Application for a (Late) Renewal of Private Hire Vehicle Proprietor's Licence
The Chair explained the process, then introduced the Senior Licensing Officer, who summarised the case as set out in his report. In order to benefit from continuity rights, a licence should be renewed in a timely fashion, but in this case was allowed to lapse. He said the matter was complicated and reflected a situation not envisaged in the legislation – the Covid pandemic and its effect on trade – and Members must decide whether this justified the lapse and was reason enough to depart from the council’s usual renewal policy Public safety must always be the overriding consideration - in this case, there was no risk – so Members were being asked whether the late renewal should be granted, with continuity rights, or a new application be required.
The Chair noted that the vehicle is seven years old, with Euro 5 or 6 emissions, in line with current policy. The Senior Licencing Officer confirmed that new Private Hire Vehicle licence applications required the vehicle to be less than five years old, but for a renewal it can be older.
The applicant had no questions for the officer, and was invited to explain her late renewal application. She said she got her licence and started driving in December 2019, working for three months before lockdown. Evening and night-time work suited her family life, but when restrictions began to be lifted and only daytime work was available, she decided not to renew her licence as she could not leave her children during the day. She and her partner needed extra income to support their household, but could not afford a vehicle less than five years old required for a new licence.
In response to a Member question, she confirmed that she has only had two very minor accidents and two parking tickets since she started driving.
In debate, Members made the following points:
- the overriding consideration is public safety, and the applicant has shown herself to be honest in her statement. She has explained how much she wants the role and how it will work with her family situation, and there is no doubt that the unusual circumstances of the pandemic badly affected trade;
- there is no risk to public safety with regard to the vehicle or the suitability of the driver;
- buying a new car for a new licence would not be easy, and had the applicant renewed in good time, she would have been driving the same car anyway.
The Chair summarised Members’ views as follows:
- no public safety concerns;
- no environmental concerns – the vehicle is Euro 5 or 6 emissions;
- Covid had a huge impact on all manner of professions, and it seems reasonable to vary the policy in light of this;
- the availability of cars is challenging;
- due regard should be paid to the equality act, in view of the applicant’s childcare responsibilities.
The applicant had no further comments, so the Chair moved to the vote.
4.1(a) – give delegated authority to officers to grant late renewal
8 in support - unanimous
The Chair advised the applicant that officers would write to her to confirm.