Venue: David Hicks 1 - Civic Offices, Shute End, Wokingham RG40 1BN
Contact: Luciane Bowker Democratic & Electoral Services Specialist
Election of Chairman
To elect a Chairman for the 2018/19 municipal year.
Councillor Barrie Patman was elected Chairman of the Licensing and Appeals Committee for the 2018/19 municipal year.
Appointment of Vice-chairman
To appoint a Vice-Chairman for the 2018/19 municipal year.
Councillor Bill Soane was appointed Vice-Chairman of the Licensing and Appeals Committee for the 2018/19 municipal year.
To receive any apologies for absence.
Apologies for absence were submitted from Councillors Chris Bowring, Mike Haines and Emma Hobbs.
To confirm the Minutes of the Meeting held on 21 March 2018.
The Minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 21 March 2018 were confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.
Declaration of Interest
To receive any declarations of interest.
Councillor John Halsall stated that he had no pecuniary interest in any event or license, except indirectly through one of the clubs for which he was a member or for one of the landowners who let their land.
He declared a personal interest in relation to the Cumulative Impact Assessment and stated that he had been a resident in Remenham for almost forty years and previously Henley. He had been a Henley Royal Regatta competitor. He was a member of Henley Royal Regatta, Henley Rowing Club, Leander and Upper Thames Rowing Club, for whom he had been the licensee, the event’s organiser and one of the founder members. He rowed practically every day from Upper Thames. He had coached for Leander and Upper Thames. He had umpired for most events on the reach. He was the Chairman of Remenham Parish Council, a member of the Remenham Farm Residents Association and the neighbour of Remenham Farm. He was or had been friends with all the landowners and many of the licensees.
Councillor Halsall left the room during the discussion of item 9.
Public Question Time
To answer any public questions
A period of 30 minutes will be allowed for members of the public to ask questions submitted under notice.
The Council welcomes questions from members of the public about the work of this committee.
Subject to meeting certain timescales, questions can relate to general issues concerned with the work of the Committee or an item which is on the Agenda for this meeting. For full details of the procedure for submitting questions please contact the Democratic Services Section on the numbers given below or go to www.wokingham.gov.uk/publicquestions
There were no public questions.
Member Question Time
To answer any member questions
There were no Member questions.
To receive and consider a report outlining the Criteria Policy for Licensed Vehicles.
The Committee considered the Criteria Policy for Licensed Vehicles report which was set out in agenda pages 13-52.
Laura Driscoll, Principal Officer, Public Protection Partnership introduced the report and stated that the report contained the criteria proposal and the results of the consultation.
Laura Driscoll stated that the proposal included dimensions for wheelchair accessibility, as per the Committee’s request. The dimensions were based on guidelines issued in the Republic of Ireland.
During the discussion of the item the following comments were made:
· In response to a question Julia O’Brien, Licensing Team Leader stated that West Berkshire did have a wheelchair accessibility policy. All vehicles in their fleet were wheelchair compliant, apart from 4 vehicles which had a swivel seat and had a protected plate;
· Councillor Ferris asked if there was a list of models that the drivers could use as a guide to buy their vehicles. He was also interested to know if the assessments that had been carried out had been undertaken under this guidelines which had not yet been approved;
· Laura Driscoll stated that the issue was that models varied depending on which year they were produced and the commercial model. She stated that measurements were a more reliable method and she expected that anyone looking to purchase a vehicle would be able to use it;
· Julia O’Brien confirmed that the assessments had been carried out against the current policy;
· Julia O’Brien informed that most of the fleet had now been checked by the RAC (on behalf of the Licensing Authority), 75 vehicles had been checked with 5 still outstanding. The result was that 45% of the cars that were checked were compliant;
· Councillor Soane asked what would happen if a driver purchased a vehicle in accordance to this guidelines and then subsequently the government issued a different policy;
· Councillor Richards pointed out that the government usually allowed for a period of around two years so that people could adjust to the new policy;
· Councillor Shepherd-DuBey suggested that training should be given to drivers in relation to Special Educational Needs (SEN) students, especially those involved in school transport. Julia O’Brien stated that such training was already in place and that all drivers undertook disability awareness training;
· Councillor Richards stated that it was necessary to include within the guidelines the recommended ramp gradient;
· Councillor Burgess asked if consideration in relation to the financial impact on current drivers had been taken into account;
· Laura Driscoll stated that it was for the Committee to decide how this new policy would apply to current vehicles. She recommended that a significant amount of time be allowed for drivers to comply so that drivers did not incur in an immediate financial burden;
· Councillor Halsall felt uneasy expressing an opinion in this matter which involved an environmental impact and the livelihood of drivers. He proposed that a working group be set up to look at this issue in more detail;
· Councillor Ferris stated that he was not sure the figures were correct or not, but ... view the full minutes text for item 8.
To receive a report containing the review of Statement of Licensing Policy.
The Committee considered the Review of Statement of Licensing Policy report which was set out in agenda pages 53-100.
Julia O’Brien, Licensing Team Manager stated that the Council was required to review its Statement of Licensing Policy (SLP) every five years. The SLP outlined the general approach of the licensing authority when making decisions under the Licensing Act 2003, the policy could be reviewed and revised by the authority at any time. The current Wokingham SLP must undergo a review and be re-published by the end of September 2018.
Julia O’Brien stated that a consultation had taken place and the comments received were attached to the report, as well as the Officer’s analysis of the comments.
