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Agenda Item No

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Licensing Committee: 30th May 2012

 

Report of the Director of Legal, Public Protection and Housing Services

 

Reforming the Law of Taxi and Private Hire Services

 

Purpose of the Report

1.            The purpose of this report is to inform Members of a consultation paper published by the Law Commission 'Reforming the Law of Taxi and Private Hire Services'.  A summary of the consultation is attached at Appendix A to this report. The full consultation document is available on the Law Commission website http://lawcommission.justice.gov.uk/consultations/1804.htm.

Recommendations

1.             That the Licensing Committee notes the report. 

2.             That the Licensing Committee provides any comments or responses to the consultation to the Principal Regulatory Services Officer by 30th June 2012

3.             That the Principal Regulatory Services Officer provides a response to the consultation on behalf of the Licensing Authority.

Reason for the Recommendations

To ensure that the Vale of Glamorgan Council takes the opportunity to comment on the reform of the law on taxi and private hire services.

Background

2.            Taxi legislation is fragmented, complex and often described as out of touch with 21st Century life. The legislation governing taxis and private hire vehicles is contained in the Town and Police Clauses Act 1847 and Local Government Miscellaneous Provisions Act 1976. 

3.            In July 2011, the Law Commission agreed to undertake a law reform project on the law of taxis and private hire vehicles.

4.            The consultation document looks to simplify and modernise the legal framework within which taxis and private hire vehicles operate, create greater transparency and consistency of approach in related decision making, and make future-proof, flexible legislation allowing for development and innovation in areas such as transport technology and business models. The consultation paper also considers the extension and clarification of enforcement powers.

5.            The intended effects are a more effective taxi and private hire market in which competition is not distorted and one which is better incentivised to contribute to local transportation requirements.

Relevant Issues and Options

6.            The consultation document was published for consultation on 10th May 2012. All responses must be received by the Law Commission by 10th August 2012.

7.            There are a number of key areas being considered for revision including more enforcement powers for licensing officers against out of borough vehicles and drivers and removing the exemption for wedding and funeral cars.

8.            The consultation also looks to address national standards including national minimum safety standards, disability training for drivers and allowing leisure use of licensed vehicles.

9.            The proposals also look to clarify certain areas including introducing a statutory definition of "plying for hire" and exclusions for volunteers and other services where transport is not the main service provided, such as childminders.

10.       Changes to the Licensing System are also considered by issuing binding statutory guidance to create greater consistency in how legislation is applied, bringing more vehicles within the licensing system, for example limousines and having a new 'peak time' taxi licence that could only be used at particular times of the day as decided by the Licensing Authority.

11.       Any changes to existing law will impact on all Authorities in England and Wales and possibly the London Authorities as well.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment and Climate Change, if appropriate)

12.       All resources directed to the administration and enforcement of the Taxi Licensing    function may be recovered through Taxi Licensing Fees and Charges.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

13.       Any changes to existing law must be implemented by the Licensing Authority as prescribed in any new legislation.

Crime and Disorder Implications

14.       Under Section 17 of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 the Council has a statutory duty to consider crime and disorder implications whilst regulating licensing activities.  We must have due regard to the likely effect of the exercise of those functions on the need to do all we can reasonably do to prevent crime and disorder in our area.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

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

Corporate/Service Objectives

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

Policy Framework and Budget

17.       The proposals in this report are in accordance with the Policy Framework and Budget.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

18.       This matter is currently the subject of consultation across the UK.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

19.       Housing and Public Protection.

Background Papers

None.

Contact Officer

Kate Thompson, Principal Regulatory Services Officer 01446 709105

Officers Consulted

None

Responsible Officer:

Peter H. Evans, Director of Legal, Public Protection and Housing Services.