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Agenda Item No. 4

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Licensing Committee: 4th November 2015

 

Report of the Director of Environment and Housing Services

 

Deregulation Act 2015 - Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Dual Drivers Licences Fees

 

Purpose of the Report

  1. The purpose of this Report is to recommend new licence fees for Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Dual Drivers Licences to reflect a change to the duration of a licence being brought into effect by the Deregulation Act 2015.

Recommendation

It is recommended that Members approve the proposed licence fees Laid out in Option 2 of Appendix A to this Report with an implementation date of Monday 30th November 2015.

Reason for the Recommendation

To ensure a reasonable proportion of the Council's costs are recovered in relation to Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Licensing and that the costs of such licensing does not present a burden on local taxpayers.

Background

  1. The Deregulation Act 2015 amends the section of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 that sets out the duration of licences for Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Driver Licences.
  2. The present practice in the Vale of Glamorgan Council is to grant these licences for a maximum period of one year.
  3. The amendments made by the Deregulation Act establish a standard duration for a driver licence of 3 years. A licence may be granted for a shorter period where there is a justifiable reason. This reason would be related to the circumstances of an individual case and cannot be applied as a blanket policy.
  4. Section 53 of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 allows the Council to charge fees in respect of Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Drivers Licences. The Council must set the fees for these licences on the basis that it only recovers costs which it is entitled statutorily to recover.
  5. In respect of drivers licences the Act states that the Council may charge 'such a fee as it considers reasonable with a view to recovering the costs of issue and administration associated with the grant of Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Drivers Licences'. Consequently, enforcement costs in relation to driver's licences cannot be recovered through the licence fee.
  6. Case Law has established that when the Council makes a surplus in respect of licence fees it should give account for that the next time that the fees are set; and if it incurs a deficit it may also take that into account. The calculation in respect of each type of licence issued by the Council should be kept separate.

Relevant Issues and Options

  1. All new Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Drivers are required to produce an enhanced DBS certificate prior to the grant of their licence, and once licenced, this Council's policy is that drivers are required to produce an enhanced DBS certificate on a triennial basis.
  2. The Licensing Authority requires an enhanced DBS certificate to check for any criminal convictions/cautions in order to determine whether an applicant or an existing licence holder is a fit and proper person to hold a Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Drivers Licence. The current fee of £44.00 is payable to the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) in addition to the licence fee.
  3. Now that drivers may be issued with a 3 year licence, and this will result in the majority of drivers being required to produce a new DBS certificate at some point between licence renewals. This is considered to be costly and bureaucratic for both the driver and licensing authority.
  4. Regard also needs to be given to mitigating the impact of all drivers submitting renewal applications on a 3 year cycle, which will result in peaks in resource demand and difficulties in financial budgeting.
  5. In order to synchronise the DBS checks with licence renewals and reduce costs for both drivers and the Licensing Authority, it is proposed that drivers are offered a 3 year licence but must produce an enhanced DBS certificate regardless of whether it is due. If drivers do not wish to pay for an additional DBS certificate (currently £44.00) they may have a one year licence renewal until their next DBS certificate is due. Proposed fees for both 1 year licence and 3 year licences have therefore been calculated for approval. A shorter period licence may also be appropriate in the case of disciplinary issues, but each case should be assessed on its merits.
  6. The fee income for the financial year 2014/15 has been reviewed and the fees have been calculated using a software toolkit developed by the Wales Licensing Expert Panel.
  7. The methodology used to calculate the fees follows the processes set out in the fees toolkit. All general expenditure across the Licensing Section has been applied to generate an hourly rate for each member of staff. The cost of administration of the licence is based on these hourly rates and time recording exercises.
  8. The proposed fees include a deficit cost of £45,923, which has to be reclaimed through the fees.
  9. The table of existing and proposed fees are attached at Appendix A to this Report.
  10. Member's attention is drawn to Appendix A, where there is a comparison in relation to reclaiming the deficit over a 3 year period and a 6 year period.
  11. Officers met with representatives from the Vale of Glamorgan Taxi Association in relation to the proposed fees.
  12. The Taxi Association representatives requested that further consideration was given to the proposed increase in the fees, and that the deficit was reclaimed over an extended period of time.
  13. In view of the very steep increase in fees specified in Option 1 it is proposed that the deficit is recovered over a longer period of 6 years as specified in Option 2.

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.
  2. The implementation of the Deregulation Act 2015 has made it necessary to set fees for Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Drivers Licences.
  3. A deficit of £45,923 from the 2014/15 financial year has been taken into account in the calculation of the proposed Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Drivers Licence fees.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

  1. None.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

  1. Section 53(2) of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 states:-
  • Notwithstanding the provisions of the Act of 1847 (Town Police Clauses Act 1847), a district council may demand and recover for the grant to any person of a licence to drive a hackney carriage, or a private hire vehicle, as the case may be, such a fee as they consider reasonable with a view to recovering the costs of issue and administration and may remit the whole or part of the fee in respect of a private hire vehicle in any case in which they think it appropriate to do so.

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)

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

Corporate/Service Objectives

  1. 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 by the Licensing Committee.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

  1. None.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

  1. 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:

Miles Punter - Director of Environment and Housing Services

 

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