Agenda Item No 5

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Public Protection Licensing Committee: 4th September, 2018

 

Report of the Director of Environment and Housing

 

Exemption from the Requirement to Display Door Stickers on a Private Hire Vehicle Licence

 

Purpose of the Report

  1. To consider the role of condition 9 of the Vale of Glamorgan Conditions for Private Hire Vehicles in promoting public safety, this condition requires identification door stickers to be fixed to each of the vehicle's front doors.
  2. Following a number of requests from the trade to be exempt from the above condition, the Licensing Department seek approval to consult with Members and the local hackney carriage/private hire trade on a draft policy detailing how the authority will deal with future requests to be exempt from this condition.

Recommendation

That members approve the proposal to consult with Members and the local trade on a draft policy concerning the exemption from the requirement to display door stickers on private hire vehicles.

Reason for the Recommendation

The display of door stickers is important in terms of protecting the public and the private hire trade. However, it is recognised that there are limited occasions, such as the operation of executive hire and tour operators where immediate identification of the vehicle has minimal effect in terms of customer safety and may have a negative impact on commercial considerations. In order to deal efficiently with such applications, the Licensing Department have produced a draft policy for which they seek the views of the local trade.

Background

  1. The Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 states that a district council may attach to the grant of a private hire vehicle licence, such conditions as they may consider reasonably necessary. This includes conditions requiring or prohibiting the display of signs on or from the vehicle to which the licence relates.
  2. The Vale of Glamorgan Conditions for Private Hire Vehicles condition 9 states that "the proprietor and/or driver shall at all times ensure that there shall be clearly displayed on 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 fixed to each door with the identification sticker's adhesive backing."
  3. The rationale for Condition 9 is that members of the public can clearly identify licensed private hire vehicles (PHV) from both the rear and the side of the vehicle.  The door stickers also clearly advise that the PHV must be pre-booked and display the licence number, which aids both the public and the Licensing Authority with regard to enforcement and helps to ensure the public are less likely to unwittingly get into an unlicensed vehicle.
  4. Some private hire businesses' operating models are such that the requirement to immediately recognise that a vehicle is licensed by the Vale of Glamorgan is not as important. Examples of such businesses include 'executive' or 'chauffeur' hire, where the vehicle may be used as part of a contract with media companies to transport VIP clients, or tour operators that wish to use vehicles on sightseeing tours around Wales.
  5. It is a condition for private hire vehicles licensed by the Vale of Glamorgan to a display a window licence in the front, and a licence plate at the rear of the vehicle. This proposal does not affect these conditions.
  6. A draft Exemption from the Requirement to Display Door Stickers on Private Hire Vehicles Policy is detailed in Appendix A.

Relevant Issues and Options

  1. In recent months there have 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 have 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.
  2. At the Public Protection Licensing Committee meeting on 6 March, a Member highlighted the fact that the demand for Executive Hire Vehicles was a 21st century business need and a request was made for a policy change to support Vale businesses. Another Member also highlighted that there was a need to amend the Council's licensing policy to better match the current needs of local businesses and stressed the importance of clear repercussions if exemptions to the policy were not maintained.
  3. The proposed policy is to help ensure a consistent approach is taken to such applications and that there is a transparent decision making process and to ensure that public safety is not compromised.
  4. It is proposed that dispensations will not be granted as a matter of course. A clear case for the dispensation will have to be made by the proprietor. In determining an application it will normally be the status of the passenger and the executive nature of the work that will indicate whether or not the dispensation should be granted. The high quality of the vehicle being used will be supportive of an application, but will not be the sole determining factor.
  5. It is proposed that the type of work that would be considered for the grant of an exemption could be termed 'executive hire', which goes 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 is licensed by the Vale of Glamorgan is not as important. Examples of such businesses include where the vehicle may be used as part of a contract with media companies to transport VIP clients, or tour operators that wish to use vehicles on sightseeing tours around Wales. Other situations would be considered on their individual merits.
  6. The draft policy proposes that where an exemption from displaying door stickers is granted for the purposes of executive hire, the vehicle must not display any indication that it is a private hire vehicle other than the Council window badge and rear plate. This includes advertising, company names, telephone numbers, web site addresses or anything that indicates that the vehicle is a private hire vehicle or is available for future hire.
  7. For businesses that operate as tour guides, it is understood that door stickers may give the impression that they are operating a private hire business that is available for hire, and as such do not want to display them. However, they may still want to advertise the tours that they offer.
  8. Due to the nature of the work carried out and the requirement to be immediately recognisable, it is proposed that an exemption will not be granted to vehicles that are also used as part of a School contract. If a vehicle that has an exemption is used as part of a School Contract, the exemption will expire with immediate effect.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

  1. None. It is not envisaged that such requests will significantly increase officer workload. However, any increase from current resources will be met from fee arrangements.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

  1. None.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

  1. Under the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976, the Council may attach to the grant of a licence such conditions as they may consider reasonably necessary.

Crime and Disorder Implications

  1. None.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

  1. None.

Corporate/Service Objectives

  1. 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

  1. This is a matter for decision by the Public Protection Licensing Committee.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

  1. None, it is proposed that a Member and trade consultation will be carried out.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

  1. Homes and Safe Communities.

Background Papers

None.

Contact Officer

Daniel Cook, Licensing Policy Officer 01446 709738

Officers Consulted

Richard Price, Lawyer Legal Services 01446 709409

Responsible Officer:

Miles Punter, Director of Environment and Housing