To consider an application to renew a Hackney Carriage Licence contrary to the Vehicle Age Limit Policy.
The Principal Environmental Protection Officer presented a report asking the Sub-Committee to consider an application for the renewal of a Hackney Carriage vehicle licence from Mrs Joan Darling, a Hackney Carriage proprietor, prior to her current licence expiring. Within the report the Officer highlighted the age of the vehicle and Mrs Darling’s intention to retire within the next year. The Principal Environmental Protection Officer explained that if granted, the Council would be required to dispense with the current vehicle age limit policy in this instance, if deemed appropriate, as the vehicle in question was more than ten years old and was not a wheelchair accessible vehicle. He went on to inform Members that the age restriction policy had been adopted to ensure that Hackney Carriages and private hire vehicles met modern safety requirements and provide the travelling public with reasonably up-to-date vehicles and one unintended consequences of the policy was that it also ensured that the vehicle fleet would comply with the most recent vehicle emissions requirements.
Mrs Darling, the Applicant, was invited to present her case. She informed the Sub-Committee that it was her intention to retire in the following year but that she wished to continue as a Hackney Carriage driver until that date. Mrs Darling stated that she had maintained the vehicle to a high standard over its lifetime and wished for the vehicle to be safe for her to drive as well as for others to use. She moved on to highlight that any issues identified by the MOT were addressed immediately and that she had brought receipts, warranties and the log book as evidence of the high standard of maintenance kept on the vehicle.
The Principal Environmental Protection Officer then asked the Applicant if there were any exceptional circumstances to be considered. Mrs Darling responded by informing the Sub-Committee that the vehicle had a low mileage and had been maintained well over its lifetime so far, and that she intended to retire in the next year and therefore could not afford to replace the car if the application were to be denied.
Furthermore, the Applicant was asked if she felt that by further extending the licence, she would hold an economic advantage over other licence holders.
Mrs Darling highlighted that she only worked a two day week so did not feel that she had an economic advantage over others. In addition she informed the Sub-Committee that as an independent taxi driver, she relied mainly on passing trade which further evidenced her claim to have no economic advantage over other drivers.
The Applicant responded to questions raised by the Sub-Committee and confirmed that she would be keeping the vehicle after her planned retirement but only as her own personal vehicle. Mrs Darling also confirmed that the second driver was licensed to drive a Hackney Carriage, but this was only for emergency circumstances when she was not available to drive the vehicle herself and the second driver would not take over the licence. In addition she confirmed that her mileage estimation was around eight thousand miles in the next 12 months, mainly due to her two day working week.
Note – Following a vote, the Sub-Committee, together with the Legal, Governance and Democracy Specialist, Principal Environmental Protection Officer and Mrs Darling, adjourned to view the vehicle at 11.15 a.m. and reconvened at 11.23 a.m.
The Applicant was invited to make a closing statement. She informed the Sub-Committee that she had been a taxi driver in the area for around fourteen years but was due to retire within the next twelve months. She highlighted her desire to use the vehicle in question as her personal vehicle after her retirement as it had been well maintained and was still in good working order.
Note – The Sub-Committee passed a resolution to adjourn the meeting to exclude the press and public and Mrs Darling in making its decision, pursuant to Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972 as amended by the Local Government (Access to Information) (Variation) Order 2006 by virtue of the paragraph indicated:-
Paragraph 5 – Information in respect of which a claim to legal professional privilege could be maintained in legal proceedings.
The Sub-Committee, supported by the Legal, Governance and Democracy Specialist, then withdrew to consider the circumstances put forward and subsequently reconvened to deliver the decision.
Having read and heard the representations made by the applicant, and based on the submitted report, including the independent report of TC Motors, and following an inspection of the vehicle by members of the Sub-Committee, the Sub-Committee were satisfied that the vehicle was fit for purpose and
RESOLVED – That the Council’s age limit policy be dispensed with on this occasion and that Mrs Darling be granted a renewal for her Hackney Carriage vehicle Licence for a 12 month period providing the vehicle passed the required four monthly MOT tests.