Licensing Committee Minutes

Licensing Committee Minutes

Date:
Monday 2 November 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 T Lawton, Councillor L Lewis, Councillor T Mawston, Councillor G Purvis
Officers:
B Carr, C Cunningham and J Hodgson
Apologies for absence:
Councillor J Goodchild, Councillor D McCabe, Councillor J Rathmell
Declarations of interest:
Name of Member Type of Interest Item/Nature of Interest
Councillor S Biswas Non-Pecuniary Agenda Item 9 - Application for Exemption from Private Hire Vehicle Conditions in relation to Window Tints: Ref No: 44/15 - Applicant known to Councillor
Item Number Item/Resolution
PUBLIC
15/51 MINUTES - LICENSING COMMITTEE - 5TH OCTOBER AND 12TH OCTOBER 2015

The minutes of the previous meetings of the Licensing Committee held on 5th October 2015 and 12 October 2015 were submitted and approved as a correct record.

15/52 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.

EXEMPT
Report of Assistant Director - Improving Public Health
15/53 REVIEW OF PRIVATE HIRE VEHICLE DRIVER LICENCE: REF NO: 41/15

The Assistant Director of Improving Public Health submitted an exempt report in connection with a Review of Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licence, Ref: 41/15, 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 Senior 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 had first appeared before Members in relation to an application for a Private Hire Vehicle driver licence on 13 August 2012. At that time Members had considered a number of offences relating to dishonesty and had chosen to refuse the application. In making their decision, Members had advised the applicant that a longer period free from convictions was required before he submitted a further application.

 

The applicant submitted an application for a Private Hire Vehicle Licence on 4 September 2014. As a further two years had passed, and the previous convictions had been spent, a decision was taken to grant the licence on 7 November 2014 without referring the matter back to the Licensing Committee.   

 

The driver now appeared before Members in relation to information passed by Cleveland Police via the Notifiable Occupation Scheme. The Senior Licensing Officer had interviewed the driver on 8 October 2015 at which time he confirmed that there were no outstanding issues of which the Council were unaware and offered an explanation in relation to the offence detailed at 1) in the report.  

 

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 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 41/15, be retained and that no further action be taken.

 

In making their decision, Members had taken into consideration the information contained in the report and the representations from the driver. The Committee advised that they had also taken into consideration the confusion on the part of the driver with regard to whether he had been issued with a caution.

 

The driver was advised that should he ever be involved in any incidents in the future which resulted in a caution or a conviction, he should advise the Licensing Section in accordance with the condition on his licence.

15/54 REVIEW OF COMBINED HACKNEY CARRIAGE/PRIVATE HIRE VEHICLE DRIVER LICENCE: REF NO: 34/15

The Assistant Director of Improving Public Health submitted an exempt report in connection with the Review of Combined Hackney Carriage/Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licence, Ref: 34/15, 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 wife, verified his name and address and confirmed that he had received a copy of the report.

 

The Senior Licensing Officer presented the report setting out the circumstances of the case in relation to a complaint received from a member of the public regarding the driver.

 

The matter had been considered by Members at the Licensing Committee held on 5 October 2015. On that occasion, Members had requested that officers seek clarification from the applicant's Licensed Operator in relation to a number of issues that the applicant had raised when presenting his case. Officers had subsequently contacted the applicant's Licensed Operator and requested clarification on those issues and a copy of the Licensed Operator's response was included within the report.

 

It was noted that the driver was first licensed with the Council as a Private Hire Vehicle driver in February 2008 and first appeared before Members in January 2009 in relation to a complaint regarding his behaviour. On that occasion Members allowed the driver to retain his licence but issued him with a warning.

 

The driver next appeared before Committee in November 2010 in relation to the offence detailed at 1) in the report. Members allowed him to retain his licence but warned him that any further such incidents would result in him returning to Committee for review of his licence.

 

The driver last appeared before Members in May 2013, following receipt of information from the Police Notifiable Occupations Scheme. He was permitted to retain his licence on that occasion.

 

The driver now appeared before Members following a complaint submitted by a member of the public alleging that the driver had overcharged her for a journey undertaken in a private hire vehicle being driven by the driver on 13 June 2015. A copy of the letter of complaint was attached at Appendix 1.

 

The applicant was interviewed by a Licensing Enforcement Officer on 22 July 2015 and provided his version of events in relation to the incident. A copy was attached at Appendix 2. Licensing Officers had investigated the complaint with the driver’s vehicle operator and Officers were very concerned that the driver had provided different versions of events to Licensing Officers and his vehicle operator.

