October 21 2014 Latest news:
By joe wilkes
Friday, October 5, 2012
Supporters of horse-drawn carriage driver Fred England were claiming a victory last night as Great Yarmouth Borough Council took the surprise decision to allow him to continue operating without a driving licence.
Mr England has been a landau operator on Great Yarmouth seafront for 25 years but faced having his licence taken away because the council had discovered it had been breaking the law by allowing him to operate without a DVLA licence.
The licence is required as landaus are covered by the same law as hackney carriages, or black cabs.
Last night, legal adviser to the council Yvonne Blake told the meeting that in her opinion councils in other seaside towns who made exceptions for veteran carriage drivers had “been applying the law incorrectly”.
Despite this, the council is making a similar exception for Mr England.
Ms Blake later added: “The committee takes legal advice, but doesn’t have to follow it.”
Mr England was brought to Yarmouth Town Hall for the meeting in a landau driven by a 16-year-old –who operates it for private hire – as his supporters got their point across.
Mr England said he was “over the moon” at the council’s decision.
Support had flooded in for the 43-year-old from Vincent Close, Yarmouth, since the story was featured in the EDP on Tuesday. An online petition got 128 signatures and Facebook page Back My Brother to Keep his Hackney Carriage Licence got 500 “likes”.
His supporters filled the council chambers and were vocal in their support during the meeting which had to be moved to the larger chamber to accommodate the numbers.
Linda Mockford, licensing manager at the council, had previously said there was nothing the council could do. But councillors spoke in support of Mr England, and the decision was taken to make an exception.
Councillor Barry Cuniffe declared the “law is an ass” and George Jermany also spoke in favour of Mr England, saying “we seek legal advice, not legal decisions”.
Mr England has appeared on radio, TV and national press this week, and is the only landau driver in Yarmouth to be granted such an exception.
His landau licence will continue provided he applies each year. Otherwise, the law governing new applications which requires the applicant to have held a car driving licence for a full 12 months will be applied.