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Agenda item

Public Questions and Petitions

To receive any questions or petitions from members of the public

Minutes:

6.1

The following petitions and questions were received, and responses were provided where possible or a written response will be supplied.

 

6.2

Petition regarding Sheldon Road Pavements

 

“The pavements are in a shocking state resulting in accidents and discomfort, especially for elderly or disabled people. …We want our Councillors and Streets Ahead to sort out the issues and schedule full repair of the pavements before winter.”

 

6.3

Question from Sheff Food Partnership

 

In response to the recent national food strategy, does the council have a plan to implement the national government policy to  implement free weekly separate food waste collections for all households from 2025 (point 1.6)?

 If so, is there any intention for this compost to be used between community growing groups in the city as seen amongst other cities in the country?

 

6.4

Question from Bridget Ingle

 

Can Sheffield City Council review its city centre waste management strategy for apartment buildings and landlords responsible for multiple occupation properties? Bin stores are not used properly. Contaminated and overfull bins are not emptied. Household rubbish is then piled up in the bin stores and on the street. The household rubbish on the street then becomes Amey's responsibility to clear up. 

 

Veolia has limited powers which means the burden of responsibility falls on Environmental Protection Services to take enforcement action. EPS do not have the resources to deal with all the problems which are being created through management companies and landlords not managing their properties correctly

6.5

Question from Sean Clarke on behalf of The Moor Market traders

 

The Moor Market traders would like to wish the Waste & Street Scene Policy Committee well in this new way of operating and hope that The Moor Market appears high on every agenda for regular discussion, improvement and comment. Despite the fact that some council committees can sometimes be accused of being slow, indecisive and unresponsive, we have initial confidence (having met with Joe Otten recently) that you will be a modern, dynamic committee who will respond quickly and positively to the challenges ahead.

The market is an important multi-million-pound facility with a multicultural trader base originating from at least a dozen countries across the world. In addition we have a very diverse group of customers using the market every day and we have no doubts about how important the market is to many thousands of people each week. From day one back in 2013 the market has suffered from poor planning, substandard build quality, and for some years, non-existent day-to-day leadership. We welcome the fact that Gary Clifton (& Richard Eyre) have made recent changes to the management structure and most traders now have much more trust and hope that things are on the right track, despite most positions still being on an interim basis. In just a matter of weeks we can see much more enthusiasm from key leaders in the market and much more focus on the bigger picture going forward. The building is less than 9 years old and has received little proactive investment during this time, with most of the funding apparently being used to either rectify faults or put in place things that should have been included from the initial planning stage. Cities and towns across the UK, Europe and beyond can be seen to highlight and celebrate their markets, and we would like The Moor Market to become one of those markets, to become a market that the whole of Sheffield is proud to have and use. We want the market to be a more welcoming place, somewhere that offers customers a pleasant place to relax, as well as shop, and it needs to tap into the night-time economy and provide a well-publicised & organised range of outstanding events throughout the year. We really do hope that this committee can be a catalyst for change, allowing Sheffield City Council to obtain value, success and acclaim for its running of The Moor Market.

Will the policy committee please commit to helping create and operate a clear and realistic improvement plan & investment budget that is urgently needed to help us make the market a celebrated world class facility?

 

Will the policy committee please highlight and recognise the importance of The Moor Market to Sheffield City Council and make plans and investments that will generate a better future for all traders, guaranteeing a better return for the council and most importantly for the people of Sheffield?

 

6.6

Question from Paul Stead

 

In April 2021 Mark Jones the Cabinet member responsible for streetscene announced that Sheffield City Council would be integrating their online reporting system with Fix My Street. This is a far superior system and will save the council money. Given the financial pressures the council are under, why has Fix My Street system not been implemented?

 

6.7

Questions from Ibrar Hussain (2 in total)

 

Q1: private hire and hackney carriage driver policy

 

What Impact or Risk Assessment carried out for Existing Driver's licensed due to change of policy or implementation please explain; No indication given what the cost of refresher courses will be for existing driver's licensed; No timeline or framework for implementation of new policy change for existing drivers; What consideration is given  for inhouse training, sourcing out or from other organisations outside the council to provide such accredited courses; Will the licensing service publish in writing/email to existing driver's explaining in plain simple English changes agreed by the policy committee avoiding jargon; Delay  period should be allowed  due to cost of living crisis for existing driver's  only, until everything is in place and existing drivers are kept updated fully; what consideration is given that this policy committee receives a detailed report  prior to any  implementation, and mindful of cost of living crisis that is affecting everyone and special effects on self-employed; What consideration was given to comments and feedback on knowledge test changes, and revising the knowledge Test inconsideration of deleting routes section only, and to help support keeping Sheffield residents applying for taxi badges and benefit locally to avoid and stop cross border working in Sheffield; bring a report to this policy  committee on knowledge Test.

