Report by Public Protection Manager (attached).
The Committee considered a report by the Public Protection Manager, (circulated previously) in respect of the introduction of an Animal Licensing Policy.
The Public Protection Manager explained the Council had never had an animal licensing policy before and that following the introduction of legislation in 2018 were introducing a policy to aid applicants, licence holders and the Council to provide transparency of the expectations for applicants and licence holders and to increase the robustness of the Council’s approach and procedures in respect of its animal welfare and animal licensing responsibilities.
She explained that at the meeting of the Licensing and Community Safety Committee on 10th May 2022, the Committee considered and approved a public consultation on a proposed North Devon Council Animal Licensing Policy. The policy would set out details in relation to enforcement together with the interpretation of legislative requirements and other matters, such as:
· How the Licensing Authority would administer the Animal Activity Star Rating Scheme in North Devon, including details of the time period proposed before a licence holder could be re-inspected to re-evaluate their star rating (3-month stand still period).
· The procedure for appeals against the star rating awarded.
· Details on how the suitability of applicants would be determined including DBS check requirements, and guidance on the relevance of criminal convictions.
There had been 61 responses to the consultation.
She added that officers had carefully considered all of the consultation responses and as a result had drafted several amendments to the proposed policy, detailed below:
· Minor amendment to the proposal to appoint an independent Vet to undertake hiring out horses activity inspections who would be independent and not one that was retained by the applicant / licence holder. The proposed amendment was that an independent vet would be used “wherever reasonably practicable”, and acknowledged that due to the relatively small number of specialist equine Vets in Devon, it may not always be possible or reasonable, to contract an independent Vet.
· In relation to applicants who disclosed relevant convictions the Policy had been amended to direct these applications to a Licensing Sub-Committee for determination. In the case of offences for animal cruelty, Licensing offences, or offences involving sex, indecency, or exploitation, the recommendation to the Licensing Sub-Committee would be to refuse the application, whereas for other relevant offences the recommendation would also be to refuse the application where the offences fall within the timeframes since conviction/ sentencing set out in the draft policy. It was proposed that Officers retained delegated powers to refuse applications where applicants were judged to fail to meet minimum welfare standards upon inspection.
· It was proposed that the requirement for applicants for renewal to undertake a basic DBS disclosure as part of their application be delayed (suggested now until 1st April 2023 to enable adequate notice of the new arrangements to be communicated in good time within renewal documentation).
· Amendment to requirement for applicants to provide evidence of a commercial trade waste agreement, to allow for some degree of Officer judgement where an application was from a small-scale operation or was likely to produce very small volumes of waste.
During their meeting on the 11th October 2022 the Licensing and Community Safety Licensing Committee considered the policy with the above outlined amendments, and made recommendation to Strategy and Resources Committee for its approval and implementation.
She answered questions in response to a number of issues within individual Member wards and agreed to speak to the Members concerned following the meeting.
The Leader stated that he was encouraged by the 61 responses to the consultation process.
RESOLVED, that further to the recommendation made by Licensing and Community Safety Licensing Committee at its meeting of the 11 October 2022, the introduction
of a new animal licensing Policy as detailed in Appendix A be brought into effect on the 1st January 2023.