Licensing Committee Minutes

Licensing Committee Minutes

Date:
Monday 10 March 2014
Time:
1:30 p.m.
Place:
Mandela Room, Town Hall, Middlesbrough
 

Attendance Details

Present:
Councillor R Arundale, Councillor R Brady, Councillor R Kerr, Councillor D G Loughborough, Councillor T Mawston, Councillor G Purvis, Councillor B E Taylor, Councillor M Thompson, Councillor J A Walker, Councillor M B Williams
Observers:
S White (Planning and Development).
Officers:
C Cunningham, J Dixon and J Hodgson.
Apologies for absence:
Councillor S Biswas, Councillor M Hudson, Councillor P Sharrocks
Declarations of interest:

 

Name of Member Type of Interest Item/Nature of Interest
Councillor Mawston Non-Pecuniary
 
Agenda Item 5, Review of HCDL Ref No: 10/14.  (Drivers referee known to Councillor).
Item Number Item/Resolution
PUBLIC
13/136 MINUTES - LICENSING COMMITTEE - 17 FEBRUARY 2014

The Minutes of the previous Licensing Committee held on 17 February 2014 were submitted and approved as a correct record.

13/137 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.

EXEMPT
Reports of Assistant Director of Development and Planning Services
13/138 REVIEW OF HACKNEY CARRIAGE DRIVER LICENCE: REF NO: 10/14

** DECLARATION OF INTEREST

 

At this point in the meeting, Councillor Mawston declared a non-pecuniary interest in relation to the following item, as one of the driver’s referees was known to him. Councillor Mawston withdrew from the meeting and took no part in the consideration of the matter. **
 

The Assistant Director of Development and Planning Services submitted an exempt report in connection with the review of Hackney Carriage Driver Licence, Ref: 10/14, 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.

 

At this point in the meeting, the driver’s legal representative addressed the Committee and referred to the incidents on 18 October and 4 November 2013 and the statements provided by the witnesses who were regular customers of the driver. The Senior Licensing Officer clarified that a statement from one of the customers was attached at Appendix 6 and that, following several attempts to contact the other customer, a statement had been made on 21 February 2014. This statement was circulated to Members at the meeting. The driver’s legal representative advised that the first witness was unable to attend the meeting and asked the Committee whether it considered that his attendance would make a material difference to consideration of the matter and, if so, whether the matter should be deferred.

 

The Council’s legal representative asked whether the driver and legal representative objected to the Committee proceeding with the matter as it had already been deferred previously. The driver’s legal representative confirmed that he had no objection to the matter proceeding and had wished to gauge opinion.

 

At this point the Chair asked that the Committee retire in order to consider the information that had been circulated. 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 considered the information and decided whether to proceed with consideration of the matter.

 

Subsequently, all interested parties returned and the Chair announced the Committee’s decision to proceed with consideration of the matter.

 

The Senior Licensing Officer presented the report setting out the circumstances of the case in relation to a number of complaints regarding his inappropriate parking on several occasions.

 

Members were reminded that the matter was due to be considered at the Licensing Committee on 17 February 2014, however, prior to the meeting, the driver’s legal representative contacted the Licensing Section to advise that he believed that the driver was able to obtain additional evidence from a witness to one of the matters due to be considered and requested that additional time be granted to enable the evidence to be obtained. The matter was, therefore, deferred to the next meeting.

 

It was noted that the driver was first licensed with the Council in March 1994 and first appeared before Members in November 2000 after accumulating nine penalty points on his DVLA licence. He was permitted to retain his licence on that occasion, with a warning that any further convictions would result in his return to Committee for review of his licence.

 

The driver now appeared before Members following a review of his records by Officers as a result of a number of complaints regarding his inappropriate parking in September, October and November 2013. The driver was interviewed by the Senior Licensing Officer on 16 January 2014, when he confirmed his previous explanations in relation to the incidents.

