Licensing Committee Minutes

Licensing Committee Minutes

Date:
Monday 14 December 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 Brady, Councillor T Lawton, Councillor L Lewis, Councillor T Mawston and Councillor D McCabe.
Officers:
C Cunningham, J Dixon and J Hodgson.
Apologies for absence:
Councillor R Arundale, Councillor S Biswas, Councillor J Goodchild, Councillor G Purvis and Councillor J Rathmell.
Declarations of interest:

There were no Declarations of Interest made by Members at this point in the meeting.

Item Number Item/Resolution
PUBLIC
15/64 MINUTES - LICENSING COMMITTEE - 23 NOVEMBER 2015

The Minutes of the previous Licensing Committee held on 23 November 2015 were submitted and approved as a correct record.

15/65 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 Public Health
15/66 REVIEW OF PRIVATE HIRE VEHICLE DRIVER LICENCE - REF: 42/15

The Assistant Director of Improving Public Health submitted an exempt report in connection with the review of Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licence, Ref: 42/14, where circumstances had arisen which required special consideration by the Committee.

 

The Senior Licensing Officer presented the report setting out the circumstances of the case in relation to an incident that occurred on 19 August 2015. The driver was subsequently 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 was unaware, confirmed his previous explanations in relation to the previous complaints and offered information in relation to the most recent incident.

 

Members were reminded that the matter was considered by the Licensing Committee on 2 November 2015 at which time Members revoked the driver’s licence, with immediate effect, for the following reasons:-

  1. The driver’s taxi driving licence included a condition which stated that drivers were 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 stated 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 driver admitted to knocking and walking into the passenger’s house at 4.00am - 4.30am 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 1.00am - 2.00am. The Committee considered there were indications that the passenger was vulnerable and considered the actions of the driver to be wholly inappropriate as a Private Hire Vehicle driver.
  4. The Committee considered an allegation of sexual assault made by a female passenger against the driver in May 2013 and 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 driver, but noted that the Police took no further action and that the driver advised that the incident was entirely a fabrication on the female's part.
  5. The Committee also considered the driver's driving history, complaints, the driver’s responses and warnings referred to in the report.

Following revocation of his licence, the driver submitted an appeal against the decision to Teesside Magistrates Court. At the first hearing of the matter on 24 November 2015, the District Judge heard initial representations from the driver’s legal representative and expressed concern that a recording of the incident was available but had not been considered by the Licensing Committee. The Judge gave directions that the Licensing Committee should hear the recording and consider whether its decision on 2 November 2015 to revoke the licence should remain.

 

Given the directions of the Court, this matter was now referred back to Members for their consideration. The recording was available for Members to hear at the meeting.

 

The submitted report also contained details in relation to the driver’s history which had previously been considered by the Committee on 2 November 2015.

 

The Committee listened to the recording in full and subsequently officers of the Council, other than representatives of the Council’s Legal Services and Members’ Office, withdrew whilst the Committee determined the whether to uphold its initial decision.

 

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

 

ORDERED that the decision previously made by the Licensing Committee on 2 November 2015 to revoke Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licence, Ref 42/15, with immediate effect, be upheld and that the appeal be defended for the reasons already given (listed above), and the recording which was taken without the woman’s consent, reaffirmed the Committee’s decision that the applicant was not a fit and proper person to hold a licence to drive taxis.

15/67 APPLICATION FOR PRIVATE HIRE VEHICLE DRIVER LICENCE - REF: 49/15

The Assistant Director of Improving Public Health submitted an exempt report in connection with an application for a Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licence, Ref: 49/15, 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 Senior Licensing Officer presented the report setting out the circumstances of the case in relation to the offences detailed at 1) in the submitted report. Further offences relating to food hygiene issues were detailed on the applicant’s DBS certificate but these had not been detailed in the report as they were considered not relevant to the application.

 

The applicant had previously been licensed as a taxi driver by Middlesbrough Council, however, the records in relation to his licensing history had now been destroyed.

 

The applicant was interviewed by the Senior Licensing Officer on 2 December 2015 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 offences detailed at 1).

 

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 and the Council’s legal representative.


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 49/15, 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 Council’s Policy Guidance on convictions, cautions and complaints stated that an applicant convicted of a serious offence, or more than one offence, involving drugs would normally be refused an application or have their licence revoked unless a period of at least 5-10 years free from conviction had elapsed since the date of conviction or completion of any sentence imposed, whichever was the later. The applicant was convicted of two serious drug offences and had been sentenced to 90 months imprisonment. The applicant confirmed that he was released in 2010, on licence, meaning that his sentence had not been completed until 2013. Therefore, this did not fit within the Council’s guidance of 5-10 years free from conviction.
  2. In relation to the Confiscation Order, the Committee highlighted that the Courts believed that the applicant had made a large sum of money from criminal activity and that this needed to be taken into account and did not correspond with the applicant’s version of events.

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

15/68 REVIEW OF COMBINED HACKNEY CARRIAGE/PRIVATE HIRE VEHICLE DRIVER LICENCE - REF: 48/15

The Assistant Director of Improving Public Health submitted an exempt report in connection with the review of Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licence, Ref: 48/15, where circumstances had arisen which required special consideration by the Committee.

 

The Senior Licensing Officer informed Members that the driver had telephoned the Licensing Section that morning to advise that he was unable to attend Committee due to a family emergency. Members were requested, therefore, to defer consideration of the matter to allow the driver a further opportunity to attend.

 

ORDERED that consideration of the review in relation to Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licence, Ref 48/15, be deferred to afford the driver a further opportunity to attend.
 

15/69 APPLICATION FOR PRIVATE HIRE VEHICLE DRIVER LICENCE - REF: 47/15

The Assistant Director of Improving Public Health submitted an exempt report in connection with an application for a Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licence, Ref: 47/15, 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 accompanied by his prospective employer, 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 offences detailed at 1) and 2) in the submitted report. A further eight offences had not been detailed in the report as they were considered not relevant to the application.

 

The applicant was interviewed by the Senior Licensing Officer on 18 November 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 detailed 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. The applicant’s prospective employer also spoke in support of the applicant’s application.

 

It was confirmed that there were no further questions and the applicant, his prospective employer, 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 47/15, be granted.
 

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