Cheltenham Borough Council
Cheltenham Borough Council

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Agenda, decisions and minutes

Venue: Pittville Room - Municipal Offices. View directions

Contact: Rosalind Reeves, Democratic Services Manager 

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies

Minutes:

Councillor Rowena Hay

2.

Declarations of interest

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

3.

Minutes of the last meeting pdf icon PDF 105 KB

Minutes of the meeting held on 13 February 2018

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 13 February were approved and signed as a correct record.

4.

Public and Member Questions and Petitions pdf icon PDF 60 KB

These must be received no later than 12 noon on the fourth working day before the date of the meeting

Minutes:

1.

Question from David Chambers, Cheltenham Taxi Drivers Association 2016, to the Cabinet Member Development and Safety, Councillor Andrew McKinlay

 

 

Grandfather Rights

 

For many many years now there has only been a limited amount of Hackney vehicle licences (plates) available within the borough ( currently 186 ) so anyone wishing to enter the trade would seek to buy an existing business, this traditionally involves the purchaser buying a licensed vehicle from an existing driver. The ownership of that vehicle would then be registered with licensing and from that point would enable the new owner to transfer that vehicle license ( plate ) to any other vehicle they may own. The average cost of buying a business over the past 5 years has been £10,000 but at it’s peak reached £15,000. This practice has been accepted by the council for over 20 years and has worked well but now they wish to overturn it. The implications of this would mean that drivers that have invested in their business would see the value of their business disappear over night. Many of the drivers that have invested have done so knowing that the value of their business could be used towards a retirement fund or as a life insurance policy for their loved ones should anything happen to them.

Our question is:

Have the members of this cabinet been properly informed as to the current and historic licensing practices and are they comfortable knowing that if they decide to vote in favour of discontinuing the practice known as grandfather rights they will potentially wipe off in excess of £1,800,000 worth of value to the 180 plus business owners ( taxi drivers ) of this town  and leave them with a depleted pension fund and /or with no life insurance ?

 

 

Response from Cabinet Member

 

Cabinet is fully aware of the historical issues relevant to the public hire trade in Cheltenham including the previous cap on the number of licence issues in respect of hackney carriage vehicle licences and the consequence this cap had on the “value” of licence plates.  Members have had numerous meetings with the trade directly where this has discussed at length and have been briefed by officers.

 

The Cabinet report recognises implications of a decision to remove grand-father rights relevant to hackney carriages.  The implications relate to both the cost of replacing vehicles and the impact this policy change will have on the “premium” that plate have demanded in the past.

 

In respect of the first point, Cabinet will agree a series of measures to mitigate the impact of this policy change on licence holders including a proportionate implementation period of 4 years and the ability for some licence holders, who are required to replace their vehicles, to re-licence their vehicles as private hire vehicles.

 

With regards to the second point, the council’s position and view is set out in paragraphs 5.50 to 5.52 of the report.

 

In a supplementary question Mr Chambers asked whether the Cabinet completely understood the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.

5.

Review of taxi and private hire licensing policy pdf icon PDF 134 KB

Report of the Cabinet Member Development and Safety

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Cabinet Member Development and Safety introduced the report and explained that the council’s current licensing policy for private hire and taxis was adopted in July 2014. Whilst there was no statutory requirement to undertake a review of the taxi policy, there was a commitment to do so at least once every three years to ensure it remained up to date and relevant. He reported that a 12 week consultation took place between September and December 2017, the responses to which were reproduced in Appendix 4. In addition a taxi policy review working group was set up by the Licensing Committee in April 2017 to facilitate the review of the policy; it had met 4 times and the minutes of their meetings were included in Appendix 2. The proposed revised policy was included at Appendix 3.