 

The driver was interviewed by a Licensing Enforcement Officer in relation to a complaint that was received on 18 September 2013, with accompanying video footage, regarding an incident that had occurred on 17 September 2013. A copy of the warning letter sent to the driver in relation to the incident and the notes taken during the interview were attached at Appendix 1 and Appendix 2 respectively.

 

The driver was again interviewed by a Licensing Enforcement Officer in relation to two complaints received in connection with incidents that occurred on 18 October and 8 November 2013. A copy of the notes taken during the interview were attached at Appendix 3.

 

On 3 December 2013, an email was received from the driver providing contact details for a regular customer who was present at the time of the incidents on 18 October and 4 November 2013. A copy of the driver’s email and a file note made by the Officer were attached at Appendices 4 and 5 and a copy of the letter received from the regular customer, confirming his use of the driver’s vehicle, was attached at Appendix 6.

 

In addition, Council records showed that the driver had previously received a number of warnings for inappropriate parking. These were in relation to incidents on 2 February 2013 (copy of warning letter attached at Appendix 7), 17 July 2010 and 2 October 2010 (copy of warning letter attached at Appendix 8).

 

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 presented the case in support of the driver and provided the driver’s version of events in relation to the incidents. Video footage of the incidents on 18 October and 4 November 2013 was viewed by the Committee. The driver and his legal representative responded to questions from Members 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 Hackney Carriage Driver Licence, Ref No: 10/14, be suspended for a period of one week for the following reasons:-

  1. The driver had been warned and interviewed previously in relation to two instances of inappropriate parking in 2010 and again in February 2013.
  2. Since those occasions, the driver had been found to be inappropriately parked/waiting on three further occasions - in September, October and November 2013 - in Wilson Street which was a known hotspot due to the number of taxis operating in that area.
  3. The driver's own statement provided during interview on 28 October 2013 in relation to the incident in September 2013, confirmed that he had not been parked in the correct place.

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

 

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

13/139 REVIEW OF PRIVATE HIRE VEHICLE DRIVER LICENCE: REF NO: 12/14

The Assistant Director of Development and Planning Services submitted an exempt report in connection with the review of Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licence, Ref: 12/14, 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 Senior Licensing Officer presented the report setting out the circumstances of the case in relation to the offences detailed at 1) and 2) in the submitted report.

 

It was highlighted that the driver was first licensed with the Council in August 2010 and appeared before the Committee in relation to two offences, now deemed too old to be of relevance. Members chose to grant his licence on that occasion.

 

The driver now appeared before the Committee in relation to the offences at 1) and 2) and was interviewed by the Senior Licensing Officer on 18 February 2014, at which time he confirmed that there were no outstanding matters of which the Council was unaware and offered explanations in relation to the offences.

 

In relation to the offence at 2), a statement made by a Police Officer of Cleveland Police Road Policing Unit, in relation to an incident that occurred on 27 January 2014, was 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 addressed the Committee and responded to questions from Members.

 

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 12/14, be retained but that the driver be issued with a warning in relation to his future conduct.
 

13/140 APPLICATION FOR EXEMPTION FROM PRIVATE HIRE VEHICLE LICENCE CONDITIONS: REF NO: 17/14

The Assistant Director of Development and Planning Services submitted an exempt report in connection with an application for exemption from Private Hire Vehicle licence conditions, Ref: 17/14, 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 Senior Licensing Officer presented the report setting out the circumstances of the case in relation to an application for an exemption from a number of the Council’s Private Hire Vehicle conditions. The exemptions requested related to the requirement to display front and rear licence plates, advisory notices on the front passenger and driver doors and a roof sticker displaying the Private Hire Vehicle number. The exemption was in relation to a specific vehicle (as detailed in the report) which was currently licensed by Middlesbrough Council as a Private Hire Vehicle.

 

The applicant was interviewed by the Senior Licensing Officer on 11 February 2014 at which time he advised that the vehicle was currently being used to fulfil a corporate contract held by his vehicle’s operator.

