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 Councils 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 drivers 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 Councils 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 Councils Legal Services and Members Office, withdrew whilst the Committee determined the review.
Subsequently all interested parties returned and the Chair announced the Committees decision.
ORDERED that Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licence, Ref 82/13, be suspended for a period of 3 weeks, for the following reasons:-
The driver had failed to respond to correspondence from the Licensing Section and had failed to attend subsequent appointments with Licensing Officers.
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.
The driver had been convicted of using a mobile telephone whilst driving which was a safety issue that caused the Committee concern.
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.