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PostPosted: Fri Nov 30, 2018 8:03 am 
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The odd reason this council won't allow any more black cabs

https://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/li ... w-15485636

There's a policy we can't see, based on a survey we can't see...

A council are refusing to allow any more black cabs on their roads - and for a very strange reason.

Aspiring hackney carriage drivers in Halton are embroiled in a bitter long-standing row with their local authority, over a bizarre rule that limits the number of cabs in the borough.

The row came to a head at Runcorn Town Hall on Wednesday night when an application to grant 15 Hackney Carriage licenses was refused by the Regulatory Committee.

Many drivers operating in nearby areas such as Frodsham are desperate to operate as Hackney cab drivers in Halton - but have been refused permission to do so on a number of occasions.

The authority say only 267 black cabs are allowed in the area, which is made up of the growing towns of Runcorn and Widnes.

However it is unclear on what policy the hackney carriage limit is based - and where the 267 figure has come from.

It's a mystery

Where does the 267 limit come from?

Mystery surrounds the source of the figure - which was the subject of tense debate at the meeting.

The council say it is based on an "unmet demand" survey from decades ago - although no record of this could be produced on Wednesday's meeting.

The meeting saw cab drivers argue fiercely that more black cabs were needed to meet the growing population of the borough, which has increased by over 30,000 since 1985, when the last unmet demand survey was thought to have been carried out.

Drivers also argued that a limited number of wheelchair accessible vehicles in the borough had led to cases of disabled people being stranded, and said granting more hackney licenses would alleviate this problem.

There are between 19 and 21 taxis equipped to take wheelchair users in Halton - a problem which Sure Start have made licensing officers aware of, the regulatory committee heard.

On Wednesday, the council's legal advisor John Tully said that while the Department for Transport advised doing a new unmet demand survey every 3-5 years, there was no legal requirement to do so.

The meeting saw cab drivers argue fiercely that more black cabs were needed to meet the growing population of the borough, which has increased by over 30,000 since 1985, when the last unmet demand survey was thought to have been carried out.

Drivers also argued that a limited number of wheelchair accessible vehicles in the borough had led to cases of disabled people being stranded, and said granting more hackney licenses would alleviate this problem.

There are between 19 and 21 taxis equipped to take wheelchair users in Halton - a problem which Sure Start have made licensing officers aware of, the regulatory committee heard.

On Wednesday, the council's legal advisor John Tully said that while the Department for Transport advised doing a new unmet demand survey every 3-5 years, there was no legal requirement to do so.

"I feel let down"

Image
Keith Roberts, John Roberts, and Darren Dickson, of Frodsham And District Taxis, with applications for 15 more hackney plates in Halton. (Image: Runcorn Weekly News)

Licensing authorities have the power to restrict the number of hackney carriages if they are satisfied that there is no significant unmet demand for the services in their area - and that is what they decided last night.

But that is by far the end of the saga - with cab drivers now hoping to take their appeal to the crown court.

A legal representative on behalf of Frodsham taxi driver John Roberts said: "We have got this policy that you can't see, based on a survey that we can't see. It's deliberately foggy in terms of detail."

John Roberts added: "I feel let down but this has opened a much bigger door for me. Now I can take my appeal to the Crown Court."


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 30, 2018 3:08 pm 
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Quote:
On Wednesday, the council's legal advisor John Tully said that while the Department for Transport advised doing a new unmet demand survey every 3-5 years, there was no legal requirement to do so.


Have always argued this point ……..but there is a legal requirement stating that the person has to know when refusing to issue a licence that there is no unmet demand, so therefore the council should have a mechanism in place that provides that person with the information he needs to refuse.


If the council and all of the trade, ph and hackney, and the public were to produce evidence then that to me would be sufficient for the licencing officer to refuse.
PS. In this case the drivers applying for vehicle licences will more than likely win, but the council could make it a condition of grant that the licence must go onto a new electric wheelchair vehicle.

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 30, 2018 9:03 pm 
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The council say it is based on an "unmet demand" survey from decades ago - although no record of this could be produced on Wednesday's meeting.

That's going to look great in court. #-o

Good on the fellas applying. =D>

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 30, 2018 9:05 pm 
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Quote:
On Wednesday, the council's legal advisor John Tully said that while the Department for Transport advised doing a new unmet demand survey every 3-5 years, there was no legal requirement to do so.

Well yes, as the DfT expect you to delimit if you don't.

