Licensing Committee Minutes

Licensing Committee Minutes

Date:
Tuesday 15 April 2014
Time:
1:30 p.m.
Place:
Mandela Room, Town Hall, Middlesbrough
 

Attendance Details

Present:
Taylor (Chair); Councillor J A Walker (Vice Chair); Councillor R Arundale, Councillor S Biswas, Councillor R Brady, Councillor G Purvis, Councillor M Thompson, Councillor M B Williams
Observers:
N Sayer - Executive Office Manager
Officers:
B Carr, C Cunningham and T Hodgkinson
Apologies for absence:
Councillor M Hudson, Councillor R Kerr, Councillor D G Loughborough, Councillor T Mawston, Councillor P Sharrocks
Declarations of interest:

 

Name of Member Type of Interest Item/Nature of Interest
Councillor S Biswas Non Pecuniary Agenda Item 7 - Review of CHC/PHV Driver Licence: 19/14 - Drivers Witness known to Councillor  
Item Number Item/Resolution
PUBLIC
13/145 MINUTES OF THE PREVIOUS MEETING OF THE LICENSING COMMITTEE HELD ON 10 MARCH 2014.

The minutes of the Licensing Committee held on 10 March 2014 were taken as read and approved as a correct record.

13/146 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 or 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
13/147 APPLICATION FOR PRIVATE HIRE VEHICLE DRIVER LICENCE: REF:18/14

The Assistant Director of Development and Planning Services submitted an exempt report in connection with an application for a Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licence, Ref: 18/14, 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 accompanied by his wife, verified his name and current address and confirmed that he had received a copy of the report.

 

The Principal Licensing Officer presented the report setting out the details of the offences detailed at 1) to 2) in the submitted report and additional information provided by Stockton Council with regard to a number of incidents that had occurred and complaints that were received which had a bearing on the applicant's fitness to be licensed as a Combined Hackney Carriage/Private Hire Vehicle driver with that authority.  

 

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

 

The applicant addressed the Committee and responded to questions from Members of the Committee, the Council's Legal Officer and the Principal Licensing Officer. The applicant's wife also addresses the Committee in support of the driver's application.

 

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

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

 

ORDERED that Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licence Ref: Ref: 18/14, be refused, as the Committee did not consider the applicant to be a fit and proper person to hold a Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licence for the following reasons:-

1.  Stockton Council revoked the applicant's Hackney Carriage Driver's Licence at its Licensing Committee on the 19 December 2013 after an additional four complaints had been received about his behaviour.

 

2. The applicant had a history of having numerous complaints made about his behaviour.

3. The applicant had received four warnings from Stockton from 2007 before having his licence revoked in December 2009. In December 2010 he was given a further chance however further complaints had been received resulting in the revocation of his licence in December 2013.

4. The applicant was convicted of racially aggravated harassment, alarm and distress in July 2013 and Middlesbrough Council guidance states that a period of at least 1 to 3 years should pass since the date of conviction before an application is normally considered.

The Committee noted the Applicant had completed a customer awareness course but in light of the above factors did not consider him a suitable person to drive taxis in Middlesbrough.

The Applicant was reminded of his Right of Appeal to the Magistrates Court within 21 days of the decision.

13/148 REVIEW OF COMBINED HACKNEY CARRIAGE/PRIVATE HIRE VEHICLE DRIVER LICENCE: REF: 19/14

The Assistant Director of Development and Planning Services submitted an exempt report in connection with a review of Combined Hackney Carriage/Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licence, Ref: 19/14, 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 current address and confirmed that he had received a copy of the report. The driver also confirmed to the Committee that a taxi driver that had witnessed the incident was also in attendance at the meeting.

 

The Principal Licensing Officer presented the report setting out the circumstances of the case in relation to a complaint received by the Licensing Office on 19 August 2013 with regard to an incident involving a collision that had occurred on 15 August 2013. A statement made by the Complainant was attached at Appendix 1 to the report. The statement also included a brief statement submitted to Cleveland Police following the incident and 3 photographs showing the damage sustained by both vehicles following the collision and a plan showing the location of the incident.        

 

On 6 September, a Licensing Enforcement Officer interviewed the driver in relation to the incident and a copy of the notes of that interview was attached at Appendix 2 to the report. The Licensing Section had received information that suggested that another licensed Hackney Carriage driver had witnessed the incident and had submitted an Accident Report Witness Statement to the insurance company who were investigating the incident. A copy of the statement was attached at Appendix 3 to the report. A further statement was obtained from the witness by the Licensing Section and a copy of that statement was attached at Appendix 4 to the report.

 

Following a number of discrepancies contained within the witness's statement, the witness was invited to discuss the matter with the Principal Licensing Officer. On 19 February 2014, the witness was interviewed by the Principal Licensing Officer in the presence of another Licensing Officer. A copy of the notes of the interview made by the Principal Licensing Officer in relation to the conversation with the witness and a copy of a subsequent letter sent to the witness on 28 February 2014 were attached at Appendix 5.

 

The driver was given the opportunity to read the version of events given by him on 6 September 2013 and at that time the driver confirmed that the version of events was a true and accurate reflection of the incident that occurred on 15 August 2013. The incident was the subject of an insurance claim made on behalf of the Council by the Council's own Insurance Officer. On 4 February 2014, the Licensing Section received confirmation that the driver's insurance company had accepted liability without prejudice in relation to this incident.

 

Members were advised that the driver and the witness to the incident had both stated that they were not known to each other, however the Council's Insurance Investigator had advised that they were both friends of each other on the Facebook Networking site.

 

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

 

The Chair invited the Complainant into the meeting, introduced those present and outlined the procedure to be followed and invited the Complainant to present his case. The Complainant presented his case and responded to questions from the driver, Members of the Committee, the Principal Licensing Officer and the Council's Legal Officer. It was confirmed that there were no further questions and the Complainant left the room at this point of the meeting.

 

The Chair invited the witness to the incident into the room. The witness was accompanied by a friend who was known to Councillor Biswas.

 

**Councillor Biswas declared a non-pecuniary interest at this point of the meeting and took no further part in the meeting and left the room.

 

The Chair introduced those present and outlined the procedure to be followed and invited the witness to present his case. The witness presented his case and responded to questions from Members of the Committee, the Principal Licensing Officer and the driver. It was confirmed that there were no further questions and the witness and his friend left the room at this point of the meeting.

 

The Chair invited the driver to present his case. The driver presented his case and responded to questions from Members of the Committee 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: 19/14, be retained but that the driver be issued with a warning in relation to his future conduct for the following reasons:-    

 

1. The Committee decided to uphold the Complaint made against the driver.


2. The Committee did not consider the driver to be a credible witness. The Committee did not believe his version of events; his representations were not clear and he contradicted himself.


3. The Committee considered the Council Officer was credible and believed his version of events. He explained and recalled the incident clearly and his evidence was consistent. The Insurance Company also concluded that the driver was liable for the accident.


4. The Committee therefore concluded that the driver had caused the accident and did not drive in a safe manner.

 

The Committee took into consideration the fact that the driver had been licensed since 1997 and that this was the first complaint made against him. The Committee therefore decided that, apart from a warning to ensure that the driver would drive safely in the future, no further action would be taken against him.


SUSPENSION OF COUNCIL PROCEDURE RULE NO 10 - ORDER OF BUSINESS

ORDERED that, in accordance with Council Procedure Rule No 10, the Committee agreed to vary the order of business.

ORDERED that the following applications be determined as shown:

13/149 APPLICATION FOR PRIVATE HIRE VEHICLE DRIVER LICENCE: REF: 20/14

The Assistant Director of Development and Planning Services submitted an exempt report in connection with an application for a Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licence, Ref: 20/14, 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 current 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 additional information contained on the DBS Criminal Records Check with regard to dangerous driving and possession of Controlled Drugs.

 

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 of the Committee 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 application.

 

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

 

ORDERED that the application for Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licence Ref: Ref: 20/14, be refused, as the Committee did not consider the applicant to be a fit and proper person to hold a Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licence for the following reasons:-

 

1. The applicant had received a street caution for possession of cannabis in February 2012 and was also summonsed to court in August 2013 where the charges were subsequently dropped because the applicant was undergoing treatment for his addiction. The applicant had confirmed that he had last used drugs in October 2013.


2.  In order to ensure the travelling public are safe and not put at risk by drivers who could potentially be under the influence of drugs, the Council's guidance states that an incident free period of at least 12 months should have elapsed before normally considering an application. In this case only six months had passed since the applicant's last drug use and therefore the Committee considered that it could not be satisfied that the applicant was a fit and proper person to hold a licence at this time.

 

The applicant was reminded of his Right of Appeal to the Magistrates Court within 21 days of the decision.

13/150 REVIEW OF COMBINED HACKNEY CARRIAGE/PRIVATE HIRE VEHICLE DRIVER LICENCE: REF: 21/14

The Assistant Director of Development and Planning Services submitted an exempt report in connection with a review of Combined Hackney Carriage/Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licence, Ref: 21/14, where circumstances had arisen which required special consideration by the Committee.

 

The Principal Licensing Officer advised the Committee that the driver had contacted the Licensing Office in writing to advise that he was unable to attend the meeting.

 

 

ORDERED that consideration of the review of Combined Hackney Carriage/Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licence, Ref: 21/14, be deferred to the next meeting in order to give the applicant a further opportunity to attend the Committee. Members determined that the driver be advised that should he fail to attend on the next occasion, the matter would be heard in his absence.

 

COUNCIL PROCEDURE RULE NO. 7

 

As the meeting had reached its three hour limit in accordance with Council Procedure Rule No. 7 it was moved, seconded and ORDERED that the length of the meeting be extended in order to deal with the remaining business.

13/151 REVIEW OF PRIVATE HIRE VEHICLE DRIVER LICENCE: REF: 22/14

The Assistant Director of Development and Planning Services submitted an exempt report in connection with a review of Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licence, Ref: 22/14, where circumstances had arisen which required special consideration by the Committee.

 

The Principal Licensing Officer advised the Committee that the driver had failed to attend and that he had made no contact with the Licensing Office in relation to his non-attendance. The two Taxi Marshal witnesses were however in attendance.  

 

ORDERED that consideration of the review of Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licence, Ref: 22/14, be deferred to the next meeting in order to give the applicant a further opportunity to attend the Committee. Members determined that the driver be advised that should he fail to attend on the next occasion, the matter would be heard in his absence.

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