The Assistant Director of Economic Development submitted an exempt report in connection with the review of Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licence, Ref: 41/14, 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.
The Principal Licensing Officer presented the report setting out the circumstances of the case in relation to a complaint made by a member of the public on 12 May 2014. It was confirmed that the complainant and another witness were both in attendance and would be invited to join the meeting individually and address the Committee and respond to questions.
The report outlined that the driver was first licensed with Middlesbrough Council in June 2013. A complaint was received by the Licensing Section on 13 May 2014 and had initially been made to Cleveland Police on 12 May 2014. The complaint related to a journey undertaken by the complainant and his partner and daughter in the drivers vehicle on 10 May 2014 where it was alleged that the driver had driver in a manner that had caused the passengers alarm and distress.
The driver was interviewed by the Senior Licensing Officer on 28 July 2014, at which time he confirmed that there were no outstanding matters of which the Council was unaware, confirmed his previous explanation in relation to the offence at 1) and offered explanations in relation to the submitted complaint and the offence detailed at 2).
Statements taken from the complainant and his partner in relation to the incident on 10 May 2014, were attached at Appendix 1 to the submitted report. The driver was initially interviewed by a Licensing Officer on 10 June 2014 when he denied the allegations made regarding his standard of driving. His version of events were attached at Appendix 2.
The driver confirmed that the report was an accurate representation of the facts and was invited to address the Committee.
Clarification was provided as to when the complaint had been received by the Licensing Section and it was confirmed that the complaint was initially made to Cleveland Police, by email. The drivers legal representative confirmed that he had not had sight of the email and a copy was duly provided.
The complainant joined the meeting and the Chair introduced those present and explained the procedure to be followed. The complainant confirmed his name and occupation and the content of his submitted statement, attached at Appendix 1 to the submitted report. The complainant recalled his version of events in relation to the journey undertaken by the complainant, his partner and daughter, with the driver, on 10 May 2014. The complainant alleged that the driver had been travelling in excess of the speed limit for the majority of the journey, in poor weather conditions, and also that the driver had an unpleasant attitude towards his passengers.
The drivers legal representative asked questions of the complainant and these were responded to accordingly. The witness also responded to questions from Members and the Councils legal representative. The witness subsequently withdrew from the meeting.
A second witness, the complainants partner, joined the meeting and the Chair introduced those present and outlined the procedure to be followed. The witness confirmed her name and occupation and the content of her statement attached at Appendix 2 to the submitted report. The witness provided her version of events in relation to the journey in question and subsequently responded to questions from the drivers legal representative and Members. The witness withdrew from the meeting and it was confirmed that there were no further witnesses.
The drivers legal representative addressed the Committee on behalf of the driver and asked questions of the driver in relation to the complaint and in relation to the offence at 2) in the submitted report. The drivers legal representative advised that the driver had asked his recent customers to complete a satisfaction survey in relation to his driving and circulated them to the Chair asking that they be taken into consideration.
The driver also responded to questions from Members of the Committee and the Principal Licensing Officer.
The drivers legal representative was permitted to sum up the case in support of the driver and it was subsequently confirmed that there were no further questions. 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 application.
Subsequently all interested parties returned and the Chair announced the Committees decision.
ORDERED that Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licence, Ref 41/14, be suspended for a period of two weeks.
The Committee had considered the case presented by the driver and his legal representative and the case presented by the complainants and made its decision for the following reasons:-
The Committee believed the two witnesses to be credible. and believed that the driver had been speeding.
The Committee believed that the driver had driven at levels in excess of the speed limit for most of the journey, in poor weather conditions, making the incident more serious by putting his passengers and other road users at risk.
The driver was reminded of his Right of Appeal to the Magistrates Court within 21 days of the date of the decision.