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Agenda Item No. 4

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Public Protection Licensing Committee 12th April 2016

 

Report of the Director of Environment and Housing

 

Amendment to the Vale of Glamorgan's Age Policy Guidelines for Hackney Carriages and Private Hire Vehicles

 

Purpose of the Report

  1. The Public Protection Licensing Committee has requested clarification in respect of the Vale of Glamorgan Age Policy Guidelines in relation to the licensing of new vehicles. This report outlines the outcome of a consultation with the trade and proposals for a policy update.

Recommendations

  1. It is proposed that the provision for the grant of a 12 month Hackney Carriage or Private Hire Vehicle Licence to new vehicles, which specifies that that they have 'delivery mileage only', is replaced with the following;

To qualify for a twelve month Hackney Carriage or Private Hire Vehicle licence, an application must be received by the Council within 15 working days of the first registration of the vehicle at the DVLA. The mileage at the time of application should be no greater than 500 miles. Evidence of DVLA registration must be submitted with the application.

 

The applicant may be the second or a subsequent registered keeper but the applicant must demonstrate that there is no more than 15 working days between the date of first registration of the vehicle and transfer of the V5 registration to the applicant's name.

 

Applications falling within these guidelines would normally be approved under delegated authority. Unless there are exceptional circumstances, an application falling outside the above criteria will normally be refused.

Other suitable vehicles under five years old will be eligible for the grant of a 6 month licence.

  1. After considering the contents of this Report, Members may wish to;
  • Adopt the policy amendment as proposed and approve a date for implementation of the amendment.
  • Amend the proposed policy and approve a date for implementation.
  • Remove any distinction between new vehicles and any other vehicles eligible for the grant of a Hackney Carriage or Private Hire Vehicle from the policy.
  • Retain current policy.

Reasons for the Recommendations

To provide clarity in relation to the eligibility of vehicles for the grant of a 12 month Hackney Carriage or Private Hire Vehicle Licence.

Background

  1. Sections 47(1) and 48(2) of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 allow the local authority to set conditions for the granting of Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Vehicle Licences.
  2. Vehicle Licences are issued in compliance with the Vale of Glamorgan Council's Age Policy Guidelines, which state that a one year licence will be granted where a vehicle has delivery mileage only. A copy of the Age Policy Guidelines can be found at section 12 of the Members' Packs.
  3. Following receipt of applications under this policy, the eligibility of the vehicle for the grant of a 12 month licence has depended on the interpretation of the meaning of the phrase 'delivery mileage'.
  4. Minute 565 of the Licensing Committee 4 November 2014 approved the review of this policy guideline.

Relevant Issues and Options

  1. In preparation of this Report, consideration was given to the merit of retaining a distinction in the policy between new vehicles and all other vehicles eligible for the grant of Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Vehicle Licences.
  2. To remove any reference to new vehicles from the policy would mean that all vehicles under 5 years old, and suitable in terms of their size and type, would be considered for the grant of a six month licence. Enquiries made with a small number of neighbouring licensing authorities indicated that few of them have any specific provisions in relation to licensing new vehicles.
  3. Proprietors obtaining a one year licence make a saving of £42. The current fee for the grant of a six month licence and one renewal is £284, whereas, the grant of a 12 month licence is £242.
  4. It may be possible that the small financial benefit derived from the granting of a 12 month licence provides an incentive to the trade to licence new vehicles and helps to improve the overall standard of the Hackney Carriage and Private Hire fleet. If a policy in relation to the granting of 12 month licences to new vehicles is to be retained, consideration must be given to the criteria used to establish the eligibility of vehicles. Licensing Officers considered that a combination of mileage and the date of first registration would assist in this determination.
  5. Since the aim of the proposed change in policy is to introduce fixed, unambiguous criteria that are either met, or not, the number of days since registration and maximum number of miles are clearly stated in the proposal.
  6. The date of the first registration of a vehicle gives the clearest indication that the vehicle is new, and that it has not been used as a demonstration vehicle, or for any other purpose by the retailer.
  7. In setting a limit for acceptable mileage, a review of the current licensed fleet showed that in the period 2013-2015 ten vehicles were granted a 12 month licence. The average mileage of these vehicles on inspection was 193.5. In light of this, a mileage limit of 500 would seem appropriate.
  8. Taking into account these considerations the following statement is proposed as an amendment to the Vale of Glamorgan Age Policy Guidelines;

To qualify for a twelve month Hackney Carriage or Private Hire Vehicle licence, an application must be received by the Council within 15 working days of the first registration of the vehicle at the DVLA. The mileage at the time of application should be no greater than 500 miles. Evidence of DVLA registration must be submitted with the application.