Thickest council of 2018 Award has found it's rightful home.

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 02, 2018 11:55 pm 
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Sussex wrote:
Quote:
The council say it is based on an "unmet demand" survey from decades ago - although no record of this could be produced on Wednesday's meeting.

That's going to look great in court. #-o

Good on the fellas applying. =D>


So if the London HCs are successful against TfL for maladministration (or whatever) then the applicants here can sue Walton council for 33 years of lost earnings? :shock:

Interesting 8-[


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 03, 2018 11:15 am 
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StuartW wrote:

So if the London HCs are successful against TfL for maladministration (or whatever) then the applicants here can sue Walton council for 33 years of lost earnings? :shock:

Interesting 8-[

Firstly, they would have to prove the ammount of lost earnings which may result in an investigation by HMRC. Secondly, I think you can only go back 6 years.

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 03, 2018 11:43 am 
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StuartW wrote:

So if the London HCs are successful against TfL for maladministration (or whatever) then the applicants here can sue Walton council for 33 years of lost earnings? :shock:

Interesting 8-[


Walton, that’s the nick !! :D


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 03, 2018 11:01 pm 
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grandad wrote:
StuartW wrote:

So if the London HCs are successful against TfL for maladministration (or whatever) then the applicants here can sue Walton council for 33 years of lost earnings? :shock:

Interesting 8-[

Firstly, they would have to prove the ammount of lost earnings which may result in an investigation by HMRC. Secondly, I think you can only go back 6 years.


Which indeed is perhaps why the London drivers won't succeed and/or won't want to join the action.


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 03, 2018 11:01 pm 
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x-ray wrote:
StuartW wrote:

So if the London HCs are successful against TfL for maladministration (or whatever) then the applicants here can sue Walton council for 33 years of lost earnings? :shock:

Interesting 8-[


Walton, that’s the nick !! :D


Well spotted, and I doubt if it'll come to a jail sentence :wink:


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 03, 2018 11:07 pm 
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Quote:
Firstly, they would have to prove the ammount of lost earnings which may result in an investigation by HMRC.

It would be a two part case. One proving a loss has happened, and two quantifying that loss.

If the former has been proved, then I suspect a general amount would be set by the court, or maybe three separate amounts.

Similar to the payouts from New International in respect of the phone tappings.

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 17, 2019 6:50 am 
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Perhaps worth bearing in mind that this was written by the applicant's lawyer rather than an impartial journalist.


Court demands unmet demand survey in Halton council taxi appeal case

https://www.taxidefencebarristers.co.uk ... peal-case/

Stephen McCaffrey
Taxi Defence Barristers


The Crown Court has overturned a decision by Halton Borough Council to refuse 13 hackney carriage (taxi) licences and remitted the matter back to the council with “strong” recommendation to undertake unmet demand survey.

The owner of Frodsham & District Taxis, represented by Kings View Chambers, applied to Halton Borough Council for 13 new taxi licences to operate in the area.

Halton Borough Council operates a policy of restricting the number of taxi licences issued by the council. This policy, according to the council, was informed by an unmet demand survey conducted several years ago. The council was neither able to produce any evidence of when this unmet demand survey was undertaken nor any justification that the number set by it was justified.

In November 2018 the council’s Regulatory Committee met to determine the applications. It was argued before the committee that that council had no grounds for refusing the applications for the additional taxi licences because it has no evidence of any significant demand for taxis that are unmet. The committee’s attention was drawn to the fact that the only discretion they had in the matter was evidence that there was no significant demand for taxis that are unmet. In the absence of any such evidence, it was argued that the committee could not exercise its discretion to refuse the additional taxi licences.

Despite this the Regulatory Committee, on legal advice from officers, decided that there was no evidence before it that would justify them deviating from their policy of restricting the number of taxi licences. It consequently refused all 13 applications.

On appeal to the Crown Court, the council sought to persuade the court of its position. In the absence of any evidence derived from an unmet demand survey (which is national best practice), the council argued, amongst other things, that the number of taxis in its area per head exceeds that of neighbouring authorities, the local taxi trade presented the council with a petition arguing against additional licences and that unmet demand surveys are prohibitively expensive.

The court disagreed with the council agreeing with submissions made by District Taxi’s barrister, Stephen McCaffrey, who argued that assumptions made by the council were not evidence based and the only way to be confident would be to conduct a survey as is the requirement in Government guidance on the matter. The judge in the case stated that the Halton Borough Council has not taken sufficient steps to ensure that such a cap is justified or that that is the appropriate number.

