PUBLIC PROTECTION LICENSING COMMITTEE

 

Minutes of a meeting held on 4th September, 2018.

 

Present:  Councillor V.P. Driscoll (Chairman); Councillors Mrs. J.E. Charles, G.A. Cox, R. Crowley, Mrs. P. Drake, O. Griffiths, Dr. I.J. Johnson, K.P. Mahoney, K.F. McCaffer, Mrs. A. Moore, Mrs. J.M. Norman, L.O. Rowlands, J.W. Thomas, Mrs. M.R. Wilkinson and Mrs. M. Wright.

 

 

245     MINUTES -

 

RESOLVED - T H A T the minutes of the meeting held on 15th May, 2018 be approved as a correct record.

 

 

246     DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST -

 

No declarations were received.

 

 

247     AMENDMENTS TO THE HACKNEY CARRIAGE AND PRIVATE HIRE VEHICLE CONDITIONS RELATING TO THE STORAGE OF LUGGAGE (DEH) -

 

The Licensing Policy Officer presented the report the purpose of which was to consider amendments to Condition 21 of the Vale of Glamorgan Conditions for Hackney Carriages and Condition 15 of the Vale of Glamorgan Conditions for Private Hire Vehicles in promoting public safety.  These conditions required Hackney Carriages and Private Hire Vehicles that were estate cars to have a metal luggage guard permanently fitted between the luggage and passenger compartments. 

 

Condition 21 of the Vale of Glamorgan Conditions for Hackney Carriages, which related to the boot or luggage compartment state “To be clean and free for the accommodation of passenger’s luggage.  Where the Hackney Carriage vehicle is an estate vehicle it must have a metal luggage guard permanently fitted between the luggage and passenger compartments.  The guard must have licensing authority approval prior to use.  Any items carried in the boot or luggage compartment must be secured.”

 

Condition 15 of the Vale of Glamorgan Conditions for Private Hire Vehicles, which related to the boot or luggage compartment, states “To be clean and free for the accommodation of passenger’s luggage.  Where the Private Hire Vehicle is an estate vehicle it must have a metal luggage guard permanently fitted between the luggage and passenger compartments.  The guard must have licensing authority approval prior to use.  Any items carried in the boot or luggage compartment must be secured.”

 

It was reported that the rationale for these conditions was to reduce the risks associated with the luggage moving forward in the event of a collision or emergency breaking.  These conditions had been in place for a number of years and were implemented at a time when vehicle manufactures did not often include fitted luggage guards as a matter of course to estate vehicles. 

 

Members were advised that a number of estate vehicles, when presented for licensing, had failed their compliance test due to not having a metal luggage guard fitted, as required by the current Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Vehicle Conditions.

 

The vehicles that had failed the compliance did have manufacturer factory fitted luggage guards in place, but these were fabric and as such did not comply with the current conditions.

 

Many manufacturers, such as Ford, Mercedes and BMW, did not produce metal luggage guards for their vehicles.  Therefore, in order to comply with the current conditions, some licensed vehicle proprietors had to install non-manufacturer approved metal luggage guards.

 

The National Inspections Standards for Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Vehicles, produced by the Freight Transport Association, in relation to the storage of luggage states “Physical separation is not so much an issue as is the safety of passengers in the event of an accident.  The luggage should therefore be secure and prevented from becoming dislodged in an accident in such a manner as may cause injuries.  Such security can be by means of a sheet or net, which could be anchored to the floor or the luggage area.  Clearly, if the luggage compartment is not physically separated from the passenger compartment then care will need to be taken so as not to carry any hazardous items such as fuel cans, detergents or other loose items that could leak if they became damaged.”

 

It was therefore proposed to amend Condition 21 of the Vale of Glamorgan Conditions for Hackney Carriages and Condition 15 of the Vale of Glamorgan Conditions for Private Hire Vehicles in light of advancements in vehicle design and construction.  These conditions would be replaced with the following:

 

“Vehicles shall have adequate space for luggage, which shall either be in the form of a separate luggage compartment or an area where luggage can be properly restrained in the event of an accident or emergency stop.”

 

The proposed amendments to the Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Vehicle Conditions would enable proprietors of estate vehicles to use the manufacturer fitted luggage guard, whilst ensuring that luggage was securely restrained. 

 

A Committee Member asked why this had become an issue, commenting that it seemed safer for a metal guard to be in place.  In reply, the Licensing Policy Officer stated that the fitting of metal guards had not been approved by manufactures, which were also not fully tested for safety.   He added that it was unclear whether the metal guards were superior to manufacturer factory fitted luggage guards that came as standard fit.  In addition, Members were advised that the proposed amendments fell in line with guidance produced by the Freight Transport Association, which did not indicated that a guard had to be made of metal.  The amendments also fell in line with similar proposals agreed by other Local Authorities.  The Committee also noted that all vehicles would be tested, and if testers felt that vehicles were non-compliant then testers could fail the vehicles.

 

Having considered the report, it was

 

RESOLVED - T H A T the amendments to Condition 21 of the Vale of Glamorgan Conditions for Hackney Carriages and Condition 15 of the Vale of Glamorgan Conditions for Private Hire Vehicles, as detailed in paragraph 10 of the report be approved.