The Cabinet Member then summarised the proposals-

  • Knowledge test-a number of changes to the current knowledge assessment were being proposed including replacing the written Highway Code section of the test with the higher practical driving assessment; introducing a learning day covering safeguarding, equality duty, law and conditions. All the proposed changes aimed to improve safety so that licenced drivers were fully aware of the duties and responsibilities in law so the council could be confident that Cheltenham taxi drivers were some of the best in the country.
  • Three Strikes Policy-the purpose of this policy was to improve the council’s means of dealing with complaints, allegations and witnessed incidents of misconduct or infractions of a type which individually were not considered sufficiently serious to justify a review of a persons suitability to hold a taxi or private hire driver, vehicle or operator licence, but which may give rise to such concerns if repeated or if regarded cumulatively with other such incidents.
  • Working Hours-whilst it was acknowledged that this would be hard to enforce on an hourly basis, the point was to lay down expectations of what constituted safe working practices
  • Online criminal records checks (DBS)
  • Vehicle emissions-the proposed revised policy for new vehicles was to retain 5 year rule for petrol cars (Euro Emissions Standard 5 compliance), Euro Emissions Standard 6 for diesel and any age for ultra-low emission vehicles-defined as 75g CO2/km and under. The proposed revised policy for existing vehicles was to phase out older vehicles so to get all petrol vehicles to at least Euro 5 standard by 2021 and get all diesels vehicles to Euro 6 standard by 2021
  • Testing arrangements-privately contracting additional testing stations for licensed vehicles
  • Grandfather rights-different rules currently existed for hackney carriage vehicle licence holders depending on the licence plate number. A number of hackney carriage vehicle licence numbers had grandfather rights attached to them meaning that as long as the licence remained valid, these vehicles did not have to comply with the council’s wheelchair-accessible vehicle (WAV) policy. The council had consulted on a number of options with regards to existing grandfather rights : a) to amend them so that they only applied to current licensed vehicles  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.

6.

Briefing from Cabinet Members

Minutes:

The Cabinet Member Healthy Lifestyles informed Members that she had signed off the grants from the Council to the Holst Museum and the Festival of Performing Arts.

 

As part of the International Women's Day (IWD) celebrations, Cheltenham Borough Council, the Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham Trust and a range of other partners would be holding an event on Saturday 10 March to celebrate women and to inspire the young people of Cheltenham and Gloucestershire to fulfil their dreams. She wished to put on record her thanks to all those who were  involved.

The Cabinet Member Housing informed that the county wide severe weather protocol (SWEP) was instigated last week and CBC took the decision to extend its provision to ensure that those who needed support during the extreme weather received it.

He explained that several people did not wish to enter into the accommodation offered so it was a challenging time for those individuals concerned. He expressed his thanks to all those who had been involved in the process.

 

The Cabinet Member Clean and Green Environment wished to put on record his frustration at not being invited to address the recent Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting with regard to waste and recycling issues. He would make a continued effort to discuss with Members about his portfolio. He then wished to praise Ubico for its efforts during the recent severe weather event having completed collections on the Thursday resulting in the cancellation of only Friday’s collections. He thanked Ubico for this and the communications team for getting the message out to residents.

 

The Cabinet Member Clean and Green Environment was pleased to report that the current difficulties with the cemetery and crematorium were now coming to a close. He wished to thank staff, funeral directors and other crematoria for their assistance. The new build remained on track and he invited all Members to contact him should they wish to visit the site.

7.

Decisions taken since the last meeting of Cabinet

Minutes:

Cabinet Member

Decision

Link

Cabinet Member Development and Safety

Variation of Public Spaces Protection Order

https://democracy.cheltenham.gov.uk/ieDecisionDetails.aspx?ID=1073

Cabinet Member Development and Safety

Gang injunction

https://democracy.cheltenham.gov.uk/ieDecisionDetails.aspx?ID=1074

Leader

Appointment of Commercial Director GAL

https://democracy.cheltenham.gov.uk/ieDecisionDetails.aspx?ID=1075

Leader

Appointment non exec directors to GAL

https://democracy.cheltenham.gov.uk/ieDecisionDetails.aspx?ID=1076

Cabinet Member Finance

Award of contract to Snape Contracting

https://democracy.cheltenham.gov.uk/ieDecisionDetails.aspx?ID=1078

 

 

 

 

The Leader took the opportunity  to put on record his thanks to Councillor Stennett for his contributions as non-executive director to Gloucestershire Airport.