Horse drawn carriage rides given the go ahead for Hartlepool
Horse-drawn carriage journeys could become a familiar sight in Hartlepool after licensing chiefs gave the go ahead.
Hartlepool Borough Council has updated its taxi licensing policy to allow for fare-taking horse drawn carriages to operate in town.
Licensing officials considered the issue after receiving a tentative inquiry from someone interested in running carriage rides along Seaton Carew seafront.
Councillors on the Licensing Committee supported the idea.
Licensing Manager Ian Harrison said it would take the town “back 150 years when all Hackney Carriages were horse drawn”.
But he stressed the interest the council had received had not gone any further than a general inquiry.
“For me it would just be an added attraction for Hartlepool,” he said.
“As with all these things I would hope we keep regulation to a minimum whilst protecting the public so as not to put anyone off if they want to come.”
Councillor Brenda Loynes, chair of the licensing committee, said: “I think it’s a brilliant idea and it would be an attraction to Seaton which has got to be a good thing especially with the regeneration.”
Coun Jim Lindridge said: “I think it’s important we encourage businesses to come. This will be a novelty.”
Weddings and funerals using horses are exempt from needing a licence.
Mr Harrison added: “We would give out a Hackney Carriage driver’s licence, so all of the requirements that apply to any Hackney Carriage driver apply.”
The committee recommended that the minimum age of drivers of cars and horse drawn carriages should be raised from 18 currently to 21 with a minimum of 12 months’ experience.
Councillors also decided fare rates for carriage rides should be agreed in advance by the council rather than between the operator and customer.
Coun Rob Cook said: “We have agreed rates for taxis we should have agreed rates for horse drawn carriages.
“We should not be in a situation where people are being ripped off.”