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                                                                                                                    Agenda Item No. 4

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Licensing Committee: 5th March 2013

 

Report of the Director of Development Services

 

Adoption of Taxi and Private Hire Licensing Statement of Principles, Fitness Criteria for Drivers and Operators

Purpose of the Report

1.             To consider the adoption of Taxi and Private Hire Licensing Statement of Principles, on the treatment of convictions, cautions and charges.

Recommendations

After careful consideration of the facts of this Report, of the suggested guidelines and comparison with the existing guidelines, the Committee’s instructions are requested in this matter.  Members may wish to consider the following options: -

·         Members adopt the new Statement of Principles as those to be used by Members and Officers of the Licensing Section in future considerations of applications for the Grant and Renewal of Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Vehicle Driver’s Licences; Operators Licences and disciplinary action against the holders of current licences and set a date when the guidelines take effect.

·         Members amend the Statement of Principles and then adopt them as those to be used by Members and Officers of the Licensing Section in future considerations of applications for the Grant and Renewal of Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Vehicle Driver’s Licences; Operator Licences and disciplinary action against the holders of current licences and set a date when the guidelines take effect.

·         Members reject the recommended new Statement of Principles and resolve to continue to use the existing guidelines in future considerations of applications for the Grant and Renewal of Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Vehicle Driver’s Licences, Operator Licences and disciplinary action against the holders of current licences.

Officers recommend that the new statement of principles be adopted.

Reason for the Recommendations

To advise Members that their instructions are requested.

Background

2.             At the meeting of the Licensing Committee on 12th November 2002, Members adopted guidelines to assist them when considering applications for Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Vehicle Driver’s Licences who have convictions and existing licence holders facing disciplinary proceedings.

Relevant Issues and Options

3.             The Statement of Principles would replace the existing Policy on the Treatment of Convictions, Cautions and Charges which is located at Section 2 of the Members packs.

4.             The use of the Statement of Principles is intended to give Members full discretion to decide if an individual applicant who has convictions is a fit and proper person to hold Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Vehicle Driver’s Licences or an Operator Licence. The Statement of Principles is attached at Appendix A to this report.

5.             The use of the Statement of Principles is also intended to give Members full discretion to decide if the holder of a licence remains a fit and proper person to hold Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Vehicle Driver’s Licences or Operator Licence following any non-compliance with the law or any other reasonable cause.

6.             The Statement of Principles will also enable officers to decide which matters should be referred to the Licensing Committee.

7.             As the Statement of Principles will also be available to potential applicants it enables those with a criminal record to decide whether or not they wish to make an application.

8.             A copy of the Statement of Principles will be issued to applicants with copies of Committee Reports to ensure the applicants are fully conversant with the options available to Members of the Committee.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

9.             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

10.        None.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

11.        There is no judicially approved test of fitness and propriety, and accordingly, a number of local tests have been developed throughout Wales and England.  These tend to be based on a test similar to the following:

“Would you, as a Member of the Licensing Committee, allow your son or daughter, spouse or partner, mother or father, grandson or granddaughter or any other person for whom you care, to get into the vehicle with this person alone?”

 

If the answer to this question (or a similar test) is an unqualified "Yes", then the test is probably satisfied.  If there are any doubts in the minds of those who make the decision, then further consideration should be given as to whether this person is a fit and proper person to hold such licences.

 

12.        Section 61 of The Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 states;

Notwithstanding anything in the Act of 1847 or in this Part of this Act, a district council may suspend or revoke or (on application therefore under section 46 of the Act of 1847 or section 51 of this Act, as the case may be) refuse to renew the licence of a driver of a hackney carriage or private hire vehicle on any of the following grounds-

that he has since the grant of the licence-

·         been convicted of an offence involving dishonesty, indecency or violence; or

·         been convicted of an offence under or has failed to comply with the provisions of the Act of 1847 or this part of this Act; or

·         any other reasonable cause.

13.        Section 61 (3) of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 provides

Any driver aggrieved by a decision of a district council under this section may appeal to a magistrates' court.

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 licensable 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 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

17.        This is a matter for decision by the Licensing Committee.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

18.        None as this report relates to the whole of the Vale of Glamorgan.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

19.        Housing and Public Protection.

Background Papers

None

Contact Officer

Amanda Ewington. Licensing Team Leader 01446 709782

Officers Consulted

Richard Price, Lawyer, Legal Services 01446 709409

Responsible Officer

Rob Thomas, Director of Development Services.

 

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