The judge in allowing the appeal remitted the matter back to the council for reconsideration but with a “strong” recommendation that the Halton Borough Council immediately undertake an unmet demand survey so that allocations of taxi licence be done fairly and based on evidence not assumptions.

The court award costs against the council.


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 25, 2019 9:30 am 
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This is the Echo's take on events:


Victory for black cab drivers after bizarre council ruling overturned at Crown Court

https://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/li ... r-16602743

The ban on more black cabs was based on a mysterious survey from decades ago

A bizarre council ruling that banned more hackney carriage drivers from operating in one part of the region has been overturned at the Crown Court.

Halton Council have been forced into a U-turn on a mysterious policy which limited the number of black cabs in the borough to 267.

The local authority said the rule was based on an unmet demand survey from decades ago, but could produce no evidence of the survey, when this was taken or what justified the very specific figure.

However it was because of this rule that they refused to grant John Roberts, the owner of Frodsham & District Taxis, 13 licences to operate in the area when he applied last year.

Mr Roberts has been involved in a bitter, long-standing dispute with the council over the matter, and has attempted to persuade them of the need for more hackney carriages on a number of occasions.

At a heated Regulatory Committee meeting in November, his legal representative accused the local authority of being deliberately vague and refusing to budge "on a policy that you can't see, based on a survey that we can't see".

The meeting saw frustrated taxi drivers argue that more black cabs were needed to meet the growing population of Halton, which has increased by over 30,000 since 1985, when the last unmet demand survey was thought to have been carried out.

Drivers also argued that a limited number of wheelchair accessible vehicles in the borough had led to cases of disabled people being stranded - and said granting more hackney licenses would alleviate this problem.

However this did not convince members of the regulatory committee who were advised by their legal representative to take the results of the mystery unmet demand service to be true.

Following the meeting, Mr Roberts said it was time to take the battle to the next stage and appeal against the ruling at Chester Crown Court .

The hearing, which took place on July 4th, saw a judge rule that the council had not taken sufficient steps to ensure that such a cap is justified or that 267 was an appropriate number.

Instead they had argued that the number of taxis in its area per head exceeds that of neighbouring authorities, that the local taxi trade had signed a petition against granting additional licenses and that undertaking a new unmet demand survey would be prohibitively expensive.

A spokesperson from Taxi Defence Barristers, who represented Mr Rogers in court said: "The court disagreed with the council, agreeing with submissions made by District Taxi’s barrister, Stephen McCaffrey, who argued that assumptions made by the council were not evidence based and the only way to be confident would be to conduct a survey as is the requirement in Government guidance on the matter."

In allowing the appeal, the judge remitted the matter back to the council for reconsideration, but with a “strong” recommendation that they immediately undertake an unmet demand survey so that allocations of taxi licence be done fairly and based on evidence not assumptions.

A spokesperson from Halton Council said: “Halton Borough Council is in the process of arranging for an unmet demand survey to be carried out in accordance with the Court decision.”


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 25, 2019 9:36 am 
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Quote:
Instead [Halton Council] had argued that...the local taxi trade had signed a petition against granting additional licenses...

Compelling evidence, that. I mean, a petition signed by turkeys who want to postpone Christmas? :badgrin:


Quote:
...and that undertaking a new unmet demand survey would be prohibitively expensive.

Yes, that's no doubt why they haven't surveyed since nineteen oatcake.

But funny that they've mysteriously found the money for a survey following the court's ruling...

Quote:
A spokesperson from Halton Council said: “Halton Borough Council is in the process of arranging for an unmet demand survey to be carried out in accordance with the Court decision.”


What's the betting that no 'significant unmet demand' is found, or that they only need to issue a handful of plates? :roll:


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 25, 2019 2:29 pm 
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Halton tried to do things their way and came unstuck.

R v Halton Borough Council ex parte Gunson and others

Queen's Bench Division (Crown Office List)

HEARING-DATES: 29 July 1988

29 July 1988

COUNSEL:
D Matheson for the Applicants; S Hamilton for the Respondents

PANEL: Otton J

JUDGMENTBY-1: OTTON J

JUDGMENT-1:
OTTON J: This is an application for judicial review, firstly, of a decision of the Halton Borough Council made on 10th June 1987 to limit the number of hackney carriage vehicle licences issued by it to the number already issued as at 10th June 1987, and/or secondly, the refusal of the Halton Borough Council to receive, hear and determine applications for hackney carriage vehicle licences sought to be made by the first two named applicants and to be made by the third named applicant.