 

The applicant may be the second or a subsequent registered keeper but the applicant must demonstrate that there is no more than 15 working days between the date of first registration of the vehicle and transfer of the V5 registration to the applicant's name.

  1. In order to enable most applications to be determined under delegated authority, it is advised that the following is added;

Applications falling within these guidelines would normally be approved under delegated authority. Unless there are exceptional circumstances, an application falling outside the above criteria will normally be refused.

  1. On refusal of an application, under Section 48(7) of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, the applicant would have a right of appeal to the Magistrates' Court.
  2. On 24th February 2016 letters were sent to all current Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Vehicle Proprietors inviting their comments on the proposed amendment.

1st Line Taxis Ltd has submitted a response which is attached at Appendix A to this Report. In response, the Committee is advised that the DVLA offers an automated registration system (AFRL) system which confirms registration prior to the issue of the V5 Certificate. This should obviate the need to produce an invoice from the dealer or other proof of ownership.

 

Steve Thomas, Chairman of the Vale Taxi Association submitted a response after the end of the consultation period, which is attached to the report at Appendix B.

 

If Committee are minded to amend the Age Policy Guidelines, it is advised that a date for adoption of the new policy be set, allowing time for anyone in the process of buying a new vehicle to be fully informed of the change.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

  1. Resources directed to the administration and enforcement of the Taxi Licensing function may be recovered through Taxi Licensing Fees and Charges.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

  1. None.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

  1. Section 47 of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 states:

(1) A district council may attach to the grant of a licence of a hackney carriage under the Act of 1847 such conditions as the council may consider reasonably necessary.

And;

 

(3) Any person aggrieved by any conditions attached to such a licence may appeal to a magistrates' court.

  1. Section 48 of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 states: -

(1) Subject to the provisions of this Part of this Act, a district council may on receipt of an application from the proprietor of any vehicle for the grant in respect of such vehicle of a licence to use the vehicle as a private hire vehicle, grant in respect thereof a vehicle licence:

 

Provided that a district council shall not grant such a licence unless they are satisfied (a) that the vehicle is-

 

(i) suitable in type, size and design for use as a private hire vehicle;

(ii) not of such design and appearance as to lead any person to believe that the vehicle is a hackney carriage;

(iii) in a suitable mechanical condition;

(iv) safe; and

(v) comfortable;

  1. Section 48(2) of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 states;

A district council may attach to the grant of a licence under this section such conditions as they may consider reasonably necessary including, without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing provisions of this subsection, conditions requiring or prohibiting the display of signs on or from the vehicle to which the licence relates.

  1. Section 48 (7) The Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 states:-

Any person aggrieved by the refusal of a district council to grant a vehicle licence under this section, or by any condition specified in such a licence, may appeal to a magistrates' court.

Crime and Disorder Implications

  1. Under Section 17 of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 the Council has a statutory duty to consider crime, disorder and antisocial behaviour implications whilst regulating licensing activities. There are no crime and disorder implications arising from this Report.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

The Council is obliged to apply its licensing conditions on an equitable basis in the case of all applications.

Corporate/Service Objectives

To protect the health and safety of the community by ensuring businesses meet legislative requirements, controlling infectious diseases, encouraging responsible dog ownership, controlling pests and regulating animal health and welfare. To maintain a fair and equitable trading environment.

Policy Framework and Budget

  1. This is a matter for decision for the Public Protection Licensing Committee.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

  1. Proprietors and others in taxi trade

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

  1. Housing and Public Protection

Background Papers

None

Contact Officer

Yvonne Witchell, Team Manager Licensing 01656 643105

Officers Consulted

Richard Price, Lawyer, Legal Services 01446 709409

Responsible Officer:

Miles Punter - Director of Environment and Housing