The Assistant Director of Improving Public Health submitted an exempt report in connection with a Review of a Combined Hackney Carriage/Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licence: Ref No: 07/16, where circumstances had arisen which required special consideration by the Committee.
The Vice Chair of the Committee advised that as children were involved as witnesses in relation to this case, Members would hear the statements of the children and have the opportunity to ask questions in relation to the content of the statements. Once the children had provided their evidence they would be requested to leave the room, prior to the driver being invited to join the meeting.
The two witnesses, who were both accompanied by their mothers, were invited into the room. The Vice Chair introduced those present and outlined the procedure to be followed.
The Vice Chair asked the witnesses if they had anything further to add to their submitted statements. The two witnesses, assisted by their mothers clarified the details of their statements and responded to questions from Members of the Committee. It was confirmed that there were no further questions and the two witnesses and their mothers left the room at this point of the meeting.
The driver and his legal representative were invited into the Committee room. The Vice Chair introduced those present and outlined the procedure to be followed.
The driver's legal representative indicated that there was a preliminary issue with regard to the Committee proceedings, as the two witnesses to the incident had already appeared before Members, without the driver or his legal representative being present. The legal representative advised that he had never attended a tribunal where the Committee had already heard evidence from the other parties without all parties being present.
The Vice Chair and the Council's legal officer advised that the witnesses had only confirmed the details of the content of their statements. The driver's legal representative advised that he had listened at the door and had heard some of what had been said and he queried how he would be able to ask questions of the witnesses if they had already left the meeting.
The driver's legal representative queried whether the Committee had heard from both of the witnesses at the same time. The Vice Chair confirmed that this was the case. The legal representative expressed concern regarding the fact that he had been prevented from asking the witnesses any questions or cross-examining them when the driver refuted the allegations against him.
The driver's legal representative requested written details of the questions posed by Members to the witnesses and the answers to those questions as soon as possible. It was pointed out that the minutes of the meeting were not a verbatim record.
It was suggested that the case be adjourned to the next meeting of the Committee. A Member of the Committee advised that at Agenda Item 5, the Committee had excluded the Press and Public from the meeting and it was not in order for the driver's legal representative to listen to the proceedings outside the door of the Committee room. A Member commented that in his view listening outside a closed door was unethical behaviour. The driver's legal representative advised that in his view, as the Member of the Committee had made an allegation against him, he should not be able to sit on the Committee when the case was next considered.
ORDERED that the application for the Review of a Combined Hackney Carriage/Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licence: Ref No: 07/16, be deferred to the next meeting of the Licensing Committee.
**The Chair of the Licensing Committee, Councillor Taylor returned to the meeting at this point and assumed responsibility for Chairing the meeting