Licensing Committee Minutes

Licensing Committee Minutes

Date:
Monday 12 October 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 S Biswas, Councillor R Brady, Councillor T Lawton, Councillor L Lewis, Councillor G Purvis
Observers:
A Symon
Officers:
B Carr, C Cunningham, T Hodgkinson.
Apologies for absence:
Councillor R Arundale, Councillor J Goodchild, Councillor T Mawston, Councillor D McCabe
Declarations of interest:

There were no Declarations of Interest at this point of the meeting.

Item Number Item/Resolution
PUBLIC
15/43 MINUTES - LICENSING COMMITTEE - 7 SEPTEMBER 2015

The minutes of the previous meeting of the Licensing Committee held on 7 September 2015 were submitted and approved as a correct record.

15/44 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 or 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.

15/45 ANY OTHER BUSINESS

UBER

 

The Principal Licensing Officer advised Members that the Council had received an enquiry from the Press with regard to whether a company called Uber had applied for a Private Hire Operator's Licence in Middlesbrough. Uber had produced an app which allowed customers to order a taxi from their mobile phone. Customers ordering a taxi would receive a text message giving them details such as a photograph of their taxi driver, make and registration of the taxi etc.  The Principal Licensing Officer confirmed that to date Middlesbrough Council had not received any licensing applications from Uber.

 

CHILD SEXUAL EXPLOITATION

 

The Principal Licensing Officer advised Members that following the production of the report in respect of the Child Sexual Exploitation issue in Rotherham, the Tees Valley Authorities were proposing to introduce CSE training for all taxi drivers. Any new applicants would be required to undertake the training as part of a requisite for obtaining a licence. Existing taxi drivers would be required to undertake the training within twelve months.

 

The Council were currently discussing the format/content of the training with Barnardos however it was anticipated that the training would be on-line. The Principal Licensing Officer advised that he would provide Members with a brief update with regard to the findings in respect of the Rotherham case at a future meeting of the Licensing Committee. 

 

EXEMPT
Report of Assistant Director - Improving Public Health
15/46 REVIEW OF PRIVATE HIRE VEHICLE DRIVER LICENCE - REF: 35/15

The Assistant Director of Improving Public Health submitted an exempt report in connection with a Review of a Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licence, Ref: 35/15, where circumstances had arisen which required special consideration by the Committee.

 

The Chair explained that as the complaint received on 14 May 2015 was of a sensitive nature, and the witness was vulnerable, the witness would be invited into the meeting without the driver being present. The witness entered the room and the Chair introduced those present and outlined the procedure to be followed.

 

The Chair invited the witness to present her case. The witness confirmed the details of her statement 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 witness subsequently withdrew from the meeting.

The driver was invited into the room.


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 Chair stated that a witness statement in relation to the offence detailed at 1) in the report had been received. A copy of the statement was circulated to all Members of the Committee. The Principal Licensing Officer confirmed that the driver had also been given a copy of the statement prior to the meeting.

 

The Principal Licensing Officer presented the report setting out the circumstances of the case in relation to the offence detailed at 1) in the submitted report and a complaint received on 14 May 2015 which related to an incident that occurred on 29 April 2015.

 

It was noted that the driver was first licensed as a Private Hire Vehicle Driver on 24 November 2014 following his appearance before the Committee. Members had considered the conviction detailed at 1) in the report and on that occasion, the application was approved. 

 

The driver now appeared before Members in relation to an incident that occurred on 29 April 2015. The driver was interviewed by the Senior Licensing Officer on 24 September 2015 at which time he confirmed that there were no outstanding matters of which the Council were unaware, confirmed his explanation in relation to the offence detailed at 1) in the report, and offered an explanation in relation to the incident that had occurred on 29 April 2015.  

 

The driver confirmed that the report was an accurate representation of the facts and was invited to address the Committee. The driver presented his case and responded to questions from Members of the Committee, the Principal Licensing Officer and the Council's Legal Officer. The Council's Legal Officer put to the driver the Witness’s representations to the Committee that may not have been included in her statement for the driver to give his response or comments to the Committee. The driver was given the opportunity to respond to the representations.

 

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 application.

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

 

ORDERED that Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licence, Ref 35/15, be Revoked with immediate effect as the Committee did not consider the applicant to be a fit and proper person to hold a licence for the following reasons:

 

The Committee considered the report, appendices and representations from the Applicant and the Complainant.


The Committee found the complainant to be credible and she was open and honest about her recollection of the incident. The Committee found the Applicant’s version of events to be inconsistent and in parts to contradict his previous statements.


