Licensing Committee Minutes

Licensing Committee Minutes

Date:
Monday 27 January 2014
Time:
1:30 p.m.
Place:
Mandela Room, Town Hall, Middlesbrough
 

Attendance Details

Present:
Councillor B E Taylor (Chair), Councillor J A Walker (Vice Chair); Councillor S Biswas, Councillor D G Loughborough, Councillor T Mawston, Councillor G Purvis and Councillor M Thompson.
Officers:
C Cunningham, J Dixon and T Hodgkinson.
Apologies for absence:
Councillor R Arundale, Councillor M Hudson, Councillor P Sharrocks, Councillor M B Williams.
Declarations of interest:

 

Name of Member Type of Interest Item/Nature of Interest
Councillor Biswas Non-Pecuniary Agenda Item 5 - Review of PHVDL Ref No: 06/14 - Driver known to Councillor (former employee).
Item Number Item/Resolution
PUBLIC
13/116 MINUTES OF THE PREVIOUS MEETING OF THE LICENSING COMMITTEE HELD ON 6 JANUARY 2014.

The Minutes of the Licensing Committee meetings held on 6 January 2014 were submitted and approved as a correct record.

13/117 EXCLUSION OF PRESS AND PUBLIC.

ORDERED that the press and public be excluded from the meeting for the following items on the grounds that, if present, there would be disclosure to them of exempt information as defined in Paragraphs 1, 2, 3 and 7 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972 and that the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighed the public interest in disclosing the information.

 

** At this point in the meeting, Councillor Biswas declared a non-pecuniary interest in relation to the following item as the driver was known to him as a former employee. Councillor Biswas withdrew from the meeting and took no part in the consideration of the item. **
 

Reports of Assistant Director of Development and Planning Services
13/118 REVIEW OF PRIVATE HIRE VEHICLE DRIVER LICENCE:REF:06/14

The Assistant Director of Development and Planning Services submitted an exempt report in connection with the review of Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licence, Ref: 06/14, 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, 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 the offences detailed at 5) and 6) within the submitted report and a complaint received from a member of the public on 15 July 2013.

 

It was noted that the driver was first licensed with the Council in April 1998. In September 2007 the driver surrendered his licence as he had been disqualified from driving for a period of six months as a result of the offences detailed at 1) to 3) in the submitted report. The driver appeared before Members in December 2008 with a fresh application following the re-instatement of his DVLA licence. Members granted his application on that occasion, with a warning that any further convictions may result in his return to Committee for a review of his licence.

 

The driver was interviewed by the Senior Licensing Officer on 9 January 2014, at which time he confirmed that there were no outstanding matters of which the Council was unaware, confirmed his previous explanations regarding the offences detailed at 1) to 3) of the submitted report and offered explanations in relation to the offences at 4) and 5) and in relation to the complaint received on 15 July 2013.

 

It was highlighted that the complaint received on 15 July 2013 was made by a member of the public in relation to the driver’s standard of driving during a journey from Newcastle Airport in the early hours of the morning.

 

Statements taken from each of the three complainants were attached at Appendix 1 to the report. A copy of the text conversation that took place between two of the complainants in the vehicle was attached at Appendix 2.

 

The driver was interviewed by a Licensing Enforcement Officer on 12 August 2013 and notes from that interview were attached at Appendix 3.

 

The driver confirmed that the report was an accurate representation of the facts.

 

Two of the three complainants were in attendance at the Committee. The first witness was invited to join the meeting and the Chair made introductions and explained the procedure to be followed. The witness confirmed her name and the content of her submitted statement (attached at Appendix 1) relating to the incident that had occurred on 30 June 2013.

The witness provided her version of events in relation to the incident and responded to questions from Members. The driver confirmed that he did not have any questions. The witness subsequently left the meeting at this point.

 

The second witness in relation to the complaint joined the meeting. The Chair made introductions and outlined the procedure to be followed. The witness confirmed her name and the content of her submitted statement, attached at Appendix 1. The witness provided her version of events in relation to the incident and responded to questions from Members. The driver confirmed that he did not have any questions. The witness subsequently left the meeting at this point.

 

The driver was invited to address the Committee and provided his version of events in relation to the incident. The driver responded to questions from Members and the Principal Licensing Officer.

 

It was confirmed that there were no further questions and the driver and officers of the Council, other than representatives of the Council’s Legal Services and Members’ Office, withdrew whilst the Committee determined the review.

 

Subsequently all interested parties returned and the Chair announced the Committee’s decision.

