LANDAU driver Fred England thought common sense had prevailed, and his lack of a car driving licence would not close his family business.

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Timeline of the saga

For 25 years in a row, Fred England renews his license to drive the landau.

Monday, September 24, Mr England goes to town hall to renew his license, and is informed of the law the council have suddenly come across.

Tuesday, September 25, Mr England’s friend Jayne Parkin sets up online petition and his sister, Rachel England-Allen, starts the Facebook page Back my Brother to Keep his Hackney Carriage License.

Monday, October 1, the Eastern Daily Press features Mr England’s story.

Tuesday, October 2, local and national radio, TV and newspapers pick up the story.

Thursday, October 4, the Norwich Evening News reports how “support has flooded in for Fred England.”

Thursday, October 4, licensing committee day. Mr England is brought to the Town Hall in a Landau driven by a 16-year-old, as his supporters make a cheeky point. The committee decide, after much debate, to grant him his license.

Friday, October 5, solicitor Chris Skinner gets wind of the decision, and realises it is unlawful.

Mr England goes to Town Hall to see about his license. He says he was told to wait until Monday, as there is some paperwork to get through.

Saturday, October 6 and Sunday, October 7, Mr Skinner writes his report.

Monday, October 8, Mr Skinner rings up Town Hall, and is again told to wait.

Tuesday, October 9, the letter is posted through Mr Skinner’s door at 5.30pm.

Wednesday, October 17, ???

The 43-year-old, whose father and grandfather were both horse-drawn carriage drivers, had been told his 25-year career could end due to the baffling law - which town hall bosses did not know existed until recently.

Licensing councillors agreed they would grant him exception to the law at a meeting last week, and he thought his troubles were over.

But to his horror Mr England got a letter through his door on Tuesday telling him they had reversed their decision, and he must cease work as a landau driver until he has got a car driving licence.

“I don’t know how they could give me it then take it back - it seems a bit naughty,” said Mr England, of Vincent Close. “I’m not happy at all.

“If you’ve got a driving licence you can go down the town hall and get paperwork to drive a horse which you know nothing about, and that’s all wrong.”

More than 600 people supported a petition to let Mr England keep his licence, and another campaign is gathering pace in light of the council’s U-turn.

It appears licensing councillors went against advice solicitors’ advice last Thursday, and that the original bad news for Mr England was accurate.

Council solicitor Chris Skinner told members of the panel in a report that they “gave no satisfactory reason for this decision. I am satisfied that they acted unlawfully”.

Mr England’s problems began when council officers discovered the authority had acted incorrectly for years – and that landau drivers must possess a car driving licence to get a landau licence.

He was told when he went to renew his licence, as he does every year.

Closure will come on Wednesday – when a special meeting will decide once and for all if Mr England will lose his landau licence.

He said he will wait until the verdict before he considers his options, including having to learn to drive a car to continue a trade of which he is already a master.

John Holmes, chairman of the licensing committee, said members were aware of the risks when they went against officers’ advice.

“We knew this could happen but not whether it would, but now it has we have to deal with it,” he said. “We knew we were going against legal advice at the meeting.

“It is not the ideal situation. We just have to wait and see if full council supports us or asks us to reconsider.”

Mr England said he was angered by the false hope, and had been pursuing ‘grandfather’s rights’ – where the law is waived due to age and experience.

Five out of 51 landau drivers in Blackpool are exempt on this basis, but a report to Yarmouth’s council said “there is no legal basis to grant such rights”.

A spokesman for the borough council said: “As the council has made what is deemed to be an unlawful decision, the council’s monitoring officer is duty bound to bring a report to full council highlighting that the decision is effectively illegal.

“This process is governed by national law and would therefore happen at any council in the country following such a decision.

“Full council will meet to consider whether to back the decision made by the licensing committee, regardless of it being judged to be unlawful, or decide whether to send the application back to licensing committee for another look.”

11 comments

  • Common sence....!! Yes 1 less Steptoe & Son horse and cart removed..

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    marshall

    Friday, October 12, 2012

  • So if there is no legal basis to grant grandfather rights somebody better tell those 5 in Blackpool that they are breaking the law too! has anybody clarified if he needs to pass a car test or can just obtain a provisional which Mr England can do for twenty quid and thus comply with the law, thereby stopping all this fuss.

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    David Hardy

    Friday, October 12, 2012

  • marshall-that remark is completly out of order. good luck mr england against the council.

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    calmudownboy

    Friday, October 12, 2012

  • So if there is no legal basis to grant grandfather rights somebody better tell those 5 in Blackpool that they are breaking the law too! has anybody clarified if he needs to pass a car test or can just obtain a provisional which Mr England can do for twenty quid and thus comply with the law, thereby stopping all this fuss.

    Report this comment

    David Hardy

    Friday, October 12, 2012

  • As it was a legal issue, why oh why didn`t someone use their gumption and speak to the council solicitor first. Would have saved a lot trouble all round. I am sure Mr England will get his licence but what an shambles by our new Labour led council.

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    BG

    Friday, October 12, 2012

  • How much is this costing the rate payers when we have been told they have to make a saving of £10 million over the next 3 years

    Report this comment

    Dave

    Friday, October 12, 2012

  • this is just ridiculous, lets just hope that the 'full council' will have some common sense and let this man continue to work without a car licence that is totally irrelevant to riding a horse. If they can allow it in Blackpool there is no reason whatsoever why they cannot allow it in Yarmough

    Report this comment

    catalonia13

    Friday, October 12, 2012

  • Oh dear, control freaks alert!!!!

    Report this comment

    nrg

    Friday, October 12, 2012

  • As i have said before, The local hard working person gets nothing Whilst chavs,layabouts and a lot of migrants get everything handed to them on a plate!. You really do get nowhere know for being decent and wanting to work

    Report this comment

    Gorlmouth

    Saturday, October 13, 2012

  • this is pen pushing desk jockeys gone crazy if they havnt got enough real work to do with themselves its time they looked for another job because they are using our taxes on nit picking. i bet thier relatives have not been doing thier job as long as mr englands have poor old friar tuck will be rolling in his grave.

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    i am mostly wrong??

    Friday, October 12, 2012

  • oh and could the reporter possibly correct the errors in the timeline saga, I think the last 2 entries should read 'Mr England'!

    Report this comment

    catalonia13

    Friday, October 12, 2012

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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