The Assistant Director of Improving Public Health submitted an exempt report in connection with the review of Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licence, Ref: 55/14, 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 driver highlighted that he had recently changed address and was advised to notify the Licensing Office of his new contact details immediately after the meeting.
The Chair stated that additional information in relation to the driver had come to light since the report was circulated and proposed that the Principal Licensing Officer provide an update to the Committee.
Members were reminded that the review was due to be considered by the Committee at its meeting on 24 November 2014, however, on that occasion, the driver and invited witnesses all failed to attend the meeting. Members, therefore, chose to defer the matter to their next meeting.
Members were next due to consider the matter at their meeting on 15 December 2014 but the driver again failed to attend. Members determined to suspend the drivers Private Hire Vehicle Licence with immediate effect until such time that he appeared before the Committee.
The Principal Licensing Officer updated that, as a result of the drivers Private Hire Vehicle driver licence being suspended, the Licensing Office had contacted his employer (verbally and in writing) advising that the driver was unable to work and he was subsequently logged off their booking system, as was standard practice when a driver was suspended. The driver had attended the Licensing Office to surrender his Private Hire Vehicle badge, as required.
On 24 December 2014, the Licensing Office received a telephone call from his employer stating that he had been made aware that the driver had been working as a Private Hire Driver for another taxi company. The Principal Licensing officer visited the Manager of the Company who subsequently confirmed that they had employed the driver. They had asked to see the drivers DVLA licence and his Private Hire Vehicle driver licence and he had produced the paper copy, advising that his former employer had retained his Private Hire Vehicle drivers badge. As a result, the Company logged the driver off their booking system and the Licensing Office advised all other Private Hire Vehicle Operators of the drivers suspension.
Members were advised that an investigation was currently being carried out in relation to this matter and also in relation to whether the driver had been driving with no insurance. It was confirmed that the driver had been made fully aware of the situation.
The Chair invited the driver to respond and provide his version of events. 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 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 55/14, be suspended with immediate effect, until such time that the current investigations into the allegations of driving with no insurance and driving whilst suspended had been completed and the driver returned to Committee on 26 January 2015, for the following reasons:-
The driver had two convictions for excess speed and one conviction for no insurance resulting in 12 points on his DVLA licence. There was also a complaint from the public about the drivers speeding and driving in an unsafe manner.
The driver had failed to report the offences detailed at 1) to 3) in the submitted report within seven days of conviction, as required by condition of his licence, nor did he declare any of the above offences on his most recent application to renew his licence, dated 7 August 2014.
The driver had failed, on two occasions, to attend the Licensing Committee.
Further allegations had been made against the driver in relation to driving with no insurance and driving a Private Hire Vehicle whilst his licence was suspended. The driver had informed the Committee that he had understood what he was doing when he had taken employment as a Private Hire Vehicle driver whilst being suspended.
The Committee decided to suspend the licence with immediate effect because it considered that the driver posed a risk or danger to the travelling public because of his offences, the complaint involving driving safety issues and the additional allegations, which were currently being investigated, that he had been driving a Private Hire Vehicle without a licence and may not have been insured.
The suspension will continue in force to enable Officers to investigate those allegations and report to the Committee on the 26 January 2015.
The driver was reminded of his Right of Appeal to the Magistrates Court within 21 days, however, he was also reminded that, as the suspension was with immediate effect, he was prohibited from driving taxis during any appeal period.