Agenda and draft minutes

Licensing Committee - Wednesday, 27th September, 2023 7.00 pm

Venue: Council Chamber, Millmead House, Millmead, Guildford, Surrey GU2 4BB. View directions

Contact: Sophie Butcher, Committee Officer. 01483 444056  Email: sophie.butcher@guildford.gov.uk

Media

Items
No. Item

L1

Apologies for absence

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from the following councillors; Councillor Amanda Creese, Gillian Harwood, Sandy Lowry, Katie Steel and Dominique Williams.

L2

Local Code of Conduct - Disclosable Pecuniary Interests

In accordance with the local Code of Conduct, a councillor is required to disclose at the meeting any disclosable pecuniary interest (DPI) that they may have in respect of any matter for consideration on this agenda.  Any councillor with a DPI must notparticipate in any discussion or vote regarding that matter and they must also withdraw from the meeting immediately before consideration of the matter.

 

If that DPI has not been registered, the councillor must notify the Monitoring Officer of the details of the DPI within 28 days of the date of the meeting.

 

Councillors are further invited to disclose any non-pecuniary interest which may be relevant to any matter on this agenda, in the interests of transparency, and to confirm that it will not affect their objectivity in relation to that matter.

 

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

There were no disclosures of interest.

L3

Minutes pdf icon PDF 94 KB

To confirm the minutes of the meeting of the Licensing Committee held on 26 July 2023.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The minutes of the Licensing Committee held on 26 July 2023 were agreed by the Committee and signed by the Chairperson as an accurate record.

L4

Animal Licensing Policy pdf icon PDF 123 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee received a report from the Senior Specialist, Licensing and Community Safety, Mike Smith.  In November 2022, the Licensing Committee approved a draft policy concerning the councillors’ responsibilities in respect of animal activity licensing.  A number of changes were implemented to the way in which animal activities were regulated.  A licence from the local authority was required if you are breeding dogs, boarding dogs or cats, hiring out horses, operating a pet shop or having animals perform for an exhibition.  Following the legislative changes in 2018, the Council adopted a policy in 2019 in respect of the licensing activities involving animals, which provided a consistent framework and set out how the Council aimed to discharge its duties.  The policy was then reviewed after 5 years in November 2022 and the Committee approved a draft policy for public consultation.  The main changes to the policy were that the criteria had been updated which allowed the Council to achieve the RSPCA Gold Paw Print for Animal Licensing.  Interested parties were written to as part of the consultation phase such as the police, DEFRA and DEFRA licence holders.  Only one response was received following the consultation from the Kennel Club.  The Kennel Club raised concerns about the updated guidance in the Council’s Policy on the business test, specifically that ‘hobby breeders’ should not be considered as requiring a licence for the activity of dog breeding.  Sections 5.8 to 5.11 of the updated Policy discuss the business test and set out that in considering whether an activity is considered a ‘business’ the Guidance recommends that Councils should consider the HMRC 9 badges of trade.  In response to the concerns raised by the Kennel Club, officers would advise that the Council must consider the legislation, guidance and its own policy when considering whether a licence is required.  Each case would be looked into on its merits, with the intention of ensuring that those who need a licence hold one for the purposes of upholding animal welfare standards. 

 

The Committee noted a query regarding clarification of the legislation.  For example, someone who was selling cats and dogs had to be licenced.  However, what was the difference between somebody who is carrying on a business of breeding and then selling cats and dogs and a private individual whose dog or cat has a litter and then sells them or exchanges them for money.  At what point did it become a business that needed to be licensed?  

 

The Senior Specialist, Licensing and Community Safety, Mike Smith confirmed that if you were operating a business of breeding dogs or had three or more litters per year then you were required to be licenced.  There was no specific legislation covering the breeding of cats.  However, if you were selling animals as pets, which could include kittens then you may need a licence such as a pet shop.  

