Agenda and minutes

Licensing Committee - Tuesday, 29th November, 2022 6.30 pm

Download documents using the MOD.GOV app

Venue: Council Chamber, Town Hall, Royal Tunbridge Wells, TN1 1RS. View directions

Contact: Democratic Services Team 


No. Item


Chairman's Introduction pdf icon PDF 90 KB

Announcement on procedural matters.

Additional documents:


The Chairman opened the meeting, introduced Committee Members and Officers in attendance, and outlined procedural matters of the meeting.


Apologies for Absence pdf icon PDF 28 KB

Additional documents:


Apologies were received from Councillors Pope, Lidstone, Hayward, Atwood and Hill.


Councillor White was not present at the start of the meeting, but arrived at approximately 6.45pm.


Declarations of Interest pdf icon PDF 66 KB

To receive any declarations of interest by members in items on the agenda.  For any advice on declarations of interest, please contact the Monitoring Officer.

Additional documents:


There were no declarations of interest made.


Notification of Visiting Members wishing to speak (in accordance with Council Procedure Rule 18): pdf icon PDF 29 KB

Members should indicate which item(s) they wish to speak on and the nature of their concern/question/request for clarification.


Additional documents:


There were no visiting Councillors or Members of the Public registered to speak.


Minutes of the Previous Meeting dated 13 June 2022 pdf icon PDF 167 KB

Additional documents:


Members considered the Minutes and no amendments were proposed.


RESOLVED – That that the minutes of the previous meeting dated 13 June 2022 be approved as a correct record.


Taxi Demand Survey pdf icon PDF 159 KB

Additional documents:


Sharon Degiorgio, Senior Licensing Officer, introduced the report as set out in the agenda,


Questions and discussion from Members included the following:

-       In order to make it mandatory for Taxis to accept card payments across the fleet, it was required to hold a public consultation and a policy amendment was planned for the forthcoming year to allow for it. It was possible for the Members to recommend this at the meeting.

-       It was agreed that the introduction of card payments and contactless payments across the fleet was to be a positive step forward as anecdotal evidence suggested people were being forced to get cash from ATMs, which prolonged their journeys and sometimes left them feeling intimidated.

-       Councillor Funnell proposed that the Committee recommended that card payment facilities were made mandatory across the taxi fleet within next year’s Policy review, subject to public consultation. Councillor Roberts seconded this.

-       It was not known definitively if the availability of EV charging points impeded the uptake of electric vehicles as taxis, as there were a variety of obstacles which differed from person to person, such as availability during breaks and cost, and was a question better put to the trade themselves.



1.    That the Committee accepted the findings of the independent Hackney Carriage Services study carried out by LVSA (Licensed Vehicle Surveys & Assessment) that there was no significant unmet demand for Hackney Carriages in the Tunbridge Wells Borough Council area.

2.    That a proposal to retain the existing policy to control the number of Hackney Carriage Licences issued to the current limit of 107 was included in the Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Licensing Policy.  

3.    That the policy review taking place in 2023 included a mandatory requirement to provide card payment facilities within all taxis, subject to public consultation and the Licensing Committee’s final decision.


Review of June Meeting - Hackney Carriage Fare Tariff Increase pdf icon PDF 165 KB

Additional documents:


Sharon Degiorgio, Senior Licensing Officer, introduced the report as set out in the agenda.


Questions and discussion from Members included the following:

-       Many of the economic pressures that were on taxi drivers at the beginning of the year remained in place due to issues such as inflation, so it was felt reasonable to keep fares at current levels.

-       No feedback had been received from the taxi trade regarding the fee rise implemented in June 2022.

-       Background papers were available through hyperlinks in the agenda.

-       Within the league table published in the Private Hire Monthly magazine ranking Councils in accordance with the cost of a 2 mile fare, Tunbridge Wells came 23rd (£8.00) out of 255 Authorities.

-       In relation to feedback, any fare change was subject to public consultation.

-       There were concerns that higher fares were negatively impacting the local community and economy as it was likely to put people off coming into Tunbridge Wells, and that this needed to be considered. 

-       Confirmation that drivers were able to charge less than the maximum fare.


RESOLVED – That the Committee considered the contents of the report and determined that the current hackney tariff continued to reflect reasonable fares for the travelling public and continued to give drivers a satisfactory income at times it was needed.


Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Licensing: Licence Fees and Charges 2023/24 pdf icon PDF 138 KB

Additional documents:


Sharon Degiorgio, Senior Licensing Officer, introduced the report as set out in the agenda.


