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Apologies for Absence
Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Aiden Gray, Eleanor Scott, Frank Jonas and April Windebank. Councillor Eleanor Scott was represented by Councillor Peter Eddis.
Declarations of Members' Interests
There were no declarations.
This item was adjourned from the Licensing Committee meeting on 22 November 2013.
The purpose of this report is for the committee to consider a review of the non-statutory fees charged for licences/registrations which are administered by the Licensing Committee.
a) That the Licensing Committee note the contents of this report, consider the proposed options and determine the level of fee to be adopted;
b) That the approved fees be implemented with immediate effect; and
c) That the Head of Health, Safety and Licensing be given authority to advertise, (where appropriate) such fees and charges that are subject to any formal public statutory consultation.
A report by the Licensing Manager is attached.
(TAKE IN THE LICENSING MANAGERS REPORT)
The Licensing Manager introduced her report and explained to members of the committee that it has always been the aim of the committee to work towards total cost recovery where possible when undertaking all of the various licensing functions. She explained that the fee increases had been calculated by finance and that the increase in the Hackney Carriage vehicle renewal-extension would only result in a net increase of 76p per day.
A deputation was heard from Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson who explained that as part of the administration of the Council he was responsible for putting the budget together and that many difficult decisions had to be made. He explained that wherever possible full cost recovery was being met. The taxi trade cannot be seen to set aside from this. He accepted that Southampton City Council do charge less for a licence and that as they already licence Eastleigh discussions had taken place regarding them also taking on Portsmouth, if this was what the trade wanted. Councillor Vernon-Jackson also referred to spreading full cost recovery over a 5-year period as an option.
Councillor Vernon-Jackson left the meeting at this point as he had another meeting to attend.
Chris Dixon, Hackney Carriage trade representative asked if the trade could be given some time to discuss the 5-year proposal as although the suggestion had been muted at the consultative meeting the week before it had not been fully proposed. The chair, Councillor Stevens, proposed a 10minute recess to allow the trade to discuss the matter. All members and officers left the chamber.
When the committee reconvened, deputations were then heard from the following persons.
Chris Dixon, Hackney Carriage trade representative thanked the committee for the opportunity to discuss the 5-year option. He mentioned that the trade are having a hard time and that they realise the council needs to recover costs. The trade had reluctantly agreed to go along with the 5-year plan.
Carolyn Holmes, Hackney Carriage Proprietor, explained that she had been in the taxi trade for over 40years. This is such a quiet period for drivers and a massive hike in fees. Motoring and living costs have all gone up and this is yet another increase that the drivers have to absorb. She questioned the employment costs of the licensing department. She also reluctantly endorsed the 5-year option.
Viv Young, Hackney Carriage trade representative strongly objected to the massive hike in fees. He explained that drivers have ever increasing costs for maintaining the vehicles and insurance and yet have not had an increase in fares since 2010. There has been a noticeable decrease in fares since the closure of the Dockyard and yet in Southampton they have the cruise ships, premier football club and West Quay but their licence fees are less. Drivers work long shifts due to a lack of work and low wages. He felt that partial recovery was far more palatable and accepted that the trade need to do their bit. He ... view the full minutes text for item 3.