The Assistant Director of Development and Planning Services submitted an exempt report in connection with the review of 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 matter was due to be considered at the Licensing Committee on 28 April 2014, however, the driver had failed to attend and submitted a letter explaining his absence - a copy of which was attached at Appendix 1 to the report. The Senior Licensing Officer informed Members that he had since spoken to the driver who advised that he was unable to attend Committee due to his working hours and had agreed that the matter should be heard in his absence.
Given the information provided, the Committee decided to proceed in the drivers absence for the reasons given, namely that it was the second occasion where the driver had advised that he was unable to attend but had confirmed it could proceed in his absence.
The Senior Licensing Officer presented the report setting out the circumstances of the case in relation to the offences detailed at 8) in the submitted report.
It was highlighted that the driver was first licensed with the Council in April 1999 when he appeared before Committee in relation to two offences that were considered too old to be of relevance. The driver next appeared before Members in June 2000 in relation to three motoring convictions that are now considered too old to be relevant to the current review. He was permitted to retain his licence on that occasion.
The driver next appeared before Members in October 2011 in relation to the offences detailed at 1) to 6) and, on that occasion, Members allowed the driver to retain his licence but required him to undertake the Driver Improvement Scheme within a three month period. Despite being contacted on several occasions by the Licensing Office and the Schemes organisers, the driver failed to complete the course within the specified time and eventually completed the scheme in July 2012. A copy of the course instructors assessment sheet was attached at Appendix 2.
The driver again appeared before Members in July 2013 in connection with the offence detailed at 7). As part of the application process, the driver had been required to produce his DVLA licence and it had come to Officers attention that a further offence had been added to the licence, as detailed at 7). Officers were concerned as the driver had not previously declared the conviction as required by condition on his licence, nor did he advise Officers or Members of this offence prior to, or during, the Committee hearing on 12 October 2011. The Senior Licensing Officer wrote to the driver on 13 May 2013 and arranged an appointment to discuss the further offence on 22 May 2013. The driver failed to attend and did not contact the Licensing Office to advise that he was unable to attend. The Senior Licensing Officer again wrote to the driver on 4 June 2013 arranging a further appointment to discuss the matter on 11 June 2013. The letter also advised the driver that should he fail to attend the interview, the matter would be referred to the Licensing Committee. The driver failed to attend the interview and the matter was considered by Members on 15 July 2013. He was permitted to retain his licence but was issued with a strong warning regarding his future behaviour.
The Committee now needed to consider the offences detailed at 8). The driver had been invited to interview in relation to the offences, on three separate occasions, and had failed to attend each appointment. The drivers version of events in relation to the offences had not, therefore, been obtained.
The final appointment for interview was sent to the driver inviting him to attend on 2 April 2014. He failed to attend but contacted the Senior Licensing Officer by telephone advising that he intended to surrender his driver licence to the Licensing Office the following week, however, he failed to do so.
The Senior Licensing Officer responded to questions from Members and Members determined the review.
ORDERED that Hackney Carriage Driver Licence, Ref 24/14, be revoked as the Committee did not consider the driver to be a fit and proper person for the following reasons:-
1. The driver had failed to complete the Driver Improvement Scheme within the three month time period stipulated by the Committee in October 2011.
2. The driver had failed to report the offence at 7) to the Licensing Section and had also failed to advise the Licensing Committee of the offence when he had appeared before Members in October 2011.
3. The driver had failed to attend interviews with the Licensing Section on three separate occasions and he had previously been issued with a strong warning by the Committee.
4. The Council's policy guidance on convictions in relation to dishonesty stated that a licence may be revoked unless a period of at least 3-5 years free from conviction had elapsed since the date of conviction, or completion of any sentence imposed, whichever was the later. The driver had received an eight week custodial sentence, suspended for 12 months, in March 2014, for 13 Trade Mark Offences - the circumstances of which involved dishonesty.
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.
**Councillor Biswas re-joined the meeting at this point.