 

When interviewed by the Senior Licensing Officer, the driver was informed that the vehicle operator had stated that the driver had not called in for an amended fare. The driver had responded that he had encountered previous problems with his operator in relation to information passed to him regarding fares.

 

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 provided his version of events in relation to the complaint and responded to questions from Members, the Council's Legal Officer and the Senior Licensing Officer. The driver's wife spoke in support of his case.  

 

It was confirmed that there were no further questions and the driver, his wife, 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 Combined Hackney Carriage/Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licence, Ref 34/15, be suspended for a period of 8 weeks for the following reasons:

 

1. The Committee considered the driver had dishonestly overcharged his passenger and had been untruthful to Licensing Officers, his Licensed Operator and the Committee about the incident.

 

2. Members did not find the driver’s representations to the Committee to be credible and his evidence was inconsistent. The Committee considered evidence by the Operator contradicting the driver which they stated was backed up by data recordings and the written evidence from the passenger, on balance, showed the driver was being dishonest.

 

In making their decision, Members had taken into consideration the information contained in the report and the information received from the Licensed Operator and the representations from the driver and his wife.

 

The Committee advised that they had taken into consideration the fact that the driver had been driving for 7 years and had therefore decided not to revoke his licence; however, the Committee had taken the overcharging incident very seriously and noted he had been warned on previous occasions for different matters.
 

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

15/55 REVIEW OF PRIVATE HIRE VEHICLE DRIVER LICENCE: REF NO: 42/15

The Assistant Director of Improving Public Health submitted an exempt report in connection with a Review of a Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licence, Ref: 42/15, 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 driver was first licensed as a Private Hire Vehicle driver with the Council on 8 January 2007. At that time, Members had considered four offences now considered to be too old to be of relevance to this application and had decided to grant the licence but the driver was warned that any further offences would result in the driver being referred back to the Licensing Committee.

 

In April 2011, Licensing Officers were in the process of arranging for the driver to appear in relation to offences now considered too old to be relevant when the driver contacted the Licensing Section to advise that he had been disqualified from driving following the offence detailed at 4) in the report. The driver subsequently decided to surrender his Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licence.

 

The driver next appeared before Members on 15 October 2012 with a new application for a Private Hire Vehicle driver licence. On that occasion, Members advised that he would be required to complete the Driver Improvement Scheme prior to a licence being granted. The applicant had undertaken the course and officers subsequently issued his licence on 21 December 2012.

 

On 3 June 2013 information was received from Cleveland Police via the Notifiable Occupations Scheme, that the applicant had been arrested in relation to an alleged sexual assault involving a female passenger in his vehicle. Following receipt of this information, the applicant's Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licence was suspended with immediate effect on 5 June 2013. On 4 July 2013. Officers received confirmation that no further action was to be taken by the Police in relation to this matter. The applicant had consistently denied any wrongdoing and his licence was unsuspended and returned to him on that date.

 

The applicant next appeared before Members following the submission of a complaint regarding his behaviour by a member of the public on 27 January 2014 and an incident where the applicant had been identified as parking in an appropriate manner. On that occasion, Members allowed the applicant to retain his licence, however they advised the applicant that they did not believe his version of events he gave in relation to the complaint and issued a warning in relation to his future behaviour.

 

The applicant now appeared before Members in relation to an incident that occurred on 19 August 2015. The applicant was interviewed by the Senior Licensing Officer on 22 October 2015, at which time he confirmed that there were no outstanding matters of which the Council were unaware, confirmed his previous explanations in relation to the previous complaints and offered additional information in relation to the most recent incident.

 

The Senior Licensing Officer presented the report setting out the circumstances of the case in relation to the Complaint 1 that was received on 27 January 2014, and the incidents that occurred on 30 May 2013, 8 January 2014 and 19 August 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 and the Council's Legal 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 application.
  
Subsequently all interested parties returned and the Chair announced the Committee’s decision.

 

ORDERED that Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licence, Ref 42/15, be revoked with immediate effect for the following reasons:


1. The Applicant’s taxi driving licence includes a condition which states that drivers are not permitted to engage in any sexual activity with their passengers, make inappropriate personal contact, or make inappropriate comments of a sexual nature.


2. The Policy Guidance to Applicants, Licensed Drivers and Members of the Licensing Committee states that "an Applicant having sexual relations, committing sexual acts or discussing matters of a sexual nature with a passenger should expect to have his licence revoked and a new application will not normally be considered unless an Applicant can show a period of 3 to 5 years free of incident since the revocation of his licence".


