Secretary of State plans to return licensing powers to RotherhamPublished Wednesday, 19th October 2016
Rotherham Council has welcomed the proposed handing back of licensing powers by Communities Secretary Sajid Javid.
This would allow the authority to resume all decision making on licensing matters, including for hackney carriage and private hire taxi services, for the first time since February 2015 without the consent of Government-appointed Commissioners.
The Rt Hon Sajid Javid MP has today (19 October) written to Chief Executive Sharon Kemp regarding the return of the service to the Council, subject to local views. This followed the submission of evidence from Commissioner Mary Ney, setting out the improvements made to the Council's licensing function and that elected members have the skills and capability to take on the decision making role.
As part of the proposals, Commissioner Ney would maintain an overview of decisions and sit in an advisory capacity with members, in the few cases which were deferred from the Commissioners previous hearing and on a sample basis and at the request of the Chair. Commissioner Ney said: "The Council has worked hard to implement a range of improvements to its Licensing Function and it is now appropriate to consider the return of decision making to the Council. Councillors have worked with me in an advisory capacity for over 20 months and have gained considerable experience as the Council implemented the new arrangements."
"Public confidence and safety is now at the heart of the Council's licensing service and the new Hackney Carriage and Taxi Licensing Policy, the benefits of which we know passengers are already experiencing."
"Whilst we understand that the Council is still on its improvement journey and we are focused on this and rebuilding trust and confidence in the way services are managed and delivered, this will be another significant step forward in that journey. We now await the Secretary of State's final decision."
Leader of the Council, Cllr Chris Read said: "This is welcome news and a real vote of confidence in the work undertaken by the Council over the last 20 months, alongside Commissioners, to deliver necessary improvements. We've lots more to do but - should this decision be confirmed next month - it would be another step in the right direction, for the Council and for Rotherham."
This proposal will now be considered by the Council leadership and members. The Communities Secretary will then consider any representations before making a final decision on whether to return the licensing function to the Council.