Agenda and minutes

Environment Overview and Scrutiny Committee
Monday 27th January 2020 7.30 pm

Venue: Council Chamber, Campus East, Welwyn Garden City, Herts, AL8 6AE. View directions

Contact: Helen Johnson 

Items
No. Item

45.

MINUTES

To confirm as a correct record the Minutes of the meeting held on 11 November 2019 (previously circulated).

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 11 November 2019 were approved as a correct record and signed by the Chairman, subject to the following amendment:

 

Minute 44 states:

 

“Members asked that the report on Retail Strategy and Return on Investment Analysis be brought forward and presented at the Committee meeting in January 2020.  Officers agreed that this would be considered”.

 

With agreement of the Committee this was to be amended to the following:

 

“In the minutes of the September meeting it was recorded that a report on Retail Strategy and Return on Investment Analysis would be presented to the November meeting.  Due to lack of officer time, the report on Retail Strategy and Return on Investment Analysis had been scheduled for March 2020 in the work programme.  Members asked that this be brought forward and presented at the Committee meeting in January 2020.  Officers said that this would be considered”.

46.

ACTIONS UPDATE pdf icon PDF 95 KB

Report of the Corporate Director (Public Protection, Planning and Governance) lists the actions from previous meetings and their current status.

Minutes:

The report of the Corporate Director (Public Protection, Planning and Governance) set out the status of actions from previous meetings and their current status.

 

A Member enquired when the Keep Clear Policy would be presented again at the meeting.  Officers agreed to circulate information following the meeting and this was subsequently done on 4 February 2020 to explain that it was due to go to the Cabinet Planning and Parking Panel in the new municipal year.

 

            RESOLVED:

 

            That the Committee note the status of actions outlined in the report.

47.

DECLARATIONS OF INTERESTS BY MEMBERS

To note declarations of Members’ disclosable pecuniary interests, non-disclosable pecuniary interests and non-pecuniary interests in respect of items on the Agenda.

Minutes:

Councillor P.Zukowskyj declared a non-pecuniary interest by virtue of him being a Hertfordshire County Councillor.

48.

PUBLIC QUESTION TIME AND PETITIONS

Up to thirty minutes will be made available for questions from members of the public on issues relating to the work of the Committee and to receive any petitions.

Minutes:

Five questions were received from members of the public with regards to Item 8 “Review of the Standard Conditions for the Licensing of Hackney Carriage Vehicles”.  All questions (which were written as received from the questioners) were circulated to Members prior to the meeting and projected onto the presentation screen. The Chairman responded with answers accordingly whilst further debate by Members took place under Item 8:

 

Question 1 - from Chris Fletcher

 

“I would like to ask the council why they refuse to enforce the bylaws for which we have to abide by when it comes to out-of-town private hires and taxis. The government malicious act of 1976. I think the new proposals are totally ridiculous burn in mind the state of the taxi trade at the moment there is no work for a disabled vehicle whatsoever we can’t even make the minimum wage as it is let alone being forced to have a disabled taxi we should sort out the problems we already have running costs are too high at the moment compared to the fare we get for doing a job it’s about time the council done something to help us not to hinder us”.

 

Answer:

 

Thank you for your question. The byelaws are implemented under section 68 of the Town Police Clauses Act 1847 and relate purely to locally licensed hackney carriage vehicles.  Therefore in the context of this consultation about Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles, matters regarding out of town vehicles are unfortunately not relevant. However I can confirm that the council carries out all its enforcement in accordance with the appropriate legislation and our adopted enforcement policy.

 

Taking account of our duties to promote equality and diversity and following our consultation it has been shown that there is a demand for Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles and that is why we are proposing these new conditions.

 

Question 2 – from Mohammed Ali (not in attendance to ask the question) 

 

I am concerned about the recently proposed Vehicles-Licence conditions.

 

2.1 - Because the purpose built vehicle with ECWVTA-M1 type approval may be £25-£30 thousand. I don't think so, el Hat Taxi drivers cannot afford to buy these types of vehicles. I believe, that the present terms and conditions for passenger safety are perfect. Furthermore, we do not need to follow the European Community's rules and regulations anymore because of Brexit. 

