Agenda item

Agenda item


To consider a report by the Head of Planning, Public Protection and Countryside Services (copy enclosed) updating members on the work of the Licensing Section in 2019.


RESOLVED that, subject to members’ comments, the contents of the report be noted.


The Public Protection Business Manager submitted a report (previously circulated) updating members on the work of the Licensing Section during 2019 which focused on both operational and management matters.


The report provided statistical data regarding the number of licences issued, complaints and service requests received covering the main functions – Alcohol and Entertainment; Hackney and Private Hire Licensing; Gambling, Gaming and Lotteries; Street Trading; Charity Collections and Scrap Metal together with other ancillary matters including overall workload results and communications.  Management matters included reference to policies, fees, complaints against the service together with future workload considerations.  Officers elaborated on various aspects of the report and clarified particular issues in response to members’ questions thereon.


The main areas of debate on functions and management matters focused on –


·         Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Licensing – two driver applications refused by officers had been successful on appeal to the Magistrates Court following the submission of further evidence not presented at the time of application.  Members discussed with officers the cost of defending an appeal and whether there would be merit in introducing a mechanism for particular driver applications (which officers considered would merit refusal or borderline cases where robust arguments could be made for both grant and refusal and may warrant a deviation from the policy) to be brought before Licensing Committee for determination.  Such a process would provide a further opportunity for the applicant to present further evidence to support their application in a timely manner thereby helping to avoid potential court costs for all parties concerned.  Members confirmed they had confidence in the delegation of powers afforded to officers for that purpose but agreed there would be merit for any applications which were not clear cut and caused officers some debate being brought back before the Licensing Committee for determination.  It was noted that the option of bringing matters back before members was inherent in any delegation to officers and therefore a specific mechanism for that purpose within the policy was not required

·         Charity Collections – it was confirmed that the number of charitable collections specified within the report included an accumulation of the same charity collecting in different areas of the county, and that charitable collections of clothing from house to house did require licensing with most large charities having a Home Office Exemption Order for that purpose

·         Scrap Metal – details of the regulations in place covering scrap metal sites and collectors were provided and it was confirmed that any collection of scrap metal needed to be licensed; social media sites such as Facebook were routinely scanned for advertisements relating to scrap metal to ensure compliance

·         Communications – it was noted that social media was used to post messages and officers agreed to circulate links for Facebook and Twitter to the Licensing and Trading Standards pages for members’ information and interest

·         Fees – in response to questions members were reminded that the Committee had approved the proposed changes to taxi licensing fees and charges at their last meeting in December 2019 and given that no objections had been received during the consultation period they would be effective from 1 April 2020.  It was clarified that officers undertook an annual review of all fees and charges which were brought before the Licensing Committee for approval before consultation and formal sign off for the operational aspects by the Head of Service.  The fees were set based on the actual costs incurred and a profit could not be made.


In considering future workload there was further debate on the following matters –


·         following the introduction of a minimum price for alcohol effective from 2 March 2020 officers would be carrying out inspections in the coming months to ensure compliance.  Inspections would be carried out in the first quarter and therefore it would be possible to report back on the level of compliance to members in June

·         officers elaborated upon the “Best Bar None” initiative for licensed premises to be introduced in Denbighshire in order to promote good pub ethics and minimum standards – the focus in 2020 would be to raise awareness of the scheme ahead of a formal launch in March 2021

·         reference was made to the Welsh Government’s aim of a zero emission bus and taxi/private hire vehicle fleet by 2028 and there was some discussion about the potential role licensing could play in that vision through processes for taxi licensing and potential incentives to encourage licensees locally in that regard.  The role and work of the Climate Change Group in the wider environmental context was acknowledged and the potential for a specific Licensing Working Group to focus on helping to meet Welsh Government’s aim was suggested as a possible way forward.  The need to ensure services in more rural areas would not be jeopardised or detrimentally affected as a result of any future proposals was also highlighted.  It was agreed that officers report back to the Committee with options on the way forward once further information became available

·         it was noted that a training session would be held in September and whilst priority would be for committee members, other members would also be able to attend.  Members were encouraged to let officers know of any particular areas they considered beneficial to meet their training needs. Officers were also willing to accommodate requests from members interested in shadowing officers on their duties with prior arrangement

·         assurances were provided that grant funding streams that may be available would be explored by officers.


The Chair paid tribute to the work of the Licensing Team, particularly given the heavy workload involved, which was recognised and appreciated by the Committee.  Members asked that their thanks be conveyed to the Licensing Team and their appreciation be recorded within the minutes.  The Public Protection Business Manager thanked members for their support and agreed to feedback those comments to the Licensing Team.


RESOLVED that, subject to members’ comments, the contents of the report be noted.


Supporting documents: