Licensing Committee Minutes

Licensing Committee Minutes

Date:
Monday 28 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 Kerr, Councillor T Mawston, Councillor G Purvis, Councillor M B Williams
Observers:
L Romaine
Officers:
B Carr, C Cunningham and J Hodgson
Apologies for absence:
Councillor R Brady, Councillor M Hudson, Councillor D G Loughborough, Councillor P Sharrocks, Councillor M Thompson
Declarations of interest:
Name of Member Type of Interest Item/Nature of Interest

Councillor S Biswas

Non Pecuniary Agenda Item 4 - Review PHV Driv Lic: Ref 22/14 - Driver known to Councillor
 Councillor S Biswas
 
 Non Pecuniary  Agenda Item 8 - Review PHV Driv Lic: Ref 25/14 - Driver known to Councillor
Item Number Item/Resolution
PUBLIC
13/152 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.

Reports of Assistant Director of Development and Planning Services
13/153 REVIEW OF PRIVATE HIRE VEHICLE DRIVER LICENCE - REF NO. 22/14

The Assistant Director of Development and Planning Services submitted an exempt report in connection with a review of a Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licence, Ref: 22/14, 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 employer, verified his name and current address and confirmed that he had received a copy of the report.

 

The Senior Licensing Officer presented the report setting out the details of a complaint received from a Taxi Marshal on 14 October 2013 with regard to the behaviour of the driver in relation to an incident that occurred on 13 October 2013.

 

The matter had been due to be considered at the Licensing Committee held on 15 April 2014, however on that occasion, the driver had failed to attend the meeting and no explanation was received with regard to his absence. His father had later confirmed that the driver was out of the country at the time of the meeting. 

 

The driver was interviewed by the Senior Licensing Officer on 12 March 2014, at which time he confirmed that there were no outstanding matters of which the Council were unaware and offered an explanation in relation to the complaint.

 

The driver confirmed that the report was an accurate representation of the facts and was invited to address the Committee in support of his case. The driver's employer spoke in support of the driver's case and he and the driver responded to questions from Members of the Committee and the Council's Legal Officer. The Committee were shown video footage of the incident and the driver's employer pointed out that in his view the video footage shown was an edited version.


It was confirmed that there were no further questions and the driver, his employer 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 Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licence, Ref: 22/14 be retained but the driver be given a warning regarding his future conduct.

 

The driver was advised that in future he should not park on double yellow lines on the opposite side of the road, facing the wrong direction to the traffic. The Chair advised that the Taxi Marshals had a vital job to do in controlling the flow of traffic and it was important that taxi drivers worked with them to assist with this function and were not abusive to them.

 

In making their decision, the Committee took into consideration the fact that the driver did not have any previous convictions.

 

**Councillor Biswas joined the meeting at this point

13/154 REVIEW OF PRIVATE HIRE VEHICLE DRIVER LICENCE - REF NO. 26/14


The Assistant Director of Development and Planning Services submitted an exempt report in connection with a review of a Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licence, Ref: 26/14, 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 Senior Licensing Officer presented the report setting out the details of the offence detailed at 1) in the submitted report.  The driver confirmed that the report was an accurate representation of the facts and was invited to address the Committee in support of his case. The driver spoke in support of his case and responded to questions from Members of the Committee.

 

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 Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licence, Ref: 26/14 be retained but the driver be given a warning regarding his future conduct.

 

The Committee warned the driver to be careful when completing any documentation in relation to his application for a Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licence and to ensure that he advised the Council of any convictions within the specified time as required by the conditions of his Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licence.

 

The Committee had regard to the Council’s Policy Guidance on Convictions which stated that an applicant convicted of an isolated offence involving dishonesty will normally be refused or have their licence revoked unless a period of 3 - 5 years free from conviction had elapsed since the date of conviction or the completion of any sentence imposed, whichever is the later. The driver’s conviction was dated 14 March 2011 and more than three years had elapsed since the date of his conviction.

13/155 REVIEW OF COMBINED HACKNEY CARRIAGE/PRIVATE HIRE VEHICLE DRIVER LICENCE - REF NO. 21/14

The Assistant Director of Development and Planning Services submitted an exempt report in connection with a review of a Combined Hackney Carriage/Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licence, Ref: 21/14, 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 Senior Licensing Officer presented the report setting out the details of a number of complaints received from York Council Licensing Section with regard to the fact that a Middlesbrough Council Hackney Carriage Vehicle appeared to be being used within York as a Private Hire Vehicle.

 

The matter had been due to be considered at the Licensing Committee held on 15 April 2014, however on that occasion, the Licensing Section had received a letter prior to the meeting, to advise that the driver was unable to attend and the matter was deferred to this meeting.

 

Members were advised that when a licensed vehicle and driver operated within another local authority district, the policies and conditions in force within that district did not apply to such vehicles and drivers.

 

Although the law did not specifically prohibit a Hackney Carriage vehicle from being used as a Private Hire Vehicle in another local authority district, a High Court case (Newcastle v Berwick 2008) stated that "Berwick has discretion under section 37 of the 1847 Act to refuse to issue licences to those who have no intention of exercising their right to ply for hire in Berwick and/or to those who intend to use the vehicle predominantly in an area remote from Berwick".

 

As a result of the above case, the Council had reviewed its policy in relation to the licensing of Hackney Carriage vehicles and the following additional declaration was placed upon the application form :- I/We confirm that the vehicle to which the application relates receives a Hackney Carriage Licence any pre-booked work undertaken by that vehicle will predominantly* be for journeys where either the pick up or drop off point is within the boundary of Middlesbrough (*predominantly is deemed to be 90% of all pre-booked work over any continuous seven day period).    

 

The driver had been interviewed by the Middlesbrough Council Licensing Section and informed that vehicles and drivers were issued licences by Middlesbrough Council and were expected to work predominantly within the Middlesbrough area and the practice of using a Middlesbrough vehicle in York was causing animosity within York's licensing trade.

 

Following the meeting the Licensing Section continued to receive complaints from York's Licensing Section and the Council was informed that the driver had changed the colour of his boot and bonnet from yellow (as required by Middlesbrough Council's Hackney Carriage vehicle licensing conditions) to black. The vehicle licence was subsequently suspended but the suspension was later lifted when the yellow bonnet and boot were replaced.        

 

The driver informed the Licensing Office that he intended to obtain a Private Hire Licence from York Council as he had invested in a taxi company in York.

 

The driver confirmed that the report was an accurate representation of the facts however he disputed the authenticity of the photographic evidence attached at Appendix 3 to the report and he stated that the 10% referred to in the report related to the vehicle licence rather than the driver licence. The driver was invited to address the Committee in support of his case. The driver spoke in support of his case and responded to questions from Members of the Committee, the Council's Legal Officer and the Senior 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 Combined Hackney Carriage/Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licence, Ref: 21/14 be retained but the driver be given a final warning regarding his future conduct.

 

The Committee advised the driver that he must discontinue driving taxis that are registered in Middlesbrough in the York area and failure to do so would result in the driver being brought back before the Committee.

 

The Committee were concerned that despite numerous complaints from Licensing Officers in York, the driver had continued to drive Middlesbrough registered taxis in York and the view of the Licensing Committee was that by carrying out this practice, the driver was bringing Middlesbrough Council into disrepute with York Council because the driver had not met the required standards to qualify for a Private Hire Driver Licence in York. Members noted that the driver was in control of the vehicles he used in York. Members were also concerned with regard to the fact that the driver would not be bound by any of the taxi conditions and byelaws in York when his driver’s licence and vehicles were registered by Middlesbrough Council.

 

Members considered that the driver was not acting within the spirit of a defining High Court case in relation to the Newcastle v Berwick 2008 judgement which stated that "Berwick has discretion under section 37 of the 1847 Act to refuse to issue licences to those who have no intention of exercising their right to ply for hire in Berwick and/or to those who intend to use the vehicle predominantly in an area remote from Berwick".

 

The driver had also breached the conditions of his vehicle licence of which he had control by changing the colour of the boot and bonnet from yellow to black although Members acknowledged that he had ceased this practice once he had been informed that it was unacceptable.

 

Members had noted the concerns of the driver with regard to the authenticity of the photographic evidence attached at Appendix 3 to the report and had disregarded the picture when making their decision.

13/156 REVIEW OF HACKNEY CARRIAGE DRIVER LICENCE - REF NO. 24/14

The Assistant Director of Development and Planning Services submitted an exempt report in connection with a review of a Hackney Carriage Driver Licence, Ref: 24/14, where circumstances had arisen which required special consideration by the Committee.

The Senior Licensing Officer advised that the driver had contacted the Licensing Section after the paperwork for the Committee had been circulated, stating that he was unable to attend due to work commitments. The driver had submitted a statement outlining his case and a copy of the documentation was circulated to Members of the Committee.

Members agreed to defer consideration of the matter to a future Licensing Committee in order to afford the driver the opportunity to attend.
 

ORDERED that consideration of the review of Hackney Carriage Driver Licence, Ref 24/14, be deferred to a future Licensing Committee in order to afford the driver the opportunity to attend. 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.

 

**Councillor Biswas declared a non-pecuniary interest in the following Agenda Item (Agenda Item 9)

13/157 REVIEW OF COMBINED HACKNEY CARRIAGE/PRIVATE HIRE VEHICLE DRIVER LICENCE - REF NO. 25/14

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: 25/14, where circumstances had arisen which required special consideration by the Committee.

 

The Senior 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.

 

Members agreed to defer consideration of the matter to a future Licensing Committee in order to afford the driver the opportunity to attend.
 

ORDERED that consideration of the review of Combined Hackney Carriage/Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licence, Ref 25/14, be deferred to a future Licensing Committee in order to afford the driver the opportunity to attend. 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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