 

2.5 -What is the motivation of standard silver colour Vehicle with display WHBC Crests? Is for a show off Or recognize a Taxi ? WHBC is a small place, most of the passengers know the Taxi and Taxi drivers. In my opinion, it's not meeting any different safety issues. And also, there's unnecessary extra costs involved for standards silver colour vehicle. I believe, I can't afford to spend extra money for that type of vehicle. I personally oppose the condition. 

 

3.1 - I think, driver badge is enough to identify the drivers. No need to display a internal plate. I have been driving a taxi for the last 10 years,  ...  view the full minutes text for item 48.

49.

REVIEW OF THE STANDARD CONDITIONS FOR THE LICENSING OF HACKNEY CARRIAGE VEHICLES pdf icon PDF 134 KB

The report of the Corporate Director (Public Protection, Planning and Governance) sets out proposed changes to the conditions applicable to our licensed Hackney Carriage vehicles, with a revised set of conditions in Appendix 1 of the report to be considered by Members and recommended to Full Council for adoption.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The report of the Corporate Director (Pubic Protection, Planning and Governance) set out the work carried out in respect of the proposed changes to the conditions applicable to the licensed Hackney Carriage vehicles as well as the revised set of conditions for the licensing of hackney carriage vehicles in Appendix 1.

Importantly the proposed changes included the conditions that all new vehicles (after 8 years) would be silver Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles (WAVs).  The Council was the only district in Hertfordshire and one of seven in the whole country without WAVs, a situation which opened up the Council to legal challenge.

During discussion Officers clarified several points in response to Member questions:

·         The designated list would be drawn up by the Council and all new Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles (WAVS) would be added to the list and overtime the whole fleet would consist of WAVS.

·         The specified silver colour of the vehicles and livery would apply to new vehicles only (WAVs) and not the existing fleet.  The first crest would be free to drivers and then there would be a nominal charge for replacements.

·         Clause 2.7 of the conditions stated that “The Hackney Carriage vehicle must be capable of carrying not less than four passengers plus a person confined to a wheelchair (“four plus one passengers”).  Officers agreed to make it clearer as it was a requirement that the new WAVs could carry up to four passengers as well as a person using a wheelchair.

·         Members were keen that there would be room on the taxi ranks for the WAVs and that they were affordable to drivers.  Officer confirmed that the size of the new vehicles would be no greater than a standard saloon and they could be purchased for £12,000 plus VAT (which was in contrast to some vehicles on the current fleet costing £40,000).

·         Members were keen to check a thorough consultation had taken place. Officers confirmed that there were over 1000 consultees and they had just over 500 responses back (nearly 100 from the trade and 400 from the public, of which the majority of the trade were against the new conditions and the majority of the public were for the conditions.  

There was a discussion about cross border drivers and Members wanted to know if the Council could impose restrictions and asked Officers to speak to other authorities. Officers said that they appreciated the frustration of the trade. Cross border drivers were in line with the Deregulation Act 2015 and had made it harder for the trade to earn a living. In addition they often did not undergo the stringent process of obtaining a licence that was required in Welwyn Hatfield which put public safety at risk. The recent guidance from the Department of Transport had also highlighted the issues with deregulation.  In essence, however, there was nothing that the Officers could do to prevent cross border drivers. 

Members suggested that the Secretary of State for Transport could be written to. The Executive Member (Public Health, Governance  ...  view the full minutes text for item 49.

50.

HEALTH AND SAFETY SERVICE PLAN 2020/21 pdf icon PDF 109 KB

The report of the Corporate Director (Public Protection, Planning and Governance) sets out (in appendix A) the Health and Safety Service Plan for 2020/21 for Members to consider and recommend to Cabinet that it is sent to Full Council for adoption

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The report of the Corporate Director (Public Protection, Planning and Governance) set out (in Appendix A) the Health and Safety Service Plan for 2020/21 for Members to consider.

 

Local Authorities and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) had a shared responsibility for ensuring public and employee health and safety protection throughout the UK.  Whilst the main responsibility remained with businesses and individuals the Council had a responsibility to deliver a service that regulated businesses and enforced against those that failed to protect the public.

