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LICENSING COMMITTEE

 

Minutes of a meeting held on 4th March, 2014.

 

Present:  Councillor A.G. Powell (Chairman); Councillor H.C. Hamilton (Vice-Chairman); Councillors P.J. Clarke, G.A. Cox, K.J. Geary, Mrs, V.M. Hartrey, K. Hatton, Mrs. A.J. Moore, N. Moore, Mrs. A.J. Preston, Ms. R.F. Probert, J.W. Thomas and R.P. Thomas.

 

 

861     APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE -

 

These were received from Councillors Mrs. P. Drake and Mrs. M.R. Wilkinson.

 

 

862     MINUTES -

 

RESOLVED - T H A T the minutes of the meeting held on 14th January, 2014 be approved as a correct record. 

 

 

863     DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST -

 

Councillor A.G. Powell declared an interest in Agenda Item No. 7 as the applicant was known to him and therefore had a personal and prejudicial interest.  Councillor Powell vacated the room whilst this item was being considered.

 

 

864    APPLICATION TO WAIVE THE VALE OF GLAMORGAN COUNCIL’S AGE POLICY GUIDELINES FOR THE GRANT OF A PRIVATE HIRE VEHICLE LICENCE - FORD MONDEO YC58 ZBF (DDS) -

 

Vehicle Registration No. YC58 ZBF was licensed as a private hire vehicle No. PH038, from 18th July, 2013 to 17th January, 2014.  On 27th January, 2014 Mr. Williams submitted a letter requesting that the Licensing Committee consider waiving the Age Policy Guidelines in respect of a licence for this vehicle.  A copy of Mr. Williams’ letter was attached at Appendix A to the report.

 

Mr. Williams was advised that in order for the Committee to consider his request he would first have to make application for the grant of a Private Hire Licence.  On 28th January, 2014 Mr. Williams applied for the grant of a Private Hire Vehicle Licence.  In his letter, Mr. Williams stated that due to a clerical error, the vehicle had been presented for plating the day after it expired and requested that the issue be taken to the Licensing Committee to have the vehicle plated out of the Age Policy Guidelines. 

 

Prior to making a decision, the Chairman asked Mr. Williams’ representative, Mr. Albert Holland, who was in attendance, if he wished to make any further representations relating to the application.  Mr. Holland informed the Committee that Mr. Williams had been in ill health of late therefore there had been a clerical oversight with regard to the vehicle licence. 

 

Following the consideration of the application, Mr. Williams’ letter and the representations made by Mr. Holland at the meeting the Committee subsequently

 

RESOLVED - T H A T the request to waive the Age Policy Guidelines be granted.

 

Reason for decision

 

To take account of officers recommendations, Mr. Williams’ letter and Mr. Holland’s representations at the Committee meeting.

 

 

865     ADOPTION OF TAXI AND PRIVATE HIRE LICENSING STATEMENT OF PRINCIPLES, FITNESS CRITERIA FOR DRIVERS AND OPERATORS (DDS) -

 

The Committee received a report on the adoption of Taxi and Private Hire Licensing Statements of Principles, on the treatment of convictions, cautions and charges.

 

At the meeting of the Licensing Committee on 5th March, 2013, Members had adopted a Statement of Principles to assist them when considering applications for Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Vehicle Drivers Licences who had convictions and existing licence holders facing disciplinary proceedings. 

 

Following the adoption of the Statement of Principles in March 2013 further work was carried out by a National Licensing Technical Panel sub group which included an officer from the Vale of Glamorgan Council and the document had been further influenced by the Transport for London taxi manual and the Magistrates Court sentencing guidelines. 

 

The Statement of Principles had been approved by the Directors of Public Protection Wales.

 

The Committee was informed that the Statement of Principles would replace the existing Statement of Principles.  The use of the Statement of Principles was intended to give Members full discretion to decide if an individual applicant who had convictions was a fit and proper person to hold a Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Vehicle Drivers Licence or a Private Hire Operator Licence.  The proposed Statement of Principles was attached at Appendix A to the report.  The use of the Statement of Principles was also intended to give Members full discretion to decide if the holder of a licence remained a fit and proper person to hold a Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Vehicle Drivers Licence or Private Hire Operators Licence following any non-compliance with the law or any other reasonable cause.  In addition, the Statement of Principles would also enable officers to decide which matters should be referred to the Licensing Committee.  