3. The Applicant admitted to knocking and walking into the passenger's house at 4.00 am - 4.30 am in the morning and having sex with her. This was after taking the passenger, who was travelling alone, to a shop to buy wine and food, back to her home, where she was alone, at about 1.00 am - 2.00 am in the morning. The Committee considered there were indications that the passenger was vulnerable and considered the actions of the Applicant to be wholly inappropriate as a Private Hire Vehicle driver.


4. The Committee considered that an allegation of sexual assault was made by a female passenger against the Applicant in May 2013 and the information provided by the police. The Committee was concerned that a separate allegation had been made by a seemingly vulnerable passenger whilst travelling alone with the Applicant, but noted that the police took no further action and that the Applicant advised that the incident was entirely a fabrication on the female’s part.


5. The Committee also considered the Applicant’s driving history, complaints, the Applicant’s responses and warnings referred to in the report.


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 driver was advised of his Right of Appeal to the Magistrates Court within 21 days of the date of the decision; however, he was also reminded that, as the suspension was with immediate effect, he was prohibited from driving taxis during any appeal period.

15/56 APPLICATION FOR PRIVATE HIRE VEHICLE DRIVER LICENCE: REF NO: 43/15

The Assistant Director of Improving Public Health submitted an exempt report in connection with an Application for a Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licence, Ref: 43/15, 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 representative, verified his name and address and confirmed that he had received a copy of the report.

 

The applicant appeared before Members in relation to the offences detailed at 1) to 5) in the report. He was interviewed by the Senior Licensing Officer on 8 October 2015 at which time he confirmed that there were no outstanding matters of which the Council was unaware, confirmed that all costs and fines in relation to the offences had been paid in full and offered an explanation in relation to the offences included in the report.   

The Senior Licensing Officer presented the report setting out the circumstances of the case in relation to the offences detailed at 1) to 5) in the submitted report. The driver confirmed that the report was an accurate representation of the facts.

 

The Chair invited the driver to address the Committee in support of his case. The driver, assisted by his representative, addressed the Committee and responded to questions from Members of the Committee and the Council's Legal Representative.

 

It was confirmed that there were no further questions and the driver and his 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 the application for Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licence, Ref 43/15, 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:

 

1. The Applicant had been convicted of two separate offences of driving whilst disqualified with no insurance which the Committee considered to be serious offences.

 

2. The Applicant had been convicted of Common Assault on two separate occasions and the sentence received for the conviction dated 8 April 2013 reflected the seriousness of the incident.

 

3. The Applicant had been convicted of possessing an offensive weapon in a public place which the Committee considered to be a serious offence.

 

4. The Applicant had also been convicted of using an insurance document with the intent to deceive for which he received a Community Order.

5. In accordance with the Policy Guidance to Applicants and the Committee an Applicant should have a period of at least 3 to 5 years free from conviction since the completion of his sentence and for common assault a period of at least 1 to 3 years should have lapsed. The Committee noted that the sentence for the common assault and possession of an offensive weapon was only completed in April 2015 and that the Applicant was convicted of producing a cancelled insurance police with intention to deceive during his suspension period.

 

6. The Committee considered the Applicant had committed a number of different offences involving road safety, violence and deception.


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

15/57 APPLICATION FOR EXEMPTION FROM PRIVATE HIRE VEHICLE CONDITIONS IN RELATION TO WINDOW TINTS: REF NO: 44/15

The Assistant Director of Improving Public Health submitted an exempt report in connection with an Application for Exemption from Private Hire Vehicle Condition in relation to Vehicle Window Tints - Ref: 44/15, 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 verified his name and address and confirmed that he had received a copy of the report.

 

The Senior Licensing Officer presented the report setting out the details of the case and the Council's current policy in relation to window tints in licensed vehicles.

 

The applicant confirmed that the report was an accurate representation of the facts and was invited to address the Committee. The applicant addressed the Committee 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 an Exemption from Private Hire Vehicle Conditions in relation to window tints Ref: 44/15 be refused for the following reasons:-

 

1. The Policy in relation to Window Tints in licensed vehicles was introduced following full consultation with the taxi trade.

 

2. The Policy was introduced in the interest of public safety and the safety of the taxi drivers and it allowed Enforcement Officers and the Police to carry out their enforcement duties.

 

3. The Committee could not find any reason or exceptional circumstances to depart from the Council Policy with regard to Window Tints in licensed vehicles.

 

In making their decision, Members had taken into consideration the information contained in the report and the representations from the applicant.

 

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

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