Application for the renewal of a private hire vehicle licence (Agenda Item 6)
Report of the Strategic Director – Transformation.
The application was considered in the presence of the applicant. Mr Phil Mason (solicitor) was also in attendance for this item, representing the Council.
Members were asked to consider an application to renew the licence of a limousine as a private hire vehicle as an exception to the current Breckland Council private hire vehicle licensing policy since the vehicle concerned was over ten years old.
Following the presentation of the report by the Licensing Team Leader, the Committee heard the appeal in accordance with the Council’s agreed procedure.
The application for renewal of the private hire licence was made on the grounds that the vehicle was in exceptional condition; had low total and annual mileage; and had passed the Council’s required mechanical tests every six months, as well as being voluntarily MoT tested every six months. Full evidence was provided to confirm the condition and thorough maintenance of the vehicle.
The owner presented his case, making the additional points that if this vehicle were to be taken off the road his whole business would become unviable. He also stated that, following consultation with Norfolk police (who had recommended that the side marker light bulbs were changed to orange, as they are on buses), both the company’s limousines were now fitted out this way. Additionally, whilst legally the limousines were only required to have a first aid kit and one fire extinguisher on board, the company had decided to install an extra fire extinguisher in each of their limousines (one in the boot and one in the driver’s compartment) due to the length of the vehicles. He had also instituted a basic safety check-list for each vehicle which was completed before every journey (brake lights, wipers etc). All service records were kept, thus providing a full history. The Limousine under consideration had been parked in the Council’s car park if Members wished to inspect it.
Members raised various concerns, particularly with the MoT matter which was standard for all cars. The six monthly MoT tests that the Council required were more focussed on structural and other issues associated with longer vehicles. Mileage at the time of the application was just under 92,000 and the vehicle averaged about 2,800 per year, dependant upon bookings. It was agreed that compared to taxis and given the size of the limousine’s engine (4.6 litres), together with the vehicle’s age, this was a very low mileage. The vehicle was licensed to carry eight and was usually booked to capacity.
(1) the Council depart from the current private hire vehicle licensing policy on the age of limousines to allow the renewal of this particular hire vehicle licence subject to a requirement that the vehicle was tested (under the Breckland Council private hire vehicle mechanical tests) every six months. The licence to be renewed for one year; and
(2) the Licensing Team Leader be asked to investigate what age such vehicles should be considered to be inappropriate for renewal applications.
It was noted that Mr Ian Sherwood objected to this decision, expressing concerns about public safety in old vehicles.