The three applicants are Richard Gunson, Benjamin Morton and Robert Moriarty. The respondents are the Halton Borough Council, Cheshire. Halton straddles the river Mersey with Widnes to the north and Runcorn to the south. It is responsible for the licensing of hackney carriage vehicles and private hire vehicles and the responsibility is discharged by and through the Health Committee.

The historical background is now well-known from previous and recent decisions relating to similar applications. It can thus be stated briefly. Prior to the relevant statutory provision, section 37 of the Town Police Clauses Act 1847 provided, so far as relevanty as follows: "The Commissioners", ie, the licensing authority, "may from time to time license to ply for hire . . . such number of hackney coaches or carriages . . . as they think fit." By virtue of this provision, licensing authorities in general had a policy of limiting the number of licences which they would issue, based no doubt upon their assessment of the need or demand within their licensing area. However, the Transport Act 1985 made a profound and radical change. The manifest policy of the Act is to remove restrains and to allow free market forces to take their course. Section 16 is an amending provision to the Town Police Clauses Act 1847 and provides, so far as relevant, as follows: "The Provisions of the . . . 1847 Act with respect to hackney carriages . . . shall have effect -- (a) as if in section 37 the words 'such number of' and 'as they think fit' were omitted; and (b) as if they", that is all the provisions of Act with respect to hackney carriages, "provided that the grant of a licence may be refused, for the purpose of limiting the number of hackney carriages in respect of which licences are granted, if, but only if, the person authorised to grant licences is satisfied that there is no significant demand for the services of hackney carriages (within the area to which the licence would apply) which is unmet."

The effect of the amendment to sub-paragraph (b) is to transform the permissive "may" into a partial mandatory "must". Unless the authority is satisfied there is no significant demand, which is unmet, it is obliged to issue a licence to an otherwise suitable applicant. It also has the effect that an authority can adopt a policy of "no numerical restriction of licences". Certain criteria have been adopted by this licensing authority for a number of years. For example, the hackney carriages, or taxis, can be any design of motor car but must be black. They must carry a roof sign with the words "for hire" and they must be equipped with taxi meters. On the other hand, private hire vehicles must be any colour but black. They must not carry a roof sign and they need not carry a meter. However, such vehicles cannot ply for hire, cannot be hailed and they cannot use the taxi stands established by the local authority. In addition, as a matter of policy since 1985 -- that is before the 1985 Act came into effect in January 1986, but no doubt in anticipation of it -- any applicant for a hackney carriage plate must have worked in full-time employment as a hackney carriage or a private hired driver for at least 12 months within the borough, and secondly, must reside within the borough.

Thus, in a netshell, the three applicants are all private hire vehicle drivers. Each wishes to take advantage of deregulation and to become a taxi driver. Clearly, such an occupation and opportunity is more attractive. Each would be able to ply for hire with a roof sign; each could be hailed; and each could use the taxi stands provided. It is common ground that each of them is suitably qualified and no difficulty is anticipated about their respective vehicles qualifying.

The notion of deregulation is not welcomed by the existing hackney carriage licence holders. They see deregulation as adversely affecting their living. It is well-known that in many parts of the country they have organised themselves into a powerful and effective lobby with a view to persuading licensing authorities to listen to their arguments as to when a sufficient number of hackney carriage licences has been issued. Such is the case in Halton in Cheshire.

Miss Kenny is the Principal Legal Assistant to the Halton Borough Council and in an affidavit she has deposed as follows: "On 31st March 1986 there were 60 hackney carriage vehicle licences issued and 261 private hire vehicle licences. Following the de-restriction of hackney carriage vehicle licensing on the 1st April 1986 a total of 158 such licences were issued by December 1986. The number of private hire vehicles licences had reduced to 66 by that time." Two points are to be made on this passage. Firstly, the figure of 158 is the total issued in addition to the existing 60, and secondly, the figure of 218 plus 66 private hire vehicle licences makes a total of 284 compared with a total of 321 before March 1986. By the end of the year the existing taxi drivers were alarmed at what they say as an unwarranted 200% increase of the hackney carriage licences issued in Halton Borough.