 

ORDERED that Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licence, Ref No: 06/14, be suspended for a period of four weeks and that the driver be required to complete the Driver Improvement Scheme, at his own expense, within two months. The Committee made its decision based on the following reasons:-

  1. The Council's Policy Guidance stated that a driver with nine or more points on their DVLA licence and/or a history of poor driving, would be expected to successfully complete the Driver Improvement Scheme, at his own expense. Whilst the driver currently had six penalty points on his licence, it was noted that he had accumulated 18 penalty points on his licence in the last nine years and had previously been disqualified from driving, under the totting up procedure, for a period of six months.
  2. The Committee upheld the complaint made against the driver in relation to his poor standard of driving and had heard evidence from two witnesses whom the Committee believed to be credible. The Committee accepted that the driver had been driving in a careless manner.
  3. The driver had failed to report his last two offences to the Licensing Office within seven days, as required by condition of his licence.

The driver was reminded of his right to appeal the decision to the Magistrates Court within 21 days of the decision.

 

** Councillor Biswas re-joined the meeting at this point. **
 

13/119 REVIEW OF COMBINED HACKNEY CARRIAGE/PRIVATE HIRE VEHICLE DRIVER LICENCE:REF:01/14

The Assistant Director of Development and Planning Services submitted an exempt report in connection with the review of Combined Hackney Carriage/Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licence, Ref: 01/14, 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 legal representative, 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 an incident of inappropriate parking.

 

It was highlighted that the driver had been due to appear before the Committee on 6 January 2014, however, prior to the meeting, information was received from the driver’s legal representative advising that he would be unable to represent his client on that date. Members, therefore, chose to defer the matter to their next meeting.

 

It was noted that the driver was first licensed with the Council in July 2008. He first appeared before Members in February 2013 in relation to two instances where he had been found to be inappropriately parked. On that occasion Members chose to suspend the driver’s licence for a period of two weeks as he had been found by an Officer to be parked inappropriately on two occasions causing obstruction and a public safety issue and he had failed to comply with a written warning issued to him following the first incident.

 

The driver was interviewed by the Senior Licensing Officer on 16 December 2013, at which time he confirmed that there were no outstanding matters of which the Council was unaware, confirmed his previous explanations in relation to the first two incidents and confirmed his previous explanation in relation to the third incident.

 

A statement made by the officer in relation to the first incident on 16 June 2012 was attached at Appendix 1 to the report. A statement produced by the Officer in relation to the second incident on 2 November 2012 was attached at Appendix 2 and a transcript of the subsequent interview in relation to the matter was attached at Appendix 3.

 

On 22 November 2012, the driver wrote a letter of complaint regarding his treatment in relation to these incidents and a copy was attached at Appendix 4.

 

Members were advised that the Licensing Section had recently received a great deal of video and photographic evidence from members of the taxi trade in relation to wrong-doing by other members of the taxi trade. A video was received showing a number of Hackney Carriage vehicles double parking and plying for hire off rank on Southfield Road, Middlesbrough. The driver’s vehicle was identified as one of those shown in the video. The driver was shown this video on 11 November 2013 and his version of events was recorded and attached at Appendix 5.

 

The driver confirmed that the report was an accurate representation of the facts.

 

The video evidence was shown to the Committee at this point. The driver’s legal representative addressed the Committee and provided the driver’s version of events in relation to the incident. The legal representative and the driver responded to questions from Members, the Principal Licensing Officer and the Council’s legal representative.

 

It was confirmed that there were no further questions and the driver, his legal representative and officers of the Council, other than representatives of the Council’s Legal Services and Members’ Office, withdrew whilst the Committee determined the review.

 

Subsequently all interested parties returned and the Chair announced the Committee’s decision.

 

ORDERED that Combined Hackney Carriage/Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licence, Ref 01/14, be retained but that the driver be issued with a warning in relation to his future conduct.
 

13/120 REVIEW OF COMBINED HACKNEY CARRIAGE/PRIVATE HIRE VEHICLE DRIVER LICENCE:REF:84/13

The Assistant Director of Development and Planning Services submitted an exempt report in connection with the review of Combined Hackney Carriage/Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licence, Ref: 84/13, 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 legal representative, 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 three separate occasions when the driver was found to be parked inappropriately.

 

It was highlighted that the driver was due to appear before the Committee on 23 December 2013, however, prior to the meeting, the Licensing Section received notification from the driver’s legal representative that there had been insufficient time to take full instructions from his client. Members, therefore, chose to defer the matter to their next meeting.

 

It was noted that the driver was first licensed with the Council in March 2008. He now appeared before Members in relation to three instances of inappropriate parking. The driver was interviewed by the Senior Licensing Officer on 12 December 2013 at which time he confirmed that there were no outstanding matters of which the Council was unaware and offered explanations in relation to the incidents of inappropriate parking.