 

As the Statement of Principles would also be available to potential applicants it enabled those with a criminal record to decide whether or not they wished to make an application.  A copy of the Statement of Principles would be issued to applicants with other relevant documents to ensure the applicants were fully conversant with the options available to Members of the Committee.

 

Further to the officer’s report the Committee received additional information which outlined the critical differences between the March 2013 policy and the March 2014 proposed policy.  The Committee was informed that the proposed policy referred to both Drivers and Private Hire Operators more consistently throughout the document and that the proposed policy referred to specific convictions and other matters to be considered with a list of those matters listed at Section 2.3 of the proposed policy.  The Committee was informed that this meant that if the proposed policy was being referred to for more than one reason other matters could also be considered within this policy. 

 

The Members of the Committee considered tabled supplementary information which set out the critical differences between the two policies which were as follows:

  •  the current policy referred to Vulnerable Persons and the proposed policy referred to Vulnerable Adults and Children
  • Section 2.31 - Arrest had been omitted from the proposed policy following legal advice and criminal/motoring convictions had been added
  • Section 9.5 - Drugs - the current policy referred to being free from drug addiction for five years and the proposed policy reduced the time to being free from addiction to three years
  • Section 10.2 - Driving Offences Involving the Loss of Life - the current policy stated that three years must have elapsed since the conviction or sentence, whichever was the longest and the proposed policy stated seven years
  • Section 11.2 - Drink Driving / Driving Under the Influence of Drugs - the current policy stated that applicants would be unlikely to be granted a licence if they had more than one conviction and the proposed policy stated that at least 10 years should have elapsed after the restoration of the driving licence following the last conviction or other matter to be considered
  • Section 12.2 - Motoring Convictions - DD90 Furious Driving had been added to the list of Major Traffic Offences
  • Minor Traffic Offences - Section 12.6 of the current policy required that Applicants / Drivers with three or more minor convictions are referred to the Licensing Committee and in Section 13.3 of the proposed policy it required that the Applicants / Drivers with two or more minor convictions are referred to the Committee.
  • Section 12.6 of the proposed policy referred to Driving Disqualification
  • Section 17.0 of the Proposed Policy - Breach of Legislation, Bylaw or Licence Condition - the proposed policy stated that an applicant is unlikely to be granted a licence unless a period of at least 12 months had lapsed since the most recent breach.

Following the presentation of the report and the additional information the Chairman asked whether any of the Members of the Committee had questions on the information presented.  The following queries were raised by Members of the Committee:

 

Question

Response

What does 'unlikely’ mean in reference to Section 11.2 of the proposed policy regarding drink / drug driving offences?  The relevant Section states that applicants with more than one conviction or other matter to be considered for driving or being in charge of a vehicle under the influence of alcohol / drugs or refusing or failing to provide a specimen are unlikely to be granted a licence unless a period of 10 years had elapsed after the restoration of a driving licence following the last conviction or other matter to be considered.

The response to this was that all applications would be considered on their merits and with regard to the relevant guidelines and that all applications would be considered based on individual circumstances. 

Under Section 9.0 - Drugs - a Member queried 9.2 and 9.3 in that they seemed to state the same thing.

The response to this query was 9.2 referred to more serious drug related offences whereas 9.3 related to drug possession.  It was further explained that the Magistrates Court guidance had been previously referred to when formulating the expiration times within the proposed policy and that these were strongly recommended.  It was stated that the information contained within the proposed policy was based on the recommendations of the Licensing Technical Panel.

A Member asked for clarification with regards to the additional information provided and the time limit included in Section 10.2 of the proposed policy. 

It was confirmed that there had been a clerical error in the additional information and that the proposed policy would be seven years.

If a driver / private hire operator had two Minor Convictions and needed their licence reviewed can they still carry on driving or is it recommended that the licence is reviewed before they can continue to drive?

The response to this was that drivers / private hire operators were bound to advise the relevant Authority of any convictions during the term of their licence.  Their licence would not be revoked but it would be referred to the Licensing Committee as it was a disciplinary matter.

