Licensing Committee Minutes

Licensing Committee Minutes

Date:
Monday 18 April 2016
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 J Goodchild, Councillor T Higgins (substitute for Councillor Harvey), Councillor T Lawton, Councillor L Lewis, Councillor D McCabe, Councillor J Rathmell,
Observers:
M Vaines, Acting Principal Licensing Officer.
Officers:
C Cunningham, J Dixon and J Hodgson.
Apologies for absence:
Councillor T Harvey, Councillor T Mawston, Councillor G Purvis.
Declarations of interest:

Councillor Goodchild declared an interest in relation to Agenda Item 7 at the point in the meeting when it became apparent, during questions to the driver, that she had witnessed the incident in question. Councillor Goodchild, therefore, withdrew from the meeting and took no further part in consideration or determination of the matter.

Item Number Item/Resolution
PUBLIC
15/106 MINUTES - LICENSING COMMITTEE - 4 APRIL 2016

The Minutes of the previous Licensing Committee held on 4 April 2016 were submitted and approved as a correct record.

15/107 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
15/108 REVIEW OF PRIVATE HIRE VEHICLE DRIVER LICENCE - REF NO: 16/16

The Assistant Director of Improving Public Health submitted an exempt report in connection with the review of Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licence, Ref: 16/16, 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 offences detailed at 1) to 3) in the submitted report.

 

The matter was due to be considered at the Licensing Committee held on 4 April 2016, however, prior to the meeting the driver contacted the Licensing Section to advise that he was on holiday and would not be returning until after the time of the meeting. Members chose to defer the matter to their next meeting.

 

The driver was first licensed by Middlesbrough Council in December 2008 and now appeared before Members in relation to the offences at 1) to 3).

The driver was interviewed by the Senior Licensing Officer on 25 February 2016 at which time he confirmed that there were no outstanding matters of which the Council was unaware, confirmed that all fines in relation to the offences had been paid in full and offered an explanation in relation to the offences.

 

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 Council’s legal representative.

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 Democratic Services, 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 16/16, be retained but that the driver be required to completed the Driver Improvement Scheme, at his own expense, within two months of the date of the Committee, for the following reason:-

  1. The Council’s Policy Guidance on Convictions, Cautions and Complaints stated that a driver with nine or more points on their DVLA licence and/or a history of poor driving would be expected to complete a Driver Improvement Scheme, at their own expense. Although the driver no longer had nine points on his licence, he had a history of unsafe driving evidenced by three motoring offences which were committed over a three-year period resulting in points being accrued on his licence. The Committee, therefore, considered that the Driver Improvement Scheme might improve the driver’s driving standards and thereby protect the travelling public.

The Committee also determined to issue the driver with a warning in relation to his future conduct in relation to his failure to report the offences as required by condition on his licence.
 

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

15/109 APPLICATION FOR PRIVATE HIRE VEHICLE DRIVER LICENCE - REF NO: 17/16

The Assistant Director of Improving Public Health submitted an exempt report in connection with an application for a Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licence, Ref: 17/16, 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) to 5) in the submitted report. A further offence was not detailed as it was considered too old to be of relevance.

 

The applicant was interviewed by the Senior Licensing Officer on 5 April 2016 at which time he confirmed that there were no outstanding matters of which the Council was unaware, confirmed that the fines in relation to the offences had been paid and offered explanations in relation to the offences at 1) to 5).

 

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 Democratic Services, 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 17/16, be refused as the Committee did not consider the applicant to be a fit and proper person to hold a Private Hire Vehicle Driver’s Licence for the following reasons:-

  1. The applicant had received a conditional caution for two counts of theft from a garage in December 2009. He was again convicted of theft in December 2012, for which he received a conditional discharge. The Council’s Policy Guidance on Convictions, Cautions and Complaints, stated that an applicant should normally have a period free from conviction of a dishonesty offence of between three and five years since the date of conviction or the completion of the sentence imposed, whichever was the later, before being considered for a licence. The Committee considered the applicant’s reasons for committing the offences but noted that they could not go behind the caution and convictions which involved three incidents of dishonesty. The Committee, therefore, did not consider that a sufficient incident-free period had lapsed in order to ensure the travelling public would be protected.
  2. The Committee also considered the applicant to be an unsafe driver in light of his three convictions for speeding over a short period of two years, resulting in the accrual of nine points on his DVLA Licence which the Committee considered showed a disregard for safety of other road users.

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

15/110 REVIEW OF PRIVATE HIRE VEHICLE DRIVER LICENCE - REF NO:18/16

** DECLARATION OF INTEREST

 

Councillor Goodchild declared an interest in relation to Agenda Item 7 at the point in the meeting when it became apparent, during questions to the driver, that she had witnessed the incident in question. Councillor Goodchild, therefore, withdrew from the meeting and took no further part in consideration or determination of the matter. **

 

The Assistant Director of Improving Public Health submitted an exempt report in connection with the review of Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licence, Ref: 18/16, 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 offences detailed at 1) to 4) in the submitted report.

 

The driver was first licensed with Middlesbrough Council in July 2012 and first appeared before Members in June 2014 in relation to the offences detailed at 1) to 3) in the submitted report. On that occasion he was permitted to retain his licence but required to undertake the Driver Improvement Scheme. The driver completed the course on 18 July 2014 and the assessment sheets from that course were attached at Appendix 1.

 

The driver now appeared before Members in relation to the offence detailed at 4) and further information received from Cleveland Police on 23 March 2016. The driver was interviewed by a Licensing officer on 8 March 2016. At that time he confirmed his previous explanations in relation to the offences detailed at 1) to 3), confirmed that all fines and costs had been paid in full and offered an explanation in relation to the offence detailed at 4).

 

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 Council’s legal representative.

 

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 Democratic Services, 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 18/16, be retained but that the driver be issued with a warning in relation to his driving standards and his failure to report his conviction for driving without due care and attention to the Licensing Section within seven days of the incident, as required by condition on his licence.

 

Having considered the submitted report and the representations made by the driver, the Committee acknowledged that although the driver had previously committed motoring offences, he had successfully completed a Driver Improvement Scheme in June 2014. More than one year had lapsed since he completed the scheme, without incident, until his conviction for driving without due care and attention in November 2015, for which he received a sentence at the lower end of the scale.
 

** Councillor Goodchild returned to the meeting at this point.

15/111 ANY OTHER URGENT ITEMS WHICH IN THE OPINION OF THE CHAIR MAY BE CONSIDERED.

Outcome of Recent Crown Court Appeal

 

The Senior Licensing Officer updated the Licensing Committee in respect of a recent decision made by the Committee to revoke a driver’s Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licence.

 

Members had initially considered the matter at Licensing Committee on 2 November 2015 and had chosen to revoke the driver’s licence with immediate effect due to the nature of an allegation made against him by a lone female passenger.

 

The driver subsequently 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.

 

The matter was referred back to the Licensing Committee on 14 December 2015, at which time Members listened to the recording that the driver had made on his mobile phone, of his subsequent meeting with the female passenger, at her home (without the female’s knowledge). The Committee reaffirmed its previous decision made on 2 November 2015, that the driver was not a fit and proper person to hold a licence.

 

The driver, again, appealed the Committee’s decision to the Magistrates Court and, on 5 January 2016, the Magistrates Court found the driver not to be a fit and proper person to hold a licence to drive taxis.

 

The driver subsequently appealed to the Crown Court and a summary of the Judge’s comments were read aloud to the Committee. In conclusion, the Judge had thoroughly supported the decision made by the Licensing Committee and the driver was considered not to be a fit and proper person to hold a licence to drive taxis.


 

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