The Applicant admitted getting into the back of his taxi with a vulnerable passenger for a long period of time whilst outside of her home. This in itself is unacceptable behaviour of a taxi driver and the Applicant failed to recognised that his actions were inappropriate.


On balance the Committee also believed the Applicant inappropriately touched the passenger who was in a very vulnerable state.

 

In relation to the sexual assault in 2008 the Committee received information from the police by the victim that contradicted the Applicant’s version of events and showed that the victim did not give consent to sexual touching and this was supported by the Applicant accepting a caution for the offence.

 

For these reasons the Committee did not consider the driver to be a fit and proper person to hold a Private Hire Vehicle Driver’s Licence.


The Committee decided to revoke the Applicant’s Private Hire Vehicle Driver’s Licence with immediate effect under Section 61(2B) of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 as the Committee considered that potential passengers were at risk if driven by the Applicant and that he was likely to take advantage of his position of trust in respect of  vulnerable passengers in view of the above incidents.

 

The applicant was reminded of his Right of Appeal to the Magistrates Court within 21 days of the date of the decision.

15/47 APPLICATION FOR PRIVATE HIRE VEHICLE DRIVER LICENCE - REF: 39/15

The Assistant Director of Improving Public Health submitted an exempt report in connection with an Application for a Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licence, Ref: 39/15, 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 3) in the submitted report.

It was noted that the driver was first licensed as a Private Hire Vehicle Driver on 30 September 1982. That licence was renewed until 20 November 2007 when his licence was allowed to expire for health reasons. The applicant subsequently provided medical evidence of his fitness to drive and was issued with a further Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licence on 4 December 2007.

 

The driver had first appeared before Members on 28 May 2003 in relation to offences which due to their age were considered too old to be of relevance to the current application. On that occasion, the driver was allowed to retain his licence but was issued with a warning regarding his future conduct.

The driver next appeared before the Committee on 7 January 2008 in relation to his arrest for drug related offences. On that occasion, the Committee decided to await the outcome of Police investigations prior to determining the applicant's suitability to hold a licence. Following the applicant's conviction for the offences detailed and 1) and 2) of the report, the application was subsequently withdrawn and the licence was allowed to lapse.

 

The driver appeared before the Committee with a new application on 24 May 2013. At that time the driver's CRB check had listed 2 separate offences involving drugs, both of a serious nature. The driver had stated that he had only been prosecuted once and the second entry was an error. The Principal Licensing Officer had produced a newspaper article at the meeting detailing a number of convictions under the Transport Act (included at 3) in the report) that the driver had failed to mention when he had been interviewed prior to the Committee meeting. On that occasion, Members had determined to refuse the application.

 

The applicant now appeared before Members with a new application for a Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licence. The applicant was interviewed by the Senior Licensing Officer on 25 September 2015 at which time he confirmed that there were no outstanding matters of which the Council was unaware and confirmed his previous explanation in respect of the offences detailed at 1) and 2) in the report.

 

The applicant's new Disclosure and Barring Service Certificate detailed a single conviction for a drug related offence and 10 offences under the Road Transport Act. The applicant provided an explanation in relation to the offences under the Road Transport Act.

 

The driver confirmed that the report was an accurate representation of the facts and was invited to address the Committee. The driver presented his case and responded to questions from Members of the Committee.

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 Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licence, Ref 39/15, be Refused as the Committee did not consider the applicant to be a fit and proper person to hold a licence for the following reasons:

 

The Committee considered the report and representations made by the Applicant.

 

The Committee considered that insufficient time has lapsed since the completion of the Applicant’s sentence in November 2009 in accordance with its guidance which states there should be a period of five to ten years free from conviction since completion of any sentence imposed. The Committee considered the drugs offence to be of a serious nature and considered that the Applicant benefitted from the crime, although denied by the Applicant as a Confiscation Order in the sum of £5000 was made by the Court.

 

The Committee considered that during this period, in 2013 the Applicant committed 10 Transport Act Offences. The Committee considered that the applicant was not honest by failing to make relevant records. The Committee considered that by not complying with the rules and regulations in relation to driving a mini bus the Applicant put the travelling public at risk and all are safety issues.

 

The Committee took a serious view of these offences as the Applicant failed to follow the rules and requirements of a mini bus driver. It was also noted that the Applicant had a conviction of driving whilst using a mobile phone for which he could not recall the details referred to in the Report which also involved a safety issue.

 

Therefore at this point in time the Committee did not consider the Applicant to be a fit and proper person to hold a Private Hire Vehicle Driver’s Licence.

