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Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document

Meeting of the Council held on 16/10/2007
MINUTES OF THE MEETING OF THE LICENSING AND REGULATORY COMMITTEE –
9TH OCTOBER 2007



Licensing and Regulatory Committee 11
09.10.07
WAVERLEY BOROUGH COUNCIL
MINUTES OF THE MEETING OF THE LICENSING AND REGULATORY COMMITTEE –
9TH OCTOBER 2007

SUBMITTED TO THE COUNCIL MEETING – 16TH OCTOBER 2007
(To be read in conjunction with the Agenda for the Meeting)
*Cllr L C Bate (Chairman)*Cllr J P Hubble
*Cllr Mrs G M Beel (Vice-Chairman)Cllr S R E Inchbald
*Cllr Mrs E CableCllr P B Isherwood
*Cllr M Causey*Cllr R A Knowles
*Cllr V Duckett*Cllr S Renshaw
*Cllr R D FrostCllr J R Sandy
*Cllr Mrs J P HargreavesCllr J M Savage
Cllr N P Holder
*Present

Councillor S N Connolly attended as a substitute.

17. MINUTES (Agenda Item 1)

The Minutes of the Meeting held on 11th June 2007 were confirmed and signed.

18. APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE (Agenda Item 2)

Apologies for absence were received from Councillors N P Holder, S R E Inchbald, J R Sandy and J M Savage. Councillor S N Connolly attended as a substitute.

19. DISCLOSURE OF INTERESTS (Agenda Item 5)

PART I – RECOMMENDATIONS TO COUNCIL

20. HACKNEY CARRIAGES (TAXIS) AND PRIVATE HIRE VEHICLES AGE POLICY - REQUEST FOR RECONSIDERATION OF INTRODUCTION (Agenda Item 5, Appendix A)

20.1 At its last meeting, the Committee had agreed amendments to the Licensing Policy for vehicle licences. One matter agreed had caused particular concern among licensees, and one of them had formally requested that the Council reconsider the date of introduction of one particular aspect of the new policy. The Committee received a report asking Members to reconsider the policy for age of vehicles and first licensing and a proposal for the introduction of a sliding scale.

20.2 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. Several changes to these licence requirements, as recommended by the Licensing and Regulatory Committee, were approved by Council on 17th July 2007. 20.3 Among the matters approved was the proposal that vehicles presented as new to the licensing process should be under three years of age at first licence. Officers had proposed a sliding scale leading towards this introduction. In the recommendation to Council it was proposed and agreed that the policy of vehicles being under three years old at first licence should be introduced with effect from 1st September 2007, this is referred to as the ‘new to licensing’ policy. [Prior to that date, a vehicle, provided it was fit for purpose, had to be under 10 years of age. This was managed by the officers by suggesting to applicants that the vehicle should be ‘substantially’ under 10 years old, and cars have generally been of varying ages from under 7 years old as a maximum at first licence application, and applicants have generally complied with suggestions from officers.]

20.4 As noted at the July meeting, it was clear that licensees had 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. They seemed to have been content to accept the shorter overall working life for taxis and private hire vehicles. However, licensees’ perception is that the Council had given short notice of introduction of the ‘age at first licence’, being from receipt of the Council’s letter (sent out immediately following the Council meeting on 17th July) to 1st September.

20.5 A licensee had written to the Council asking that the policy for first licensing be reconsidered. The section of the Policy which is causing concern is attached at Annexe 1, paragraph 1 refers. 20.6 The Committee was asked to look at the request and to make recommendations to Council on whether it would consider that: 1. The introduction date of 1st September 2007 for new vehicle licences should be re-affirmed; or whether
2. A sliding scale over, say, two or three years would be acceptable. 20.7 If a sliding scale for introduction was considered acceptable, then this could be handled as follows:-
20.8 A scale, as proposed above, would appear fair, in particular to those who have been trying, not all of them successfully, to replace their vehicles prior to the introduction date of 1st September 2007. This predicament was described by the writer of the letters, and others have told officers over recent weeks that they have also had problems finding vehicles in the time allowed, especially where they had already programmed in replacement vehicle purchase at a later date in any case. The above sliding scale would bring the ‘new to licence’ policy in line with the ‘maximum age policy, which now states that from 1st September 2009, the maximum age for licences granted to vehicles will be 7 years (unless the proprietor has any ‘grandfather’ rights over the licence).

