keeping with the March festival. Officers from South Gloucestershire and the police worked with CBC officers over the weekend, and issues included UBER vehicles operating in Cheltenham and absent or late door staff. Officers will be picking this up with various night clubs. There were no prosecutions but there were some particularly difficult issues, and South Gloucestershire officers will be back to help in March.
A member suggested that the officer introduction of agenda items adds nothing to the meeting and is pointless and time-consuming, if the assumption is that Members have read the papers and come prepared to the meeting. The Licensing Team Leader pointed out that tonight’s meeting is unusual, in that no members of the public are present, but when they are, it cannot be assumed that they know or have read everything, and it seems odd to jump straight into the debate and decision. He conceded that for council business it could be appropriate to get straight down to business. The Chair made the point that the officer introduction is minuted, and that when anyone comes back to look at the minutes, the information is all recorded in one place. Other Members agreed that it should not be assumed that members of the public know what is going on, that the officer introduction is basically a brief introduction and reminder of what Members have read, and that they find it useful and a reasonable level of cover.
Date of next meeting
4th March 2020.