 

Q2: Taxi licensing in general

 

What consideration will the council give to surcharge due to high increase in fuel prices increases for hackney carriage trade? Why is the licensing service not open and when is licensing service considering this option with timeline and framework; When will the licensing service publish its audited accounts, for licensees to examine in depth for licensing service as a whole and including taxi/ph section; When will licensing service publish its comprehensive forward plan to bring in IT service and bring licensing service up to date with technology and portal so drivers can access long overdue service online; When will licensing service bring to this policy committee re vehicle specification for hackney carriage and private hire vehicle specification policy review; Working with other authorities to stop cross border working can the licensing service publish its actions to date and future plans including enforcement; To promote taxi trade in Sheffield can the licensing service publish its actions to date and future plans; What steps is the licensing service taking to assist, support and give incentives to local residents of Sheffield to take knowledge taxi tests in Sheffield instead, that will stop cross border working in Sheffield; Can the licensing service publish its taxi trade recognition / engagement policy to date; Can the licensing service publish what support it has given the taxi trade within last 3years,  financial years 19/20,20/21,21/22; Can the licensing service publish its responses and actions to govt consultations  e.g. DFT etc affecting taxi trade policy changes; Within Sheffield city council what representation has the licensing service made to support the taxi trade and publish its actions as evidence in the last 3yrs; When will the licensing service carry out unmet demand for hackney carriage trade if it is to retain any number's; Can the licensing service publish  responses received from taxi trade organisations  re consultation on hackney carriage driver's policy review and make public; What financial support  did the licensing service receive from the govt in last 3yrs re covid-19  financial package and how it was spent proper breakdown would be appreciated; When is the licensing service proposing to bring forward review of the fee's,  and as previously reported 2 separate reports one for general licensing service and other for Taxi & Private Hire Section.

 

6.8

Question from a Sheffield Licensed driver

 

What steps is the council taking in card machines as a licensing condition for all hackney carriage vehicles as a station driver I see customers being refused for this sole reason. This should be a vehicle license condition immediately in my opinion. The knowledge test needs to be separate for hackney carriage drivers and a separate one for private hire new applicants. The hackney carriage should be a-lot more in-depth as in Birmingham than currently in Sheffield. The bar should be higher for hackney carriage only in Sheffield

6.9

Question from Mazer Hussain

 

Firstly, I would like to ask the board why are drivers being subjected to a policy where they are being discriminated against where SCC are trying to implement the double standard policy of being convicted of an offence of using a mobile phone device an having their Taxi license suspended and not being able to apply again for a number of years! In any other profession if you're a ambulance driver a police man or even a fire man a lorry driver or even a councillor if one is convicted of this offence the sentencing guide lines are 6 penalty points on their driver's license and a monetary fine! Nowhere does it give the powers to the courts to ban or revoke one's driver license or them losing their livelihood!

So why do the council believe it's a fair policy for taxi drivers to be sentenced by the courts for this particular offence and then receive a second punishment for the same offence having their livelihood taken away and not being able to apply for a number of years! It is quite clear this policy is one which is biased double standards an unacceptable and unjustified. 

 

6.10

Question from James Martin - Transport 4 All Taxi sub-group

 

The taxi and private hire driver policy update is really important for the disabled people of the city. We have regularly heard from people over many years about issues many of which relate to driver understanding and or lack of response to needs. It is for this reason that we very much welcome the inclusion of training specific to the needs and experience of disabled people. However, we are surprised and concerned at the proposal to extend training deadlines for existing drivers from 12 months to 3 years! [See page 245 of the meeting pack Part 8.3 for the change of concern]

 

For the group of disabled people who have input into consultation responses this is too slow! Safeguarding, and Disability and Equality training are closely coupled topics. The erroneous differentiates between these two aspects in the form of different requirements for training for existing drivers should be reverted to 12-months.

 

To illustrate, disabled people sharing their experience in consultations identified drivers not taking short distance trips. Often short trips are vital either due to mobility difficulties making it risky or impossible to travel the distance, or more importantly for safety when more vulnerable at whether due to a visual or other impairment particularly at night is just as important. Difficulty or even failing to get access to Taxi or Private Hire service puts disabled people at greater risk than others where the principle of safeguarding is to reduce risk of harm. Training to ensure equal serving of passengers with and without additional needs is a vital feature of successful safeguarding with the goal of avoiding or minimizing risk or harm. Further details to benchmark training against other transport sectors follow in Appendix A for elected members to consider.

