Hounslow Council


Agenda and minutes

Venue: Committee Room 1, Civic Centre, Lampton Road, Hounslow. View directions

Contact: Bill Lee, e-mail:  william.lee@hounslow.gov.uk or by phone on 020 8583 2068 

Items
No. Item

7.

Apologies for absence, declarations of interest or any other communications from Members

8.

Minutes of the meeting held on 25 July 2016 pdf icon PDF 124 KB

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting of 25 July 2016 were agreed to be an accurate record and signed.

 

Matters arising, item 3: Licensing Manager Lewis Aldous updated members on the matter of the creation of an IT database of all licensed premises in the Borough and its distribution to members. He advised that the spreadsheet containing the information had been sent to all members shortly after the July meeting. It was too long to print and distribute hard copies and would need to be downloaded from Box using Excel. He offered to send a link to members who requested one. A licensing officer was currently tasked with uploading the details of all 900 premises onto the Flare system, which was to take a considerable amount of time.

9.

Proposed Changes to Fees and Charges for Street Trading. pdf icon PDF 42 KB

Report by Licensing Manager Lewis Aldous.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Please see the report, agenda item 3. Licensing Manager Lewis Aldous presented the report. The clerk distributed copies of a communication from Cllr John Todd, who had sent his apologies, which were read by attendees. The letter read as follows:

 

“Item 3 proposed changes to fees and charges. 

 

See in particular para 3.4 page 4 'the report suggested that licence fees are increased by 25% so that more of our costs of administering the street trading scheme can be recovered.'

 

If you look at the first paragraph on page 14 you will see that the actual cost of conducting this service within the licensing department is £176,532-128,000 = £48,532. 

£176,532 is the total cost which includes £128,000 mentioned as being paid to Hounslow Highways who we are told enforce street trading breaches. 

 

No mention of their (HH) performance, contractual terms, what happens to the PCN income  nor whether like other savings involving HH already announced, REDE have endeavoured to renegotiate this HH role. There's no mention either of the relevant cabinet member, Cllr Mann, being aware or approving this cross departmental proposed income.

In my view of the above evidence the case  is flawed and unsustainable for the significant (25%) fee increases proposed for this item.

 

Other related matters:

 

Antiquated application Process


I'm baffled given the LBH expenditure on IT (£1m overspent) that licence applications cannot be made on line. To read of staff in-putting data in the same building as 'work smart' reigns with its huge cost, highlights a worrying backwater existing at the civic. I'm reminded of LBH being one of the few boroughs without an online index of licensed premises. Another significant lacuna which like the item mentioned above must materially increase on costs, inhibit efficiency and effective regulation.

 

In the last scrutiny committee papers for the last savings review it mentions that the Labour group wanted to limit the increase in fees and charges to a particular specified range. 25% was well outside that range. It's excessive and punitive.”

 

Mr Aldous advised that legislation entitled the Council to recover full costs, which was very helpful given the need to make savings. The majority of licence applications were under the Licensing Act 2003 which gave the authority no leeway but street trading fees could be set locally. Appendix C showed the actual costs to the Borough of processing and enforcing applications plus the funds paid to Hounslow Highways (HH), who carried out a large part of street trading enforcement work. In the last year a loss of £73,062 had occurred and it was anticipated that a similar sum would be lost this year. Given that the law allowed full cost recovery it was, Mr Aldous felt, not possible to justify a continued freeze of fees. The 25% increase proposed would recover an estimated additional £30,000. Licensing felt that this would be a significant help while also being much fairer to traders than the 60% increase that would be needed to make up the entire shortfall.

 

Cllr Peter  ...  view the full minutes text for item 9.

10.

Urgent Business

Any business which the Chair agrees to accept on grounds of urgency.

Minutes:

The Chair, Cllr David Hughes, expressed his sincere thanks to members and officers for their support during his ill health in 2016.