Mr Redican is a councillor on the Halton Borough Council and he has sworn an affidavit, paragraph 4 of which reads as follows: "Towards the end of 1986 I began to receive telephone calls, visits and letters from taxi drivers regarding the number of licensed vehicles, principally hackney carriages, now operating in the Borough. Their claim was that in order to make a reasonable income they were working approximately 80 hours a week. They asked the Council to consider placing a limit on the number of hackney carriage licences being issued. Whilst this did not influence me, I took it as an indication that as there did not appear to be enough work the demand from the public for hackney carriage services was met.

"5. The Health Committee agreed in February 1987 to re-establish the Taxi Working Party in order to conduct a review of the licensing policy including the number of licences issued." Also at about this time the taxi drivers sent a circular letter to all councillors expressing their extreme disquiet.

On 9th December there was a meeting, a record of which appears at page 21 of the agreed bundle, and minute 676 records as follows: "Issue of Hackney Carriage Vehicle Licences. The Sub-Committee considered a request from the Halton Taxi Owners Association for the issue of Hackney Carriage Vehicle Licences to cease as the increased numbers had resulted in licence holders having to work excessive hours, together with a report on the present situation, a copy of which had been previously circulated to all members of the Council. Recommended: That a review of the criteria relating to vehicles, drivers and operators be carried out." It is to be noted that there appeared to be no objection to the number of licences then in existence and the request from the taxi drivers had been based on the number of hours worked.

In April 1987 a Mr Morton, the second applicant, attended a meeting of the Health Committee. His recollection is recorded in his affidavit at paragraph 7 as follows: ". . . I had attended a Taxi Committee meeting in or about April 1987. In the course of that meeting a member of the Committee made a comment to the effect that if there were ever to be a change in the rules relating to Private Hire drivers becoming Hackney drivers then advance notification would be given. It was further stated at the meeting that if a restriction were ever to be placed on the granting of Hackney Carriage vehicle licences, it would not apply to existing Private Hire drivers who would still be entitled to apply as before." In the course of the hearing it became apparent that the identity of the person was a Mr Gilligan who, as I understand it, was not only a member of the Health Committee but also Chairman of the Working Party. There has been no affidavit in denial of the assertion made by Mr Morton or any suggestion that his recollection was at fault. There is certainly no record of the meeting other than the minute to which I have referred.

The Taxi Working Party set about its task. It made local inquiries. It met representatives of the private hire vehicle licence holders. As a consequence of all the representations made to it, they prepared a report for the purposes of a meeting of the Health Committee in June 1987. That document is a very important document and is at page 31 of the bundle. The relevant parts read as follows: "Meetings have now been held with the Halton Taxi Owners' Association, the Licensed Operators and Private Hire Vehicle Owners, the Police and Halton Transport and many different and contradictory views have been expressed to the Working Party. It must be said that all these conflicting views have not been accommodated in the Working Party's recommendations to the Committee, but they are based on the Council's major consideration, which is the safety of the travelling public." Later it goes on: "Limit on Issue of Hackney Carriage Vehicle Licences: The views conflicted on this: the Halton Taxi Owners' Association argued very forcibly that the present number of licences issued had reached saturation point and their representatives gave examples of the number of hours presently being worked by their members in order to earn a reasonable living. The Private Hire meeting displayed conflicting views amongst themselves which were dictated by the individual interests of the parties concerned. The Police view was that there was no reason for the imposition of a limit based on the present total number of licensed vehicles."

Later the report continues: "The increase in the number of Hackney Carriage Licences has obviously placed greater importance on the provision of ranks . . . The pressure on certain ranks may indicate that the provision of spaces is not adequate for the numbers, but it must be said that the Hackney Carriage trade are reluctant to use some of the spaces allocated elsewhere in the Borough and it may well be that by limiting the number of licences issued the present inadequate service to the public in those areas will deteriorate still further. . . . In view of this, the Working Party did not consider that a limit on the issue of Hackney Carriage Licences should be implemented." That should read, I think, "imposed".

Thus, the Working Party were recommended that no limit should be imposed and by limiting the number of licences the present inadequate service would deteriorate still further. It is clear too that the Working Party addressed its mind to the strict terms of section 16 but decided that there was no evidence of no unmet demand.

The Halton Taxi Drivers' Association learnt of the meeting. On 8th June, two days before the meeting was to take place, they published a circular to councillors on the Health Committee. That document is at page 93 of the bundle. The relevant parts of it read as follows: "We too are concerned about the travelling public of Halton, we depend on them for our living. . . . with no limit on the amount of Hackney Licences being issued the Council is taking away our earning power. They are making us go deeper into debt and the financial return just isn't there. We are now working longer hours for less money . . .

