December 13 2013 Latest news:
By Joe Wilkes
Monday, October 1, 2012
For a quarter of a century, Fred England has taken tourists for trips along Great Yarmouth’s historic seafront in his horse-drawn landau.
But now the 43-year-old is set to lose his licence to continue plying his trade – because the local council has suddenly realised it should not be authorising him to ride his four-wheel carriage because he does not have a licence to drive a car.
Mr England, whose horse is called Sam, went to Great Yarmouth Borough Council last week to submit a licence renewal application, as he has done regularly for 25 years, but was told he needed a motor vehicle driving licence, which he has never possessed.
The final decision over the licence renewal application will go to the council’s licensing committee later this week, but that will not help the horseman, who is likely to lose a part in the family trade – his grandfather, father and three brothers all pulled carriages – until he has a driving licence.
Mr England, of Vincent Close, Yarmouth, said: “They reckon I am not covered on the insurance.
“I have been doing it safely for 25 years; why all this all of a sudden now? In Blackpool there are eight guys who have Grandfather Rights; they can ride without a licence as their family have been doing it for so long. Where are my Grandfather Rights?
“I don’t really know why they are doing it; it’s strange.
“I am not happy about it at all. I enjoy doing this and it has been in my family for ages. As far as I am concerned they do not have the right. This rule should apply to new licences, not renewals.”
Since a Court of Appeal case in 1998 determined that a person-drawn vehicle was within the definition of a ‘Hackney Carriage’ – a black cab – it became law that both horse-drawn and person-drawn vehicles were licensable under the relevant Hackney Carriage legislation.
This means a landau rider must hold a Hackney Carriage driver’s licence and the prerequisite to that is that he holds a DVLA licence.
In Blackpool, a small number of experienced landau riders have been granted ‘Grandfather Rights’, under this, but this does apply to new applicants. Linda Mockford, the licensing manager at Great Yarmouth Borough Council, said: “It just recently came to light that it’s a matter of law, whereas before we did not require it.
“It was just a case of officers not being aware it was the law.
“It came to light because somebody else was trying to apply for a licence. We made it policy for brand new applications a few years ago.
“Now I know, I have to rectify it. We have checked and found that we were potentially in breach. We cannot do anything but refuse it; we are getting legal advice and I have advised him to do the same.
“If there was something I could do for him I would.
“In the past we have been acting incorrectly and now it is down to the committee, but I don’t think they can do anything.”
She added: “I will speak to him face to face; he deserves that after having been a landau driver for 25 years. This is no reflection on him.”
Mr England added: “As far as I am concerned this is their mistake, not mine.”