 

The applicant was reminded of his Right of Appeal to the Magistrates Court within 21 days of the date of the decision.

15/48 REVIEW OF PRIVATE HIRE VEHICLE DRIVER LICENCE - REF: 38/15

The Assistant Director of Improving Public Health submitted an exempt report in connection with a Review of Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licence, Ref: 38/15, 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 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 the offence detailed at 1) in the submitted report.
 

The driver was first licensed as a Private Hire Vehicle Driver on 29 December 2012. He had renewed that licence annually and his current licence was due to expire on 31 August 2016

 

The applicant was interviewed by the Senior Licensing Officer on 24 September 2015 at which time he confirmed that there were no outstanding matters of which the Council was unaware, confirmed that he had paid off his fines in relation to the offence included within the report at 1) and offered an explanation in relation to that offence.

 

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

 

The applicant's legal representative presented the case in support of his client's application and the applicant responded to questions from Members of the Committee.

 

It was confirmed that there were no further questions and the applicant, his legal representative 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 Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licence, Ref 38/15, be Retained but that the driver be issued with a warning regarding his future conduct.

15/49 REVIEW OF PRIVATE HIRE VEHICLE DRIVER LICENCE - REF: 40/15

The Assistant Director of Improving Public Health submitted an exempt report in connection with a Review of Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licence, Ref: 40/15, where circumstances had arisen which required special consideration by the Committee.

 

The Principal Licensing Officer advised that the driver was not in attendance and confirmed that the driver had not contacted the Licensing Section to advise that he would not be able to attend. 

 

The driver's ex-partner had contacted the Licensing Office to advise that he no longer lived at that address but was unable to provide his new address. The Licensing Office had made numerous attempts to contact the driver in relation to this matter however all the Private Hire Vehicle Operators licensed by Middlesbrough Council had confirmed that the driver was not currently employed by them and as such the Council had been unable to establish a contact address for the driver. 

 

The Principal Licensing Officer presented the report setting out the circumstances of the case in relation to the offence detailed at 1) in the submitted report.
 

The driver was first licensed as a Private Hire Vehicle Driver on 19 May 2014. His current licence was due to expire on 30 April 2016

 

On 6 August 2015, the Licensing Officers received information that suggested the driver had been arrested in relation to a violent offence on 4 May 2015. The Licensing Office had written to the driver inviting him to attend an interview at the Licensing Office but had received no response.

 

As a result of the information received, the Licensing Office made further enquiries with Cleveland Police and Teesside Magistrates Court and established that the driver had been found Guilty of the offences detailed at 1) in the submitted report.

 

The Principal Licensing Officer withdrew whilst the Committee determined the application.

 

Subsequently the Principal Licensing Officer returned and the Chair announced the Committee's decision.
 

ORDERED that Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licence, Ref 40/15, be Revoked as the Committee did not consider the applicant to be a fit and proper person to hold a licence for the following reasons:

 

The Committee considered the report and noted that Licensing Officers had on a number of occasions attempted to contact the Applicant and correspondence had been sent to the Applicant’s last known address.

 

The Committee considered the offence of criminal damage and battery and noted that the sentence was not complete until February 2016. It considered that the offence was quite serious in light of the sentence received and included violence. The Committee also noted the Applicant failed to inform Licensing Officers of his change of address in breach of a condition on his licence.

 

The Committee therefore considered the Applicant not to be a fit and proper person to be a Private Hire Vehicle Driver and decided to revoke his licence in line with the Policy Guidance to Applicants, Licensed Drivers and Members of the Licensing Committee.

 

The applicant would be written to and reminded of his Right of Appeal to the Magistrates Court within 21 days of the date of the decision.
 

15/50 REVIEW OF PRIVATE HIRE VEHICLE DRIVER LICENCE - REF: 36/15

The Assistant Director of Improving Public Health submitted an exempt report in connection with a Review of Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licence, Ref: 36/15, 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 the offence detailed at 1) in the submitted report.
 

The driver was first licensed as a Private Hire Vehicle Driver on 6 September 2012. He had renewed that licence annually and his current licence was due to expire on 31 August 2016

 

The applicant was interviewed by the Senior Licensing Officer on 24 September 2015 at which time he confirmed that there were no outstanding matters of which the Council was unaware, confirmed that he had paid off his fines in relation to the offence included within the report at 1) and offered an explanation in relation to that offence.

 

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 of the Committee.

 

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 Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licence, Ref 36/15, be Retained but that the driver be issued with a warning regarding his future conduct.

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