Tougher animal welfare checks to be introduced
A new rating system is to be introduced for businesses in Telford and Wrekin that look after, breed and sell animals.
A change in the law nationally means business operators, such as pet shops, boarding kennels and breeders, will be risk-rated against a standard 14 point checklist. This includes welfare and management standards and how many complaints, if any, have been made against the operator and their history of compliance.
The new law, the Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018 replaces previous legislation. It means Telford & Wrekin Council’s licensing officers will be required to spend more time processing animal licence applications and carrying out the necessary inspections which, in most cases, will also involve a veterinary inspector.
The additional costs to the Council of these extra requirements is reflected in proposed increases to licence fees for the 2019/20 financial year to be considered by Telford & Wrekin Council’s Licensing Committee when it meets on Tuesday 19 March.
At the same meeting, the Committee will also be recommended to approve a reduction in the fee charged for licences for taxi and private hire drivers.
The Council had earlier moved to online applications and the use of an external company to carry out the legal checks. This had led to applications being processed more quickly at less cost to the Council. New applications now receive their driving standards are driving awareness training from a local company for which they pay separately. This is all reflected in the proposed reduction in licence fee.
Owners of park homes in the borough, including caravan parks, face an above-inflation increase in the cost of a new licence and annual inspections. The increases reflect all the costs associated with employing the staff who provide these services which the fees previously did not cover.
Cllr Richard Overton, Telford & Wrekin Council’s Cabinet Member for Enforcement, said: “We provide a range of licences to make sure activities are legal and, where there are requirements to carry out inspections, safe. The majority of the proposed licence fee increases cover inflation.
“There is a proposal to increase animal licence fees following a change in the law nationally in relation to businesses that deal with animals. The new law sets out the higher standards required in order for animal businesses to get a licence. It will cost the Council more to carry out those increased and tougher checks. The proposed increase in the licence fees will cover those higher costs.
“Conversely, in areas such as taxi and private hire driver licensing, our costs have gone down and, as such, it is proposed that the licence fees be reduced.”