 

Following consideration of the report and the tabled supplementary information on the Adoption of Taxi and Private Hire Licensing Statement of Principles, Fitness Criteria for Drivers and Operators the Committee

 

RESOLVED - T H A T the revised Taxi and Private Hire Licensing Statement of Principles on the Treatment of Convictions, Cautions and Charges be adopted.

 

Reason for decision

 

To ensure that the Council fulfilled their statutory duties with regard to the fitness criteria for drivers and operators within the Vale of Glamorgan.

 

 

866     PROPOSED CONDITIONS TO BE ATTACHED TO ANIMAL BOARDING ESTABLISHMENT LICENCES AND PET SHOP LICENCES (DDS) -

 

Consideration was given to a review of the conditions which are attached to all animal boarding establishment licences and pet shop licences.  It was proposed that a six week consultation be undertaken in relation to proposed revisions to conditions for the Vale of Glamorgan Council Animal Boarding Establishment and Pet Shops. 

 

At present all Animal Boarding Establishment Licences were issued subject to compliance with the Vale of Glamorgan Council's "Standard Conditions for Animal Boarding Establishments", shown at Appendix A to the Report.  The licensing of Animal Boarding Establishments was currently governed by the Animal Boarding Establishment Act 1963 and the Animal Welfare Act 2006.

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council's "Standard Conditions for Animal Boarding Establishments" were derived from model conditions, issued by the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health in 1995. 

 

In addition, Pet Shop Licences were issued subject to compliance with the Vale of Glamorgan Council's "Standard Conditions for Pet Shops", details of which were set out in Appendix B to the report.  The licensing of Pet Shops was currently governed by the Pet Animals Act 1951 and the Animal Welfare Act 2006.  The Vale of Glamorgan Council's "Standard Conditions for Pet Shops" were derived from model standards for pet shop licence conditions, issued by the Local Government Association in 1998. 

 

It was considered that both sets of conditions to be outdated and did not take account of matters contained within the Animal Welfare Act 2006.

 

The Animal Welfare Act 2006 represented a change to animal welfare law.  The aim of the Act was to consolidate and modernise legislation such as the Animal Boarding Establishment Act and the Pet Animals Act by placing a clear duty of care on those who are responsible for animals.  Prior to the Animal Welfare Act officers would need to have proven that as a result of individual's actions, an animal had suffered.  Officers now used the Animal Welfare Act alongside the parent legislation to ensure that animals do not suffer.

 

Officers achieved compliance by ensuring that conditions attached to such licences ensured that every animal was provided with the following five freedoms:

 

i.          Freedom from hunger and thirst

ii.         Freedom from discomfort

iii.        Freedom from pain, injury and disease

iv.        Freedom to behave normally

v.         Freedom from fear and distress

 

At present, the Vale of Glamorgan Council did not differentiate by way of condition, between those premises that board Cats or Dogs or both. 

 

It was proposed that separate conditions be adopted for Catteries and Kennels.

 

In 2013, The Welsh Heads of Trading Standards, the Welsh Heads of Environmental Health, and Welsh Local Government Association recommended new licence conditions to be adopted by Local Authorities in Wales.  The new Licensing Conditions and Guidance for Dog Boarding Kennels, for Boarding Catteries and for Pet Shops were set out in Appendices C, D and E to the report.

 

The proposed conditions for Pet Shops, Animal Boarding Establishments and Dog Breeding Establishments had been adopted by 6 Welsh authorities and another 6 (including Bridgend and Cardiff) were also in the process of adoption.  The Vale of Glamorgan Council was not requesting the adoption of the conditions in respect of Dog Breeding Establishments, as "The Animal Welfare (Breeding of Dogs) (Wales) Regulations 2012 were expected to come into force within the next six months, following which, a review of the same would follow.

 

Officers had carried out research looking at specific conditions that have been specified on individual licences.  As a result of this research, approval was sought to amend the new conditions.  The requested amendments to the Licensing Conditions and Guidance for Dog Boarding Kennels were shown at Appendix F, for Boarding Catteries at Appendix G and for Pet Shops at Appendix H to the report.

 

The proposed conditions for Dog Boarding Kennels, Boarding Catteries and Pet Shops were intended to set a minimum standard, to be met by all licensed premises.  S1(3) of the Animal Boarding Act and s1(3) of the Pet Animals Act 1951, permitted local authorities to add further conditions, known as specific conditions, to individual licences, in order to ensure that the requirements of the Acts were met.  Such conditions may be added following an inspection of the premises, and the Local Authority may put a time limit on the implementation of conditions, depending on the severity of the matter.        