Some of the consultees had asked the Chairman for permission to speak at the meeting, in view of the high level of interest the Chairman agreed to allow them to make a statement to the Committee.
The speakers were called in the order in which the requests were received.
Sue Dowling addressed the Committee and these were some of the main points put forward by her:
· The suggestion of the CIP was not clear during the consultation process;
· There was not a high concentration of licences in the Remenham area, with only six licensed premises which authorised daily licensable activities;
· There needed to be evidence to support consultation as stated in the House of Commons briefing paper which was circulated to the Committee;
· The evidence should be strong enough to stand up to scrutiny; it should include statistics on anti-social behaviour for example;
· It had not been possible to draft a response as there had not been any evidence put forward;
· The Henley Regatta had a good track record;
· Due to the lack of evidence it was inappropriate to introduce a CIP;
· None of the responsible authorities were in favour of the introduction of a CIP;
· The statistics provided by Thames Valley Policy showed that crime and disorder in the area were decreasing and not increasing;
· The limited licences amounted to approximately 20 days a year.
Councillor Whittle asked Sue Dowling what impact the CIP would have on the Henley Regatta. Sue Dowling stated that she was not in a position to respond, however there could be a financial implication and a detrimental effect to Henley. She stated that the licences brought life to the town, attracting visitors, investment and infrastructure.
In response to a question the Chairman confirmed that there would be further opportunity to discuss the other elements of the SLP, this meeting was considering the CIP element of it only.
James Rankin addressed the Committee and these were some of the main points put forward by him:
· He was concerned that Councillor Halsall had taken part in discussions in relation to CIP at previous meetings as he clearly had a connection with Remenham. He was seeking to ascertain that Councillor Halsall would not take part in the discussion of the item as this may raise the perception of bias;
· Evidence should ... view the full minutes text for item 9.
To receive a report reviewing the Statement of Gambling Principles.
The Committee considered the Review of Statement of Gambling Principles which was set out in agenda pages 101-106
Laura Driscoll explained that there was a legal requirement to review the Local Authority Gambling Statement every three years. The present statement was published to take effect from the end of January 2016, therefore it was time to undertake a review in order to have it re-published to take effect by the end of January 2019.
Laura Driscoll stated that there were no significant changes from the previous policy. The results from the consultation were listed in the report and the comments were fair.
Laura Driscoll stated that the final version of the Statement would be brought back to the Committee in September, prior to it being referred to Council for approval in November.
In response to a question Laura Driscoll stated that there were around 10 gambling premises in the Borough.
RESOLVED That the Committee endorses the proposed amendments contained in the report.
To receive and consider a report revewing Licensing Sub-Committees’ procedure.
The Committee considered the Sub-Committee Procedure report which was set out in agenda pages 117-122.
Laura Driscoll proposed to change paragraph 1.1 of the procedure to three working days, and Members were in agreement to change it.
During the discussion of the item the following comments were made:
· Councillor Halsall disagreed with the proposal that the Sub-Committee be selected by Democratic Services, he believed that there should be a rotation system;
· Luciane Bowker, Democratic and Electoral Services Specialist explained the selection process was based on:
o Members availability to attend hearings during the day
o Avoidance of conflict of interest
o Attendance to training
o Cross-party representation
· Members noted that on certain occasions it was also important to consider continuity;
· Going forward, Luciane Bowker offered to send an email to all Members of the Licensing and Appeals Committee and select on a first come first serve basis (bearing in mind any conflict of interest). Members were in agreement with this.
Luciane Bowker pointed out that the proposed procedure excluded the time limitation for representations. Laura Driscoll confirmed that she had had legal advice on this issue, and she had been advised that it was better not to have a time limit. It would be at the Chairman’s discretion to keep the time equally fair to both parties. Members were in favour of this.
1) The Committee approves the information and Procedure document subject to the following amendments:
a) When a Sub-Committee meeting is required, Democratic Services will notify all Members of the Licensing and Appeals Committee via email and select the Panel on a first come first serve basis (provided that the other legal requirements are met)
b) Paragraph 1.1 will be amended to read: “The applicant will normally be required to attend the meeting in person. They will be entitled to be represented by a solicitor or counsel or by any other individual provided that the name of any such person is given to Democratic Services three clear working days in advance of the hearing.”
To consider the Licensing Committee’s forward plan.
The Committee considered the forward plan for the 2018/19 municipal year.
Laura Driscoll referred to the list of forthcoming items listed in the report. She stated that the Fees and Charges would be amalgamated between the three authorities who formed the Public Protection Partnership (PPP), this would be discussed at the September meeting.
Members asked that the Fees and Charges report include benchmarking with authorities outside of PPP.
Laura Driscoll informed that training sessions would be available at the three authorities, the dates would be confirmed shortly.
Councillor Whittle asked that Licensing Officers consulted with Wokingham Town Council and Woodley Town Council in relation to Street Trading.
Councillor Halsall asked that a list of Wokingham’s licensing policies be circulated to the Committee.
In response to a question Laura Driscoll stated that she intended to produce a briefing note on Pet Shops, with an update containing the new government legislation in relation to animal licensing.
Laura Driscoll explained that in order to enable the Statement of Licensing Policy to be submitted to Council in November, it was necessary to change the date of the next meeting to a week earlier. Members agreed to change the date of the next meeting to 4 September 2018.
1) The Committee noted the forward plan report;
2) The date of the next meeting be changed to 4 September 2018.