"Ken Oxford, the Chief Constable of Merseyside, has said de-restriction causes havoc with too many taxis chasing too few fares. There has to be control over the number of taxis being allowed to ply for hire, a view shared by many Councils.

"The Health Committee controls our future, we urge you to restrict Hackney Licences now . . ."

The meeting itself was well publicised. The only record of any value of what occurred is to be found in the affidavit of a Mr Marshall who is himselfthe holder of a hackney carriage licence. He says as follows: "On 10th June 1987 . . . when I arrived at the meeting I felt quite out of place since it appeared that I was the only private hire driver", as he was then "in attendance. There were however, a considerable number of members of the Halton Taxi Owners Association there who seemed to know what was going on. They had agendas with them and I learnt that they had also sent letters to each Councillor.

"During the course of the meeting no questions were invited from members who were sitting in the auditorium. The report and recommendations to the Taxi Working Party were against the idea of any limit on Hackney plates as was the advice given by Officer Miss FE Scott. Notwithstanding this, three proposals were put forward by Councillors Kyle, Redican and another gentleman whose name is unknown to me, which all sought to impose a limit on plates. The proposal put forward by Councillor Redican was accepted by the Council members."

I should draw attention to Mr Redican's attitude of mind before and during the meeting. In his affidavit at paragraph 8 he said as follows: "As an elected Councillor, I had received no complaints from the public regarding a lack of hackney carriages in the area and I had not heard of any complaints about their non-availability being made to my fellow Councillors.

"9. I had, however, received many complaints from the public regarding the itinerant parking of large numbers of licensed vehicles and over-crowding at the taxi stands. In particular, complaints were made by residents in the locality of pubs and a nightclub regarding noise, obstruction and litter generated by the number of licensed hackney carriages regularly parking in the vicinity. I had also received complaints from other road users regarding the hazards of obstruction caused by the on-street parking of these vehicles over-flowing from the taxi stands. I visited the various localities to observe events and having spoken to the persons making the complaints I considered that they were well-founded and seemed to result from the number of licensed vehicles in the area. I was therefore concerned that any further increase in the number of licences would exacerbate this situation.

"10. I was mindful that the 'demand' in Section 16 of the Town Police Clauses Act 1847 referred to public demand for hackney carriage services and that as there had been an approximate 200% increase in the supply of hackney carriage vehicles since the 1st April 1986 and for the reasons set out in paragraphs 8 and 9 I moved the successful resolution at the Committee meeting to stop the issue of licences for the time being and to review the position in 2 years".

The terms of the resolution read as follows: "The Committee considered a report, a copy of which had been previously circulated to each member of the Council, on the outcome of the meetings held by the Taxi Working Party with the Halton Taxi Owners Association, the Licensed Operators, Private Hire Vehicle Owners, the Police and Halton Transport, to review the effectiveness of the taxi licensing criteria following its first twelve months of operation, and having regard to the Council's major consideration which was the safety of the travelling public. The major issues were the number of Hackney Carriage Vehicles Licences to be issued; the age limit on licensed vehicles and the qualifying period. The Working Party's aim was to ensure that the quality of vehicles and control over drivers and operators would continue. After a lengthy debate it was -- resolved: That (1) the number of Hackney Carriage Vehicle Licences be limited to the number already issued as at 10th June 1987 . . ."

There were two dissenters, one of whom was Mr Gilligan. There was substantial prejudice to persons who were in the course of applying for their licences and particularly to those who had already purchased their vehicles, which of course had to be black, and the other necessary equipment. It is fair to say that when the hardship was later pointed out to the council provision was made to allow three persons to complete their applications and licences were granted by the full meeting of the council on 7th July.

By this application the applicants seek relief, namely an order of certiorari to quash the decision of the Halton Borough Council dated 10th June; and/or an order of mandamus directed to the council requiring it to receive, hear and determine applications for hackney carriage vehicle licences by each of the applicants according to law. There is also a claim for damages and/or compensation which was not pursued in the course of this hearing.

