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Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document

Meeting of the Licensing and Regulatory Committee held on 11/06/2007
Hackney Carriages (Taxis) and Private Hire Vehicles - Outcome of Consultation on Licensing Policy and Conditions on Licences



APPENDIX B
Waverley Borough Council

LICENSING AND REGULATORY COMMITTEE
11TH JUNE 2007

COUNCIL - 17TH JULY 2007
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Title:
HACKNEY CARRIAGES (TAXIS) AND PRIVATE HIRE VEHICLES
OUTCOME OF CONSULTATION ON LICENSING POLICY AND CONDITIONS ON LICENCES
[Wards Affected: N/A]
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Summary and purpose:

This report gives the Committee the outcome of the recent consultation on the licensing of hackney carriages (taxis) and private hire vehicles. It asks the Committee to recommend to the Council those changes that it wishes to adopt as Council policy, having regard to the comments submitted both in writing and verbally at a consultation meeting with licensees on 24th May last.
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Environmental implications:

There are environmental implications associated with this report. These are mainly to do with the use of cars generally and the effect this may have on the local environment. However, the Council has a duty under the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 and the Town Police Clauses Act 1847 to license such vehicles. There are safety implications in the type and layout of vehicles and the equipment they contain.

Social/community Implications:

Licensed vehicles and their drivers are an important part of the local community and add to the availability of local transport.

E-Government Implications:

Applications for licences are available on the Council’s website.

Resource and Legal Implications:

There are no direct resource implications relating to this report. The statutory requirement to deal with applications for these licences is placed on the Borough Council by the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 and the Town Police Clauses Act 1847.

Waverley has a Licensing Enforcement Officer who deals with Hackney Carriages and Private Hire licensing, as well as with the Licensing Act 2003, sharing his time between the two matters at approximately two days per week for each. When pressing matters come to the fore, these may be dealt with almost to the exclusion of other matters when needed, but the balance is fairly consistent. The Licensing Team deals with administration of all licences. There is a presumption that the greater degree of the cost of licensing should be met by licence-holders as the recipient of the service, and not by the Council Tax payer. It is also important to address issues such as the safety of the public who may use the services of a licensed driver and vehicle and this is at the heart of the licensing service.
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Background

1. In order for a vehicle to become licensed to work for hire and reward, it must satisfy certain prerequisites to comply with legislation and the Council’s requirements. Fortunately, although some of the legislation is now 160 years old, the clause requiring the driver to carry a bale of hay for the hackney pony has been repealed, but there are many requirements such as a first aid kit, fire extinguisher, spare wheel, and other details which must be satisfied before the test of fitness is carried out, and a licence plate given. Taxis must have a (tested) taximeter and roof sign. An important point to note is that any vehicle, once licensed, can only be driven by a driver who holds a corresponding and valid hackney carriage or private hire driver’s licence.

2. Waverley has over recent months been looking at its policies in relation to licensing drivers and their vehicles, and updating this. The Council approved a revised Policy and conditions for drivers and their licences in April 2007. This Committee and the Council initially considered Vehicle licensing in April 2007. Since then, a consultation has been on Waverley’s web site with a closing date for representations set for 31st May. The consultation paper is enclosed at Annexe 1. [This paper includes its own attachments, Annexes 1, 2, and 3.]


Hackney carriage and private hire vehicles - revising the Policy and licence conditions

3. The consultation period has been running for some weeks, and was due to end on 31st May 2007 (date of agenda despatch). A consultation meeting was held on 24th May, to which all affected licensees were invited. A summary of comments made verbally at that meeting and those submitted in writing on the proposals is at Annexe 4 (to follow). The Annexe also contains a column of recommendations by the officers. Annexe 5 (also to follow) contains copies of the written submissions, and a further Annexe 6 (revising Annexe 3 above) may be added to explain proposals for expansion of the proposed new ‘age of vehicle’ policy in the light of the comments made to date.

4. The Committee is asked to look at the proposals and the comments made, and to make recommendations to the Council on these.

5. At the time of preparing the report, in the middle of the consultation period, it has already become clear that licensees have a preference, supported by the reasonable example of the length of a finance agreement, for a revised length of licensed life for taxis and private hire vehicles. Currently vehicles may be licensed at any time up until they are ten years of age. The vehicle licence is for one year at a time, and includes a test of the vehicle at the Council’s test centre, at Guildford Borough Council’s depot. No licence is issued until a vehicle has passed this test.

Human Rights Considerations

6. In considering this report the Council must take account of the rights of current licensees. The Human Rights Act 1998 makes it unlawful for a local authority to act in a way that is incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights. Individual rights to respect for one’s home and private family life are protected under the European Convention on Human Rights, through the 1998 Human Rights Act. The Council has a responsibility to act positively for the preservation of human rights as well as being obliged not to interfere on its own account.

7. The effect of the requested changes to licensing of taxis and private hire vehicles will be for the benefit of the general public. Any effect on the existing licensees would, in any event, be in accordance with the law and necessary in the interests of public safety, and for the protection of the rights of Waverley residents to a safe and responsible licensed taxi and Private Hire trade. The intention is to clarify the vehicle licence conditions, and to update these to meet modern changes in vehicle production. In addition, it is intended to ensure that the public when using licensed vehicles are given a better service with a safer and newer vehicle in which to travel.

Conclusion

8. The recommendations in this report are proposed in order to make it more clear to vehicle proprietors and drivers what their duties are as licensees. Additionally, more stringent requirements on the vehicles themselves will help to achieve improved public safety and a more accessible and comfortable fleet of vehicles licensed in Waverley. Consultation with existing licensees meets their rights to continue to work and their comments must be taken into consideration at this time, before any decision is taken about their licences.

Recommendation

It is recommended that the Committee considers the comments in relation to the proposed changes to conditions and policy for licensing vehicles and makes recommendation to the Council to approve those amendments that it feels are appropriate and necessary.
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Background Papers (MD)

Letters and comments submitted, as detailed at the Annexes to the report.
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CONTACT OFFICER:

Name: Rosemary Hughes Telephone: 01483 523225
Senior Licensing Officer

E-mail: rhughes@waverley.gov.uk

comms\licensing\2007-08\007.doc