Agenda item

Any other urgent items which in the opinion of the Chair, may be considered.


Update on Licensing Policies


At the request of the Chair, the Licensing Manager provided a verbal update in relation to several Licensing Policies which were due to be renewed imminently.  Each of the policies had been drafted to reflect the necessary revisions and were due to be consulted upon.


The key changes for each policy were highlighted as follows:-


Licensing Act Policy – The Cumulative Impact Policy in respect of off-licensed premises would remain in place and it was proposed that it be extended to two additional wards.  Retaining and extending the CIP was supported by evidence from Cleveland Police and Public Health.


Gambling Policy – Members were advised that there were no major changes to this Policy and that gambling premises were generally well-regulated by the Gambling Commission and caused very few problems on a day to day basis for Licensing.  Members were also updated on the latest position in relation to Casinos in Middlesbrough.


Taxi Licensing Policy


·        The vehicle age restriction policy had been amended so that a vehicle could now be first registered up to five years of age and continue to be licensed until its tenth birthday.  Previously a vehicle had to be no older than three years on first registration and could be licensed up until its fifth birthday.  This amendment followed consultation with the taxi trade and was in line with other local authorities.

·        The policy on window tints would be scrapped.  This policy was initially introduced some years ago and, over time, privacy glass in vehicles is generally fitted as standard, sometimes meaning that operators had to replace factory fitted windows in vehicles in order to comply.  In summary, only standard manufactured tints would be allowed.

·        In relation to testing requirements for drivers, it was proposed to remove the questions in relation to the Highway Code and to also remove the knowledge test (in relation to local geography) for private hire vehicle drivers as their booking systems included sat-nav with each booking.  It was not proposed to remove the knowledge test for hackney carriage drivers at this stage.

·        The full Taxi Licensing Policy would be reflective of the Government’s recommendations to introduce Statutory Minimum Standards for Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles.  The main focus of introducing minimum standards was to particularly protect vulnerable children and adults, however, it would be beneficial for all passengers. 

·        Some of the minimum standards were already in place in Middlesbrough, other standards would see minor changes to current policy and some changes would be more major in nature.  For example, policy guidance on conviction tariffs were predominantly met already in Middlesbrough, however, guidelines on drugs offences were set to become much stricter.  This would include immediate revocation of a driver’s licence should they fail a drugs test.

·        In addition, from 4 April 2022, any individual applying for a taxi/private hire vehicle driver licence or operator’s licence, or a scrap metal dealer’s site/collector, must ensure that they were registered to pay tax.  This requirement would also apply to certain types of licence renewals.  This would be a significant piece of work for the Licensing Department in terms of making the necessary additional checks.

·        The Government standards would also see the introduction of further safeguarding requirements for Private Hire Vehicle Operators, including DBS checks.


Members would be provided with a copy of the amended Policy and a table of proposed amendments once the document went out for consultation.