20.9 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. 20.10 The effect of this requested change to licensing of taxis and private hire vehicles will maintain the Council’s intention of benefiting the general public in terms of public safety. Whatever decision is taken, the effect on the existing licensees would be in accordance with the law and necessary in the interests, 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 ages, 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 in the longer term. The effect on existing licensees of the immediate introduction of a ‘new to licensing’ policy brought in over a period of around six weeks could be very difficult for them to deal with, and might be regarded as unreasonable. This could lead on to a challenge in the courts, which it is hard to see the challengers losing, based on grounds of reasonableness. 20.11 The Committee considered the proposal to introduce a new sliding scale over two years for the age of new vehicles and agreed that it was a fair and reasonable way forward and

RECOMMENDS that

4. The decision to introduce a policy of vehicles being under three years old at first licence being introduced with effect from 1st September 2007 be rescinded; and

5. Paragraph 1 of the ‘new to licence’ policy, attached at Annexe 1, be amended to reflect the introduction of a sliding scale for new vehicular licences, over a period of two years and commencing from 1st September 2007, as outlined in paragraph 20.7 above.

Background Papers (CEx)

Letters and comments submitted, as detailed in the Committee report.
MATTERS OF REPORT

Background Papers (CEx)

The background papers relating to the following items in Parts II and III are as specified in the Agenda for the meeting of the Licensing and Regulatory Committee.
PART II – Matters reported in detail for the information of the Council

21. LICENSING LARGE/HIGH BASE VEHICLES (4 X 4 VEHICLES) AS PRIVATE HIRE VEHICLES (Agenda Item 7, Appendix C)

21.1 The Committee received a report asking Members 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 4x4 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.

21.2 The Committee noted that when the Policy for licensing vehicles was approved there remained the question as to whether what was colloquially described, as the 4x4 type should be approved, and that recently there had been a licence granted by the Council for a 4x4 vehicle subject to officers investigating further on the suitability of their use as private hire vehicles for licensing purposes. The Committee also noted that other licensing authorities accepted 4x4 vehicles for Private Hire.

21.3 In considering the proposal, the Committee discussed the suitability of 4x4 vehicles for carrying members of the public. Members noted that, if licensed as a hackney carriage, the vehicles would need to be ready on the rank at short notice and for some people, travelling in a 4x4 would be difficult and impractical. The fact that 4x4 vehicles were expensive to purchase and expensive to run, being high on fuel consumption, was a matter for the operators to consider and was not a material consideration for the Committee.

21.4 The Committee felt that licensing 4x4 vehicles for Hackney Carriage would not be acceptable, but, in the case of private hire, where the operator was offering a specialist service, providing members of the public with the option of travelling in a 4x4 was reasonable. It was noted that around the borough there would be instances where people lived away from main roads and providing access to a property via a 4x4 would be more suitable than a standard vehicle. However, Members agreed that in granting 4x4 vehicles for licensing as private hire vehicles, a guidance note should be sent to operators, advising them of the need to make it clear to passengers who booked their services, about the type of vehicles being provided.

RESOLVED that

1. 4x4 vehicles (including vehicles of similar nature) should not be licensed as Hackney Carriages; and 2. Licensing 4x4 vehicles (including vehicles of a similar nature) as private hire vehicles should be permitted and the policy for licensing vehicles be revised accordingly.
PART III – Brief Summaries of other matters dealt with

22. ACTION TAKEN SINCE THE LAST MEETING (Agenda Item 4)

The Committee noted the action taken by the Chief Executive, in consultation with the Chairman and Vice-Chairman, that:

23. APPLICATION FOR EXEMPTION FROM PRIVATE HIRE PLATE DISPLAY (Agenda Item 6, Appendix B)
24. LICENCES APPROVED UNDER DELEGATED AND OTHER POWERS – LICENSING ACT 2007 (Agenda Item 8, Appendices D and E)

25. MINUTES OF THE MEETINGS OF THE LICENSING (GENERAL PURPOSES) SUB-COMMITTEE (Agenda Item 9, Appendices F and G)

RESOLVED that, subject to minor amendments relating to attendance at the meetings, the Minutes of the Licensing (General Purposes) Sub-Committee held on 5th July 2007 and the Minutes of the Special Meeting of the Licensing (General Purposes) Sub-Committee held on16th August 2007 be noted.

26. MINUTES OF THE MEETINGS OF THE LICENSING ACT 2003 SUB-COMMITTEE (Agenda Item 10, Appendix H)

RESOLVED that the Minutes of the Meeting of Licensing Act 2003 Sub-Committee ‘D’ held on 12th July 2007 be noted.
The meeting commenced at 7.00pm and concluded at 7.31pm.


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