News Update

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News Update Licensing of Wedding Cars

1.         The Law Commission issued its report on Taxi and Private Hire Services in May 2014, the full report being available for you to view at:
www.lawcommission.justice.gov.uk/docs/lc347_taxi-and-private-hire-services.

2.         You will recall that in their original consultation document the Law Commission was proposing that Wedding and Funeral Car should be licensed as Private Hire vehicles.  Following almost 1300 responses on the issue, far more than on any other aspect of the consultation paper, and a significant volume of correspondence from Members of Parliament, the Law Commission was persuaded by the arguments presented by individuals and the representative organisation to recommend that wedding and funeral cars should continue to enjoy the current exemption from the licensing regulations.  Interestingly, the argument presented by the NAWCP features in the report as one of the specific persuading factors during the consultation period.  The continuation of the existing exemption for wedding and funeral cars is reflected in the draft Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles Bill, Section 1, “Meaning of using a vehicle as a hire vehicle”, clause 1(4), which states that, “a vehicle is not to be treated as being used as a hire vehicle at any time when it is being used in connection with a wedding or a funeral”. However, members should be particularly aware that the Bill is very specific in the use of the phrase, ‘in connection with a wedding or funeral’, which clearly means that use of the vehicles as a hire vehicle for other than a wedding or a funeral, e.g. a school prom, would not make it exempt from the regulations.  Members, please be aware of this constraint.

3.         In summary, while the Bill is not yet on the ‘statutory books’ recommendations from the Law Commission tend to move smoothly into legislation, so it is fully expected that wedding cars will continue to enjoy exemption from the regulations covering Taxi and Private Hire vehicles.  However, there are other factors to note in the progression of this issue, firstly, it has been acknowledged formally in the Law Commission’s Report and anecdotally by the Law Commission that amongst others the NAWC was instrumental in persuading them that the exemption should remain.  Secondly, that MPs took up the cause having been contacted by NAWCP members and others.  So the 2 lessons are: firstly, that the NAWCP has and can make a difference in your business lives and secondly, that writing to your MP, as suggested by the NAWCP, can also make a difference.

VED Changes – The scrapping of the ‘Tax Disc’.

4.         As we have advised you previously, with effect from 1 October this year (2014) the Government is scrapping the paper Tax Disc and for those vehicles with months to run on an existing tax disc, the need for the paper disc to be displayed will be dispensed with.  Nevertheless, to keep a vehicle on the road it will still be necessary for it to be appropriately taxed or SORNed.

5.         The new process for taxing a vehicle is detailed on:
www.gov.uk/government/news/vehicle-tax-changes.

The NAWCP did submit its concerns to the Government during the consultation process and it is believed that those concerns have been addressed. Specifically, the new process detailed on the DVLA web-site usefully states that a vehicle can be taxed using the New Keeper Supplement (V5C/2) part of the vehicle registration certificate (V5C) online or by using an automated phone service – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Also, there is already in place an on-line system for checking whether or not a vehicle is taxed. However, there remains the question of how to register the change of ownership other than by post; which would need to be done at the same time as cancelling/applying for road tax. Although not explicit within the statement it is hoped that the on-line and automated telephone service will include this essential element.  The NAWCP has contacted the DVLA for clarification of this issue but has been informed that no more information, other than what is on the web-site is currently available, but more information will be made available during the coming weeks.

6.         The NAWCP will continue to monitor the situation and keep you updated as the information becomes available.

Roadworthiness Testing

7.         The EU Directive on Roadworthiness has now been adopted, and as a consequence is now binding on all Member States.  However, it will take a little more time for the UK Department of Transport to determine how the substance of the Directive is to be applied within the UK and for the legislation to appear on the statute books.  How the Directive will affect the current UK MoT and the exact timetable for implementation of legislation in the UK can be found at:
www.mattersoftesting.blog.gov.uk/how-the-eu-roadworthiness-package-affects-the-mot/

8.         One thing to note is that this legislation is not just about old or historic vehicles but has been developed with the objective of improving road safety as a whole and is inclusive of all motor vehicles and trailers.  Clearly, the NAWCP believes that road safety is paramount and would wish to support all measures that support that objective; however, whether or not there will be a direct impact of this legislation on our industry is yet to be seen.  Issues such as the definition of an historic vehicle and exemption from testing have yet to be fully resolved but whatever the outcome; they would not change the NAWCP Code of Conduct regarding the testing of all vehicles used by our members for weddings.

9.         The NAWCP will continue to monitor the situation with regard to our industry and we know that the Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs (FBHVC) will continue to pursue the interests of its members with regard to the impact of the legislation on historic vehicles.  Further details of the work being done by the FBHVC can be found at:
www.fbhvc.co.uk/about-us/news/_article/50/eu-roadworthiness-directive–legislation-published/

Low Emission Zones and Ultra Low Emissions Zones

10.       You will all be aware of the proposals by the Mayor of London regarding an Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) and the consequent opinion expressed by the NAWCP of the inevitability of other major cities and towns in the UK considering similar projects. Well, you will not be surprised to learn that there is encouragement for the ULEZ to cover all of greater London and thatLabour, in echoing calls by several air quality experts and campaigners at a recent parliamentary committee inquiry hearing, has committed to delivering a national framework for low emission zones (LEZs) to help councils tackle air pollution if it wins the general election next year.

11.       As further evidence of the increase in the pace of developments, the following towns and city are in the process of establishing or considering LEZs: Oxford, Sheffield, Birmingham, Norwich, Brighton, Durham, Glasgow and the Royal Borough of Greenwich.  In addition, the following have funds allocated to them for research into the establishment of LEZs: Aylesbury, Bath, Bradford, Horsham, Leeds, Lewes, Maidstone, Newcastle upon Tyne, Reading, Sheffield, Southampton, Warwick and Waverley.

12.       Consequently, you will understand why we called for volunteers to take on the post of Environment Officer so that the NAWCP can better monitor these developments and advise on the likely impact on the wedding car industry.  To date, we have not had a response but we live in hope that somebody will come forward to help.  In the meantime, we continue to do what we can to ensure that our industry is represented in the discussions and consultations surrounding this very important issue.  Indeed, you will be please to know that following the lack of a positive response from City Hall requesting official stakeholder status, our Chairman has written personally to Boris Johnson indicating our displeasure in being left on the side-lines and asking directly that he honour his pledge to support the tradition of marriage and include the NAWCP as an official stakeholder in London’s development of the ULEZ.  However, without someone dedicated to this task we will find it difficult to ensure our voice is heard effectively in all the arenas of discussion. So, please, if there is someone out there with the inclination to help the NAWCP ensure a minimal impact of LEZs and similar on our industry, please make yourself known to the Chairman of the Secretary.

Driving Licences

13.       To finish off this update, some good news; the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, and Transport Minister, Claire Perry, have announced plans to reduce driving licence fees by up to 32 per cent.

14.       The proposal, which was under Government consultation until 25 August 2014, would mean that drivers who apply for their first licence would pay £34.00 instead of £50.00 and those renewing their licences after 10 years would pay £14.00 instead of £20.00.  If the proposals are passed, the motoring community as a whole is set to save around £18 million.  We look forward to passing on some good news in the future.


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