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Agenda item

Interpretation of Law - 'Out of town' Licences

This report introduces the report (Appendix A) which is to be considered by Executive Members on 26September 2019. The Executive report concerns 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).

 

Minutes:

Members considered a covering report that introduced the ‘Executive report’ (Appendix A) which was a draft of the report to be considered by the Executive on 26 September 2019. The Executive report concerned 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). The consideration of the report provided an opportunity for the comments of the Committee to be added to the report to be presented to the Executive on 26 September. 

 

The Head of Public Protection outlined the report explaining the two options to the Committee. The Interim Assistant Director for Legal and Governance clarified that Uber drivers were not licensed in York and that those working in York were licensed by different authorities. She noted that the method Uber adopted for bookings did not mean they were operating in York. She confirmed that she was happy with the legal advice that had been given.

 

Following the overview of the report and options, Members raised a number of questions to which the following Officer responses were noted:

·          There was some merit in councils coming together to lobby the government.

 

·          Officers were satisfied with the advice given by their legal counsel as this took into account the most recent case law.

 

·          It was not thought that the six councils attending the meeting about Uber would be taking class action. It was confirmed that Cllr Waller had attended the meeting.

 

·          The monetary risk in terms of action being taken would depend on the nature of the prosecution – the higher the court that resolved the issue, the higher the cost.

 

·          The issue was not related to drivers and was in relation to out of town operators.

 

·          Any prosecution would only take place after an investigation and thereafter the authority would address whether it was in the public interest to prosecute. The council would need to be consistent in its approach.

 

·          There was a level of risk with option 1 and it was difficult to assess the legal costs. The council was less likely to be facing costs with option 1.

 

·          Enforcement Officers were reliant on the trade reporting matters of concern to Public Protection.

 

·          There was now a stronger network in the licensing authorities and if drivers came from neighbouring authorities they would be subject to the same licensing conditions.

 

·          The mechanism for the triple lock check was explained.

 

·          The sanctions that could be used against private hire firms using taxi ranks was outlined.

 

·          A letter had been sent to the Minister for Transport requesting that a review be undertaken to which a response had been received explaining that this was being examined by the task group.

 

·          There was a wider concern that out of town drivers were not subject to the York licensing conditions which led to a wider concern about the suitability of those drivers.

 

·          Clarification was given on the decision of the Committee in December 2017 that Uber were not fit and proper.

 

During debate Members noted that the report to Executive should include the following comments:

 

·        There is a need for increased enforcement

·        An assessment of the climate change implications from out of town taxis be made

·        The Department for Transport be lobbied to bring in legislation

·        There are concerns about out of town drivers not having local knowledge of the roads

 

Resolved: That:

 

i.       The report to Executive includes the comments from the Committee as detailed above.

 

ii.     The Committee recommend to Executive to follow Option 1, namely that the settled legal position remains 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.

 

Supporting documents:

 

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