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Animal Activities: Policies & Procedures

Policies and Procedures

The Borough Council is required to follow the relevant Regulations and Statutory Guidance when considering applications for Animal Activities Licences and inspecting premises

If you are unhappy with the officers’ report or comments you should first contact the officer.  If problems remain unresolved you have the following options:

Appeals & Reviews

1. Disputed Scores and Licence Reports

If you wish to dispute the star rating given as not reflecting the animal welfare standards and risk level of your business at the time of the inspection you should first contact the officer to discuss this matter soon after receiving your rating. We will aim to respond within seven days of your request.  A different process applies if changes have been made since the inspection occurred.

If you are not satisfied with the officer’s explanation, you have the option to formally appeal.  You must make your appeal in writing and submit it within 21 days of your grading being issued.

This can be by letter, addressed to Environmental Health, Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council, Castle House, Barracks Road, Newcastle, Staffordshire ST5 1BL or by email to Environmental Health . You can withdraw your appeal afterwards if you wish.

An appeal will be considered by the head of the department that issued the licence or another senior officer who has not been directly involved in the inspection on which the grade is based.  The council must consider the appeal and provide a decision to the business within 21 days of the written appeal request being received.

We will consider the appeal by reviewing the paperwork associated with the inspection.  This will include the application form originally submitted and the inspector notes from the visit. The past record for the business will also be considered including previous inspections and any complaints in respect of animal welfare which have been investigated.  In some circumstances a further visit may be required. 

The costs of any additional inspections related to the appeal will be borne by the applicant unless it results in a higher rating being awarded. This will depend on the nature of the dispute and whether a decision can or cannot be made on the basis of the paperwork.

If you then disagree with the outcome of the appeal, you can challenge our decision through judicial review, and you also can contact the Local Government Ombudsman if you consider that we have not properly followed the regulations and any statutory guidance.

2. Licence Refusals / Suspensions

If an officer advises that a licence will be refused or will be suspended they should provide details, in writing, with the reasons why. Generally, the reason to refuse will be because the officer:

(a) Thinks the applicant is not capable of meeting their licence conditions

(b) Thinks that granting a licence might negatively affect the welfare, health or safety of the animals involved in the activity

(c) Considers the accommodation, staffing or management are inadequate for the animals’ well-being or for the activity or establishment to be run properly. The relevant guidance documents for the activity will explain in detail the requirements and conditions that must be met so you should have regard to these documents

(d) Believes the applicant has been disqualified from holding a licence as per Schedule 8 of the Regulations.

The Licence Holder / Applicant may appeal to a First-tier Tribunal if they do not agree with the decision made by us. This must be done within 28 days of the decision.

The relevant forms are here:

3. Licence Variation Requests from the Licence Holder

A licence can be varied if the information on it needs to be amended, or to reflect changes to the animals or premises to which the licence refers.  Where the licence holder requests a change they should make their request in writing. A fee is payable. They should provide details of the changes requested along with any supporting documentation e.g. policies / check sheets, or photographs which will help the council consider their request.  Examples of where a variation should be sought include: change in the trading name of a business, changes to the breeds of dogs being bred, reduction of the number of animals being boarded.

Unless an inspection is specifically required either to ensure animal welfare, or because there appears to be significant changes to the licenced activity, the request for variation will be determined through a desktop review completed within 28 days of the variation application and fee being received.  As part of the review the advice of a veterinary surgeon may be sought.  Where a further site inspection is required addition fees may be payable.

4. Suspension, Revocation or Variation of a licence by the council

The council may, without the licence holder’s consent, decide to suspend, vary or revoke a licence at any time if—

(a) the licence conditions are not being complied with,

(b) there has been a breach of these Regulations,

(c) information supplied by the licence holder is false or misleading, or

(d) it is necessary to protect the welfare of an animal.

Where such action is taken the council will provide details of when its decision takes effect, options and time limits to make representation or appeal a decision relevant to the specific circumstances, along with the action the licence holder needs to take to comply with the regulations and protect animals in their care.

Re-inspections

5. Re-inspection visit for re-rating purposes

If you have made changes to your business since the licence inspection, have been graded 1-4 stars, and have made improvements you can request a re-inspection to re-assess your star rating.  A re-inspection for re-rating purposes could lead to a lower rating being awarded rather than an improved grade.

We should carry out the re-inspection visit within three months of receipt of the request (and payment where required). There is no limit to the number of re-inspections that can be requested, however a fee may be charged for each.

The request should be made in writing.  This can be by letter, addressed to Environmental Health, Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council, Castle House, Barracks Road, Newcastle, Staffordshire ST5 1BL or by email to Environmental Health. You should outline the case for a re-inspection, that is, indicate the actions you have taken to improve the level of compliance or welfare since the inspection and, where appropriate, should include supporting evidence such as photographs or documents. Explain what has changed and how this changes risk or welfare standards.

The council can refuse to undertake a re-inspection if insufficient evidence has been provided that risk or welfare standards have changed.  If this happens the council will explain the priority actions that must be taken in order to improve the rating and indicate what evidence will be required for agreement to a re-inspection to be made on further request.

New ratings cannot be given purely on documentary evidence.  A visit will always be made. The officer will not only check that the required improvements have been made, but also assess the ongoing standards. This means that the rating could go up, down or remain the same.

Charges and Refunds

6. Fee Setting

Charges for animal activities licencing are calculated based on the costs the council will incur through officer time, travel, production of reports, processing payments based on the costs the authority can reasonably anticipate. Fees comply with the councils charging policy and guidance provided by the Local Government Association “Open for business: LGA guidance on locally set licence fees”  Fees at calculated annually and agreed by elected members.  Where the council’s costs can be reduced through efficiencies, these savings will be reflected in future fees.  Fees are set at a level which does not generate a surplus.

5. Refund Policy

Applicants may withdraw their applications, or surrender their licences at any point and may seek a refund by applying in writing.  This should be by letter, addressed to Environmental Health, Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council, Castle House, Barracks Road, Newcastle, Staffordshire ST5 1BL or by email to Environmental Health.  

Refunds will be calculated on a case by case basis for unused elements of the fee.  For example, if an application is withdrawn prior to an inspection being undertaken the majority of the fee may be returned, however, if an inspection has been undertaken officer time and travel costs incurred and those of any third party, for example a vet, may be deducted.

Refunds will be by bank transfer, refund to a credit or debit card if used, or cheque and will be made within 10 working days of the request having been approved.

 

 


Last updated 7 February 2020

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