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Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document

Meeting of the Licensing and Regulatory Committee held on 09/10/2007
Licensing Large/High Base Vehicle (4x4 Vehicles) as Private Hire Vehicles



APPENDIX C

WAVERLEY BOROUGH COUNCIL

LICENSING AND REGULATORY COMMITTEE – 9TH OCTOBER 2007

Title:
LICENSING LARGE/HIGH BASE VEHICLES (4 X 4 VEHICLES)
AS PRIVATE HIRE VEHICLES
[Wards Affected: N/A]


Summary and Purpose

This report enables the Committee to consider whether it would wish to license for private hire work, or to have any special policy or criteria regarding the private hire licensing of 4 x 4 vehicles such as Range Rovers, Land Cruisers/Discoverys, Pathfinders, Shoguns, and similar vehicles. These are vehicles which would not be classed in general terms as saloons or people carriers. There may be environmental implications, but there are no resource implications arising as a result of this 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.

Environmental Implications

There may be environmental implications arising from this report, relating to fuel consumption and vehicle emissions.

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 matter 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’.

2. It is for each Council to decide on the type of vehicle which it considers suitable for licensing provided that the vehicle seats not more than eight passengers in total. Vehicles which carry more than eight passengers are subject to regulation as public service vehicles by the Traffic Commissioners, based in Eastbourne. Waverley generally licenses saloon vehicles, people carriers, purpose-built London style cabs (FX4 and similar models), minibuses, provided that they fit with the agreed criteria regarding size, engine capacity, and other aspects. A summary of the requirements for licensed vehicles is attached at Annexe 1 to this report. These requirements were reviewed in July 2007.

3. When the policy for licensing vehicles was approved, there remained the question as to whether what is colloquially described as the 4 x 4 type should be approved. Officers had concerns about the step-in height of such vehicles for the wide use to which they were to be put. Many people using taxi and private hire vehicles can be infirm and 4 x 4s are more difficult to step into for the very young and for elderly or infirm people, who may unwittingly hire them.

4. At the time, it was agreed that these were unlikely to be suited to taxi work, but there was no clear opinion as to whether they would be suitable for private hire work. At the time, there was an application for licensing a Range Rover, and the Committee approved this as a special measure at the time, and asked the officers to investigate further on the suitability of their use as private hire vehicles for licensing purposes.

What happens in other Licensing Districts?

5. Information has been sought through licensing contacts throughout England and Wales, and responses were received from eight licensing authorities. The responses are summarised below.
Licensing DistrictAccepts 4 x 4 vehicles for Private HireHow many currently Provisions/reasonComments
BasildonYes0One applied for but did not meet criteriaMay be a risk if customer has to ‘slip’ out of the higher vehicle
AylesburyYes1Must meet set criteriaThe Private hire Company must deal with any problems/lose business if not suitable
HartYes1None given
PrestonNoN/ANone givenL/O thinks they should be suitable to license, easy to get in and out of them
WokinghamYes1Appears only to be used for airport runsNot apparently used very often
St AlbansYes1Customers like the vehicle
WorthingYesNot statedThe customer is offered a choiceCustomer able to choose
EastbourneYes Not statedNo policy for themExpensive to run, but generally very safe



Community Safety Implications

6. These vehicles generally appear to be sturdier and stronger than the saloon type, and therefore may have a better safety record too, although this aspect has not been investigated. The consensus from the replies received is that they are both expensive to purchase and expensive to run, being high on fuel consumption, but these are generally matters for operators to consider. Officers have looked also at people carriers, which are licensed by Waverley in common with most other licensing authorities, and have found that some of these can also have a very high step into the interior.

7. The Committee has not taken account in the past of issues of fuel economy or emissions for any type of vehicles.

Conclusion

8. It is felt, as the Licensing and Regulatory Committee concluded when considering the Range Rover application, that 4 x 4 vehicles would not be appropriate for licensing as hackney carriages, since these are vehicles which stand ready to take passengers at a moment’s notice on journeys which can often be very short. However, there appears to be a case on balance for the Committee to decide whether it feels that they would be suitable and acceptable for private hire work. Given the evidence of those licensing authorities which do permit their use for private hire work, it appears that there will not be very many such vehicles offered for licensing in any case. However, a decision is required on this matter, so that people making enquiries in the future can be given the right advice about the vehicles they wish to license.


Recommendation

It is recommended that the Committee

1. agrees that 4 x 4 vehicles should not be licensed as hackney carriages; and

2. decides whether it would wish to approve such vehicles for licensing as private hire vehicles.

Background Papers (CEx)

There are no background papers (as defined by Section 100D(5) of the Local Government Act 1972) relating to this report.


CONTACT OFFICER:

Name: Mrs R Hughes Telephone: 01483 523225

E-mail: rhughes@waverley.gov.uk


Comms/licensing/2007-08/050