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Issue - meetings

Interpretation of the law – ‘Out of town’ licences

Meeting: 26/09/2019 - Executive (Item 47)

47 Interpretation of the Law – ‘Out of Town’ Licences pdf icon PDF 250 KB

The Corporate Director of Economy and Place to present a report that outlines the Council’s interpretation of the law relating to the ability of private hire operators and drivers to work their vehicles outside of the area within which they are licensed (often referred to as ‘out of town’ operators/drivers/vehicles).

Additional documents:

Decision:

Resolved:  (i)      That Option 1 be approved, and the legal position outlined in paragraph 3 of the report be confirmed, with no changes required to the Taxi Licensing Policy.

 

Reason:     To provide clarity for the public in relation to the council’s interpretation of the law, and to avoid an increase in the risk of a major impact on the service, which could cost over 10% of the Public Protection budget.

 

                   (ii)      That, endorsing the recommendations of the Licensing & Regulatory Committee, officers should explore potential options to improve enforcement actions across the city, particularly in relation to poor practice by private hire vehicles; for example, improving enforcement against such vehicles parking in hackney carriage taxi ranks or in restricted areas.

 

Reason:     To address concerns raised about the behaviour of some operators.

 

                   (iii)     That it be noted that this is an issue faced by many authorities across the country and, noting specifically Medway Council’s decision to secure additional legal advice on this matter, support be given pending consideration of this to working with a number of local authorities, and the Local Government Association, to ensure that the council’s position is kept under review and reflects the most up to date situation.

 

Reason:     To ensure confidence in the council’s legal position on taxi licensing issues.

Minutes:

The Corporate Director of Economy & Place and theHead of Public Protection presented a report which outlined the council’s interpretation of the law in relation to the ability of private hire operators and drivers to work their vehicles ‘out of town’ – that is, outside the area within which they were licensed.

 

The council’s current legal position, summarised in paragraph 3 of the report, was that, provided the three licences required for a private hire vehicle (operator, driver and vehicle) had all been issued by the same authority, the vehicle could undertake journeys anywhere in England and Wales.  This ‘triple licensing rule’ had been confirmed by external legal advice, as detailed in the report and the advice note at Annex 2 dated 5 March 2019.  Legal advice commissioned by the York Private Hire Association in November 2018, as attached at Annex 1, had taken a contrary view. 

 

The options available were:

Option 1 – to follow the council’s legal advice and agree the legal position outlined in paragraph 3, with no change to the Taxi Licensing Policy.  The situation could be reviewed in the event of a change in the law.  This was the option recommended in the report and by the Licensing & Regulatory Committee when they considered the report at their meeting on 4 September 2019.

Option 2 – disregard the advice, adopt the position that ‘out of town’ operators / drivers work in York illegally, and make a statement to that effect in the Policy.  This was not recommended, as it would risk successful legal challenge and / or simply being ignored.

 

After a full debate, and having noted the comments made under Public Participation on this item, it was

 

Resolved:  (i)      That Option 1 be approved, and the legal position outlined in paragraph 3 of the report be confirmed, with no changes required to the Taxi Licensing Policy.

 

Reason:     To provide clarity for the public in relation to the council’s interpretation of the law, and to avoid an increase in the risk of a major impact on the service, which could cost over 10% of the Public Protection budget.

 

                   (ii)      That, endorsing the recommendations of the Licensing & Regulatory Committee, officers should explore potential options to improve enforcement actions across the city, particularly in relation to poor practice by private hire vehicles; for example, improving enforcement against such vehicles parking in hackney carriage taxi ranks or in restricted areas.

 

Reason:     To address concerns raised about the behaviour of some operators.

 

                   (iii)     That it be noted that this is an issue faced by many authorities across the country and, noting specifically Medway Council’s decision to secure additional legal advice on this matter, support be given pending consideration of this to working with a number of local authorities, and the Local Government Association, to ensure that the council’s position is kept under review and reflects the most up to date situation.

 

Reason:     To ensure confidence in the council’s legal position on taxi licensing issues.


 

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