To receive the report of the Head of Communities. The report presents to members the result of the consultation feedback on the draft Common Standards for Licensing Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Drivers in Gloucestershire (following the publication of the Department for Transport (DfT) Statutory Taxi and Private Hire Standards).
The report also asks members to consider the consultation feedback and agree a final version of the Common Standards for Licensing Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Drivers in Gloucestershire for adoption.
The Licensing Team Leader presented the report of the Head of Communities. The report presented the result of the consultation feedback on the draft Common Standards for Licensing Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Drivers in Gloucestershire (following the publication of the Department for Transport (DfT) Statutory Taxi and Private Hire Standards).
The Chair asked members if they required any clarification on the report.
Councillor Radley pointed to page 77 of the report pack, which detailed language proficiency requirements for Hackney Carriage & Private Hire Drivers. She stated that she would have liked to have seen more detail about what qualified as an appropriate educational certificate for criterion related to English proficiency and questioned whether more detail about what constituted an appropriate educational certificate could be included.
The Licensing Team Leader responded that she had made a good point, and that, should the Committee wish, they could incorporate more detail about relevant qualifications into the document.
Councillor Hyman stated that his understanding was that statutory guidance came from Central Government and was instructional. He asked whether this was the correct understanding.
The Licensing Team Leader replied by stating that his understanding was accurate.
Councillor Tracey asked whether all drivers needed to undertake a safeguarding test.
The Licensing Team Leader replied that all drivers needed to undertake a safeguarding test. He stated that if the updated Common Standards document was approved by members, refresher training would have to be undertaken by drivers every three years, thus increasing the level of safety for passengers.
Councillor Radley asked whether the introduction of more specific guidance regarding what was deemed as an appropriate educational certificate would create a significantly higher workload for officers.
The Licensing Team Leader replied by stating that the proposed conditions still provided officer’s with discretion as they talked to the applicants. He stated that, they were trying to raise the standards of language proficiency of drivers across the county. He said that if it passed, then not all drivers would have to undertake an English proficiency language test, if they had a relevant qualification. He added that if this policy created any problems in the future, then it could be reconsidered at a future meeting of the Licensing Committee.
Councillor Tracey noted that it was a good report. She asked whether drivers currently checked their back seat for items between trips.
The Licensing Team Leader responded by stating that he had faith that Private Hire and Hackney Carriage drivers would check their back seats after each trip.
Councillor O`Donnell noted that not all staff would have to have an enhanced DBS check and that many drivers only required a basic check. He asked how the Council would ensure that all staff were fit and proper persons to hold a licence.
The Licensing Team Leader stated that DBS requirements came from Central Government. The Licensing Team Leader added that The Licensing Authority would require six-monthly checks when the requirement previously was for every 3 years. He added that they would be encouraging drivers to sign up for an online update service, so the process of the six-monthly check would be automatic and would be cheaper for the drivers. He stated that call operators were the staff who had to have a basic DBS check before being able to work in the field, demonstrating the level of care for passengers.
The Chair asked members whether they were content to adopt the recommendations as laid out in report and if there were issues regarding the language proficiency of drivers that arose, to consider that at a future meeting of the Licensing Committee.
There was no dissent from members.
(1) The draft Common Standards for Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Drivers in Gloucestershire is adopted and feedback is noted by members
(2) The Common Standards are then incorporated into the existing Gloucester City Council Policy Conditions (Rule Books) for Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Licensing to become effective from 1st October 2021.