 

The driver was interviewed by the Senior Licensing Officer on 8 November 2013, in relation to the third incident and notes from that interview were attached at Appendix 1.

 

The driver confirmed that the report was an accurate representation of the facts and was invited to address the Committee.

 

The driver’s legal representative addressed the Committee and responded to questions from Members.

It was confirmed that there were no further questions and the driver, his legal representative, and officers of the Council, other than representatives of the Council’s Legal Services and Members’ Office, withdrew whilst the Committee determined the review.

 

Subsequently all interested parties returned and the Chair announced the Committee’s decision.

 

ORDERED that Combined Hackney Carriage/Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licence, Ref 84/13, be suspended for a period of one week for the following reasons:-

  1. The driver had parked inappropriately on three separate occasions in congested areas and had previously received a warning in relation to this.

The driver was reminded of his right to appeal the decision to the Magistrates Court within 21 days of the decision.
 

13/121 REVIEW OF PRIVATE HIRE VEHICLE DRIVER LICENCE: REF 04/14

The Assistant Director of Development and Planning Services submitted an exempt report in connection with the review of Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licence, Ref: 04/14, 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, 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 the offence detailed at 1) in the submitted report. The driver was interviewed by the Senior Licensing Officer on 27 November 2013, at which time he confirmed that there were no outstanding matters of which the Council was unaware and offered an explanation in relation to the offence at 1).

 

The driver confirmed that the report was an accurate representation of the facts and was invited to address the Committee. The driver confirmed that the fine in relation to the offence at 1) had now been paid in full.

 

The driver addressed the Committee and responded to questions from Members and the Council’s legal representative.

 

It was confirmed that there were no further questions and the driver and officers of the Council, other than representatives of the Council’s Legal Services and Members’ Office, withdrew whilst the Committee determined the review.

 

Subsequently all interested parties returned and the Chair announced the Committee’s decision.

 

ORDERED that Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licence, Ref 04/14, be revoked as the Committee did not consider the driver to be a fit and proper person for the following reasons:-

  1. The Council's Policy Guidance stated that a conviction for an isolated offence involving dishonesty would result in a licence being revoked unless a period of at least 3-5 years free from conviction had elapsed.
  2. The driver had been convicted of an offence involving dishonesty and his subsequent appeal had been dismissed. The Committee believed that the driver had betrayed the trust of his passenger.

The driver was reminded of his right to appeal the decision to the Magistrates Court within 21 days of the decision.
 

13/122 REVIEW OF COMBINED HACKNEY CARRIAGE/PRIVATE HIRE VEHICLE DRIVER LICENCE: REF: 05/14

The Assistant Director of Development and Planning Services submitted an exempt report in connection with the review of Combined Hackney Carriage/Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licence, Ref: 05/14, 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, 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 the offences detailed at 1) to 3) in the submitted report. Members were reminded that a driver with a history of poor driving or who had accumulated nine penalty points on their DVLA licence would be referred to the Licensing Committee for review of their licence. Between May 2011 and December 2013, the driver had accumulated nine penalty points on his DVLA licence.

 

The driver was interviewed by the Senior Licensing Officer on 17 December 2013, at which time he confirmed that there were no outstanding matters of which the Council was unaware, confirmed all fines in relation to the offences had been paid in full and offered explanations in relation to the offences at 1) to 3).

 

The driver confirmed that the report was an accurate representation of the facts and was invited to address the Committee. The driver addressed the Committee and responded to questions from Members and the Principal Licensing Officer.

 

It was confirmed that there were no further questions and the driver and officers of the Council, other than representatives of the Council’s Legal Services and Members’ Office, withdrew whilst the Committee determined the review.

 

Subsequently all interested parties returned and the Chair announced the Committee’s decision.
 

ORDERED that Combined Hackney Carriage/Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licence, Ref 5/14, be retained but that the driver be required to complete the Driver Improvement Scheme, at his own expense, within the next two months. The Committee made its decision based on the following reasons:-

  1. The Council's Policy Guidance stated that a driver with nine or more points on their DVLA licence and/or a history of poor driving, would be expected to successfully complete the Driver Improvement Scheme, at his own expense. The driver currently had nine points on his licence.
     