 

The period of the Licence was outlined under Section 1(5) of the Animal Boarding Establishments Act 1963, and was referred to in paragraph 26 of the report.

 

It was now proposed that the conditions set out in Appendices C, D and E be issued for a six week consultation period with those persons who were currently licensed by the Vale of Glamorgan Council as Animal Boarding Establishments and Pet Shops, with a view to the adoption of the new conditions. 

 

If the Committee decided to implement the proposed conditions following the consultation period, they would come into effect for any Grants of Animal Boarding Establishment or Pet Shop Licences.  For existing Licence Holders, this would be on 1st January 2015. 

 

Following consultation with current holders of Animal Boarding Establishment Licences and Pet Shop Licences, and the adoption of the proposed conditions it would be proposed that grandfather rights would apply for current Licence holders, where it was deemed suitable.  Any new builds at the establishment(s) would be required to meet the proposed conditions.  It would also be proposed that the grandfather rights would remain unless the named Licence holder/s change or the Licence was allowed to lapse.

 

The Committee was informed that following the consultation period the proposed conditions to be attached to Animal Boarding Establishment Licences and Pet Shop Licences would be the subject of a further report to the Committee prior to final approval. 

 

The Chairman enquired if the Committee would receive a report on dog breeding and was informed that the Welsh Government had introduced new regulations on dog breeding.  These Regulations would predominantly have an impact on those establishments who previously were on the border of requiring a licence in that they would now be more likely to require a licence for dog breeding with the major difference being that the regulations required all puppies to be microchipped before sale. 

 

The Chairman also asked if this report was imminent and if so, whether it would be better to consult on all relevant proposed changes once.  The Licensing Team Leader stated that they were looking to consult on the proposed conditions for Animal Boarding Establishments and Pet Shop Licences with current licence holders and asked whether the Committee wished to extend the consultation arrangements to other interested parties e.g. the RSPCA, Pet Care Trust or any other appropriate parties.  It was confirmed that currently there were three licenced dog breeders in the Vale of Glamorgan. 

 

A Member queried whether Members would be consulted on the new regulations on dog breeding and it was confirmed that they would be.

 

Following consideration of the report the Committee

 

RESOLVED - T H A T the Council undertakes a six week consultation exercise in relation to the proposed conditions for the Vale of Glamorgan Council Animal Boarding Establishments and Pet Shops licences.

 

Reason for decision

 

To ensure appropriate consultation was undertaken as part of the review of the Vale of Glamorgan Animal Boarding Establishment and Pet Shop Licensing conditions.

 

Prior to consideration of Agenda Item No. 7 the Chairman, Councillor A.G. Powell vacated the room and Vice-Chairman of the Committee Councillor H.C. Hamilton took the Chair.

 

 

867     MATTER WHICH THE CHAIRMAN HAD DECIDED WAS URGENT -

 

RESOLVED - T H A T the following matter which the Chairman had decided was urgent for the reason given beneath the minute heading be considered.

 

 

868     APPLICATION TO WAIVE THE VALE OF GLAMORGAN COUNCIL’S AGE POLICY GUIDELINES FOR THE GRANT OF A HACKNEY CARRIAGE LICENCE, VOLKSWAGEN PASSAT, CU56 LVK (DDS)

Urgent by reason of the need to allow Mr. Ihbasheh to continue to work

 

Vehicle Registration No. CU56 LVK was licensed as Hackney Carriage No. HC138, from 19th July, 2013 to 18th January, 2014 and 14th March, 2012 to 16th April, 2013.  Between 21st September, 2011 and 14th March, 2012 CU56 LVK was licensed as a Private Hire vehicle. 

 

On 3rd January, 2014 a Section 68 Suspension Notice in relation to HC138 was issued to Mr. Ihbasheh when he informed the Licensing Section that the vehicle had been involved in an accident.  Mr. Ihbasheh was advised that if the Suspension Notice was still in place when the Hackney Carriage Licence was due to expire, 18th January, 2014, he would need to make application and follow the usual renewal process because the vehicle was beyond the upper age limit to be considered for the grant of a licence. 

