PUBLIC PROTECTION LICENSING COMMITTEE
Minutes of a meeting held on 4th July, 2017.
Present: Councillor A.D. Hampton (Chairman); Councillor M.J.G. Morgan (Vice-Chairman); Councillors Mrs. J. Charles, R. Crowley, B.T. Gray, O. Griffiths, K.P. Mahoney, Mrs. A. Moore, Mrs. J.M. Norman, J.W. Thomas, Mrs. M.R. Wilkinson and Mrs. M. Wright.
96 APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE –
These were received from Councillors G.A. Cox and Mrs. P. Drake.
97 MINUTES –
RESOLVED – T H A T the minutes of the meeting held on 4th April, 2017 be approved as a correct record.
98 DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST –
Councillor K.P. Mahoney declared an interest in regard to Agenda Item No. 4, Application 1/2016 – To register land at Sully Sports Club. The nature of the interest was that Councillor Mahoney, as part of the application process, was asked to comment on his experience of the use of the land as a former resident of Sully. Councillor Mahoney stated that he did not declare support or objection to the application and was not part of the application team. Councillor Mahoney therefore declared an interest and stated that he would leave the meeting for this agenda item.
99 APPLICATION 1/2016 – TO REGISTER LAND AT SULLY SPORTS CLUB, SOUTH ROAD, SULLY, AS A TOWN OR VILLAGE GREEN UNDER S15 OF THE COMMONS ACT 2006 (OM) –
On 5th August, 2016, an application was received in order to register an area of land at Sully Sports Club, South Road, Sully.
The Vale of Glamorgan was the Registration Authority for the administrative area by virtue of the Commons Act 2006 and had responsibility under the Commons (Registration of Town or Village Greens) (Interim Arrangements) (Wales) Regulations 2007 to determine applications made under the Act. The Council’s statutory functions and responsibilities as a Registration Authority were independent to its other statutory and non-statutory functions and the Registration Authority should not therefore consider any impact upon the Vale of Glamorgan Council when considering applications.
The application was made in respect of land which was owned partly by St. Modwen Development and Sully Sports and Leisure Limited.
The Council as Registration Authority is under a duty to maintain a register of Town and Village Greens. There was no legal difference between a Town and Village Green. Registrations under the Act may result from:
1. A new green being dedicated by the owner
2. 20 years use by local inhabitants before the date of application for registrations
3. Corrections to errors made under the Commons Registration Act 1965
4. Corrections under the Commons Act 2006 or
5. An exchange of land.
The application had been made on the basis of 20 years use by local inhabitants before the date of the application and was in respect of land shown on the plan at Appendix A.
The procedure for dealing with the application was set down in the Regulations. The original application and supporting documentation had been forwarded to those interested in the land for consideration or objections. A Notice was also placed in local newspapers and on site providing a six week period for objections to be received. One letter of objection had been received in respect of this application and the applicant was subsequently invited to provide further comments to these objections. Further representations had since been received from the applicant as a result. All of the documentation received by the Registration Authority was set out and attached at Appendix B to the report.
The objection received was made by solicitors acting on behalf of St. Modwen Limited and Sully Sports and Leisure Limited as landowner of the land comprised within the application. The basis of the objection was that a use of the land for lawful sports and pastimes had been “by right” (i.e. in exercise of a legal right to do so) and not “as of right” as submitted in the application.
The courts had emphasised the importance of the Registration Authority adopting a fair procedure. Due to the complexity of the evidence and the complex nature of the law it was recommended that a non-statutory public inquiry be held to test the evidence and to see if the requirements for registration had been met. The use of a public inquiry for such an application had been approved by the courts as being in the interests of openness and fairness.
A public inquiry would provide the opportunity for the applicant and the objectors to submit further evidence, call witnesses and cross examine the other party’s witnesses. A legally qualified independent chairperson who had experience in Town and Village Green applications would be appointed to hear the public inquiry and submit a report on their findings to the Registration Authority with a recommendation as to register the whole or any part of the land comprised in the application as a Town or Village Green.
It was recommended that such an inquiry be convened in respect of this application given the disputed evidence.
Following a query regarding the difference between “by right” and “as of right”, the Committee was advised that “by right” would be where a landowner imposed restrictions, for example, such as a charge being placed during a car boot sale.
A Committee Member queried whether there was any previous precedent with regards to a land owner filing an objection and the Member queried what the likely costs would be. In reply, the Operational Manager, Legal Services, stated that she personally was aware of a previous application submitted in 2013 in respect of Sully Terrace. In respect of that application, this Committee determined to appoint an independent inquiry to hear evidence following which the independent Chairperson was satisfied that there was no merit in the application. The actual costs of this application were not as great as estimated.
In reply to a question as to whether any other legal costs could be incurred by the Vale of Glamorgan Council, the Operational Manager, Legal Services, stated that as far as she was aware there were not, but this would be checked and the Committee advised if there had been any change to this position.
The Committee also queried the possibility of Licensing Public Protection Committee meetings being webcast. It was agreed that this would be taken up with Democratic Services.
There being no further questions, it was
(1) T H A T on the basis of the evidence submitted in support of and against the application, a non-statutory public inquiry be convened to consider the application.
(2) T H A T the Operational Manager, Legal Services, be given delegated power to appoint a legally qualified and suitably experienced independent Chairperson to hold a non-statutory public inquiry to consider the application.
(3) T H A T the costs of appointing Counsel to chair the non-statutory inquiry, and his costs ancillary thereto, be met from central funds set aside for specific matters, including legal challenges brought against the Council and other ancillary matters.
(4) T H A T at the conclusion of the non-statutory public inquiry, the Chairperson shall be requested to produce a report for the Registration Authority which considers the evidence submitted in support and against the application, together with the evidence heard at the inquiry and to provide a recommendation for Licensing Committee whether or not to register the land as a Town or Village Green under the Act.
(5) T H A T a further report be presented to Licensing Committee upon receipt of the Chairperson’s report following the non-statutory public inquiry in order to determine the application.
Reason for decisions
(1-5) In order for the Council as Registration Authority to discharge its obligation to adopt a fair and transparent procedure and to determine the application in accordance with the relevant legislation.