13/123 REVIEW OF PRIVATE HIRE VEHICLE DRIVER LICENCE: REF: 82/13

The Assistant Director of Development and Planning Services submitted an exempt report in connection with the review of Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licence, Ref: 82/13, 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, 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 the offences detailed at 1) to 3) in the submitted report. Members were reminded that the driver had appeared before the Committee on 6 January 2014. He advised that he was in the process of appealing against eight penalty points on his DVLA driving licence. Members decided to defer the matter to the next meeting and advised the driver that he must produce evidence of the fact that he was in the process of appealing the penalty points. He was also advised that should he fail to produce any evidence, consideration of his suitability to continue to drive Private Hire Vehicles would be considered based on the documentation currently in the Council’s possession which suggested that he had 11 current penalty points on his DVLA licence.

 

It was highlighted that the driver was first licensed in May 2012 and appeared before Members in relation to the offences detailed at 1) to 3) and a complaint in relation to the standard of his driving received by the Licensing Section on 11 August 2013.

 

The driver was initially interviewed by the Senior Licensing Officer on 22 May 2013 at which time he advised that he was in the process of appealing against the offences at 2) as they were incorrect. He stated he had made a statutory declaration in relation to the offences and was awaiting the return of his DVLA driving licence and expected the offences at 2) to have been removed from his licence. Under the circumstances, the Senior Licensing Officer advised that he would delay interviewing the driver until such time that he had resolved these issues with the DVLA.

 

On 24 July 2013, the Senior Licensing Officer wrote to the driver requesting an update regarding the progress of his attempt to have the offences removed from his licence. The driver did not respond.

 

On 11 August 2013, a complaint was received regarding the driver’s standard of driving. The driver was interviewed by a Licensing Enforcement Officer in relation to the complaint on 3 September 2013. A copy of the notes taken during that interview were attached at Appendix 1. The complaint was submitted by a cyclist who stated that the driver had overtaken him and in doing so had passed so close to him that he had been concerned for his own safety. Video evidence was available for Members to view.

 

Further appointments were made for the driver to be interviewed by the Senior Licensing Officer on 17 September, 3 October and 2 December 2013. The driver failed to attend on each occasion and did not contact the Licensing Section to provide any reason for his failure to attend. On 25 November 2013, the Senior Licensing Officer wrote to the driver inviting him to attend for interview on 2 December 2013 and advised that if he failed to attend on that occasion, he would be referred to the Licensing Committee without any further recourse to him. As he failed to attend on that occasion, the Senior Licensing Officer had intended to refer the driver to the Licensing Committee on 23 December 2013, however, prior to circulating the papers for that meeting, the driver contacted the Licensing Office. Further attempts were made to contact the driver and a further invitation for interview was sent to him. He failed to attend the appointment. As the driver has not been interviewed in relation to the offences detailed at 1) to 3), no explanation had been obtained in relation to those offences.

 

The driver confirmed that the report was an accurate representation of the facts and was invited to address the Committee.

 

The driver advised the Committee that his DVLA licence had now been returned to him and that the eight penalty points, in relation to the offences detailed at 2), had now been removed. The licence was circulated for inspection by Members. The driver advised that he had made a statutory declaration in relation to the offences at 2) as he did not accept that the offence for no insurance was correct, however, he did admit that he had been speeding on a motorway. He added that the Court had informed him that he would be re-tried for the offences but he did not know when this would be. In response to a query, the driver advised that he did not have any written evidence of this, other than his driving licence which now showed that the eight points had been removed.

 

The driver responded to questions from Members, the Principal Licensing Officer and the Council’s legal representative. The driver provided an explanation as to why the address on his DVLA licence was different to the address held by the Council.

 

The Committee then viewed the video evidence in relation to the complaint received from a cyclist who claimed that the driver had driven too close to him when overtaking.

 

It was confirmed that there were no further questions and the driver and officers of the Council, other than representatives of the Council’s Legal Services and Members’ Office, withdrew whilst the Committee determined the review.

 

Subsequently all interested parties returned and the Chair announced the Committee’s decision.

 

ORDERED that Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licence, Ref 82/13, be suspended for a period of 3 weeks, for the following reasons:-

  1. The driver had failed to respond to correspondence from the Licensing Section and had failed to attend subsequent appointments with Licensing Officers.
  2. In relation to a complaint made against the driver's standard of driving, the Committee had viewed video evidence showing that the driver had driven too close to a cyclist and the driver had admitted to doing so.
  3. The driver had been convicted of using a mobile telephone whilst driving which was a safety issue that caused the Committee concern.
  4. The Committee advised the driver that he needed to use only one residential address to ensure that he received all his correspondence and to ensure that this corresponded with the address provided on official documents.

The driver was reminded of his right of appeal to the decision to the Magistrates Court within 21 days of the decision.

Powered by E-GENDA from Associated Knowledge Systems Ltd