 

On 16th January 2014 Mr Ihbasheh made application for renewal of the Hackney Carriage Licence for his vehicle.

 

Condition 38 of a Hackney Carriage Licence stated;

 

'The vehicle shall be presented for examination on application for a renewal of the licence.  The vehicle shall also be presented for examination at such other times and at such places as required by the Licensing Authority.  Vehicles will be accepted for testing up to ten working days prior to and including the exact date on which the test is required.   This condition is without prejudice to the powers of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976.’

 

On 21st February 2014 it came to the attention of a Licensing Officer that the vehicle had not been presented for testing, but that a test appointment had been made for 25th February 2014.  Mr Ihbasheh was subsequently advised by officers that his licence had already expired on 18th January 2014 and, therefore, the vehicle would not be presented for testing.

 

Mr Ihbasheh indicated that he thought that the Section 68 Suspension Notice extended the period in which the vehicle could be presented for inspection in relation to the renewal application beyond the expiry date of the licence.

 

On 26th February 2014 following a meeting with the Licensing Team Leader Mr Ihbasheh submitted a letter requesting that the Licensing Committee consider waiving the Age Policy Guidelines in respect of a licence for this vehicle.  A copy of Mr Ihbasheh's letter was attached at Appendix A to the Report.

 

Mr. Ihbasheh, who was in attendance at the meeting also submitted a letter, the contents of which were conveyed to the Committee.  It stated that the vehicle Registration No. CU56 LVK had been involved in an accident which had been reported to the Council who then suspended the vehicle and that he had met with a Licensing Officer with regards to this matter, following which he had requested that the matter be heard by the Licensing Committee as a matter of urgency.

 

The Chairman invited Mr. Ihbasheh the opportunity to make any further representations to the Committee with regard to his application.  Mr. Ihbasheh stated that he had reported the accident and then the Council had suspended the vehicle.  However, he was under the impression that his licence would continue, however his licence had expired on 18th January, 2014.  He explained that he had paid a licence fee and that the car was undriveable and was being repaired.  Mr. Ihbasheh also informed the Committee that the car had been repaired and a date for testing was booked at the Council’s Alps Depot for 25th February, 2014.  Mr. Ihbasheh stated that the Licensing Team advised him that his licence had expired and he informed the Committee that maybe this had been a misunderstanding as he thought he had longer to have the car tested. 

Mr. Thomas from the Vale of Glamorgan Taxi Association asked the Committee whether there was anything the applicant could have done to prevent him from needing to appear before the Committee.  In response the Licensing Team Leader informed the Committee that a Section 68 Suspension Notice had been issued on 3rd January, 2014 and that a file note had been made at that time that Mr. Ihbasheh had been advised that he must renew the licence as normal.  The officer informed the Committee that it was normal if a vehicle was due to be tested to endeavour to issue a Section 60 Suspension Notice which prolonged the life of a licence whereas a Section 68 did not.  Mr. Ihbasheh made application to renew the licence in good time, had he informed the Licensing Section that the vehicle would not be presented for test prior to the expiry date the Section would have issued a Section 60 Suspension Notice, this would have allowed for the delay in the vehicle being presented for testing.  However, as the applicant had applied to renew the licence two days before the date of expiry it would have been normal for officers to assume the vehicle would have been presented for testing.

 

The Chairman asked if there were any other questions and Mr. Thomas stated that another applicant had also asked for a Stop Notice and asked whether the Council could set up a system to prevent this situation from occurring in the future.  The Licensing Team Leader suggested that this issue be taken to the Vale of Glamorgan Taxi Panel which was agreed by the Licensing Committee.

 

Following consideration of the report, letter and representations made by Mr. Ihbasheh it was

 

RESOLVED -

 

(1)       T H A T the request to waive the Age Policy Guidelines be granted.

 

(2)       T H A T the issue of Section 60 Suspension Notices be taken to the next Vale of Glamorgan Taxi Panel Meeting.

 

Reasons for decisions

 

(1)       Having taken into account Mr. Ihbasheh’s letter and representations to the Committee and the officer’s report and recommendations.

 

(2)       To address the issue of Section 60 Suspension Notices with the members of the Vale of Glamorgan Taxi Panel.

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