 

Members were reminded that, on a number of occasions in the past, similar applications had been received in relation to vehicles that were to be used solely for executive purposes. On such occasions, Members had agreed that vehicles would not be required to display standard licence plates and exterior signage and instead an identification disc was created by the Licensing Section and displayed on the windscreen of the vehicle, alongside the vehicle tax disc.

 

The applicant had advised that when the vehicle was not being used to undertake executive functions, it might, on occasion, be used to undertake standard private hire bookings. However, this would only be on occasions of very high demand when no other vehicle was available to fulfil a booking.

 

The applicant confirmed that the report was an accurate representation of the facts and was invited to address the Committee and presented his case in support of the application. The applicant also responded to questions from Members and the Council’s legal representative.

It was confirmed that there were no further questions and the applicant, 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 application.

 

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

 

ORDERED that the exemption from the specified Private Hire Vehicle Licence conditions, Ref 17/14, in relation to a specific vehicle be granted on condition that the specified vehicle must only be used for executive purposes and must not be used for any normal private hire work.

 

The reason for this was that Private Hire Vehicles needed to be easily identifiable to the public and a vehicle that had been exempt from the usual signage and plates would cause confusion.

 

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

13/141 REVIEW OF COMBINED PRIVATE HIRE VEHICLE/HACKNEY CARRIAGE DRIVER LICENCE: REF NO: 9/14

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: 09/14, 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 Senior Licensing Officer presented the report setting out the circumstances of the case in relation to a number of recent complaints in relation to his driving standards and a review of his file by Officers.

 

It was highlighted that the driver was first licensed in May 2009 and first appeared before Members in January 2010 in relation to the offence detailed at 1) in the submitted report. On that occasion, Members suspended his licence until he successfully completed the Driver Improvement Scheme and be returned back to Committee.

 

On 9 February 2010, the driver attended the Driver Improvement Scheme and returned to Committee on 15 March 2010. After considering the report from the examiner, Members were not satisfied that the driver had made sufficient progress on the scheme to deem him fit and proper to drive Private Hire Vehicles. Members, therefore, suspended his licence until he completed the Driver Improvement Scheme for a second time. Members reinstated his licence at Committee on 7 June 2010.

 

The driver now appeared before Members following a number of complaints regarding his driving standards and the offences detailed at 1) to 3) in the report. The driver was interviewed by the Senior Licensing Officer on 16 January 2014, when he confirmed his previous explanation in relation to the offence detailed at 1) and his previous explanations in relation to the other incidents. When asked if there were any outstanding matters of which the Council was unaware, the driver advised that he had received four penalty points for speeding but was unable to recall the date of the incident. The driver provided an explanation for the offence (detailed at 2) in the report) and was asked to produce his DVLA licence to the Licensing Office the next day. The driver failed to do so but has since produced his licence for inspection.

 

The driver also appeared before Members in relation to two separate incidents that occurred on 6 October 2013 and 4 November 2013. In relation to the incident on 6 October 2013, the Licensing Office received information from a Police Officer from Durham Constabulary in relation to the driver’s driving standards. A statement provided by the Police Officer in relation to the incident was attached at Appendix 1. The driver was interviewed by a Licensing Enforcement Officer regarding the incident and notes taken during the interview were attached at Appendix 2.

 

In relation to the incident that occurred on 4 November 2013, the Licensing Office received a complaint, together with photographic evidence, in relation to the driver being inappropriately parked. The driver was interviewed in relation to the complaint by a Licensing Enforcement Officer and the notes of the interview were attached at Appendix 3.

 

In addition, Council records showed that the driver had previously been warned in relation to inappropriate parking in May and June 2011. On one occasion he was also observed to throw litter from vehicle, which had been inappropriately parked, and had also lit a cigarette before driving away with a passenger on board. He was issued with fixed penalty notices for the offences of littering and smoking in a smoke free place. In relation to the other occasion of inappropriate parking, he was sent a warning letter and this was attached at Appendix 4.

