Agenda and draft minutes

Licensing Committee - Tuesday, 18th June, 2024 7.00 pm

Venue: Committee Rooms A B & C - Town Hall. View directions

Contact: Email: Democratic.Services@crawley.gov.uk 

Media

Items
No. Item

1.

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.

 

Minutes:

No disclosures of interests were made.

 

Councillors Ashraf and Lamb declared they had been lobbied on matters related to agenda item 5/minute 4 (Noting Taxi Licensing Concerns at Gatwick Airport).

2.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 73 KB

To approve as a correct record the minutes of the Licensing Committee held on 15 January 2024.

 

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting of the Licensing Committee held on 15 January 2024 were approved as a correct record and signed by the Chair.

 

3.

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.

Minutes:

The Chair confirmed that he had granted speaking rights to named individuals who had requested to speak prior to the meeting. For practical reasons these individuals would speak under agenda item 5 (Noting Taxi Licensing Concerns at Gatwick Airport) rather than under agenda item 4.

 

4.

Noting Taxi Licensing Concerns at Gatwick Airport

The Chair has requested that the following item be added to the agenda to hear and note the taxi licensing concerns at Gatwick Airport.

 

NB. there is no officer’s report for this item.

 

Minutes:

The Chair introduced the agenda item, which requested that the Committee note concerns about taxi licensing at Gatwick Airport, and had been added to the agenda at the request of the Chair.  The Chair confirmed that he had granted speaking rights to named individuals prior to the meeting. These speakers were heard as follows:- 

 

Nick Venes, a representative of Unite union, addressed the Committee.  Points raised included the following:

·       In March 2024, a request was submitted to the Council by Unite to investigate taxi activity at Gatwick Airport.  An investigation commenced but no updates or findings had been provided since new evidence had been presented, which was disappointing.  The length of time taken to investigate was unacceptable and it was a shame that officers from the Council’s licensing team were not present at the meeting to answer questions.

·       Numerous reports had been made about the operations of alleged improperly licensed vehicles taking jobs at the airport, including waiting in dedicated bays and accepting jobs that had not been pre-booked.  It was illegal for a licensed operator to make provisions in an area in which they were not licensed.

·       Crawley’s licensed drivers needed help and were not being protected, and the Council had a duty to work to support them.

 

Aamir Bhatti, Chair of the Crawley Hackney Carriage Association (CHCA), addressed the Committee.  Points raised included the following:

·       The CHCA represented 123 hackney carriage drivers in Crawley.  Those drivers’ business had been negatively impacted in recent years by the effects of the Coronavirus pandemic and the closing of shops. 

·       More ranks should be provided in the town centre and throughout the borough, including the reopening of the rank at Crawley train station.  Local drivers were losing income due to a lack of space at ranks.

·       The majority of hackney carriage jobs were picked up at Three Bridges train station, but the taxi bays were limited and not fit for purpose.  Vehicles which were allegedly not licensed were regularly witnessed accepting jobs at the station and this was taking work away from local licensed drivers.  Many complaints had been made to the Council’s licensing team about this.

 

Zack Ali, West Sussex County Councillor for Southgate & Gossops Green ward, addressed the Committee.  Points raised included the following:

·       Investigations into the matter had been ongoing since the beginning of the year.  Officers should be asked to conclude their investigation as soon as possible.  Further information could be provided by drivers or their representatives if it was requested.

·       As part of a visit to Gatwick Airport, various potential breaches of licensing law or policy were witnessed, such as ranking in incorrect bays.

·       It was a serious concern if a taxi company was operating in an area without an operator licence and if so action should be taken.

 

Peter Lamb, Crawley Borough Councillor for Northgate & West Green ward, addressed the Committee.  Points raised included the following: 

·       There was an issue at national level in that legislation allowed cross-border hiring.  This made it more difficult to identify  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.