Agenda item

Quarterly Team Update Report (Agenda item 6)

To receive an update.


Josie Hoven, the Licensing Team Leader provided members with an update on the work that the Licensing had been doing since the last meeting in July.


The Members who attended the previous meeting had met with Alan Goodall, the Animal Welfare Licensing Officer and an update was provided on the work that he had been carrying out. The first in-person meeting was held on 21 September 2021 which was a Norfolk and Suffolk Animal Welfare Licensing Officers meeting. 


This meeting was supported by Sam Chapman-Allen, the Leader of the Council who gave a very supportive speech and was attended by the Chair and Vice-Chair of the Licensing Committee.  The meeting had been very well attended by both Norfolk and Suffolk Animal Welfare Licensing officers with presentations from the Chapelfield Veterinary Partnership, Norfolk Police Rural Crime Officers and the RSPCA. 


The afternoon session was mainly a discussion about how to remove advertisements from unlicensed breeders and the next meeting was scheduled to be held in December 2021.


The Animal Welfare Licensing Officer continued to investigate unlicensed breeders and the complaints received.  He had been providing advice and had issued a number of warnings and had issued new licences to five new breeders and had managed to put a stop to a number of illegal advertisements and trading.  He had also recently completed an Animal Inspectors Course and the final certificate was awaited.


In respect of the Licensing Act, there had been a continual increase in Temporary Event Notices, which was encouraging as this highlighted the fact that people were now getting on with their lives including private weddings, village fetes and many forthcoming Christmas events. 


The Licensing Officers had visited two new licensed events to check compliance with their licence conditions during the summer months. These included a glamping event and the Maui Waui festival, held in Dereham.  A follow up meeting was held so that the Safety Advisory Group could discuss some of the minor complaints received with the organisers.   Confirmation had since been received from the organiser of the Maui Waui festival that they would be returning to the Breckland district again in the summer 2022. Subsequently, a new web page had been created on the Licensing section of the website that showed larger scale events that the Licensing Team had been made aware of.


The Team continued to work with a number of other departments within the Council in respect of complex cases but not all were found to be in breach of their licensing conditions.   


The Government had increased the limits on Temporary Events Notices (TENS) from 15 to 20 Notices per year and from 21 to 26 days for the years 2022 and 2023.


The 7-week consultation on the new Taxi Policy was started by offering six sessions to the trade to go through the changes in the Policy; however, the attendance had been quite low, but the Team was satisfied that most drivers would have been informed of these changes via word of mouth.  Applications for drivers had increased over the past few months which was encouraging given the number that had not renewed or had retired due to the pandemic.   There was still a shortage of taxis available for the night-time economy in the towns particularly in Dereham and Thetford and it was hoped that new drivers would take on some of this trade.


The Government had also extended pavement licences from the end of September 2021 to the end of September 2022. Anyone with an existing licence must renew under this new scheme and any new applications could still be accepted.


In respect of Covid, the Licensing Team was actively listening to what the Plan B scenario could be and how that would impact all of the licensees.


A number of scrap metal site visits were being carried out with the Police later on in November and any feedback on this matter would be reported to Members at the next meeting.


From April 2022, changes were afoot to taxis, private hire, animal breeders and scrap metal licence applications.  Most companies would have to complete a tax check with the HMRC and then provide the Team with a 9-character tax code that they would be provided with on completion of this new procedure. If not provided their licence could not be issued or renewed. The Licensing Team would be attending a training session with the HRMC shortly.


The Chairman thanked the Licensing Team Leader for her detailed update it had been very interesting particularly on the new HRMC tax check as she was well aware of the extortionate prices that some animal breeders were charging for puppies etc and then not declaring their earnings.


Councillor Morton asked if the Maui Waui festival was going to be held on the same site as this year as he felt that there could be some constraints with that site if more people attended. Members were informed that the organisers were looking to go back to the same site and as a few noise complaints had been received, the Environmental Protection Team would be looking at where stages would be sited and when the music would be stopped.  The finer detail had yet to be sorted and hopefully any concerns addressed.  


Councillor Martin asked about the scrap metal site visits.  Members were informed that the Police had a week in November where they would be carrying out all types of visits; for Breckland, it would be licensed scrap metal sites to establish if all conditions on their licence were being met.