 

The Public Health and Protection team had successfully attained a grant from the HSE to deliver (in partnership with the Council) a programme for small to medium-sized enterprises.  

 

There were no significant changes to the plan from the previous one.  Members asked if next time they could see clearly what changes had been made and Officers agreed to use track changes next time.

 

A discussion followed by Members with several points raised:

 

·         Absences from work that were over seven days were reported and yet those that were under seven days were not. Members were concerned that patterns of absences that were just under the seven days would be missed.  Officers confirmed that they were proactive with businesses if they noticed such patterns.

 

·         The report mentioned that at one point, due to staff sickness, there was not a full complement staff. Members felt it seemed to contradict another part of the report that stated the team would seek the use of casual staff or contractors should the need arise. Officers clarified that during the period of staff sickness in question they did have casual staff who could make interventions and therefore reduce any risk and ensure the good delivery of the service.

 

            RESOLVED:

 

That the Committee consider and approve the Health and Safety Service Plan 2020/21 in Appendix A of the report and recommend to Cabinet that it is sent to Full Council to be adopted.

51.

FOOD SAFETY SERVICE PLAN 2020/21 pdf icon PDF 179 KB

The report of the Corporate Director (Public Protection, Planning and Governance) sets the Food Safety Service Plan (in appendix A) for Members to consider and recommend to Cabinet that it is sent to Full Council for adoption

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The report of the Corporate Director (Public Protection, Planning and Governance) set out (in Appendix A) the Food Safety Service Plan 2020/21for Members to consider.

 

It was a requirement of the Food Standards Agency (FSA) (who had overall responsibility for the official control of food law enforcement in England) that each local authority draw up and implement a food safety service plan which was approved by Members.  It was expected that “non-inspection interventions” and educational initiatives be undertaken as well as routine hygiene inspections.

 

There were no changes in the proposed delivery of the service and there were about 300 inspections proposed for the coming year in order to reduce risk and keep the public safe.

 

            RESOLVED:

 

(1)  That the Committee consider and approve the Food Safety Service Plan in Appendix A of the report.

 

(2)  That the Committee recommend the Food Safety Service Plan in Appendix A of the report to Cabinet that it is sent to Full Council to be adopted.

52.

COMMITTEE OVERVIEW WORK PROGRAMME 2019/20 pdf icon PDF 18 KB

The pro-forma which sets out the Committee’s overview work programme has been updated since the last meeting to enable forward planning of items to be considered to take place.  Items which the Committee agrees it would like to consider will be scheduled into the work programme.

Minutes:

The pro-forma set out the Committee’s overview work programme 2019/20 which had been updated since the last meeting to enable forward planning of items to be considered. 

 

Members enquired as to whether the Retail Strategy would be presented to the next meeting of the Committee in March 2020 as they felt it was high priority.  The Corporate Director (Public Protection, Planning and Governance) advised the planning policy team was focused on the Local Plan work and therefore a full strategy would take years of work.  It was agreed however that a report would be provided at the March meeting of the Committee to generate further discussion on the topic.

 

Members also enquired as to whether there would be report on Climate Change.  Officers confirmed that a report was due to go to Council in November but taking into account the General Election on 12 December with the pre-election purdah period from 11 November and the Local Plan the report will go to Council on 23 March 2020.  The Committee would be updated on the work of the Climate Change Sub-Group in due course.

 

RESOLVED: 

 

That the Committee approve the updated Environment Overview and Scrutiny Committee work programme 2019/20. 

53.

TAXI ENFORCEMENT OPERATIONS ANNUAL REPORT

The report of the Corporate Director (Public Protection, Planning and Governance) sets out a summary of work undertaken by the Hackney Carriage Office over the past year for Members to note.

Minutes:

The report of the Corporate Director (Public Protection, Planning and Governance) set out a summary of the work undertaken by the Hackney Carriage Officer over the past year for Members to note.

 

RESOLVED:

 

That the Committee note the work carried out by the Hackney Carriage team to ensure the health, safety and welfare of the public who use Hackney Carriage and Private Hire vehicles.

 

 

(Note: A more detailed record of the Committee’s decision is contained in the exempt Minute 63).