To receive a report informing Members of the changes in legislation that have
taken place and that are proposed to take place that relate to the Council’s
licensing functions which are carried out by Worcestershire Regulatory
Services on behalf of the Council.
Members received a report which detailed the recent changes in legislation that related to the Council’s licensing functions and supplementary papers which detailed the Department of Transport, Statutory Guidance on Access for Wheelchair users to Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles.
The Senior Licensing Practitioner, Worcestershire Regulatory Services (WRS) introduced the report and supplementary guidance and in doing so referred to the specific legislative changes to the Immigration Act 2016, the Police and Crime Act 2017, Section 165-167 of the Equality Act 2010 Taxi and Private Hire Passengers in Wheelchairs and Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) Animal Licensing Proposals.
The Senior Licensing Practitioner, WRS, provided Members with information on each specific area as follows:-
The Immigration Act 2016 received Royal Assent on 12th May 2016. The Act included provisions aimed at making it more difficult for people to live and work illegally in the United Kingdom (UK). Schedule 5 of the Immigration Act which came into effect on 1st December 2016, impacted on the Council’s taxi and private hire licensing functions.
The new provisions meant that hackney carriage and private hire driver and operator licences must not be issued to people who were illegally present in the UK, who were not permitted to work, or who were permitted to work but were subject to a condition that prohibited them from holding such a licence. Appendix 1 to the report detailed the Home Office Guidance for Licensing Authorities to Prevent Illegal Working in the Taxi and Private Hire Sector in England and Wales.
The Senior Licensing Practitioner, WRS, further informed Members that Licensing Officers, WRS, had received training from the Home Office Immigration Enforcement Team on the new provisions and on increased document fraud awareness. Licensing Officers, WRS, were taking steps to ensure compliance with the new provisions introduced.
Policing and Crime Act 2017 received Royal Assent on 31st January 2017. The Act contained provisions that would impact on both taxi licensing and the licensing of alcohol and late night refreshment under the Licensing Act 2003.
A summary of the provisions that would affect the licensing regimes carried out by WRS on behalf of the Council were detailed at Appendix 2 to the report.
Licensing Officers, WRS, would carefully monitor the progress made towards the commencement of the licensing related provisions in the Act. Further information would be provided to Members as and when necessary.
Section 165-167 of the Equality Act 2010 Taxi and Private Hire Passengers in Wheelchairs would be implemented by the Department for Transport (DfT) with effect from 6th April 2017.
From 6th April 2017 drivers of designated wheelchair accessible taxi and private hire vehicles would be obliged by law to:
· transport wheelchair users in their wheelchairs.
· provide passengers in wheelchairs with appropriate assistance.
· charge wheelchair users the same as non-wheelchair users.
The new rules would apply in England, Wales and Scotland affecting vehicles that were designated as wheelchair accessible and would apply to both taxis and private hire vehicles.
Drivers found to be discriminating against wheelchair users may be fined up to £1,000. Drivers could also face having their taxi or private hire vehicle licence suspended or revoked by their licencing authority. Drivers unable to provide assistance for medical reasons would be able to apply for an exemption from the new rules.
Further updates in relation to the change in the law would be brought to the Licensing Committee later during the year.
Licensing Officers, WRS, would raise awareness amongst licensed drivers with regard to the introduction of the new law and how it could affect them.
Animal Licensing Proposals (DEFRA). During December 2015 and March 2016, DEFRA carried out a consultation with relevant stakeholders as part of a review of animal establishment licensing in England.
Having considered the responses received to the consultation, DEFRA has now published the following document “The review of animal establishments in England – Next steps”, as detailed at Appendix 3 to the report.
DEFRA were proposing to update and combine the current licensing regimes that regulated the sale of pet animals, dog and cat boarding, dog breeding and riding schools. These licensing functions were carried out by WRS on behalf of the Council.
Licensing Officer, WRS, would continue to monitor the progress of the review of animal establishment licensing in England, with further progress reports being provided to Licensing Committee Members when available.
The contents of the report on legislative updates, the appendices and supplementary papers be noted.