Questions and discussion from Members included the following:

-       Proposed 5% increase was based on comparing current in-year costs for running the service and projected costs for next year, which were predicted to go up by 5%, and was not based on inflation.

-       The projection which predicted a small amount of cost being covered by taxpayers money was for the current year rather than next year, and if next year the service were not able to break even the fees and charges would be increased..

-       The increase in Fees and Charges had no direct environmental impact, which was why there were none identified in the Cross-Cutting issues

-       The Authority were not allowed to make a profit from the fees and charges. Any profit was to be open to legal challenge and so increase in fees and charges were to recover costs and break even, and any further increases were open to legal dispute if profits were made.


RESOLVED –That the Committee approved the proposed fees set out in Appendix A for publication, consultation, and implementation with effect from 1 April 2023, subject to consideration of any unresolved written objections at Licensing Committee on 21st March 2023.



Licensing Fees and Charges 2023/24 pdf icon PDF 144 KB

Additional documents:


Sharon Degiorgio, Senior Licensing Officer, presented the report as set out in the agenda.


There were no questions and discussion from Members.



1.    That the Committee approved the fee levels as set out in Appendices A, B, and C of the report from 1 April 2023.

2.    That the Committee noted the nationally set fees for 2023/24 as set out in Appendix D



The Licensing Partnership - Annual Update pdf icon PDF 178 KB

Additional documents:


Sharon Bamborough, Head of the Licensing Partnership, introduced the report as set out in the agenda.


Questions and discussion from Members included the following:

-       In reference to tables showing Tunbridge Wells’ lower percentages in comparison to other authorities within the Partnership, most were explained as being caused by a small numbers of deadlines or targets being missed due to staff resourcing (annual leave/sickness etc) at certain times of the year. This was not to do with Tunbridge Wells but with the Partnership Hub team.

-       In relation to Licensing MPIs, which were dealt with by TWBC Licensing team, in certain months when Premises compliance did not meet target, Taxi compliance work far exceeded targets, and that in the course of the year targets were exceeded. There were peaks and troughs throughout the year based on demand, but it was impractical to adjust targets accordingly.


RESOLVED – The Committee noted the performance of the Licensing Partnership as contained within the report and asked the Head of the Licensing Partnership to continue to provide an annual update on the Licensing Partnership activity to the Licensing Committee each municipal year.



Best Bar None - Licenced Premises Accreditation Scheme pdf icon PDF 91 KB

Verbal Update

Additional documents:


Sharon Degiorgio, Senior Licensing Officer, provided two verbal updates:

-       As part of the Night Time Economy strategy and promoting Tunbridge Wells as a safe place to socialise, Tunbridge Wells had been working in partnership with Kent Police to assess some Licensed Premises against criteria set out in Best Bar None accreditation scheme.

o   The scheme had been established and approved by the Home Office and aimed to improve standards through a combination of responsible management and operation of licensed premises, ongoing improvements and social responsibility. This was an annual check.

o   Tunbridge Wells Licensing Officers became accredited assessors, which enabled them to work with designated police officers to complete this initiative.

o   Each assessment consisted of an evaluation of the procedures and processes in place within the venue and conversation with staff members. Assessment was based on essential, desired and bonus criteria and Premises were required to achieve all essential criteria to attain accreditation. Each assessment took between one to two hours.

o   Out of the 12 Premises which were approached, 7 took part and were assessed and all 7 received accreditation.

o   In acknowledgement of the Council’s involvement, TWBC were invited to attend a recent presentation to the Licensed Premises within the Borough, which was attended by Kent PCC Matthew Scott and other senior Police representatives, as well as Council representatives and the Chair of the Licensing Committee. 

-       Following a Review of the Pitcher and Piano last year as a result of a  Police investigation into drink spiking, the collaborative effort between the Licensing Team, Kent Police and the License Holders had formed a case study as part of the Local Government Association’s recent guidance to all Councils on drink spiking, which showed the good work of the Team and the group effort.


Urgent Business pdf icon PDF 28 KB

To consider any other items which the Chairman decides are urgent, for the reasons to be stated, in accordance with Section 100B(4) of the Local Government Act 1972.


Additional documents:


There was no urgent business.


Date of Next Meeting pdf icon PDF 28 KB

The date of the next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday 21 March 2023.

Additional documents:


The next meeting of the Licensing Committee was scheduled for Tuesday 21 March 2023.