 

The Committee noted a query raised regarding the concerns raised by the Kennel Club in that they were questioning why they must  ...  view the full minutes text for item L4

L5

Extension to Pavement Licensing pdf icon PDF 120 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee received a report from the Senior Specialist – Licensing and Community Safety, Mike Smith.  The Council is responsible for administering the pavement licensing function which originated following the easing of lockdown restrictions after Covid.  Owing to social distancing measures in place at the time, the government introduced what was at the time a temporary change to pavement licensing procedures to allow businesses to be able to have chairs and tables placed on the highway.  This was previously administered by Surrey County Council as the Highways Authority which has now been passed to the Borough Council to administer.  The issuing of pavement licences has proved very popular and a policy was adopted by the Council to ensure that consistent decision-making was in place.  Following the levelling up Bill the government has extended the temporary pavement licensing permissions until September 2024.  The Committee was therefore asked to approve the existing policy for a further 12 months.        

 

The Committee noted condition 1 of the national conditions and that it was very important to contain outside seating areas with fixed barriers so that people with buggies, in wheelchairs or with visual impairments could safely navigate around them.  The Committee asked how often licenced premises were visited to have their seating arrangements checked.  The Senior Specialist – Licensing and Community Safety, Mike Smith confirmed that when businesses applied for a pavement licence, one of the criteria was that they needed to submit a plan as to where the street furniture would be placed.  That plan formed a condition of the licence.  With regard to A-Boards there was under the Highways Act a duty not to obstruct pavements. The Highways Authority administered this and Surrey Highways Authority can investigate any complaints made.  The licensing team did not have the resources to make routine inspections but would look at premises which needed to re-apply for premises licences.  It was also confirmed that businesses had to pay an annual fee of £100 for their licence which was capped by legislation.

 

The Committee noted the extension of the Business and Planning Act for the Licensed Trade, and subject to the passing of the necessary Statutory Instrument, approved the current Pavement Licensing Policy for a further 12 months.    

 

 

L6

Representative of Taxi Trade

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee noted that the Chairperson, Councillor Young had agreed to permit Mr Soper to speak for five minutes on matters of concern in relation to the taxi trade.

 

The Committee heard concerns raised by Mr Soper that the licensing team was very under resourced.  He had left a paper petition signed by the taxi trade to request that the Council stopped administering hackney carriage driver knowledge tests online and brought the testing back in-house.  It was the taxi trade’s view that by allowing people to sit this element of the test at home online, opened it up to abuse whereby people could get others to sit the test for them.  This was having a knock-on effect where drivers who had cheated the examination system in this way did not know where they were driving in Guildford.  This was putting the public’s safety at risk.  Since this type of examination had been offered, the taxi trade was over-run with drivers. 

 

The Chairperson, Councillor Young noted that the Committee had already discussed this matter at the last meeting held in July 2023 and had carefully considered these issues.

 

The Senior Specialist for Licensing and Community Safety, Mike Smith confirmed that the knowledge test had prior to Covid been administered by officers in Council Chamber.  During Covid, the Council had a statutory duty to deliver the tests and therefore outsourced this functionality.  The licensing team do not currently have the resources to bring the testing back in-house.  The IP addresses used by people taking the online test had been reviewed and occasionally the same IP address had been identified as having taken the knowledge test.  Those people were written too by the licensing team.  There was no cap to stop the number of drivers who had qualified and it was also important to note that drivers had to pass a number of other tests before being permitted to become drivers.  Mike would however review the system currently in use.       

L7

Taxi and Private Hire Policy - Private Hire Vehicle Operator Contracts pdf icon PDF 132 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee received a report from Mike Smith, Senior Specialist for Licensing and Community Safety.  The Committee noted that following the updates to the Council’s Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Vehicle Licensing Policy in 2021 and the consultation upon the Department for Transport’s new draft Best Practice Guidance last year, on 28 July 2023 the High Court handed down a ruling following previous litigation between app-based drivers in London and worker’s rights which affects the contract arrangements between Private Hire Operators and passengers under the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976. 

 

In response to the Uber Britannia Limited v Sefton Metropolitan Borough Council & Others judgement, officers were proposing a minor change to the Council’s Licensing Policy which sought to add a condition to all Private Hire Operator Licences to ensure Operators comply with this ruling.

 

The Committee agreed that the minor change to the Council’s Taxi and Private Hire Licensing Policy was introduced under delegated powers.  The change was to add a further condition to the Council’s standard Private Hire Operator Licence Conditions to ensure compliance with the principle in the ruling. 

L8

Licensing Committee Work Programme pdf icon PDF 62 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee noted that the item in relation to mobile homes would most likely come forward for consideration at its January 2024 meeting.