Document 12926768

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Agenda Item No______6______
REVISION OF THE TAXI LICENSING POLICY, HANDBOOK, LICENCE
CONDITIONS AND ASSOCIATED LICENCE FEES
Summary:
This report is being submitted to the Licensing &
Appeals Committee providing an update on consultation
feedback from the taxi trade.
Conclusions:
In approving the proposed revised licence fee table for
2012/13 the income from fees will increase but there will
still be a shortfall to cover the costs of the licensing
function necessitating continued subsidy from general
taxation
Recommendations:
Licensing & Appeals Committee consider the additional
consultation feedback in detail and if appropriate revise
their recommendation to Full Council.
Cabinet Member(s)
Councillor Trevor Ivory
Licensing Committee
Chairman
Councillor Richard Price
Contact Officer, telephone
number and email
Ward(s) affected: All
Chris Cawley Licensing Manager
01263 516252 [email protected]
:
1.
Introduction
1.1
At its last meeting on 26 March 2012 the Licensing and appeals Committee
considered a revised draft of the Councils taxi licensing policy, handbook and
licence conditions which had been prepared following a 12 week consultation
exercise. Members discussed the proposals, made further amendments then
approved a final draft to be recommended for adoption by Full Council on 18
April 2012.
1.2
As a parallel exercise, officers had undertaking a costing exercise on the
licensing fee levels for taxi drivers licences and for vehicle licences which
needed to be levied by the Council for the coming year. This was undertaken
on the basis of setting fee levels to achieve full cost recovery of all the
Councils costs in this area of licensing through licensing fees rather than at a
level which achieved only partial cost recovery (as in previous years) such
that the licensing function is effectively subsidised from general taxation.
1.3
The proposed licensing fees had been published in the press for the required
28 day consultation on 10 March 2011 prior to being considered (subject to
consultation feedback) and approved by Full Council on 18 April 2012.
1.4
During the fee consultation period representations were received by the
Council from the taxi trade concerning the proposed new fees and elements
of the proposed new policy and handbook associated with the fee increase.
On that basis decision on adoption of the new policy and fees was postponed
from Full Council on 18 April 2012 till the next meeting on 30 May 2012 giving
more time for consideration of the issues raised.
1.5
The matter is therefore being referred back to the Licensing & Appeals
Committee to consider the additional consultation feedback points in detail
and if appropriate revise their recommendation to Full Council.
2.
Further consultation feedback
2.1
Several letters and emails have been received stating concern that the
increase in Vehicle licence fee of 37.5% and driver licence fee of 16% in one
year will cause serious problems for the taxi trade given the current financial
climate and fuel increases. The proposal for all new and existing drivers to
undertake a separate DSA assessment would impose additional costs for
drivers
2.2
Many of the North Norfolk licensed drivers and operators have now formed a
Taxi and Private Hire Association to represent their collective interests. A
meeting between representatives of the Council and the association took
place on 12 April 2012 at which the foregoing points were explored in some
detail.
2.3
It was confirmed to the association that the proposed increase in fees did not
reflect an increase in Council costs this year but resulted from the Council’s
policy to remove subsidies from the licensing function (which have existed for
several years) so that the fee income covered appropriate costs as provided
for in legislation. The Council is committed to reducing costs where possible
through reductions in bureaucracy and efficiency savings wherever possible.
To that end a move from annual to a three-year driver licence regime had
been proposed which would reduce the administrative burden on both drivers
and the Council. In practical terms the checks which have to be undertaken to
establish a driver’s fitness and propriety to hold or renew a taxi driver’s
licence are the same whether the licence period is for 1 year or 3 years.
2.4
The taxi trade generally have welcomed the move to a three-year driver
licence regime but feel the proposed transitional arrangements are a financial
burden at the current time.
2.5
Officers have therefore developed an alternative proposal to offset some of
the effects of this transition period whilst ensuring the essential safeguards
required by legislation to protect the public are maintained.
3.
Proposed revised transitional arrangements
3.1
That the Council offer applicants the ability to apply for either a 1 year licence
or a 3 year licence. The fees for a 3 year licence (new or renewal) would be
set at a level that covers the council costs (£170)
3.2
The cost of processing and issuing a new or renewal for a 1 year licence is
the same as that for a 3 year licence. However, in recognising that some
drivers may only want a 1 year licence and that there are financial pressures
on the trade, the Council will consider a preferential subsidised rate for 1 year
licences. Committee are asked to consider the following options
o
Option 1 The fee for 1 year licences would be set at a level to provide
preferential transitional arrangements for drivers on a stepped incremental
basis ( ie 1 year licence would increase to £90 this year, £130 next year
then to £170 the year after to be in parity with 3 year licences).
o
Option 2 The fee for 1 year licences would be fixed at £90 for the next 3
years on a subsidised basis and the situation reviewed after that time
3.3
That the requirement for a Driving Standards Assessment is introduced on a
voluntary (rather than compulsory) basis at the present time with the ability for
the Licensing authority to make it a mandatory requirement in cases where
concern over a particular driver or applicant has been raised. The Council
encourage all taxi drivers to obtain recognised professional training and
qualifications throughout their career to assist with probity checks.
