Agenda Item No 5
The Vale of Glamorgan Council
Public Protection Licensing Committee: 6 December 2016
Report of the Director of Environment and Housing
Proposed 'Intended Use / Remote Trading' Policy for Hackney Carriages
Purpose of the Report
- To report back on the consultation undertaken in respect of a proposed "Intended Use / Remote Trading" policy for Hackney Carriages.
- To determine the adoption of the policy in respect of intended use / remote trading of Hackney Carriages detailed in Appendix A.
- That the Committee approves the adoption of the Intended Use / Remote Trading Policy in the Vale of Glamorgan as set out in Appendix A.
- The Head of the Shared Regulatory Service has existing delegated authority to revoke or suspend Hackney Carriage or Private Vehicle Hire Licences. It is recommended that Committee approve that this delegated Authority is used by Officers in the implementation of the new Policy to manage instances of non-compliance.
Reasons for the Recommendations
- The policy is intended to deal with the issues that arise from proprietors obtaining a Hackney Carriage Vehicle licence in the Vale of Glamorgan, which then allows them to trade as a Private Hire Vehicle (PHV) anywhere in the UK. A number of Welsh Authorities have already adopted Intended Use policies as a result of identifying that their hackney carriage vehicles were remotely trading in areas such as Bristol. It is intended that similar policies will be introduced in Bridgend County Borough Council and the City of Cardiff Council, helping to harmonise policy across the Shared Regulatory Service (SRS).
- At the meeting of the 6th September Members considered the use of delegated Authority in respect of non-compliance with the Policy and the use of delegated authority will enable efficient and timely implementation.
- At the meeting of 6 September 2016, Members received a report relating to the 2008 High Court Judgement - Newcastle City Council v Berwick-upon-Tweed, which established a principle that it was lawful for Hackney Carriages to trade as Private Hire Vehicles, (accepting only pre bookings) in a Local Authority area other than that which issued the licences (the home authority).
- The judgement in itself was acceptable, in that many licensed vehicles trade to some extent in areas other than the home licensing authority where licences are issued. For example, residents of the Vale of Glamorgan may wish to travel to or from neighbouring Authorities, such as Cardiff, Bridgend, Newport, or Caerphilly and this generally does not present a problem to the trade or the travelling public, being a legitimate aspect of a journey.
- However, the case precedent arose as a result of a challenge from a licensing authority (Newcastle City Council) against a neighbouring licensing authority (Berwick-upon-Tweed) where there was a considerable disparity between standards of vehicles, conditions of licence and fees.
- As a result of the decision that such activity was indeed lawful, several licensing authorities identified 'out of area' vehicles trading in their Boroughs and took steps to eliminate such trade. This primarily affected larger cities, but more recently all types of areas have been affected.
- The principle of local control is important and a licensing authority will set out its regime to ensure that its statutory obligations to provide a service are met, subject to the specific needs of its area - with the understanding that such vehicles and drivers will trade primarily within that area. For this reason a number of Authorities have adopted an 'Intended Use' policy. The justification for such a policy was on the grounds of public safety, in that if vehicles are predominantly operating outside of the area where they are licensed then they are not available to be spot checked by officers when carrying out enforcement.
- Members were advised that whilst there is limited concern that the practice of 'out of area' / remote trading is currently prevalent amongst drivers licensed in the Vale of Glamorgan, best practice advocated that prevention is better than cure and it is preferable to apply closer scrutiny to applications, with the prospect of challenging them prior to being granted, as opposed to the review of a licence when trading activity becomes a problem.
- As a result, Members approved a consultation with the local taxi trade which comprised the following: trade representatives received notification of the consultation by email; hard copies of the draft Intended Use policy were left at local taxi offices; officers met with trade representatives to outline the policy and the representatives also agreed to disseminate the policy further. Members also expressed the view that there should be Officer delegation in respect of revocation of licences for non-compliance with the policy to ensure timeliness and efficiency in its implementation.
- The Council received no written responses to the consultation, or suggestions for amendments to the policy.
- The Intended Use Policy is based on the template provided by the Directors of Public Protection Wales (DPPW) which is approved for use by Welsh Local Authorities.
Relevant Issues and Options
- The relevant application forms will be amended to require an applicant to confirm that it is his or her intention to operate predominantly in the Vale of Glamorgan and to identify where the vehicle will be stored. There will be no prescribed definition of the term "predominantly" or "substantial" at this stage as each case will be determined on its merits and having regard to the evidence available.
Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)
- None. It is envisaged that any partnership work between neighbouring authorities will not significantly increase workload. However, any increase from current resources will be met from fee arrangements.
Sustainability and Climate Change Implications
Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)
- Newcastle City Council v Berwick-upon-Tweed Council . In this judgement, the following statements were made:-
- "It was the intention behind the licensing system that it should operate in such a way that the authority licensing hackney carriages is the authority for the area in which those vehicles are generally used";
- "A licensing authority, properly directing itself, is entitled and indeed obliged to have regard to whether in fact the applicant intends to use that hackney carriage predominantly, or entirely, remotely from the authority's area" and;
- "It must be desirable for an authority issuing licences to hackney carriages to be able to restrict the issuing of those licence to proprietors and drivers which are intending to ply for hire in that authority's area"
- Under Section 47 of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 the Council may impose such conditions upon hackney carriage licences as it may consider reasonably necessary.
Crime and Disorder Implications
Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)
- The Council is obliged to apply its licensing conditions on an equitable basis in the case of all applications.
- As the general public rely on the licensed trade to transport them safely, suitable licence conditions contribute to Outcome 1: "An Inclusive and Safer Vale."
Policy Framework and Budget
- This is a matter for decision by the Public Protection Licensing Committee.
Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)
- The draft report and policy were made available at the licensing offices for any interested party to provide written submissions. Officers also met with representatives from the licensed trade to disseminate the draft report and policy to their members. No written responses were submitted during the consultation period.
Relevant Scrutiny Committee
- Homes and Safe Communities.
- Newcastle City Council v Berwick-upon-Tweed
- DPPW Intended use policy for the licensing of hackney carriages.
Daniel Cook, Licensing Policy Officer 029 2087 2011
Richard Price, Lawyer Legal Services 01446 709409
Miles Punter, Director of Environment and Housing