 

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.

 

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 09/14, be suspended for a period of three months, for the following reasons:-

  1. Since becoming a licensed driver in 2009, the driver had been disqualified for a period of 21 days in 2009 due to a speeding offence, received a significant fine and incurred 4 penalty points on his DVLA licence for a further speeding offence in 2012 and had also failed to wear his ID badge which was a condition on his licence.
  2. The Committee had previously required the driver to complete the Driver Improvement Scheme in 2010 on two occasions as he had failed to make sufficient progress following completion of the scheme on the first occasion.
  3. Information had been received from a Police Officer regarding the driver's poor standard of driving.
  4. The driver had been found to be inappropriately parked in 2011 on two occasions, and had thrown litter out of his vehicle window on one occasion and was subsequently issued with a fixed penalty notice.
  5. The driver had again been found to be inappropriately parked in 2013 and was subsequently warned.
  6. The Committee considered the driver to have a poor attitude towards the Committee and authority in general.

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

13/142 REVIEW OF COMBINED PRIVATE HIRE VEHICLE/HACKNEY CARRIAGE DRIVER LICENCE: REF NO: 63/13

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: 63/13, 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 Senior Licensing Officer presented the report setting out the circumstances of the case in relation to the offence detailed at 1) in the submitted report.

 

Members were reminded that the matter was due to be considered at the Licensing Committee on 25 November 2013, however, prior to the meeting, the driver contacted the Licensing Section to advise that he would be out of the country until February 2014. The matter was, therefore deferred until such time that the driver had returned to the country.

 

The driver was interviewed by the Senior Licensing Officer on 4 September 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 addressed the Committee and responded to questions from Members.

 

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 13/14, be retained but that the driver be issued with a warning in relation to his future conduct. The Council's Policy Guidance stated that where a driver had committed a violent offence, similar in nature to that detailed in the report, a licence may be revoked unless a period of at least 1-3 years free from conviction had elapsed since the date of the conviction and 18 months had passed since the date of the offence.
 

13/143 APPLICATION FOR HACKNEY CARRIAGE DRIVER LICENCE: REF NO: 13/14

The Assistant Director of Development and Planning Services submitted an exempt report in connection an application for a Hackney Carriage Driver Licence, Ref: 13/14, where circumstances had arisen which required special consideration by the Committee.

 

The Chair introduced those present and outlined the procedure to be followed. The applicant, who was in attendance at the meeting, verified his name and address and confirmed that he had received a copy of the report.

 

The Senior 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.

 

The applicant had previously appeared before Members in February 2007 in relation to an application for a Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licence. On that occasion Members considered the offences detailed at 1) to 3) and a further 11 offences now considered too old to be of relevance to this application. On that occasion Members refused to grant the application. At that time, the Licensing Committee was guided by Home Office guidance and the guidance recommended a period of at least 3-5 years free of conviction for offences involving dishonesty and at least 3 years since any offence involving drugs.

 

The applicant now appeared with a fresh application and was interviewed by the Senior Licensing Officer on 13 February 2014, at which time he confirmed that there were no outstanding matters of which the Council was unaware and confirmed his previous explanations in relation to the offences at 1) to 3).

 

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

 

The applicant presented the case in support of his application and responded to questions from Members.

 

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

 

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

 

ORDERED that the application for Hackney Carriage Driver Licence, Ref 13/14, be granted.
 

13/144 REVIEW OF PRIVATE HIRE VEHICLE DRIVER LICENCE: REF NO: 15/14

The Assistant Director of Development and Planning Services submitted an exempt report in connection with the review of Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licence, Ref: 15/14, where circumstances had arisen which required special consideration by the Committee.

 

The Senior Licensing Officer advised that the driver had failed to attend but that the witnesses, in relation to one of the complaints made against the driver, had arrived.

