** 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 drivers 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 drivers 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 drivers 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 Councils 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 drivers 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 Councils 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 Committees 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 drivers 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 drivers 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 drivers 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 drivers legal representative presented the case in support of the driver and provided the drivers 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 Councils 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 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 Hackney Carriage Driver Licence, Ref No: 10/14, be suspended for a period of one week for the following reasons:-
The driver had been warned and interviewed previously in relation to two instances of inappropriate parking in 2010 and again in February 2013.
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.
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. **