3.4
That in introducing the requirement for all drivers and applicants to have a
group 2 medical on a three yearly basis, that flexibility be given for those
individuals who currently hold alternative driving qualifications ( such as PSV
or HGV drivers licences) to submit their medical reports on a five yearly cycle
unless medical contraindications exist.
3.4
Proposed revised licence fee structure for 2012/13
LICENCE TYPE
Licence to Drive
Hackney
Carriages or
Private Hire
Vehicles
Licence to Drive
Hackney
Carriages or
Private Hire
Vehicles
Licence to Drive
Hackney
Carriages or
Private Hire
New
licence
valid for1
year
option
Existing
fee
new
fee
2012
likely
fee
2013
likely
fee
2014
£102.38
£90
£130
£170
£90
£90
£90
1
option
2
New licence valid
for 3 years
Not
applicable
£170
£170
£170
Renewal
of licence
valid for 1
year
£48.82
£90
£130
£170
£90
£90
£90
option
1
option
2
Vehicles
Licence to Drive
Hackney
Carriages or
Private Hire
Vehicles
Hackney Carriage
Vehicle Licence
Private Hire
Vehicle Licence
Private Hire
Operators
Licence
Renewal of licence
valid for 3 years
Not
applicable
£170
£170
£170
New or renewal –
valid 1 year
New or renewal –
valid 1 year
New or renewal –
valid 5 years
£138.43
£190
£190
£190
£138.43
£190
£190
£190
£145.33
£150
£150
£150
3.5
These fees relate to the costs of issuing and administering driver’s licences
and for the grant of vehicle and operators licences including the cost of
vehicle inspections as provided for under section 53(2) and 70 of the Local
Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976.
3.6
As stated the fees do not include all the costs of an applicant for a driver’s
licence in meeting the licence prerequisites and conditions. As at present they
will be required to separately pay the costs of a medical examination and a
Criminal Record Bureau Check (and where required a Driving assessment)
direct to the organisations undertaking those services.
3.7
In accordance with legal requirements the originally proposed fees have been
published in the local press and on the Councils website and subject to 28
days public consultation. The proposals have been modified in the light of
objections received. On that basis in accordance with legal requirements the
revised fees (subject to adoption by Full Council) will take effect with the new
policy and handbook on 1 July 2012.
3.8
The Council has also revised the charges payable for lost or damaged
licences; plates; badges etc as follows (subject to adoption by Full Council) to
be effective from 1 July 2012.
ITEM
Replacement badge (inc name or address
change)
Replacement Drivers badge holder with lanyard
Windscreen pouches (additional or
replacement)
Replacement plate for vehicle
Vehicle Inspection full initial test (if undertaken
other than at time of licensing or relicensing
vehicle)
Vehicle Inspection re-test following failure of
initial test
CHARGE
£19.06
£3.00
£1.50
£36.05
£44.00
+ vat
£10.00
+ vat
Meter Test or retest undertaken separate to full
vehicle inspection
£20.00
+ vat
3.9
For the avoidance of doubt there is need to amend the proposed Penalty
Points System table “using a mobile phone, radio hand set, eating or drinking
whilst the vehicle is in motion” by adding the expression “ unless specifically
exempted by law”.
4.
Conclusion
In approving the proposed revised licence fee table for 2012/13 the income
from fees will increase but there will still be a shortfall to cover the costs of the
licensing function necessitating continued subsidy from general taxation
5.
Implications and Risks
The proposals in this report are consistent with the Council fulfilling its
statutory duty as licensing authority and do not pose any additional risks to
the Council or public
6.
Financial Implications and Risks
In setting licensing fees at a level below that which ensures full cost recovery
then the Council will continue to subsidise the licensing function through
general taxation. Given the current number of licensed drivers if all renew on
an annual basis this year this shortfall is predicted to be £20,800 for the
financial year 2012/13. In moving to a system of processing licences on a
three year cycle it is expected resources from this function will be released for
reallocation elsewhere within the licensing function.
7.
Sustainability
There are no issues arising specifically from this report
8.
Equality and Diversity
There are no issues arising specifically from this report
9.
Section 17 Crime and Disorder considerations
There are no issues arising specifically from this report
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