Licensing Committee Minutes

Licensing Committee Minutes

Date:
Monday 26 January 2015
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 R Brady, Councillor G Purvis, Councillor M Thompson and Councillor M B Williams.
Observers:
P Duffy - Members Office, Middlesbrough Council.
Officers:
C Cunningham, J Dixon and T Hodgkinson.
Apologies for absence:
Councillor M Hudson, Councillor T Mawston, Councillor P Sharrocks.
Declarations of interest:

 

Name of Member Type of Interest Item/Nature of Interest
Councillor G Purvis Non-pecuniary Agenda Item 8 - Review of PHVDL, Ref 04/15 - witness known to Councillor as Ward constituent.
     
Item Number Item/Resolution
PUBLIC
14/79 MINUTES OF THE PREVIOUS MEETING OF THE LICENSING COMMITTEE HELD ON 5 JANUARY 2015.

The Minutes of the previous Licensing Committee meeting held on 5 January 2015 were submitted and approved as a correct record.

14/80 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
Report of Assistant Director Improving Health
14/81 REVIEW OF PRIVATE HIRE VEHICLE DRIVER LICENCE - REF NO: 55/14

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 Principal Licensing Officer presented the report setting out the circumstances of the case in relation to the offences detailed at 1) to 3) in the submitted report and a complaint submitted by a member of the public in relation to the driver.

 

Members were reminded that the matter was first due to be considered on 24 November 2014. On that occasion, both the driver and witnesses failed to attend the meeting and Members, therefore, deferred consideration of the matter to the next meeting.

 

The matter was next due to be considered by Licensing Committee on 15 December 2014. The driver again failed to attend. Members chose to suspend the driver’s Private Hire Vehicle Driver licence with immediate effect until such time that he appeared before the Committee. The driver was notified of his suspension and the vehicle operator, from whom the driver hired a Private Hire Vehicle, was also advised of the suspension.

 

The matter was again due to be considered by Committee on 6 January 2015. The driver attended the meeting, however, the Principal Licensing Officer advised Members that investigations were ongoing in relation to allegations that the driver had driven Private Hire Vehicles during the period when his licence was suspended. Members determined to reinstate the suspension of the driver’s licence, with immediate effect, until such time that investigations had been carried out in relation to the allegations. Members advised they would consider the matter at Committee on 26 January 2015.

 

It was highlighted that the driver was first licensed with the Council in September 2011. He now appeared before Members in relation to the offences detailed at 1) to 3), a complaint submitted by a member of the public relating to an incident on 8 June 2014 and allegations of driving Private Hire Vehicles whilst his Private Hire Vehicle Licence was suspended (with immediate effect). The driver was interviewed by the Senior Licensing Officer on 2 October 2014, at which time he confirmed that there were no outstanding matters of which the Council was unaware, confirmed all fines in relation to the offences had been paid in full and offered explanations in relation to the offences detailed at 1) to 3). The driver also confirmed his previous explanation in relation to the complaint.

 

Reference was made to the complaint which was received on 25 June 2014 in relation to an incident that occurred on 8 June 2014. It was alleged that the driver had driven his taxi dangerously. Statements obtained from the complainant and her husband were attached at Appendix 1. The driver was interviewed in relation to the complaint on 8 July 2014 at which time he denied driving in the manner that had been described. The driver’s version of events was attached at Appendix 2. Enquiries made with the driver’s private hire operator and booking records for the date of the incident suggested that the vehicle and the driver were employed on booked private hire jobs during the period of the incident. A copy of the booking records received from the driver’s private hire vehicle operator was attached at Appendix 3.

 

The Senior Licensing Officer spoke to the driver on 5 November 2014 at which time the witness statement were again read to the driver. The driver stated that he wished to obtain statements from his family and friends who he claimed were in the vehicle at the time of the incident. To date, no such statements had been received.

 

In relation to the driver’s failure to attend Committee on 24 November and 15 December 2014, the driver claimed that he had been out of the country from approximately 9 November to 23 November 2014 and had not returned to Middlesbrough until 7 December 2014. As a result, he had been unaware of the Committee meeting. Information was obtained from the driver’s Private Hire Vehicle operator confirming that the driver had worked as a Private Hire Vehicle driver and had carried out bookings on behalf of the Company on 11, 12, 22, 23, 24, 27, 28, 29 and 30 November 2014 and 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 December 2014. The driver stated he had failed to attend Committee on 15 December 2014 as he had not received the paperwork in relation to the Committee.

