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Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document

Meeting of the Licensing and Regulatory Committee held on 09/10/2007
Application for Exemption from Private Hire Plate Display



APPENDIX B

WAVERLEY BOROUGH COUNCIL

LICENSING AND REGULATORY COMMITTEE – 9TH OCTOBER 2007

Title:
APPLICATION FOR EXEMPTION FROM PRIVATE HIRE PLATE DISPLAY
[Wards Affected: N/A]


Summary and Purpose

This report enables the Committee to consider a request for exemption from the requirement to display the private hire licence plate on a private hire vehicle licensed by the Council. There are no environmental or resource implications arising as a result of this report. Approval of a certificate of exemption could have community safety implications, which are set out in the report.


E-Government implications:

There are no implications for e-government in this report.

Resource and legal implications

There are no resource implications arising from this report. There could possibly be implications arising from the prevention and detection of crime or generally unlawful activity arising from a licensed vehicle not carrying a Private Hire plate and any subsequent action which might ensue.

Environmental Implications

There are no new environmental implications in this report.

Social/Community Implications

The intention behind private hire licensing (as for hackney carriage licensing) is for the safety of the public, and also to enable people to provide the service to those wishing to avail themselves of a vehicle and driver for any reason. The Committee will need to consider the request in the light of whether a hirer can be assured that the vehicle and the driver are properly licensed after the necessary background checks have taken place.
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Introduction

1. Private Hire Vehicles and their drivers may be pre-booked only via a licensed private hire operator. Each of the three licences, for the operator, the vehicle and the driver, must be issued by the same licensing authority, i.e. the licences must ‘match’. Under Section 48(6) of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976, private hire vehicle proprietors (licensees) are required to exhibit on their vehicles the licence plates provided by the Council. For the Committee’s information, no such exemption exists for hackney carriages (taxis).

2. Notwithstanding this provision, Section 75(1) of the Act also provides:

“(1) Nothing in this Part of the Act shall –

(d) require the display of any plate, disc or notice in or on any private hire vehicle licensed by a Council under this Part of this Act during such period that such vehicle is used for carrying passengers for hire or reward - (ii) under a contract for the hire of the vehicle for a period of not less than 24 hours,

3. In addition, the Act enables a local authority, generally, to grant exemption from the requirement to display licence plates on private hire vehicles on occasions specified by the authority, or on any occasion, provided that the notice of exemption is carried in the vehicle (Section 75 (3)). If exemption from display on any occasion is granted, the driver of the vehicle is also exempted from the requirement in Section 54 (2) (a) that he should wear his private hire driver’s badge. The driver must, however, be a private hire driver licensed by the Council. If granted an exemption, the plate and the letter of exemption must be carried in the vehicle and produced for inspection when requested. The Committee has authorised several vehicles for exemption from plate display in the past, and the requests for such exemption are usually because the operator wishes to have a specific vehicle for more exclusive work than the daily ‘to and fro’ type of work which these vehicles may undertake.

Applications for Exemption and Transfer

4. As set out in the summary, a request has been received from Mr A C Brodbin for exemption from display of his licence plate at any time. A Private Hire Operator would normally have a good reason to request exemption, such as that the vehicle is primarily used in professional executive chauffeur-driven vehicle hire.

5. Mr Brodbin states that he offers a very high standard of service providing executive and chauffeur service to over 80 individuals and companies locally. His company has accounts with over 80 individuals and companies and a list of seven of these has been provided to the Licensing Office. He now operates five licensed private hire vehicles, one of which is a new recently purchased vehicle to add to his fleet, a 2003 registered Mercedes E Class Saloon, registration Y597 PWC, licensed under Plate No 262. Mr Brodbin has held exemption certificates for his other four vehicles over several years, and the officers are authorised by the Council to transfer these when a licence is transferred to a replacement vehicle.

6. The officers are seeking generally to ensure that plate exemption should not be an automatic procedure and that applicants produce suitable evidence of their reasons for requesting an exemption. It is important that full details of the work should be submitted to the Council with any application for exemption, before the Committee is asked to consider the details.

Community Safety Implications

7. The provision of an identifying licence plate on the rear of a vehicle and also the driver’s badge (which the driver must wear) are an assurance for hirers that they are using a safe and properly licensed vehicle and not a bogus one. An exemption from the requirement to display the licence plate could have community safety implications if the vehicle was then used for more routine and day-to-day private hire work. If an exemption is approved, the Private Hire Licence plate must be carried in the vehicle, together with the Council’s letter of approval of exemption, but these will not be evident or immediately obvious to the hirer.


8. However, with the Council’s vehicle licence-plate system introduced in 2005, there is now an obligation approved by the Council for all vehicles, including ‘exempted’ private hire vehicles, to display the internal small version of the plate in the front window of the vehicle. This should help to ensure that enough evidence is in place to assure any hirer of the vehicle’s licence status. This is an important community safety issue.

Recommendation

It is recommended that the Committee gives consideration to the request for exemption from the requirement to display a private hire licence plate on any occasion when the vehicle is used for chauffeur purposes, as submitted by Mr A C Brodbin, in respect of his Mercedes E Class, Registration Y597 PWC, Private Hire Plate no 262.

Background Papers (CEx)

Letter and supplementary information from Mr A C Brodbin dated 7th September and 20th September 2007.


CONTACT OFFICER:

Name: Mrs R Hughes Telephone: 01483 523225

E-mail: rhughes@waverley.gov.uk


comms\licensing\2007-08\049.doc