Venue: By Skype
Contact: Fiona McCallum Tel. No. 01546 604392
Councillor David Kinniburgh advised that due to connectivity issues he had joined this meeting by telephone. As he would be unable to see requests from Members to speak he asked that the Vice Chair, Councillor Rory Colville, Chair the hearing.
APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE
Apologies for absence were received from Councillors George Freeman, Jean Moffat and Sandy Taylor.
DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST
There were no declarations of interest.
CIVIC GOVERNMENT (SCOTLAND) ACT 1982: APPLICATION FOR GRANT OF A PRIVATE HIRE CAR LICENCE (M TYREMAN, HELENSBURGH)
Report by Head of Legal and Regulatory Support
The Chair welcomed everyone to the meeting. In line with recent legislation for Civic Government Hearings, the parties (and any representatives) were given the options for participating in the meeting today. The options available were by Video Call, by Audio Call or by written submission. For this hearing the Applicant and Objector opted to proceed by way of Video Call and they both joined the meeting by Skype.
The Chair advised that an objection had been received outwith the time period allowed by the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982 for making objections or representations. The Council’s Solicitor, Mr McMillan explained the procedure to be followed in this respect.
The Chair invited Mr Finlay to explain why his objection had been submitted late.
Mr Finlay advised that for over 20 years any applications for this area were displayed inside or outside Council Offices on a noticeboard. He said that due to lock down everyone had assumed nothing was being processed. He advised that sometime later he found out that some applications had been received and he had phoned up the Licensing Section at Kilmory to ask why these had not been displayed on the noticeboard. He said he was told that the notice board was only a courtesy and not the way of publicising applications. He advised that he was give the details of the website where he could access the Civic Government (Scotland) Register where applications were put. He said that this was new to the Helensburgh taxi trade and that they had found it hard to access but they did eventually get in. He advised that the site was awkward but they got used to it and made a point of checking it once per month. He advised that when they checked the site and had seen this application it was on the day of expiry for objections. He said that he phoned the Licensing Section to ask if he could put an objection in and was told to email it in, which he did. Following that he was asked to put a signed copy in the post, which he did.
The Chair sought the view of the Applicant as to whether or not this late objection should be taken into consideration.
Mr Tyreman advised that from what he had heard from Mr Finlay he had worked out the process for checking applications during the summer. He advised that he had applied for his licence in September and questioned why Mr Finlay would not have been aware of it.
The Chair sought the views of Members as to whether or not this late objection should be taken into consideration.
The Committee agreed to take this late objection into consideration and a copy was displayed on screen and read out by the Committee Manager.
The Chair then outlined the procedure that would be followed and invited the Applicant to speak in support of his application.
Mr Tyreman said that he had applied for a Private Hire Licence on 27 August 2020 for Argyll and Bute and that unfortunately, due to Covid, that was 149 days ago now. He commented that this was possibly for the best and said that it seemed the country was approaching the end of Covid. He said he hoped to be able to put a 9 seater vehicle on the road as the town grew bigger. He referred to the 300 homes that would be built in Helensburgh at the golf course and to the opening of the Morrisons store. He advised that he believed there was no over provision as stated in survey report. He said there was definitely space for another private hire vehicle in the town.
Mr Finlay advised that due to the Covid situation at the moment many taxi owners were surviving on grants from the Government. He said the problem seemed to be a substantial over provision of taxis and private hire vehicles with not enough work to justify them. He advised that the Scottish Government were now recognising this problem with the taxi trade and were talking about issuing £1,500 grants over the next few months. He said that he could see this situation going on for this year and possibly longer. He advised that the time for issuing new plates while having this situation would not be a wise decision. He said that the trade would take a long time to recover from this.
Mr Finlay also said there was an unfair distribution of licences across Argyll and Bute with 21 in Helensburgh, 1 in Campbeltown, 21 in Islay and 4 in Oban and the rest scattered throughout the area. He said the only area comparable was Islay. He asked how it was fair for Helensburgh and Lomond to carry the burden for the whole of Argyll and Bute. He pointed out that there was provision in the Civic Government (Scotland) Act to zone areas for the purposes of private hire and he advised that he thought this was something that has been discussed for 3, 4 or 5 years. He said that it was time to start looking at this now.
Mr Finlay referred to competition. He said that Helensburgh and Lomond was probably the only area that had any real competition, and not only from within the area. He said there were at least 10 companies advertising within Helensburgh and Lomond with 50 taxis and 21 private hires. He said that taxis were also coming in from West Dunbartonshire. He said Helensburgh was facing competition from private hires outwith Helensburgh which, he advised, was not seen in any other part of Argyll and Bute.
Mr Finlay also referred to the noticeboard. He said that he had assumed that all notices had to go up but was told that this was only a courtesy. He suggested that it might have been a courtesy to have informed the public. He said that if the public don’t know it is only a courtesy it may be ... view the full minutes text for item 3.