 

We are also concerned that our input on ensuring that inappropriate grant of exemptions for assisting wheelchair users has not been embodied in the policy update. A 100% wheelchair accessible hackney fleet is currently (and should continue to be) mandated in Sheffield. Drivers who cannot deploy the ramp at a minimum render the vehicle no longer available to wheelchair users. Though temporary exemptions might be proportionate for short term infrequent issues or injuries, permanent exemptions in this case are wholly unacceptable. Bus drivers are not fit for duty if they are unable to operate the ramp and this should not be different in the taxi sector. A driver transferring to private hire enables drivers to retain their livelihood where an exemption is more appropriate and effective Private Hire Operator systems can ensure that appropriate work is booked such that their exemption does not prevent travel for wheelchair users or other passenger needs for elderly or disabled people. Again further details for comparison with other sectors follows in Appendix B for members who wish to see more evidence.

 

We hope that the period to adopt disability and equality training is reduced back to the original period identified in the consultation and that a response will be given to concerns around hackney drivers and exemption certificates.

 

Quicker training requirement to be reinstated in alignment with the wider transport sector - Disabled Sheffielders’ are experiencing discrimination already, from being refused as a wheelchair user at a taxi rank, to having much longer waits or no availability for a Wheelchair Accessible vehicle, to being charged extra (illegally) for carrying a wheelchair, assistance aid, or assistance dog, and sadly many more issues. The time for starting to redress this issue is now and it starts with proper training with a sense of urgency and return to the 12-month time frame. If a large industry such as rail can achieve this in 2 years, then Sheffield should also be more ambitious especially as the training content will be less than the mandatory modules that the rail industry specify.

 

Wheelchair Assistance Exemptions - Wheelchair handling exemption certificates should only be accepted temporarily and infrequently for hackney carriage drivers, or this removes the 100% wheelchair accessible nature of the fleet.

We call on the committee to ensure that exemptions do not create a workaround for existing good accessibility policy and emphasise that such requirements are backed up equivalent scenarios in the wider transport industry.  If this is not possible then we request that a formal written response is given by licensing officers or the committee as appropriate indicating the precise reason(s) that other transport industry rules are not replicated.

 

6.11

Question from Nasa Raoof – GMB Yorkshire and Humberside S75 Branch

 

Following on from our GMB Branch officials meeting, we would like to confirm our GMB unions/members position on these proposals. This is with regards to the approval, officers are looking for the new DFT guidance, for which the Licensing Board will sit to decide these decisions on Wednesday 22nd June 2022. We agree with some of the amendments that have been made, However we still require further in depth discussions with some of the other amendments.

 

This report (as you are aware), was only recently released to the public on the Wednesday 15th 2020. The deadline of 9am Monday 20th June 2022 is set for anyone to raise objections/questions or to make representation (with chairs permission). This is a 400 page report, which takes both time and effort to read an analyse the appendixes and amendments. IE: PAGE-158, ‘Fit and Proper Threshold’….

 

Albeit, we as GMB are asking the ‘Policy’ Committee to DEFER this meeting for the following reasons:-

 

1. We do not believe in the way this consultation took place, (it lacked real communication with the Trades).

2. It’s a 400page Report/Document, that one is expected to read and digest in a short period of time, makes it almost impossible for the average member of the public to take on aboard and then to make a submission on back of that.

3. The council can show the proposals are both proportionate and diligent.

4. Some of our members have shown us concern that they did not receive any form of communication RE: (this report), (hence the figure of 171 responses May reflect this).

5. They aim not to discriminate against a trade that is majority BAME.

 

To conclude we as GMB UNION are asking for the following:-

1. More time to read and digest the 400 page document.

2. More in depth discussions with the GMB, people who will be first hand affected by these guidance changes.

 

However we feel that if the Council refuses to listen to us as the GMB UNION the consequences maybe seen as that/will be:-

1. A divided trade.

2. A council that doesn’t listen to its drivers.

3. A council that discriminates against its licensed drivers.

4. A trade where more drivers will leave and have already left due to coost of buying new vehicles and maintenance

5. Safeguarding and public getting taxes. As licensees will be lower demand will increase and less drivers will mean the public will not get taxis at the end of a night which we have already seen. 

 

Please work with the trade and not against us.

 

 

Supporting documents: