The London Borough of Brent says it is confident its use of street trading licences to manage dockless bike hire is lawful, despite the City of London Corporation reaching the opposite conclusion for its own area.
Brent announced plans earlier this year to use the street trading licencing powers of the London Local Authorities Act 1990 to manage dockless bike hire operations (LTT 19 Jan).
Last month the City of London Corporation said that its legal advice was that separate legislation governing street trading in the City was not appropriate for dockless bike hire schemes (LTT 14 Sep).
Carolyn Dwyer, the City’s director of the built environment, told members: “Street trading is defined in the City of London (Various Powers) Act 1987 to mean the selling or exposing or offering for sale of any article or thing in a street.
“However, dockless cycle hire schemes involve bikes being available on the highway (or on private land with the consent of the owner) for temporary hire by members of the public, with payment being made via an app, and no person in the street engaged in the hiring out of the bikes.
“As the 1987 Act prohibits a person from selling etc. items in the street, not the temporary hiring of bikes in the way proposed which is more in the nature of a service (and not dissimilar to the existing Santander cycle hire scheme except that there are no docking stations), the activity would not amount to unauthorised street trading.”
LTT asked Brent if, in the light of the City’s legal advice, the borough was satisfied that the separate 1990 legislation could apply to bike hire. A spokesman answered “yes”.
No dockless bike hire schemes are yet operating in Brent. “The council has approved a trial of dockless cycle hire for one year with Ofo, which has not yet launched,” said the spokesman.
Transport for London and London Councils are exploring a byelaw that would make it an offence to operate a cycle hire scheme in the capital without a licence (LTT 22 Jun).
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