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Report of the Director of Law and Governance (Monitoring Officer)
The subject of the decision:
The Director of Law and Governance asked the Panel to consider whether to grant or refuse an application for the renewal of a private hire vehicle licence, a Mercedes E-Class vehicle registration mark LT59 CWR.
Alternative options considered:
The Panel considered granting the application but concluded that the specific circumstances of the case were not sufficient to justify a departure from the Council’s Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Licensing Policy.
The reason for the decision:
The Panel considered the officer’s report, the applicant’s representations, the Council’s Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Licensing Policy and the relevant legislation.
The Panel noted that the vehicle in question satisfied the mechanical standards set out in the Council’s Policy. However, the vehicle reached the general 10-year age limit (as prescribed by the policy) in September 2019.
The applicant invited the Panel to consider the exceptional circumstances of his case on the basis of the vehicle’s quality, appearance and condition and the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Panel noted that Mercedes was recognised as a manufacturer of luxury vehicles and, having considered the images provided by the applicant, the Panel was satisfied that the vehicle appeared to be in good condition. The Panel considered the vehicle’s MOT history and was satisfied that the mechanical condition of the vehicle was maintained to a high standard. The Panel noted that the last recorded mileage for the vehicle was 106,989.
The Panel noted that the general 10-year age limit on licensed vehicles was adopted by the Council in April 2016. The applicant confirmed that he was aware of the policy revisions at that time.
The Panel also noted that, in January 2020, the Council further reduced the general age limit to eight years but any vehicles already licensed at that point were excluded from the revisions. The Panel was satisfied that the vehicle in question had therefore been allowed to remain licensed up to the age of 10 years by virtue of those arrangements.
The Panel also noted that, on 10 February 2020, the Council’s Licensing and Appeals Hearings Panel resolved to renew the licence for a further 12 months in respect of the same vehicle despite it having already exceeded the general 10-year age limit.
The applicant informed the Panel that the vehicle had not changed much since February 2020 due to limited work during the coronavirus pandemic. The applicant indicated that the vehicle had been used for a school contract during that time and had recorded a mileage of around 9,000 miles in the last 12 months. The Panel noted that the mileage recorded between August 2018 and August 2019 (prior to the pandemic) was just under 10,000 miles.
The Panel considered the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic but it did not find that the applicant’s circumstances were exceptional in this regard. The Panel concluded that many individuals and businesses would be adversely affected by the pandemic and any general relaxation of the policy on this basis would ... view the full minutes text for item LAHP.8