The Assistant Director of Improving Public Health submitted an exempt report in connection with a Review of a Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licence, Ref: 30/14, where circumstances had arisen which required special consideration by the Committee.
The driver was first licensed with Middlesbrough Council as a Private Hire Vehicle Driver in January 2007 following an appearance before the Licensing Committee. At that time Members considered four offences now considered to be too old to be of relevance to this application and chose to grant the licence. At that time Members had advised the driver that if he committed any further offences, he would be brought back before the Licensing Committee.
In April 2011, the Licensing Section were in the process of arranging for the driver to appear before the Licensing Committee in relation to the offences detailed at 1) to 3) of the report, when the driver contacted the Licensing Office to advise that he had been disqualified from driving following the offence detailed at 4) in the report. At that time, the driver surrendered his Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licence.
The driver next appeared before the Licensing Committee in October 2012 with a new application for a Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licence. On that occasion, because of the driver's previous history of driving offences, Members had determined that the driver should undertake the Driver Improvement Scheme prior to a licence being issued. The driver undertook the Scheme in December 2012 and a copy of the assessment sheet completed by the course instructor was attached at Appendix 1 to the report. Following completion of the course, in consultation with the Chair of the Licensing Committee, Officers granted the Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licence.
In June 2013, information was received from Cleveland Police via the Notifiable Occupations Scheme, which stated that the driver had been arrested in relation to a sexual assault on a female passenger in his vehicle. Following receipt of this information, the driver's Private Hire Vehicle Licence was suspended with immediate effect in June 2013. In July 2013, Cleveland Police had notified the Licensing Section that no further action was to be taken in relation to the above matter. The driver had always denied any wrongdoing and as a consequence the suspension was lifted and the driver's Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licence was returned.
The driver now appeared before the Committee following the receipt of a complaint from a member of the public regarding his behaviour and an incident where the driver had been identified as parking a Private Hire Vehicle in an inappropriate manner.
The Vice-Chair introduced those present and outlined the procedure to be followed. The driver 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 details of the offences detailed at 1) to 4) in the submitted report and a complaint about his behaviour from a member of the public and a report from another member of the taxi trade about inappropriate parking. The driver confirmed that the report was an accurate representation of the facts.
At this point of the meeting the witness in relation to the complaint received on 27 January 2014 was invited into the room. The Vice-Chair made introductions and explained the procedure to be followed. The witness confirmed the content of his submitted statement (attached at Appendix 2) relating to the incident that had occurred on 27 January 2014 . It was confirmed that there were no questions for the witness, the Vice-Chair thanked the witness for his attendance and he left the meeting.
The driver was invited to address the Committee. The driver addressed the Committee and responded to questions from Members of the Committee 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 Council's Legal Services and Members' Office, withdrew whilst the Committee determined the review.
Subsequently the driver and the Principal Licensing Officer returned and the Chair announced the Committee's decision.
ORDERED that Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licence, Ref: 30/14 be retained but the applicant be given a stern warning with regard to his future conduct for the following reason:
1. The Committee upheld the complaint submitted by the witness as they believed his version of events to be credible.
In allowing the driver to retain his licence, Members had taken into consideration the information contained in the report and the representations from the driver and the witness.
**Councillor Taylor returned to the room at this point and assumed the position of Chair