 

Following the suspension of the driver’s licence on 15 December 2014, the driver complied with the requirement of the suspension notice and returned his driver identification bade to the Licensing Section on 16 December 2014. The driver was again interviewed by the Senior Licensing Officer on 19 December 2014 and was supplied with a further copy of the suspension notice. It was fully explained that the driver was prohibited from working as a Private Hire Vehicle driver until such time that the suspension was lifted.

 

Information was received by the Licensing Section that the driver had been driving Private Hire Vehicles for a different operator over the Christmas period, despite his licence being suspended. Legal proceedings in relation to driving a private hire vehicle without the appropriate licence and no insurance were currently ongoing, however, Officers had obtained statements from staff at the operating Company who stated that the driver had approached them for work on 19 December 2014. He had produced the paper copy of his Private Hire Vehicle driver licence and informed them that he had lost his driver badge and was waiting to be supplied with a replacement. He was subsequently employed and booking records produced by the firm confirmed that the vehicle was used to undertake in excess of 100 bookings between 20 and 24 December 2014.

 

The driver was interviewed in relation to the offences on 8 January 2015 and confirmed that he had deceived staff at the taxi firm in order to undertaken work whilst knowingly suspended. In relation to the allegations of using a vehicle without the correct insurance cover, the driver stated he was unaware that driving a Private Hire Vehicle without the appropriate licence may invalidate the insurance cover on the vehicle.

 

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 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 all interested parties returned and the Chair announced the Committee’s decision.

 

ORDERED that Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licence, Ref 55/14, be revoked, with immediate effect, as the Committee did not consider the driver to be a fit and proper person to hold a Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licence for the following reasons:-

  1. The driver had two convictions for excess speed and one conviction for no insurance resulting in 12 points on his DVLA Licence. There had also been a Complaint from Members of the Public in relation to the driver driving in an unsafe manner and the Committee upheld the complaint, believing the witness statements to be credible.
  2. The driver failed to report the offences detailed at 1) to 3) in the report within seven days of conviction, as required by a condition on his licence, nor did he declare any of the offences on his most recent application to renew his licence, dated 7 August 2014.
  3. The driver failed to attend Committee on the 24 November 2014 and informed the Licensing Officer that he had been out of the country and had stayed with his brother in Leeds, however, his operator informed Licensing Officers that the driver had carried out bookings on the 24 November 2014. He claimed that he had not attended Committee on the 15 December 2015 because he had not received the notification/papers. The Committee considered that his reasons were dishonest.
  4. Following his suspension with immediate effect and handing in his badge he misled and lied to a different operator stating that he was a licensed private hire vehicle driver by showing them his paper licence. He knowingly undertook private hire bookings whilst he was suspended putting the public at risk and had driven the vehicle not knowing whether he was insured or not.
  5. The private hire vehicle driver’s licence was revoked with immediate effect in the interests of public safety because the driver had persistently been dishonest and had a propensity to be dishonest to the Licensing Authority. The driver had lied to operators to obtain work, had driven unsafely and without insurance, thereby putting the public at risk.

The driver was reminded of his Right of Appeal to the Magistrates Court within 21 days but was reminded that, as the revocation was with immediate effect, he was prohibited from driving taxis during any appeal period.
 

14/82 REVIEW OF PRIVATE HIRE VEHICLE DRIVER LICENCE - REF. NO: 57/14.

The Assistant Director of Improving Public Health submitted an exempt report in connection with the review of Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licence, Ref: 57/14, 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 a complaint submitted by a Member of the Licensing Committee regarding an incident on 30 August 2014. The complainant alleged that the driver had been driving whilst using a mobile telephone.

 

Members were reminded that the matter was due to be considered by Committee on 5 January 2015, however, prior to the meeting, the driver had telephoned the Licensing Section to advise that he was unable to attend due to a family bereavement. Members, therefore, deferred consideration of the matter to the next Licensing Committee.

 

The driver was interviewed by the Senior Licensing officer on 20 October 2014 at which time he confirmed that there were no outstanding matters of which the Council was unaware and offered an explanation in relation to the offence at 1) and the complaint.

 

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 57/14, be retained.

 

**SUSPENSION OF COUNCIL PROCEDURE RULE NO. 5 - ORDER OF BUSINESS

 

In accordance with Council Procedure Rule No. 5, the Committee agreed to vary the order of business to deal with Agenda Item 8 as the next item of business.

