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LICENSING COMMITTEE

 

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

 

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

 

Also present: Mr. S. Thomas, Mr. M. Moore, Mr. R. Morgan of the Vale of Glamorgan Taxi Association.

 

562     APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE – 

 

These were received from Councillors G.A. Cox, Mrs. P. Drake, Mrs. V.M. Hartrey and K. Hatton.

 

 

563     MINUTES – 

 

RESOLVED – T H A T the minutes of the meeting held on 30th September, 2014 be approved as a correct record.

 

 

564     DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST – 

 

No declarations were received.

 

 

565     APPLICATION TO GRANT A ONE YEAR HACKNEY CARRIAGE LICENCE FOR A SEAT TOLEDO, REGISTRATION SJ64 HZV (DDS) –

 

Prior to consideration of this agenda item, the Committee was advised that Mr. Miah, the Applicant, had brought additional documentation to the meeting in support of his application. The documentation consisted of written representations detailing his dealings with the Licensing Department in relation to his licence application, a copy of the Vale of Glamorgan Age Policy Guidelines, a UK registration certificate for the vehicle and a vehicle enquiry form. The Legal Officer advised that the written information pertained to what Mr. Miah wanted to say to the Licensing Committee in relation to his application and therefore the advice was that the Committee should proceed in the usual way, with Mr Miah presenting this information when provided with the opportunity to make his representations. The Committee was given the option to have copies of this information; however, Members were satisfied to hear this information presented by the Mr Miah.

 

The Committee received a report to consider a request by Mr Iqbal Miah of Vale Taxi Hire Ltd, to grant a one year Hackney Carriage Licence in respect of a Seat Toldeo, Registration Number SJ64 HZV.

 

In presenting the report the Head of Public Protection informed the Committee that Hackney Carriage Licences were issued in compliance with the Vale of Glamorgan Council's Age Policy Guidelines, which stated that a one year licence would be granted where a vehicle had delivery mileage only. 

 

The Committee was informed that the date of first registration for the Seat Toldeo, registration number SJ64 HZV was 3rd October, 2014.

 

On 14th October, 2014, Mr. Miah submitted an application for vehicle registration number SJ64 HZV to be licensed as a Hackney Carriage Vehicle for the period of one year.  A copy of this application was attached at Appendix A to the report.

 

As Mr. Miah was unable to produce a V5 registration document for the vehicle, and he was requesting a one year licence, he was questioned by a Licensing Administration Officer in relation to the mileage on the vehicle.  The statement from the Licensing Administration Officer was attached to the report at Appendix B.

 

On 17th October, 2014, vehicle registration SJ64 HZV was presented at the Alps Testing Depot.  A pass certificate was issued, which stated the vehicle’s mileage as 113 miles and a copy of this pass certificate was attached at Appendix C to the report.

 

Mr. Miah was asked to produce a 'Bill of Sale' stating the vehicle’s mileage at the time of sale. On 17th October, 2014, at Mr. Miah’s request, an e-mail was sent to Mr. Miah explaining why vehicle registration SJ64 HZV would not be granted a one year Hackney Carriage Licence.  A copy of this e-mail was attached at Appendix D to the report.

 

On 17th October, 2014, a Hackney Carriage Licence was issued to vehicle registration SJ64 HZV for a period of six months.  A copy of this licence was attached at Appendix E to the report.

 

On 20th October, 2014, a letter was received from Mr. Iqbal Miah, appealing against the decision of the Licensing Department to grant a six month Hackney Carriage Licence.  Attached to this letter was correspondence from The Taxi Centre, which confirmed that vehicle registration SJ64 HZV was delivered by transporter to Vale Taxi Hire Ltd, "with no more than 87 miles on the clock ".   A copy of this letter and the attached documents, including the Bill of Sale, were attached at Appendix F to the report.

 

Following the presentation of the report the Chairman afforded Mr. Miah with the opportunity to address the Committee in relation to his application. 

 

Mr. Miah explained to the Committee that on 14th October, 2014 he had submitted an application for a vehicle, registration number SJ64 HZV, and was advised by a Licensing Administration Officer that as he was unable to provide a V5 registration document for the vehicle, his application could not be accepted within the Age Policy Guidelines.  Mr. Miah explained that the vehicle was a brand new vehicle and he would provide the Licensing Department with the V5 document once he received it.  Mr Miah stated that he was advised by a Senior Licensing Officer that he would also need to produce a Bill of Sale in order for the vehicle to be given a one year Hackney Carriage Licence.  Mr. Miah informed the Committee that he provided the Bill of Sale and the Licensing Administration Officer booked the vehicle for testing and paid £242 for the one year licence which included £12 for a plate deposit.  Mr. Miah informed the Committee that at this point he had informed the Licensing Administration Officer that the vehicle had 87 miles on the clock when it had been delivered on 10th October 2014.