Mr Duncan Matheson who appeared on behalf of the applicants submitted firstly that the decision was unlawful and should therefore be quashed. He submits that on a proper construction of section 16 of the Town Police Clauses Act 1847 those applying for licences do not have to show a demand. It is for the licensing authority to show that they are satisfied that there is no significant unmet demand. He submits that there was no evidence upon which the council could have reached its decision that there was no unmet demand. He relies in particular on the decision of Nolan J in R v Reading Borough Council, ex parte Egan and Sullman (unreported) reported in this court on 11th June 1987 where the Reading authority imposed a figure of 30 licences as the arbitrary limit to the number of licences in existence. Nolan J held that that was an unlawful decision, that the limit was an arbitrary one, and further held that all applications had to be granted until the local authority was satisfied in respect of the strict terms of section 16. He submits that there is no difference in principle between the limit of 30 set by the Reading Council and the limit imposed by the Halton Council that there was to be no more licences issued as at a specified date. He further submits that there was no discretion to refuse the applicants' licences and any attempt to do so would be ultra vires the Act.

His second line of attack is that the decision was unreasonable on Wednesbury principles (from Associated Provincial Picture Houses v Wednesbury Corporation [1948] 1KB 223, [1947] 2 All ER 680). He submits that the evidence was all one way as indicated by the Working Party, that it was still desirable to issue such licences in the Halton area, and in particular he relies upon the fact that the police had not raised any objection or suggested that such a limit or any limit should be imposed.

Thirdly, he submits that before departing from the policy of deregulation they must show plausible and proper grounds for doing so. And he urged this Committee in deciding as it did reached a decision which no reasonable Committee, properly addressing its mind to the issues, the evidence and the effect of section 16 of the Town Police Clauses Act 1847, could have arrived at.

Fourthly, he suggests that there was a denial of natural justice. In this regard he relies heavily upon the decision of the Court of Appeal in R v Liverpool Corporation, Ex parte Liverpool Taxi Fleet Operators' Association [1972] 2 QB 299, [1972] 2 All ER 589, where it will be recalled a statement was made by the Town Clerk in the course of negotiations as to the regulation of the number of licences and the Town Clerk gave an assurance in writing that there would be no further issue of licences pending the passing of local legislation. In breach of that undertaking, licences were granted and an application was made for judicial review. I was cited the passage from Roskill LJ in R v Liverpool Corporation ex parte Liverpool Taxi Fleet Operators' Association [1972] 2 QB 299, [1972] 2 All ER 589, at page 307 A of the former report in which he described the promise by the Town Clerk as "a clear undertaking" and accordingly any breach of it was sufficient to permit and oblige the court to intervene on behalf of those who felt aggrieved.

It is submitted that Mr Marshall, the second applicant, asked for such assurance in this case and he too was given a clear undertaking by Mr Gilligan that there would be no change in policy without prior notice. Mr Matheson submits that that assurance was not reconsidered when the decision was taken on 10th June. There was thus a breach of natural justice.

Miss Hamilton who appeared on behalf of the council submitted that there was a right to change the policy at any time. Section 16 of the Town Police Clauses Act 1847 entitled the licensing authority to refuse a licence if it was satisfied that there was no unmet demand. Thus, the local councillors who had set up the Working Party had extensive local knowledge of what was happening in their area, thus it was perfectly reasonable and lawful to have a policy which restrained the number of licences to be issued provided that the number was based on a reasonable decision and a decision to limit the numbers was within the relevant powers. Consequently, she argued, the council did so determine within section 16 and the decision as such was neither unlawful nor unreasonable. She further submitted that there was evidence from which the council could conclude that there was no unmet demand and from which they could be so satisfied and the court should in those circumstances infer that they were so satisfied. Such evidence included the taxi drivers' report and the figures of licences; Mr Redican's evidence including paragraph 9, to which I have referred, about social behaviour and conditions; and the undoubted and undisputed fact that there was a 200% increase in the licences issued. She further submits that this is not an arbitrary decision as in R v Reading Borough Council ex parte Egan (unreported)(11 June 1987) and they did exercise a discretion thereafter because in three cases of hardship the applicants were allowed their licences. She submits that although the resolution did not specify section 16 of the Town Police Clauses Act 1847 as such it is implicit that all the conditions were so satisfied.

She further submits that there was no denial of natural justice or any breach of fairness. The statement made by Mr Gilligan can be distinguished from the statement of the Town Clerk in the R v Liverpool Corporation ex parte Liverpool Taxi Fleet Operators' Association [1972] 2 QB 299, [1972] 2 All ER 589, decision. Mr Gilligan was not in the same position as the Town Clerk and any statement by Mr Gilligan was not a statement which bound or was intended to bind the Committee or the council.