 

** DECLARATION OF INTEREST

 

Councillor G Purvis declared a non-pecuniary interest in relation to the following item as the complainant was a Ward constituent and was known to her. Councillor Purvis withdrew from the meeting at this point and took no part in consideration of the matter.
 

14/83 REVIEW OF PRIVATE HIRE VEHICLE DRIVER LICENCE - REF NO: 04/15

The Assistant Director of Improving Public Health submitted an exempt report in connection with the review of Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licence, Ref: 04/15, 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 a complaint received by the Licensing Section on 10 July 2014.

 

It was noted that the driver had been licensed with Middlesbrough Council since January 2014 and appeared before Members following a complaint made by members of the public regarding a journey they undertook in a Private Hire Vehicle driven by him on 1 July 2014. The complainants alleged that during the journey the driver appeared to be falling asleep at the wheel of the vehicle.

 

The driver was interviewed by the Senior Licensing Officer on 25 November 2014, at which time he confirmed that there were no outstanding matters of which the Council was unaware and confirmed the version of events provided by him on 28 August 2014.

 

Statements obtained from two passengers in the vehicle, in relation to the complaint, were attached at Appendix 1. The driver’s version of events was attached at Appendix 2. It was confirmed that one of the witnesses was in attendance at the meeting and would be invited to join the meeting in due course to address the Committee and respond to questions.

 

The driver confirmed that the report was an accurate representation of the facts.

 

The complainant joined the meeting and the Chair introduced those present and explained the procedure to be followed. The complainant confirmed his name and address and the contents 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 him and seven members of his family returning from the airport on 1 July 2014. The complainant alleged that the driver had been falling asleep at the wheel of the vehicle, appearing to be very tired.

The complainant responded to questions from Members, the Principal Licensing Officer and the driver. It was confirmed that there were no further questions and the complainant subsequently withdrew from the meeting.

 

The driver was invited to present his version of events and also 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 all interested parties returned and the Chair announced the Committee’s decision.

 

ORDERED that Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licence, Ref 04/15, be retained.

 

** Councillor G Purvis re-joined the meeting at this point.
 

14/84 APPLICATION FOR PRIVATE HIRE VEHICLE DRIVER LICENCE - REF NO: 03/15

The Assistant Director of Improving Public Health submitted an exempt report in connection with an application for a Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licence, Ref: 03/15, 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 Principal Licensing Officer presented the report setting out the circumstances of the case in relation to the offences detailed at 1) to 7) in the submitted report. A further 33 offences, which included offences for dishonestly, drugs offences and driving offences, were not detailed as they were considered too old to be of relevance to this application.

 

The applicant was interviewed by the Senior Licensing officer on 6 January 2015 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 7).

 

The applicant confirmed that the report was an accurate representation of the facts and was invited to address the Committee.

 

The applicant presented the case in support of his application 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 a Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licence, Ref 03/15, be granted but that the applicant be issued with a warning in relation to his future conduct.

 

The Committee highlighted that the applicant fitted the criteria in relation to the Council’s Policy Guidance on convictions with regard to convictions involving dishonesty, drug offences and major traffic offences and acknowledged that he had not had any convictions since December 2008.
 

14/85 APPLICATION FOR PRIVATE HIRE VEHICLE DRIVER LICENCE - REF NO: 05/15

The Assistant Director of Improving Public Health submitted an exempt report in connection with an application for a Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licence, Ref: 05/15, 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 Principal Licensing Officer presented the report setting out the circumstances of the case in relation to the offences detailed at 1) and 2) in the submitted report. Ten further offences, which included offences for dishonestly and violence, were not detailed as they were considered too old to be of relevance to this application.

 

The applicant was interviewed by the Senior Licensing officer on 15 January 2015 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) and 2).

 

The applicant confirmed that the report was an accurate representation of the facts and was invited to address the Committee.

 

The applicant presented the case in support of his application 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 a Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licence, Ref 05/15, be granted subject to the applicant successfully completing the Driver Improvement Scheme, at his own expense.

 

The Committee considered it appropriate to require the applicant to successfully complete the Driver Improvement Scheme for the following reasons:-

  1. The applicant had been disqualified from driving in 2013 under the totting up procedure.
  2. The applicant had previously incurred speeding offences and a conviction for no insurance.
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