Report of the Director of the Built Environment.
The Committee considered a report of the Director of the Built Environment asking Members to recommend to the Court of Common Council that it resolves to delegate to London Councils’ Transport & Environment Committee (TEC) the authority to exercise the City Corporation’s byelaw-making function for the purpose of regulating dockless vehicles on the highway and/or public places by way of an addition to the existing TEC constitution, as outlined within the paper.
A Member questioned whether this was the first time that the City Corporation had delegated byelaw-making powers to another party and, if so, whether this would set a significant precedent. He went on to question whether this would constitute passing open-ended permissions with regard to dockless cycles to the TEC or if there would be scope to withdraw these at any point if necessary. The Comptroller and City Solicitor reported that, to the best of her knowledge, this would be the first example of such powers being delegated to another party. She reassured Members that a delegation could be revoked.
A Member noted that the report suggested that detailed discussions around the wording of the byelaw were ongoing and questioned whether Members would have the opportunity to reassess the final version. The Comptroller and City Solicitor reported that the TEC included representatives from all 33 London Boroughs and that there would be further reference to TEC before the wording was finalised or further amended.
A Member sought clarification as to how this might impact on the City Corporation’s ongoing dockless cycle trial and questioned whether this proposal was slightly premature given that this was yet to conclude. The Comptroller and City Solicitor noted that it was highly unlikely that the byelaw would be introduced ahead of the conclusion of the trial given that it required the delegation of all London boroughs to proceed. She envisaged that the byelaw would not be made before Spring 2020 at the earliest and reiterated that it was dependent upon a pan-London approach and agreement by all London Boroughs.
A Member spoke in support of the proposals which would hopefully result in a pan-London approach. She added that many using dockless vehicles were unaware of when they were crossing boundaries between one local authority and another. Finally, she questioned if there would be scope to include electric scooters within this work and also whether some consideration might be given to microchipping vehicles going forward.
A Member recognised that, whilst the byelaw would be in the same terms for all London local authorities, enforcement matters would be left to individual authorities. He therefore questioned whether the City Corporation would have any discretion around altering the level of fine beyond £500 for those breaching the byelaw. The Comptroller and City Solicitor clarified that, whilst site specific matters would remain with relevant local authorities, the maximum fine level was fixed by the byelaw and the fine (up to the maximum) to be imposed following prosecution would be a matter for the Magistrate’s Courts.
The same Member went on to question how this would be policed and whether, in the case of the byelaw being breached, it was the operator or the user who would be issued with a fine. The Comptroller and City Solicitor responded to state that the offence would be committed by the operator and that this was linked to the apparatus requirement in paragraph 4 of the draft byelaw. It was envisaged that this would be a largely self-managing system.
Another Member questioned the likely costs of enforcement. She questioned whether, eventually, London might move to a licensing system for dockless vehicles in common with other cities. With regard to the parking of dockless bicycles, the Member stated that users would be encouraged to park more responsibly in virtual stations but noted that sufficient space would be required to accommodate these. She questioned whether some of the City’s existing car parking spaces might be considered for this purpose going forward.
A Member stated that she endorsed this approach and the positive impact it would hopefully have in terms of clean air and the wider environment. She added, however, that there was a need for the scheme to be user-friendly in order to promote its use as widely as possible.
The Chair reiterated that this matter would also require the consent of the Court of Common Council and that, equally, all authorities would require the consent of their full councils. A Member suggested that the report to the Court of Common Council be amended to include the points raised today around the scope of the delegation of powers and that this was also the first time that such delegation had taken place.
RESOLVED – That, Members recommend to the Court of Common Council that it resolves to delegate authority to London Councils’ Transport and Environment Committee to exercise the following functions by way of an addition to the Part 3(D) Functions in the LC TEC agreement, inserting a new paragraph 2(c) as follows:
"(c)(i) the making of byelaws under section 235 of the Local Government Act 1972 (and, in respect of the City of London Corporation, under section 39 of the City of London (Various Powers) Act 1961) for the purpose of regulating dockless vehicles on the highway and/or public places (including by making it an offence for a dockless vehicle operator to cause or permit their dockless vehicle to be left on the highway or public place other than in an approved location), including taking all related steps to promote, make, amend and revoke any such byelaw.
(c)(ii) The exercise of powers under Section 1 of the Localism Act 2011 for the purposes of giving effect to (i) above, including but not limited to oversight and management of the arrangements (but excluding prosecution or other enforcement).