The Assistant Director of Community Protection submitted an exempt report in connection with the review of Combined Hackney Carriage/Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licence: 157 : Ref: 45/12, where circumstances had arisen which required special consideration by the Committee.
The Chair introduced those present and outlined the procedure to be followed. The driver, who was in attendance at the meeting accompanied by his friend (who was also his former employer), verified his name and address and confirmed that he had received a copy of the report.
The Principal Licensing Officer presented the report setting out the circumstances of the case in relation to a complaint received by the Licensing Section on 23 July 2012 regarding the driver's behaviour on Saturday 21 July 2012. The complainant and his witness allege that the driver was plying for hire outside the North Ormesby Institute when he refused to carry a wheelchair bound passenger.
A copy of the complaint and witness statements from the two taxi drivers who made the complaint was attached at Appendix 1 to the report. The driver was interviewed by the Council's Licensing section in accordance with the Police and Criminal Evidence Act on 21 September 2012 and a full transcript of the interview was attached at Appendix 2 to the report. members were advised that the incident had also been witnessed by the son of one of the complainant's, however the Licensing Section were unable to obtain a statement as the witness was currently serving in the armed forces in Afghanistan.
The driver confirmed that the report was an accurate representation of the facts and was invited to address the Committee. The driver spoke in support of his case and responded to questions from Members of the Committee, the Principal Licensing Officer, the Council's Legal Officer and the two witnesses.
The Principal Licensing Officer showed Members via google maps the location of the incident and the driver confirmed to Members that he had been parked in the unofficial taxi rank near to the North Ormesby Institute at the time of the incident.
It was confirmed that there were no further questions and the driver's witness was invited to address the Committee and respond to questions from a Member of the Committee, the Principal Licensing Officer and the Council's Legal Officer.
The two complainant's were invited to address the Committee one by one and respond to questions from Members of the Committee, the driver, the Principal Licensing Officer and the Council's Legal Officer.
It was confirmed that there were no further questions and the driver and his witness, the two complainants and officers of the Council, other than representatives of the Councils Legal Services and Members Office, withdrew whilst the Committee determined the application.
Subsequently all interested parties returned and the Chair announced the Committees decision
ORDERED that Combined Hackney Carriage/Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licence: 157 : Ref: 45/12, be suspended for a period of four weeks, for the following reasons:-
1. The Committee considered the two complainants to be credible witnesses.
2,. The Committee believed that the driver was plying for trade at the time of the incident as he was parked in an area that he knew was used as an unofficial taxi rank and Members believed that the driver had deliberately refused to allow the wheelchair bound passenger to travel in his vehicle.
3. When Members of the Committee, the Principal Licensing Officer and the Council's Legal Officer asked the driver questions about the incident that occurred on 21 July 2012, the driver contradicted the information contained in the statement he gave to the Licensing Section when interviewed in accordance with the Police and Criminal Evidence Act on 21 September 2012.
4. The driver's refusal to take a wheelchair bound passenger constituted an offence under the Town Police Clauses Act.
The driver was reminded of his right of appeal to the Magistrates Court within 21 days of the decision.