Agenda item

Caravan Sites and Control of Development Act, 1960 - Fit and Proper Person Test

Committee approval is sought to adopt a Fit and Proper Person Fees Policy and Determination Policy to support the introduction of the Fit and Proper Person test (F&PP) in relation to caravan site licensing (residential sites) on 1 July 2021.


The F&PP legislation is a new mechanism for local authorities to determine whether the person with day-to-day responsibility for managing every residential, commercial site within their district is fit and proper to do so.


Applications can be made to the Local Authority (LA) from 1 July 2021. The LA will need to assess the applicant’s circumstances in consideration of any determination policy. A register of approved F&PP applicants will also need to be maintained by the LA.


This is a new function of the LA, who is able to recover its costs only in accordance with an Adopted Fees Policy.


The Chair invited the Group Head of Technical Services to present his report. He explained that in Arun there were over 1,100 households that lived in residential park homes and that most site owners managed these households effectively treating their residents well. It was confirmed that in 2017 the Government undertook two calls for evidence and that in 2018 it published its response.  Part of this response included a package of measures which were committed to in policy to include introducing legislation to prevent exploitative service charges on residents and to prevent complex and opaque ownership structures from depriving residents of security of tenure. A Working Group had been established (which Arun participated in) to help promote awareness of rights amongst residents. In addition, the Government committed to engaging with Local Authorities through a forum which Arun had set up nationally which was the Site Licencing Officers Group which had a membership of over 200 Local Authorities. This had been an effective way to focus on best practice and to engage with the Government. The final piece of the Government’s response was to introduce a ‘fit and proper persons test’ to protect the best interest of residents on sites and this was added to Local Authorities’ existing powers in order to target the worst offenders in this sector.


The Group Head of Technical Services explained that in response to this, Officers had worked with the Site Licencing Officers Forum to commission barristers to help with the implementation of this new regulatory function which led to the production of two policies [the Fit & Proper Person Determination Policy and the Fit & Proper Person Fees Policy] which had been attached as appendices to the report for the Committee to approve so that they could be adopted.  This new regime had to be implemented by local authorities on 1 July 2021. Legislation confirmed that applications could be received by local authorities from 1 July 2021 until midnight on 30 September 2021, with the local authority being able to recover costs, once the appropriate Fees Policy had been adopted.


The Chair then invited questions. One Member made reference to the part of the Policy that referred to the instance where if a site manager was unable or unwilling to submit a Fit and Proper Person Test then could the Council install its own Fit and Proper Person to then manage the site ‘with the site owner’s permission’. This led to further questions being asked as to what would happen if the Council did not get this permission and what would be the consequences for that site. The same Member also asked if there was an ongoing rating mechanism after the initial judgement or whether this test happened annually to deal with future acquired criminal offences.


In response, the Group Head of Technical Services confirmed that as part of the technical consultation it was suggested to Government through the forum that Local Authorities should have powers to act in such circumstances and not be reliant upon site owners’ cooperation but that this was not currently legislated for so in situations of non-cooperation the Council could revoke the licence meaning the site owner was committing a criminal offence by continuing to run a site without one and that penalties could be imposed by the Courts. He further confirmed that inclusion on the Fit and Proper Person Register would last for five years after which a new application would have to be submitted, but that if evidence was brought to the Council then a review of status and inclusion on the register could happen in the interim.


In response to another Member asking whether these were nationally drafted or local versions of policies, the Group Head of Technical Services explained that the Officer Forum provided template policies for all its member Local Authorities to assist in implementation and to ensure consistency where site owners had properties over several Districts’ jurisdictions.


Councillor Walsh then proposed the recommendations which were then seconded by Councillor Stanley.


            The Committee


                        RESOLVED – That


1)          The Fit and Proper Person Determination Policy be       adopted;


2)        The Fit and Proper Person Fees Policy be adopted;


3)           Delegated authority be given to the Group Head of Technical Services to have the ability to make minor revisions to the Fit and Proper Persons Fee Policy, including amendments to the fees schedule.


Supporting documents: