The Assistant Director of Improving Public Health submitted an exempt report in connection with the review of Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licence, Ref: 46/14, 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 Principal Licensing Officer presented the report setting out the circumstances of the case in relation to an offence detailed at 2) in the submitted report and an incident that occurred on 1 June 2014.
The driver was first licensed with Middlesbrough Council in May 2012 and appeared before Members in relation to the offence outlined at 1) in the submitted report. On that occasion Members chose to grant the licence.
The driver now appeared before the Committee following a joint enforcement exercise when the driver was stopped by a Licensing Officer and a member of the Cleveland Police Road Traffic Unit. Both Officers had submitted statements in relation to the stop which had given them both cause for concern.
Copies of their statements were attached at Appendix 1.
The driver was interviewed by the Senior Licensing Officer on 30 July 2014 at which time he confirmed that there were no outstanding matters of which the Council was unaware, confirmed his earlier explanation in relation to the offence detailed at 1) and offered an explanation in relation to the offence detailed at 2) and the incident on 1 June 2014.
The driver confirmed that the report was an accurate representation of the facts.
At this point in the meeting it was confirmed that the Police Officer who had stopped the driver on 1 June 2014 was unable to attend, however, the Licensing Officer who had been present at the incident was in attendance.
The Licensing Officer joined the meeting and the Chair introduced those present and explained the procedure to be followed. The Licensing Officer confirmed the content of his statement, attached at Appendix 1 to the submitted report, and provided his version of events in relation to the incident that occurred on 1 June 2014.
The Licensing Officer responded to questions from Members and the Councils legal representative. It was confirmed that the driver had no questions and the Licensing Officer withdrew from the meeting at this point.
The driver was asked to present his version of events to the Committee and he responded to questions from Members 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 Councils Legal Services and Members Office, withdrew whilst the Committee determined the review.
Subsequently all interested parties returned and the Chair announced the Committees decision.
ORDERED that Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licence, Ref 46/14, be retained but that the driver be issued with a warning in relation to his future conduct.
The Committee issued the warning for the following reasons:-
The driver should ensure that he had his Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licence badge with him at all times.
The Police Officer had pointed out that his standard of driving at the time he was stopped was poor.
The Council's Licensing Officer and the Police Officer's statement described a strong smell of cannabis emanating from the driver's vehicle and the Committee believed that something must have taken place inside the vehicle. The Committee acknowledged that the driver had not been charged or cautioned and had passed the roadside sobriety test undertaken by the Police Officer and also acknowledged that no drugs had been found on the driver's person or inside the vehicle.