Agenda Item No. 7
The Vale of Glamorgan Council
Shared Regulatory Services Joint Committee: 26th September 2017
Report of the Director of Environment and Housing
Harmonisation of Animal Licensing
Purpose of the Report
- To advise the Joint Committee of a review of existing licence conditions pertaining to animal related premises
- To seek approval for some minor adjustments in animal related licence conditions to achieve harmonisation across the Shared Regulatory Services (SRS) region and ensure that conditions remain fit for purpose and reflect best practice going forward.
It is recommended that the Joint Committee
- Notes the content of this report and approves the minor amendments proposed to achieve harmonisation of animal licence conditions across the SRS region
- Authorises the Head of Shared Regulatory Services to make any further amendments that may prove necessary over time, to animal related licence conditions.
Reasons for the Recommendations
- Harmonisation of licence requirements into a single, SRS-wide set of conditions under each of the various animal related licence regimes would bring the benefits of:
- greater efficiency for enforcement and licensing staff, and
- greater certainty and clarity for the businesses concerned
- Authorising the Head of Shared Regulatory Services to make minor amendments as the need arises would enable changes in licensing best practice to be reflected promptly, without the need to bring repeated reports to the Joint Committee.
- The Service licenses the following types of animal related premises and activities under the relevant statutory licence regimes:
- Animal Boarding Establishments
- Dangerous Wild Animals
- Dog Day Care
- Dog Breeding Establishment
- Home Boarding Establishments
- Performing Animals
- Pet Shops
- Riding Establishments
- The licence conditions prevailing in each of the three Local Authority areas upon the creation of the Shared Service have continued to operate since that time. This means that for each of the licence regimes set out in paragraph 3 above, three sets of licence conditions apply, depending on the location of the premises or activity.
- The three sets of conditions within each of the animal licence regimes are not greatly different from each other as each is based on national best practice standards. However, the current arrangement requires that enforcement officers and licensing staff ensure on every occasion that a licence is being granted under the specific set of conditions pertaining to a particular location.
- The current situation also gives rise to confusion among businesses, particularly those trading in different locations across the SRS region.
Relevant Issues and Options
- Harmonisation of animal related licensing by the creation of a single set of conditions for each regime would result in greater efficiency for both Animal Health and Welfare Officers conducting inspections and for licensing staff in issuing the physical licences. Harmonisation would also result in greater certainty for businesses, particularly those with a presence in more than one of the SRS Local Authority areas.
- The majority of the amendments needed to achieve consistency relate to the way conditions are currently worded rather than their purpose and effect. There are only four amendments identified as necessary where the change would be more substantial and these are set out in paragraphs 9 to 12 below.
- Firstly, it is proposed that the harmonised set of licence conditions for Home Boarding Establishments permits the boarding of dogs from different families, subject to written consent and familiarisation. Currently, this practice is permitted within the licence conditions pertaining to the Bridgend and Cardiff areas, but not in the Vale of Glamorgan where home boarded dogs have to be from the same family. As such, the current arrangement is to the detriment of Home Boarders based in the Vale of Glamorgan.
- Secondly, it is proposed that the harmonised set of conditions for Home Boarding Establishments prohibits the home boarding activity at properties where any child under the age of five years resides. Currently, this is the requirement with respect to Home Boarders based in the Bridgend and Cardiff areas, but in the Vale of Glamorgan the age requirement for resident children is ten years and over. As such, the current arrangement places a greater restriction on businesses operating in the Vale of Glamorgan and the proposed amendment has the potential to allow additional premises in that area to become licensed.
- With regard to Dog Breeding Establishments, it is proposed that a harmonised set of licence conditions would require that breeding bitches have proof of vaccination. This would be in line with current best practice. Currently, none of the three sets of conditions for the licensing of Dog Breeding Establishments requires this.
- With regard to Riding Establishments, a change in wording is proposed to make it clear that the harmonised conditions apply to all buildings and areas to which horses have access and/or are used. The extension to 'and areas' would address the current loophole in licensing Riding Establishments operating on a beach and similar areas where the shelter provided against the sun is from a structure other than a building.
- Given the minor, harmonising nature of the proposed changes it is not thought necessary to go out to formal consultation with the trade; however licensees would be made aware of the changes well ahead of their taking effect next year. In practice, this will affect licences issued to run from 1st January to 31st December 2019.
- The proposed harmonised conditions for each of the licence regimes are appended as Annexes 1 to 9 to this report (Annex 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9)
- Finally, it is proposed that the Head of Shared Regulatory Services is authorised to make minor changes to the agreed harmonised animal licence conditions going forward, thereby avoiding the need for repeated reports to be brought to the Joint Committee on every occasion that amendments are needed.
Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)
- There are no adverse resource implications for the service, indeed the use of a harmonised set of conditions would enable the service to streamline processes and make efficiency savings.
Sustainability and Climate Change Implications
- There are no immediate sustainability or climate change implications associated with this report.
Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)
- Under relevant legislation, the Council is allowed to recover costs for Regulatory activity and the issuing of permits and licences.
Crime and Disorder Implications
- There are no immediate crime and disorder implications associated with this report.
Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)
- There are no anticipated equal opportunities implications associated with this report. Through the monitoring and regular review of licensing regimes, the Shared Service will ensure that its enforcement activity reflects this position and is in keeping with the Equality Statements and Policies of the participant Authorities.
- Achieving a harmonised set of conditions for animal related licences links with the participant authorities' stated objectives which are reflected in the Shared Regulatory Service themes of, 'Improving health and well-being', Supporting the local economy and 'Maximising the use of resources''
Policy Framework and Budget
- The key service and improvement objectives contained in the SRS Business Plan identify and link to the Corporate Plans of each Council. This proposal is focused upon health and well-being and supporting the local economy, along with the maximising resources component of the Plan. It is intended that the adopted Scrutiny regime will engage in the review and developments of plans, policies and strategies that support the corporate objectives of each Council.
Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)
- No specific consultation on the proposal is planned.
Relevant Scrutiny Committee
- The SRS is currently scrutinised through the arrangements in pace at each partner Council.
Helen Picton, Operational Manager (Enterprise and Specialist Services)
Head of Service, Bridgend County Borough Council
Assistant Director, City of Cardiff Council
Director of Environment and Housing services, Vale of Glamorgan
Accountant, Vale of Glamorgan Council
Legal Services, Vale of Glamorgan Council
Miles Punter - Director of Environment and Housing