Agenda item

Renewal of Hackney Carriage and Private Hire licences for vehicles which have previously been written off

For Committee to:

 

1.   Note the contents of the report, in particular the impact the current hackney carriage and private hire vehicle policy is having on existing vehicle licence holders.

 

2.   Approve the undertaking of a short, targeted consultation exercise on amending the wording of paragraphs 3.4.4 and 3.5.4 of the Council’s Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Licensing Policy to the wording shown at Appendix 2.

 

3.   Delegate to the Corporate Director (Operations, Homes & Communities) in consultation with the Chair and Vice Chair of Licensing & Environmental          Health Committee to make a final decision in respect of the implementation of the amended minor policy wording proposals outlined at recommendation 1.2, subject to the review of consultation feedback.

 

 

Minutes:

The Committee considered a report on a proposal to amend the Council’s Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Licensing Policy. The Principal Licensing Officer presented the report and explained that the wording used in paragraphs 3.3.9 and 3.4.6 of the current Policy meant that vehicles which were licensed before September 2022 that had been previously graded as a Category A, Category B or Category C, or Category S write-off, no longer complied with the Council’s policy, even though the vehicle had been licensed for several years without any issues arising. As a consequence, Officers were unable to determine these renewal applications under delegated powers and any such applications would need to be referred to a Licensing Sub-Committee to be determined.

 

Officers had identified around 30 vehicles which would need to be referred to the Licensing Sub-Committee.

 

Due to the unintended consequence of the current Policy, the Committee were recommended to consider whether to consult on a proposed change, so as to return the Council to its previous policy position on written off vehicles.

 

It was proposed to delegate the final decision to the Corporate Director - Operations, Homes & Communities in consultation with the Chair and Vice-Chair of the Committee, having reviewed the consultation feedback, so that a decision can be made in a timely manner, rather than having to wait until the next meeting.

 

Officers responded to questions and comments from Committee Members. In the ensuing discussion, the following main points were made:

 

·        Members were advised that VOSA will be included in the consultation. Members asked if they could be encouraged to submit a response.

 

·        A request was made for information on what each categories means and how many affected vehicles are in each category. The Principal Licensing Officer explained the definitions as set out on the Government website. There was no requirement to record this information previously and therefore it is not possible at this stage to identify numbers in each category.

 

·        Members were advised that there is one approved testing station currently. Information on the checklist which they work to when undertaking tests can be circulated to Committee Members.

 

·        The Chair made reference to an email he had received from Councillor Riaz, which alleged that calls have been made by Officers from Worcestershire Regulatory Services to drivers from private phone numbers, advising that vehicles are not fit for purpose and a licence will no longer be issued. The Principal Licensing Officer advised that Officers have been contacting drivers upon receipt of their renewal application to explain what is happening. The purpose of the call is to explain what needs to be done, not to say that the vehicle cannot be used. This had been discussed at the Taxi Forum, where a request was made to pass on the information onto drivers, but there appears to have been a misunderstanding and he will take steps to clarify the matter.

 

Members expressed support for the proposal to consult on the proposal to amend the Policy, as recommended.

 

RESOLVED: That the Committee:

 

1.    note the contents of the report, and in particular the impact the current Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Vehicle Licensing Policy is having on existing vehicle licence holders whose vehicles have been previously written off;

 

2.    approve the undertaking of a 4 week public consultation exercise on a proposal to amend the Council’s Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Licensing Policy as set out at Appendix 2 to the report; and

 

3.    agree to delegate authority to the Corporate Director (Operations, Homes and Communities) in consultation with the Chair and Vice-Chair of Licensing and Environmental Health Committee to make a final decision in respect of the proposed policy changes referred to in resolution 2, subject to the review of consultation feedback.

Supporting documents: