Licensing Committee Minutes

Licensing Committee Minutes

Date:
Monday 19 May 2014
Time:
1:00 p.m.
Place:
Mandela Room, Town Hall, Middlesbrough
 

Attendance Details

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

 

Name of Member Type of Interest Item/Nature of Interest
Councillor Biswas Non-pecuniary Agenda Item 5 - Review of CHC/PHVDL Ref No: 25/14 - (Driver known to Councillor).
Councillor Biswas Non-pecuniary Agenda Item 9 - Review of HCDL Ref No: 24/14 (Driver known to Councillor).
Item Number Item/Resolution
PUBLIC
14/1 MINUTES - LICENSING COMMITTEE - 15 APRIL 2014 AND 28 APRIL 2014

The Minutes of the previous Licensing Committee meetings held on 15 April 2014 and 28 April 2014 were submitted and approved as a correct record.

14/2 TRAINING FOR LICENSING COMMITTEE MEMBERS

The Chair highlighted that a training session had been held prior to the meeting covering all aspects of licensing - taxi licensing, Licensing Act 2003, Gambling Act 2005 and Scrap Metal Dealers Act 2013. As it was a statutory requirement under Legislation to ensure that Members were up to date with training for Sub Committees held on an ad-hoc basis, it was considered that Licensing Members should complete training in respect of the Licensing Act 2003, Gambling Act 2005 and Scrap Metal Dealers Act 2013 on an annual basis, following each Annual General Meeting of Full Council and training in relation to taxi licensing every three years. This training was mandatory, therefore, all Licensing Members must complete training in relation to taxi licensing every three years as a minimum and every year following the AGM in relation to matters concerning the Sub Committees in order to participate. Any new Members to the Licensing Committee must complete all aspects of training prior to participating in the decision-making process. Separate training sessions would be arranged for those Members who had not been able to attend.
 

                                                                                                                                                                                              NOTED
 

14/3 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
14/4 REVIEW OF COMBINED HACKNEY CARRIAGE/PRIVATE HIRE VEHICLE DRIVER LICENCE: REF: 25/14

The Assistant Director of Development and Planning Services submitted an exempt report in connection with the review of Combined Hackney Carriage/Private Hire Driver Licence, Ref: 25/14, where circumstances had arisen which required special consideration by the Committee.

 

The Senior Licensing Officer reminded Members that the matter was due to be considered at the Licensing Committee on 28 April 2014, however, the driver had failed to attend and Members chose to defer the matter to the next meeting.

 

The Senior Licensing Officer advised that he had received a telephone call prior to the meeting from a member of the driver’s family stating that the driver was currently out of the country and would not be back until 29 May 2014 and, therefore, unable to attend today’s meeting.

 

As this was the second time that the driver had not attended, Members determined that the matter be deferred to the next meeting but that the driver be advised that the matter would be heard in his absence should he fail to attend.

 

ORDERED that consideration of the review of Combined Hackney Carriage/Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licence, Ref 25/14, be deferred to the next Licensing Committee, on 16 June 2014, as a member of the driver's family had advised that the driver would be out of the country until 29 May 2014. This would afford the driver with a further opportunity to attend, however, the Committee requested that the driver be advised that the matter would be heard in his absence on 16 June 2014 should he fail to attend.

 

** SUSPENSION OF COUNCIL PROCEDURE RULE NO. 10 - ORDER OF BUSINESS

 

ORDERED that, in accordance with Council Procedure Rule No. 10, the Committee agree to vary the order of business to deal with Agenda Item 9) as the next item of business.

 

** DECLARATION OF INTEREST
 

Councillor Biswas declared a non-pecuniary interest in the following item as the applicant was known to him. He withdrew from the meeting at this point and, therefore, took no part in consideration of the matter.
 

14/5 REVIEW OF HACKNEY CARRIAGE DRIVER LICENCE: REF: 24/14

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 driver’s 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 Scheme’s 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 instructor’s 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 driver’s 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.
 

14/6 APPLICATION FOR PRIVATE HIRE VEHICLE DRIVER LICENCE: REF: 27/14

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: 27/14, where circumstances had arisen which required special consideration by the Committee.

 

At the notified time, the applicant was not in attendance and the Senior Licensing Officer withdrew from the meeting in an attempt to contact the applicant. The Officer subsequently returned and advised that he had contacted the applicant by telephone. The applicant stated that he was unaware of receiving the paperwork in connection with the hearing and was not able to attend.

 

The Senior Licensing Officer confirmed that the paperwork had been sent to the correct address.

Members determined that the matter be deferred to the next Licensing Committee in order to allow the applicant a further opportunity to attend.

 

ORDERED that consideration of the application for Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licence, Ref 27/14, be deferred to the next meeting of the Licensing Committee on 16 June 2014 and that the driver be advised that the matter would be heard in his absence should he fail to attend. The Committee also requested that the invitation letter be hand-delivered to the applicant.
 

14/7 APPLICATION FOR PRIVATE HIRE VEHICLE DRIVER LICENCE: REF: 28/14

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: 28/14, 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 12) in the submitted report. A further 46 offences were not detailed in the report as they were committed when the applicant was a juvenile. The applicant was interviewed by the Senior Licensing Officer on 29 April 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 at 1) to 12).

 

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.

 

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 Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licence, Ref 28/14, be refused for the following reasons:-
 

1. The Committee had considered all of the applicant's convictions, particularly the most recent convictions in 2012 relating to the possession of drugs, burglary and theft and failure to comply with the requirements of a Community Order on two separate occasions, resulting in additional days being added to his curfew.
 

2. The Council's Policy Guidance in relation to convictions involving dishonesty stated that an application would normally be refused 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 applicant's last sentence was not completed until May 2013.

 

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

14/8 REVIEW OF PRIVATE HIRE VEHICLE DRIVER LICENCE: REF: 29/14

The Assistant Director of Development and Planning Services submitted an exempt report in connection with the review of Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licence, Ref: 29/14, 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 4) and 5) in the submitted report.

 

The driver first appeared before Members in June 2011 in relation to the offences at 1) and 2). On that occasion, Members chose to grant his application. The driver next appeared before Members in May 2012 in relation to the offence at 3). The driver was permitted to retain his licence and warned that any further such convictions would result in him returning to Committee.

 

The driver now appeared before Committee in relation to the offences at 4) and 5). It was noted that the driver reported the offence detailed at 4), in writing, to the Licensing Section. As this was the only offence committed since he last attended the Licensing Committee and it was not similar in nature to the offence at 3), he was issued with a warning letter advising him that should he commit any further offences he would be referred to the Licencing Committee. On 28 January 2014, the driver attended the Licensing Section to report the offence at 5).

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 was unaware, confirmed his previous explanations for the offences at 1) to 3) and offered explanations in relation to the offences at 4) and 5).

 

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 29/14, be retained but that the driver be required to complete the Driver Improvement Scheme, at his own expense, within the next three months. The Council's Policy Guidance recommended completion of the Driver Improvement Scheme where a driver had nine or more points on their DVLA licence or a history of poor driving. Whilst the driver currently had six penalty points on his DVLA licence, the Committee was concerned in relation to the driver's last two offences and considered them to be safety issues.

 

The Committee also highlighted the importance of complying with requests from Police Officers or Officers of the Council.


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

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