Finally, she submitted that there was no procedural unfairness. The views of the private hire vehicle licence holders were well-known and it was obvious that if they had been reconsulted they would again argue that there was still an unmet demand.

In approaching this case and in arriving at my conclusions. I start with the effect of section 16 of the 1985 Act. It is clear that the effect of the amendment to sub-paragraph (b) is to transform the permissive "may" from the earlier Act into a partial mandatory "must". Unless the authority is "satisfied there is no significant demand which is unmet it is obliged to issue a licence to an otherwise suitable applicant." It also has the effect that an authority can adopt a policy of no numerical restriction of licences. By the use of the double negative and the emphatic phrase "if, but only if", the construction becomes clear in the way that I have adumbrated. It may be that the Committee did in fact carry out the necessary exercise under section 16 of the Town Police Clauses Act 1847. Unfortunately, there is no evidence, or insufficient evidence, that they did. There is no adequate minute of the meeting. There is no adequate record of what occurred at the meeting. This is surprising in view of the fact that it was of such importance and one would have expected a proper record to be kept by the officials to the borough council, including its Chief Executive, or affidavits to be sworn covering these proceedings. The affidavit of Mr Redican only speaks for himself and the affidavit falls short of showing that even he had section 16 clearly and accurately in his mind in proposing the motion that he did. There is no affidavit from the Chairman of the Committee. There is no affidavit from the Chief Executive. The affidavit from Miss Kenny does not take the matter further in this regard. There is no evidence that they even considered the Working Party report, apart from the record that I have read, leading up to the resolution and recommendation. If they did carry out an extensive debate on the implication of the Working Party report, they did not record any evidence of 'no significant unmet demand'. Indeed, the record of the Working Party suggested and recommended to the contrary. There is no evidence that the Committee correctly considered or complied with their statutory duty under section 16. It is true that the 8th July document from the taxi drivers was before them but there is no suggestion that this document was tested or evaluated. In any event, it did not directly address the question of unmet demand but only the hardship to existing taxi drivers which is not the same thing.

In the surprising absence of any evidence as to how the decision was arrived at, I am left with an overwhelming sense of unease that they were too readily persuaded to bring down the shutter at the behest of the taxi drivers lobby and in particular as a result of its circular letter of 8th July two days before the meeting. Consequently, I am not prepared to draw the inference that they did reach their conclusion correctly or reach a lawful conclusion. In my judgment the burden of proof on this aspect is upon the council and in spite of Miss Hamilton's tenacious argument I have come to the conclusion that that burden has not been discharged. Consequently, I have no option but to rule that the decision is unlawful. That being my principal conclusion, I can deal with the other matters very briefly.

I consider Mr Matheson's argument, that there is no distinction to be drawn between this decision and that of the Reading Borough Council, is well-founded. I consider that the terms of this decision were as arbitrary as those in R v Reading Borough Council ex parte Egan (unreported) (11 June 1987).

For sake of completeness, I should say that I am not persuaded that there was any procedural unfairness in failing to reconsult in any regard. Both sides had been given full opportunities to state their case -- the applicants' situation was well-known -- and I accept Miss Hamilton's argument on this point.

Finally, Miss Hamilton has persuaded me that I should prefer her submissions to those of Mr Mathesons' on the evidence relating to Mr Gilligan's promise. I think she is right when she says that this statement by Mr Gilligan is distinguishable from the statements made in R v Liverpool Corporation ex parte Liverpool Taxi Fleet Operators' Association [1972] 2 QB 299, [1972] 2 All ER 589. The statement which came from the Chairman of the Working Party was not binding and was not meant to be binding either upon the Committee or upon the council.

It follows that this application is allowed. The relief sought will issue and the decision of 10th June will be quashed and an order of mandamus will be made in the terms prayed. The claim for damages and compensation is dismissed.

DISPOSITION:
Application allowed with costs; order for legal aid taxation for the second and third applicants' costs

SOLICITORS:
Sherwood & Co, agents for Nyland & Beattie, Widnes; the Assistant Solicitor, Halton Borough Council, Widnes

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 25, 2019 6:10 pm 
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Location: Stamford Britains prettiest town till SKDC ruined it
I suspect at the end of the day there will be lots of losers and no winners

from the councils point of view if they did de regulate would that not increase their revenue ? without the expense of a survey

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