 

Mr. Miah further informed the Committee that on 17th October, 2014 he returned to the Licensing Department with the Pass Certificate from the Alps Depot in order to pick up the licence, and at this point was informed that the Licensing Department was unable to grant a one year licence as the delivery mileage for the vehicle did not comply with the Age Policy Guidelines of the Vale of Glamorgan Council, and as such the vehicle would only granted a six month licence.

 

Mr. Miah also advised the Committee that the Licensing Team Leader informed him that the Licensing Department would be only be able to issue a one year licence if he could provide a letter from the supplier that the vehicle was brand new and which stated the mileage of the vehicle at delivery.  Mr. Miah contacted the supplier and forwarded the letter, which stated that the delivery mileage was 87 miles, to the Licensing Department. Following this, Mr. Miah returned to the Licensing Department and was again told that the vehicle did not comply with the Age Policy Guidelines, therefore only a six month licence could be granted. Mr Miah advised the Licensing Department that he would be appealing this decision to the Licensing Committee.

 

He also stated that the DVLA documentation showed that the car was brand new and when he requested, and was provided with a copy of the Vale of Glamorgan Council’s Age Policy Guidelines, he checked them and there was no mention of a maximum mileage for brand new cars. 

 

The Head of Public Protection informed the Committee that the Vale of Glamorgan Council’s Age Policy Guidelines stated that a one year licence could be granted for new vehicles with delivery mileage only; however, as there was additional mileage on the clock for this vehicle, the application was outside of these guidelines.

 

The Licensing Team Leader advised that the department did not receive many one year licence applications and the individual would be expected to be able to prove the vehicle’s delivery mileage. Furthermore, the Licensing Department would take account of mileage for delivery, meter fitting and vehicle testing.  As Mr. Miah was unable to prove why there were 87 miles on the clock at delivery, the Department had referred it to the Licensing Committee.

 

A discussion took place in consideration of the application and Members stated that they appreciated that the Licensing Department needed to adhere to the Age Policy Guidelines; however, as a limit for delivery mileage was not specified within the Guidelines, they were ambiguous. Members expressed the view that delivery mileage could be quite high if the vehicle had been delivered from another part of the country; therefore, a vehicle could be brand new and already have a significant number of miles on the clock. Members also expressed the view that possibly a maximum delivery mileage could be specified within the Age Policy Guidelines.

 

Members enquired whether the provision of a V5 vehicle registration certificate would be sufficient evidence to prove a vehicle’s mileage and age for the grant of a one year licence. The Licensing Team Leader advised that this document would not be sufficient as a vehicle could have had one owner yet have a significant amount of mileage on the clock. The Licensing Team Leader further stated that it was the taxi trade that had requested that delivery mileage only be specified within the Age Policy Guidelines for the award of a one year licence.

 

Mr. Thomas, Chairman of the Vale of Glamorgan Taxi Association, was provided with the opportunity to address the Committee and expressed the view that the Taxi Association would welcome the opportunity to take part in the review of the Age Policy Guidelines. He further informed the Committee that he was aware of taxi that had been delivered from Scotland, therefore the delivery mileage had been high and mileage for livery, meter testing and vehicle testing should also be taken into consideration for the delivery mileage figure. 

 

Members expressed the view that the Vale of Glamorgan Council’s Age Policy Guidelines should be reviewed in order to ensure that the policy was not ambiguous, with suggestions being put forward that a maximum delivery mileage could be specified and the requirement for a V5 registration certificate could be included.

 

Following consideration of the report and Mr. Miah’s representations given to the Committee, the Licensing Committee

 

RESOLVED –

 

(1)       T H A T the request to grant a one year Hackney Carriage Licence in respect of a Seat Toledo, registration number SJ64 HZV, be granted.

 

(2)       T H A T the Licensing Department review the Vale of Glamorgan Council’s Age Policy Guidelines and a further report be brought before the Licensing Committee in respect of this review. 

 

Reasons for decisions

 

(1)       To take account of the report and Mr Miah’s representations made at the meeting.

 

(2)       To ensure that the Vale of Glamorgan Council’s Age Policy Guidelines for the granting of Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Vehicles remains fit for purpose.