 

Reason for decision

 

The conditions requiring a metal luggage guard had been place for a number of years and were implemented at a time when manufacturers did not always provide suitable security for the storage of luggage in estate vehicles.  However, it is now common place for estate cars to come with luggage guards from factory that had been tested by the manufacturer.  Many manufacturers do not supply metal luggage guards, either from factory or as an optional extra, and as such vehicle proprietors are required to install non-manufacturer approved luggage guards in order to comply with the current conditions.

 

 

248     EXEMPTION FROM THE REQUIREMENT TO DISPLAY DOOR STICKERS ON A PRIVATE HIRE VEHICLE LICENCE (DEH) -

 

The Licensing Policy Officer, presented the report the purpose of which was to consider the role of Condition 9 of the Vale of Glamorgan Conditions for Private Hire Vehicles in promoting public safety.  This condition required identification door stickers to be fixed to each of the vehicles front doors. 

 

Following a number of requests from the trade to be exempt from Condition 9, the Licensing Department sought approval to consult with Members and the local Hackney Carriage/Private Hire Trade on a draft Policy detailing how the authority would deal with future requests to be exempt from this condition. 

 

Condition 9 of the Vale of Glamorgan Conditions for Private Hire Vehicles, states that “the proprietor and/or driver shall at all times ensure that there shall be clearly displayed on a the centre or upper part of each front door of the vehicle, the adhesive Private Hire Identification Sticker supplied by the Licensing Authority.  The stickers must be permanently affixed to each door with the identification stickers adhesive backing.”

 

It was reported that some Private Hire businesses operating models were such that the requirement to immediately recognise that a vehicle was licenced by the Vale of Glamorgan was not as important.  Examples of such businesses included executor or chauffeur hire, with the vehicle maybe used as part of a contract with media companies to transport VIP clients, or tour operators that wished to use vehicles on site seeing tours around Wales.

 

It was a condition for Private Hire Vehicles Licence by the Vale of Glamorgan to display a window licence in the front, and a licence plate at the rear of the vehicle.  This proposal did not affect these conditions. 

 

A draft exemption from the requirement to display door stickers on Private Hire Vehicle Policy was detailed in Appendix A. 

 

In recent months, there had been a number of requests from the trade to be exempt from the requirement to display external door stickers, for the purpose of carrying out executive hire work.  The Licensing Department had received comments that the requirement to display door stickers may have, in certain circumstances, the opposite effect in terms of customer safety, and could have commercial implications for the operating business, as it could deter corporate customers from using the service. 

 

The proposed policy would help ensure a consistent approach was taken to such applications and that there was a transparent decision making process and to ensure that public safety was not compromised. 

 

It was proposed that dispensations would not be granted as a matter of course.  A clear case for the dispensation would have to be made by the proprietor.  In determining an application it would normally be the status of a passenger and the executive nature of the work that would indicate whether or not the dispensation would be granted.  The high quality of the vehicle being used would be supportive of an application, but would not be the sole determining factor. 

 

It was also proposed that the type of work that would be considered for the grant of an exemption could be termed executive hire, which went beyond what would be expected on a private hire journey normally booked through an operator, and where the requirement to immediately recognise that a vehicle was licenced by the Vale of Glamorgan was not as important.

 

The draft Policy proposed that where an exemption from displaying door stickers was granted for the purpose of executive hire, the vehicle must not display any indication that it was a Private Hire Vehicle other than the Council window badge and rear plate.  This included advertising, company names, telephone numbers, website addresses or anything that indicated that the vehicle was a Private Hire Vehicle or available for future hire. 

 

For businesses that operated as tour guides, it was understood that door stickers may give the impression that they were operating a Private Hire business that was available for hire, and as such, did not want to display them.  However, they may still want to advertise the tours that they offered.  Due to the nature of the work carried out and a requirement to be immediately recognisable, it was proposed that an exemption would not be granted to vehicles that were also used as part of a school contract.  If a vehicle that had an exemption was used as part of a school contract, the exemption would expire with immediate effect.

 

The Committee sought clarification of the consultation process, querying timescales and who would be consulted.  The Licensing Policy Officer advised that the intention was to email Elected Members and to meet with the taxi association asking them to disseminate the consultation document onto its Members. Anything that was raised would be reported back to the Committee.

 

Members felt that consultation should be broader, and should also include other agencies such as the Police.  It was also important to gather the views of drivers, so consultation should also be held with all Private Hire Vehicle operators.  A Member also stated that consideration should be given to consulting with the Homes & Safe Communities Scrutiny Committee, and for the consultation response document to be made available on the Council’s website.  The Committee noted that there was Government guidance in relation to timescales of consultations, and asked that this should be looked into by the Legal Officer.

 

The Committee also considered whether the use of magnetic door stickers should be considered, but Members felt that because there had been issues with this in the past, then the disadvantages outweighed the advantages.

 

Having considered the report, it was

 

RESOLVED - T H A T the proposal to consult with Members and the local trade on a draft Policy concerning the exemptions from requirement to display door sticker on Private Hire Vehicles be approved.

 

Reason for decision

 

In order that a consultation exercise be undertaken that includes all relevant organisations/agencies and stakeholders.