Agenda and draft minutes

Licensing Committee - Friday 23rd February 2024 10.00 am

Venue: Council Chamber, Arun Civic Centre, Maltravers Road, Littlehampton, BN17 5LF. View directions

Contact: Katherine Davis (01903 737984) 


No. Item


Apologies for Absence


Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Batley and Patel.


Declarations of Interest

Members and Officers are reminded to make any declarations of pecuniary, personal and/or prejudicial interests that they may have in relation to items on this agenda and are reminded that they should re-declare their interest before consideration of the item or as soon as the interest becomes apparent.


Members and officers should make their declaration by stating :


a) the item they have the interest in

b) whether it is a pecuniary, personal and/or prejudicial

c) the nature of the interest


There were no declarations of interest.


Minutes pdf icon PDF 71 KB

To approve as a correct record the Minutes of the meeting held on   15 December 2023.

Additional documents:


The minutes of the previous meeting held on 15 December 2023 were approved and signed by the Chair.  The minutes of the Licensing Sub-Committee held on 11 December 2023 were noted by the Committee.


Items not on the Agenda which the Chairman of the meeting is of the opinion should be considered as a matter of urgency by reason of special circumstances


There were no urgent items.


Public Question Time pdf icon PDF 67 KB

To receive questions from the public (for a period of up to 15 minutes).


The Chair invited questions from members of the public who had submitted their questions in advance of the meeting in accordance with the rules of the Council’s Constitution.


The Chair confirmed that one question had been submitted and this was read out by the questioner and responded to by the Chair.  The questioner was then invited to ask a supplementary question and was advised by the Chair that an answer would be provided outside of the meeting.


(A schedule of full questions asked, and the responses provided can be found on the meetings webpage here).


The Chair informed the Committee that he was aware that some members had  questions following PQT.  He advised that whilst he would not normally allow this he would on this occasion and asked members to keep their questions brief.


The Group Head of Technical Services undertook to provide the Committee with a briefing note providing further details of the steps being taken to resolve the issues raised by the questioner.


Taxi Fare Setting pdf icon PDF 128 KB

The fares charged to customers using Hackney Carriages (Taxis) are reviewed and set each year. This report provides information to be considered for the setting of fares for the period of 1 April 2024 to 31 March 2025.

Additional documents:


[Councillor Bence re-declared his Personal Interest as a member of West Sussex County Council during discussion of this Item]


The Environmental Health Team Manager was invited by the Chair to present the report.  The report provided information to be considered for the annual review and setting of the maximum Hackney Carriages (Taxis) fare that drivers may charge customers for the period 1 April 2024 to 31 March 2025.  He highlighted that officers had tracked diesel prices during the past twelve months and although prices had reduced they still remained at a fairly high level.  Officers had considered the average fuel prices and cost of living, as well as the consultation responses received from the taxi trade and recommended that the proposed fares for 2024/25 be increased, as set out in appendix 2.


The recommendation was proposed by Councillor Blanchard-Cooper and seconded by Councillor Bence.


The Chair then invited members to make comment or ask questions.  During the discussion a member sought clarification as to whether wheelchair users were charged a different fare based on the size of their wheelchair and the need for a larger wheelchair accessible vehicle, as well as the wording of the Equality Impact Assessment (EIA) regarding Disability (people with physical/sensory impairment or mental disability) at Appendix 3 in relation to the word ‘Positive’ impact.  The Chair referred to paragraph 13.1 of the report that stated the charge was for the carriage of the person and not the type of vehicle used.  He added that the wording sought to clarify that a taxi driver would not be able to charge a higher fare if a person required additional space for a wheelchair or for an assistance dog.  The Environmental Health Team Manager explained that the EIA required officers to state if there was a positive or negative impact to ensure that there would not be any discriminatory charges. The Chair suggested that Councillor Worne should contact officers so that she could have an input into future EIAs. 


