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Agenda item

Licensing Fees Review - Determination of a Schedule of Fees for the Licensing Service

Report of the Chief Licensing Officer

Minutes:

5.1

The Chief Licensing Officer submitted a report on the Licensing Fees Review (Determination of Fees) for the 2014/15 Financial Year, and attaching, as appendices, a breakdown of the Licensing Service’s budget for 2014/15, proposed fees for the different licensing services and functions, details of the statutory fees and a schedule of fees relating to the safety of sports grounds.

 

 

5.2

Hafeas Rehman, Sheffield Taxi Trades Association (STTA), stated that, whilst he welcomed the reduction in the fees regarding taxi licensing, he considered that such reductions could have been more substantial.  Whilst accepting the reduction in the number of posts in the Service, he considered that, in his opinion, the standard of enforcement was of a poor standard and considered it unfair that drivers were contributing to funding this element of the Service through their license fees. 

 

 

5.3

Mohammed Yasim, GMB, stated that he also welcomed the reduction in the fees regarding the taxi trade and expressed his concerns, on behalf of the GMB, at the reduction in the number of posts in the Licensing Service.  He believed there was a need for a bigger reduction in the fees for an Operators’ Licence in order to encourage more private hire companies to set up in business. 

 

 

5.4

Steve Lonnia, Chief Licensing Officer, stated that the Service had received a number of representations regarding the high cost of an Operators’ Licence, but believed the new application fee and the new two-tier fee system, relating to the number of vehicles registered, would make it a lot easier for the Service to manage, as well as being better for both potential and existing operators.  He accepted that the reductions in the fees for taxi licensing were not as significant as in  other licensing functions, but indicated that when determining the reductions, consideration had been given to the amount of time spent dealing with taxi licensing issues.  Mr Lonnia added that, following the recent restructuring of the Licensing Service, there were now dedicated Licensing Enforcement/Technical Officers, which would result in there being a considerable increase in the level of day time enforcement. 

 

 

5.5

In response to questions from Members of the Committee, Mr Lonnia confirmed that if the Council did not adopt discretionary legislation in terms of licensing functions, people would be free to act how they wished and stated that, as far as he was aware, there was no legislation that the Council had chosen not to adopt.  Whilst there would still be involvement in connection with the monitoring and enforcement of sex establishments, the level of overall work would be reduced.  This was not viewed as a concern as a considerable amount of work would still take place, and the premises licensed under this function were well managed.  Marie-Claire Frankie, Solicitor to the Committee, provided details of the animals dealt with under the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976, and stated that any issues regarding dangerous dogs were dealt with under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991.  In connection with the Licensing Service’s budget for 2014/15, Chris Nicholson stated that whilst for non-statutory licensing services, there was a legal requirement for the license fee to recover costs only, the statutory service fees had no such legal requirement and, as far as he was aware, since fees were set by the Government, they were effectively outside the Council’s control. Mr Nicholson confirmed that he would circulate a detailed breakdown in terms of the £241,000 Corporate and Management Overheads in connection with the Licensing Service’s budget for 2014/15, to all Members of the Committee, and would include such detail in future reports to this Committee.

 

 

5.6

RESOLVED: That the public and press and attendees be excluded from the meeting before further discussion takes place on the grounds that, in view of the nature of the business to be transacted, if those persons were present, there would be a disclosure to them of exempt information as described in paragraph 5 of Schedule 12A to the Local Government Act 1972, as amended.

 

 

5.7

Marie-Claire Frankie reported orally, giving legal advice on various aspects of the report.

 

 

5.8

At this point in the proceedings, the meeting was re-opened to the public and press and attendees.

 

 

5.9

RESOLVED: That, in the light of the contents of the report now submitted and following the representations now made, authority be given for the Chief Licensing Officer to impose the fees for 2014/15 in respect of the various functions of the Licensing Service, as detailed in the report now submitted, following the advertisement and relevant consultation required, as detailed in the report.

 

Supporting documents: