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Agenda Item No. 5

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Licensing Committee: 4th November 2015

 

Report of the Director of Environment and Housing Services

 

Deregulation Act 2015 - Private Hire Vehicle Operator Fees

 

Purpose of the Report

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

Recommendations

It is recommended that Members approve the proposed licence fees as outlined in Appendix A to this Report and that officers are instructed to publish a notice of the proposed fees in a local newspaper

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 Private Hire Operator Licences.
  2. The present practice in the Vale of Glamorgan Council is to grant these licences for a period of either 1 year or 3 years.
  3. The amendments made by the Deregulation Act establish a standard duration for a Private Hire Operators Licence of 5 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. Section 70 of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 allows the Council to charge fees in respect of Private Hire Operator 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.
  4. In respect of operator licences the Act states that the fee for an operator's licence shall not exceed £25 or such other sum as the Council may from time to time determine but was originally set in 1976 and should therefore reflect the current costs.
  5. 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.
  6. When the Council proposes to set new fees for operator's licences it is required by Section 70 of the 1976 Act to publish notice of the proposed variation in a local newspaper stating that objections may be made within a period of not less than 28 days. If objections are received and not withdrawn the Council must consider them and set a further date on which the variation shall come into force with or without modifications.

Relevant Issues and Options

  1. Although the legislation states that an operator's licence should be granted for 5 years there may be circumstances in which it may be appropriate to grant a licence for a shorter period. Whilst each case will be dealt with on its merits, proposed fees for both a 1 year licence and a 5 year licence have been calculated for approval.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. The table of existing and proposed fees are attached at Appendix A to this Report.
  5. The calculation has shown a slight reduction in the fee accounting for £246 surplus in relation to Private Hire Operator Licenses, it is proposed therefore that the fees set out in Appendix A are approved.

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 Private Hire Operator Licences.
  3. A surplus of £246 from the 2014/15 financial year has been taken into account in the calculation of the proposed Private Hire Operator Licence fees.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

  1. None.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

  1. Section 70 of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 allows the Council to charge fees in respect of Private Hire Operator 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.
  2. 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 calculations in respect of each type of licence issued by the Council should be kept separate.

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