A member raised concern that only just over half (52%) of the taxi trade respondents were in favour of the proposal with some respondents had stated concerns that an increase would drive down business and was of the opinion that the charges should remain affordable to those people in rural areas who often had no other transport options available.  Reference was made to the fare increases being partly due to current petrol and diesel prices, and therefore, this was an opportunity to influence behaviour by encouraging the use of hybrid and electric vehicles. 


The Environmental Health Team Manager confirmed that there was no requirement for drivers to increase their fees following any fare increase and advised that a number of taxi drivers chose not to recalibrate their meters and keep the fares the same.  He explained that as well as consideration of fuel increases the fee increase had considered other factors, such higher inflation, insurance costs and vehicle repairs.  Therefore a balancing act was required to consider these increased  ...  view the full minutes text for item 669.


Licensing Fees pdf icon PDF 118 KB

This report sets out recommended fees for the licensing service for 2024-25 following a detailed review. The fees recommended are based on cost recovery.

Additional documents:


[Councillor Cooper declared a personal interest as a member of the Hair and Barber Council]


The Environmental Health Team Manager was invited by the Chair to present the report.  The report set out the proposed licence fees for specified licensing regimes to take effect on 1 April 2024. He explained that officers currently provided significant advice to applicants for which they were unable to charge.  Therefore, a new pre-application advice fee was proposed that would allow officers to recover some of their costs by charging for pre-application advice if the advice provided was longer than 30 minutes.  Changes had also been made to the way taxi applications were made with payment being required in advance, which would ensure the recovery of costs if an application was abandoned or withdrawn.  A fee incentive was also recommended for taxi vehicle applications by offering a discounted fee for full electric and plug-in hybrid taxi vehicles. 


A typographical error in the proposed fees schedule, at appendix 2, was brought to the attention of members.  Under the heading Animal Boarding Franchise, Provision Boarding (franchises) Re-score fee, Part A should read £39.00.  Details were provided of a new charge for Animal Licensing Minor Variations fee recommended at £40.00, which had been omitted from the fee table.


The recommendation was proposed by Councillor Goodheart and seconded by Councillor Madeley.


The Chair then invited members to make comment or ask questions.  Responding to the comments made, the Environmental Health Team Manager provided details of how fees and charges were reviewed, advising the fee increases were set on a cost recovery basis.  As regards to a suggestion that the Gambling Act 2005 fees seemed low due to the negative social consequences compared to the profits made by gambling shops, he explained that the Council could not use fees as a deterrent, and although the fees charged by the Council were below the statutory maximum they had been set on the required cost recovery basis.


As regards to dogs being abandoned or indiscriminately sold by breeders and the suggestion that the fee should include a cost element of the impact of dealing with these dogs, the Environmental Health Team Manager advised that it was not possible to increase fees as a deterrent.  However, the fee could be reduced as an incentive but it should be noted that the Council would not be able to recover all of its costs.  He drew attention to the current challenges the service faced in recruiting qualified staff, which had an impact on the amount of additional work the service could carry out.    It was noted that if members had a desire for officers to undertake more proactive work to identify unlicensed breeders officers would need to carry out work to understand the resources required and how it would be funded.  He said that separately there is an intention to review the on-cost model to ensure the Council is fully recovering its costs through licence fees.  The Committee requested that the outcome be reported back  ...  view the full minutes text for item 670.


Q3 Performance Report for the Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) which form part of the Council’s Vision 2022-2026. pdf icon PDF 92 KB

This report sets out the performance of the Key Performance indicators at Quarter 3 for the period 1 April 2023 to 31 December 2023.


Additional documents:


          The Chair invited the Environmental Health Team Manager to present the report. to Committee. The report set out the performance of the Key Performance Indicators at Quarter 1 for the period 1 April 2023 to 30 June 2023.


          The Committee noted the report.


work programme pdf icon PDF 68 KB

The Committee Work programme is attached for members to note.


          The Committee noted the Work Programme.


          The Committee suggested the following item for inclusion.


-       Gambling Policy fee increase