To seek feedback on the proposed Mobile Homes and Caravan site licencing and the proposed introduction of a fee-charging structure for eligible administration connected with the policy (report of the Assistant Director Housing enclosed).
Consideration was given to the report of the Assistant Director – Housing, which proposed Mobile Homes and Caravan site licencing and the proposed introduction of a fee-charging structure for eligible administration connected with the policy.
Officers gave some context and an overview of the policy, which included:
Councillors considered the new policy and made the following comments:
· Confirmation was requested as to whether the fixed fees charged to site owners solely reflected the recovery of actual costs or whether any income could be generated.
o The officer confirmed that under the Department for Communities and Local Government guidance, fees charged were restricted to the recovery of costs regarding staff time for administering the issue of licences. Fees were benchmarked with other Lincolnshire authorities, but a suggested review period could be incorporated to enable amendments where these adhered to guidelines. Related work was already being actioned by officers without charge so the introduction of this policy would lead to extra income generation.
· Members requested the inclusion of a caveat to enable the charging of extra fees in order to cover increased costs should an individual application become protracted.
o The officer confirmed that Members’ comments regarding charges were acknowledged and would feed into the review of the next stage of the policy.
· Members asked whether consultation had taken place with existing site owners regarding the policy.
o Officers advised that whilst consultation had not taken place, site owners had been advised of the legislation changes in writing and had been made aware of the new information required by SHDC to achieve the necessary ‘Fit and Proper Person’ status. Most sites in the district were well established and officers had a good relationship with owners.
· Members asked whether Gypsy and Traveller sites were included in the policy.
o The officer confirmed that Gypsy and Traveller sites were classed as ‘relevant protected sites’ and would be subject to site licences if planning permission was held.
· Members queried the fundamental difference between an ‘Amendment to a Licence’ and a ‘Transfer of a Licence’, charged at £142.93 and £83.94 respectively.
o The officer advised that he would investigate this point and respond outside of the meeting.
· Members asked if there was a schedule which specified ‘imminent risk of serious harm’ as stated in point 3.5 of the policy.
o Officers confirmed that the definition relating to caravans and mobile homes was uncertain due to the associated legislation falling within the Environment Act. Officers applied the Housing Health and Safety rating system as a benchmark when assessing hazards in caravans and mobile homes.
· Members replied that should action be taken because of ‘imminent risk of serious harm’, that a clear definition of this would be helpful to mitigate dispute and therefore aid recovery of costs.
o In pursuit of their duties, authorised officers relied on the protection of prevailing legislation when making decisions regarding action. Issues were discussed with the landowner/responsible person before action was taken. It was recognised that this was unclear and therefore agreement was made to include a bulleted list of examples regarding ‘imminent risk of serious harm’.
a) That feedback from the SHDC Mobile Homes and Caravan Site Licensing and Fee Policy be noted and approval given to be taken forward to Cabinet on 26 October 2021.
b) That the policy be reviewed one year after adoption.