Agenda and minutes

Licensing Committee - Thursday, 19th October, 2023 7.00 pm

Venue: Committee Room C - Town Hall. View directions

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No. Item


Disclosures of Interest

In accordance with the Council's Code of Conduct, councillors are reminded that it is a requirement to declare interests where appropriate.



No disclosures of interests were made.


Councillor Irvine declared he had been lobbied on matters relating to agenda item 5 (minute 4) – Proposed Fees and Charges for 2023: Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Licensing Regime (Update Report).



Minutes pdf icon PDF 88 KB

To approve as a correct record the minutes of the Licensing Committee held on 12 September 2023.



A Committee member raised a query regarding minute 5 (page 8) of the minutes of the previous meeting and asked for clarification on the percentage of fee increases made in 2022 and 2023.  Officers confirmed that the figures set out in the minutes were correct.


The minutes of the meeting of the Licensing Committee held on 12 September 2023 were approved as a correct record and signed by the Chair.



Public Question Time

To answer any questions asked by the public which relate to an item on this agenda and which are in line with the Council’s Constitution.


Public Question Time will be concluded by the Chair when all questions have been answered or on the expiry of a period of 15 minutes, whichever is the earlier.


The Chair invited members of the public to speak as part of Public Question Time.


Nick Venes, a representative from the private hire industry, addressed the Committee and asked a question summarised as follows:


The taxi licensing system is draconian and the service penalises drivers too harshly – many licensed drivers have left Crawley to work in other areas for this reason.  An increase to the fees was already made this year, which averaged out at a 2.5% annual increase for the past two years. The figures given in the report are not very clear and there seem to be errors in the calculation of the initial application fee in Table 2.  It includes a £15 fee for a ‘street listing pack’ – what is this?  Is the fee compulsory, and can the pack not be issued online so the fee doesn’t have to be charged? Also, increasing the fees chargeable for electric vehicles will not incentivise licensed drivers to ‘go green’ by switching to an electric car.


The Chair requested that the Health, Safety and Licensing Team Leader provide a response.  It was confirmed that the street listing pack was created following requests from applicants but would be optional, and no fee would be charged if an applicant did not want to receive it.  The information within the pack was not owned by Crawley Borough Council so could not be distributed freely online.  It was also clarified that the fees for electric vehicles were being increased to come into line with those of other vehicles as the administrative costs were no lower for electric vehicles.


Nick Venes asked a supplementary question summarised as follows:


The figures in Table 2 do not seem accurate.  If subject to a 10% increase, the initial application figure of £147.90 should be increased by £14.79 to £162.29, but this is listed in the table as £173.89, which is actually a 17.5% increase.  Please can those figures be broken down?


In response, the Health, Safety and Licensing Team Leader and the Head of Corporate Finance explained that the initial application fee was made up of a number of individual charges, some of which were proposed to be subject to the 10% increase and some of which were subject to no increase.  The total figure was also altered by the addition of the £15 fee for the street listing pack, which was a new charge and so was not accounted for in the current 2023/24 figures.  For these two reasons it would not give an accurate figure to apply a flat 10% increase to the total initial application fee.  It was also clarified that not all of the individual charges would be relevant to all applicants and each would be considered on a case by case basis.



Proposed Fees and Charges for 2023: Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Licensing Regime (Update Report) pdf icon PDF 179 KB

To consider report HCS/067 of the Head of Community Services.


Additional documents:


The Committee considered report HCS/067.  The Head of Community Services presented the report, which provided an update on the hackney carriage and private hire licensing fees item previously considered by the Licensing Committee on 12 September 2023, and sought to increase the fees charged by the service.  The Committee had agreed that the item be deferred to a later date to enable officers to provide further information on some of the matters raised as part of its discussion. 


Report HCS/067 provided clarification regarding previous increases to the fees, the statutory consultation period, the number of licensed drivers in Crawley, and the accuracy of the figures set out in the report, which were confirmed to be correct.  It was heard that, since the previous meeting, the Council’s Finance team had undertaken a budget setting review which had led to a change in the central service recharges allocated to the hackney carriage and private hire licensing service.  The recommendation in the report had been revised to propose a 10% increase in the fees.


The Committee then discussed the matter.  Thanks were conveyed to officers for providing clarity on the matters raised at the previous meeting. In general, the Committee felt that the information was presented more clearly and was informative.  Some Committee members queried the figures set out in revised table 1 and table 2 in the report and asked for clarification on why those figures did not match.  The finance officers explained that the estimated figures for income from hackney carriage and private hire fees in 2023/24 and 2024/25 were based on the actual number of active licences (in order to provide the most accurate projections), whereas the estimated figures for 2025/25 and 2026/27 were based on the average number of active licences at any one time (as the actual number was difficult to predict so far in advance).  It was also highlighted that not all drivers will pay all fees each year, for example due to differing licence durations which could be one, two or three years.  


It was recognised that it was important to ensure the taxi licensing service ran at a cost-neutral position but that there had been a significant deficit for some time. Committee members heard that the service was being subsidised by other parts of the Council’s budget and that the source of this funding was the Council tax payer, about which some Committee members expressed concerns.  As per the Committee’s previous request, the report set out the percentage by which fees would need to be increased to achieve cost-neutrality in the service, which was estimated at 18% for 2024/25 alone.  The Committee agreed that this level of increase would be unpalatable.  Several Committee members expressed regret that the fees were to be increased, but agreed that doing so was a necessity.


Committee members sought an explanation for the timing of the proposed fee increase, particularly as the data showed the service had been running on a deficit for a number of years.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.