 

The Senior Licensing Officer advised that the driver had failed to attend for interview at the Licensing Office on two occasions prior to finally being interviewed on 29 January 2014. The Senior Licensing Officer also confirmed that the driver had been informed, in writing, of the date and time of the Committee meeting. The Officer withdrew from the meeting to attempt to contact the driver by telephone, however, this proved unsuccessful.

 

The Council’s legal representative advised that whilst the Committee would usually afforded the driver a further opportunity to attend, Members could take into account the driver’s failure to attend previous appointments for interview and the fact that two witnesses had taken the time to attend the meeting.

 

The Chair proposed that, on this occasion, given the circumstances, the Committee should proceed with consideration of the matter and it was subsequently agreed that the matter should be dealt with in the driver’s absence.

 

The Senior Licensing Officer presented the report setting out the circumstances of the case in relation to two complaints submitted in relation to the driver’s behaviour.

 

It was highlighted that the driver first appeared before Members with an application for a Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licence in October 2010. At that time, Members considered the offences detailed at 1) to 3) in the report and refused the application, expressing concern in relation to his convictions for dishonesty - in particular failing to supply driver details when requested by the Police.

 

The driver appeared before Committee with a fresh application in September 2012 and, on that occasion, it was granted.

 

The driver now appeared before Members in relation to two complaints submitted in relation to his behaviour. He was interviewed by the Senior Licensing Officer on 29 January 2014, when he confirmed that there were no outstanding matters of which the Council was unaware, confirmed his previous explanations in relation to the offences at 1) to 4) and his previous explanations in relation to the complaints.

 

A complaint was received by the Licensing Office on 20 May 2013 from a member of the public in relation to the driver’s standard of driving during an incident on 17 May 2013. The driver was subsequently interviewed by a Licensing Officer and a copy of the notes made during the interview were attached at Appendix 1.

 

On 15 August 2013, the Licensing Office received a complaint from a member of the public regarding a journey she had undertaken in the driver’s vehicle on 5 August 2013. The complaint related to the driver’s inappropriate manner throughout the journey. Witness statements from the complainant and her mother were attached at Appendix 2. Notes of the subsequent interview with the driver were attached at Appendix 3.

 

The two complainants were in attendance at the Committee and joined the meeting. The Chair made introductions and explained the procedure to be followed. The witnesses confirmed their names and address and the content of their submitted statements (attached at Appendix 2) relating to the incident that had occurred on 5 August 2013.

The witnesses each provided their version of events in relation to the incident and responded to questions from Members.

 

It was confirmed that there were no further questions and the witnesses, 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, the officer returned and the Chair announced the Committee’s decision.

 

ORDERED that Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licence, Ref 15/14, be suspended for a period of eight weeks and that the driver also be required to complete the Driver Improvement Scheme, at his own expensive, within eight weeks, for the following reasons:-

  1. Members decided to hear the matter in the driver's absence in view of the fact that the driver had been informed of the date and time of the Committee, in writing, but no response was received by the Licensing Section. Records showed that, in the past, the driver had failed to respond to written requests from Licensing Officers and had failed to attend appointments for interview. In addition, the complainants had taken the time to attend the meeting.
  2. The Committee upheld the complaint made against the driver on 15 August 2013 and believed the witnesses, who were in attendance at the meeting, to be credible.
  3. The witnesses had stated that driver had used his mobile telephone, (not hands free) for part of the journey whilst he was driving. This caused the Committee concern in relation to safety.
  4. The Committee had serious concerns in relation to the manner in which the driver had treated his passengers and carried out the journeys they had cause to complain about. 
  5. In relation to the complaint made against the driver on 20 May 2013, the Committee believed that this supported the suggestion that the driver was not concentrating fully on his driving and was not driving in a safe manner, therefore, the Committee considered that he would benefit from completing the Driver Improvement Scheme.

The driver would be advised, in writing, of the Committee's decision and advised of his right of appeal to the Magistrates Court within 21 days.
 

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