 

 

566     DRIVER AND VEHICLE STANDARDS AGENCY (DVSA) DRIVING ASSESSMENT FOR TAXI AND PRIVATE HIRE DRIVERS (DDS) –

 

The Committee received a report to consider a request from the Vale of Glamorgan Taxi Association to remove the requirement for applicants for the grant of Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Driver's Licences to complete a satisfactory DVSA Driving Assessment.

 

In presenting the report the Head of Public Protection informed the Committee that the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 allowed Local Authorities to use criteria, as they deemed appropriate, to determine the fitness and propriety of applicants for the grant of Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Driver's Licences.

 

On 30th May, 2012 the Licensing Committee approved the introduction of the requirement that all applicants for Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Driver's Licences undertake a DSA (now DVSA) Driving Assessment for Taxi and Private Hire Vehicle Drivers.  The matter was put before the Licensing Committee at the request of the Vale of Glamorgan Taxi Association.  A copy of the report and minutes from 20th May, 2012 was attached to the report at Appendix A.

 

On 12th October, 2014 a request to remove the requirement for the completion of the DVSA Driving Assessment from the application process was submitted on behalf of the Vale of Glamorgan Taxi Association.  A copy of the message was attached to the report at Appendix B.

 

The Welsh Region of the Institute of Licensing had gathered information, outlining the criteria used by each of the Welsh Local Authorities in relation to applications for Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Vehicle Licence applications.  A table of the information collected was attached at Appendix C to the report.

 

Members noted that only three Authorities, including the Vale of Glamorgan, request a qualification in addition to the basic requirements of a Disclosure and Barring Service Certificate, Group 2 Medical and successful completion of a Knowledge Test.

 

The Committee was informed that there was an additional cost to applicants associated with the Driving Assessment, in the region of £80 to £96, depending on when the test was taken.

 

The Chairman provided members of the Vale of Glamorgan Taxi Association, with the opportunity to address the Committee in regard to this item.

 

The members of the Vale of Glamorgan Taxi Association informed the Committee that when they first proposed the introduction of a driving assessment test it was to address concerns about driving standards, in particular, in relation to drivers who had gained their driving licences outside the UK and were not familiar with driving in the UK. However, the impact of the DVSA assessment test was not as expected; it was very costly and too stringent and they expressed concern that these factors were putting individuals off applying to become taxi drivers in the Vale of Glamorgan. They expressed the view that the DVSA test was the only option available in to them 2012, however, it had not addressed the concerns of the taxi trade, who wanted something to enable taxi drivers to provide a better service.

 

The Licensing Team Leader advised that there was not a huge amount of choice available for driving standards assessment tests. The DVSA test had been introduced in order to try and address the concerns of the taxi trade and it was also hoped that it would be prove to be more than just a driving test and address other aspects of the role of a taxi driver. The Officer further informed the Committee that they had looked to other Local Authorities in regard to driving standards tests, with a couple requiring a BTEC in taxi driving and expressed the view that possibly the Licensing Department could come up with a qualification that would solve the issues involved with the DVSA test. The officer confirmed that a knowledge test had also been introduced at the same time as the DVSA driving assessment which had helped to increase the standards of taxi drivers in the Vale of Glamorgan.

 

The Committee discussed the issue of foreign drivers and it was confirmed that all individuals that applied to become taxi drivers in the Vale of Glamorgan would be required to take the DVSA assessment test.

 

Members expressed concern with regard to the removal of the DVSA assessment test without there being anything in its place. Further discussion took place with the Members expressing the view that alternative assessment tests should be investigated, with the involvement of those in the taxi trade, which would be fit for purpose, that is, be able to assess driving standards to ensure that standards of taxi drivers in the Vale of Glamorgan remained high. Members also expressed the view that the cost of the assessment should not be prohibitive to applicants. 

 

Following discussion and consideration of the report and the representations made by the taxi trade and Licensing Officers, the Licensing Committee

 

RESOLVED –

 

(1)       T H A T the application criteria for the grant of Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Vehicle Driver’s Licences remain unchanged and that a Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) Driving Assessment continued to be required.

 

(2)       T H A T the Licensing Department explore alternatives to the DVSA Driving Assessment for taxi and private hire drivers and that a further report be brought to a future Licensing Committee on the same.

 

Reasons for decisions

 

(1)       To ensure that the standard of the taxi driver applicant’s driving did not fall below the DVSA Driving Assessment standard.

 

(2)       To investigate whether there was a more suitable driving assessment test which could be used for taxi and private hire drivers in the Vale of Glamorgan which also ensure that high standards of taxi drivers and safety was maintained.

 

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