The Assistant Director of Improving Public Health submitted an exempt report in connection with the Review and/or Renewal of Private Hire Vehicle Operator Licence PO/004, Private Hire Driver Licence PD 180 and Private Hire Vehicle Licences relating to various vehicles listed in the report: Ref No: 19/16, where circumstances had arisen which required special consideration by the Committee.
The start of the meeting was delayed until 1.30pm to allow the Applicant to attend the meeting.
The Principal Licensing Officer advised Members that the Applicant had notified the Licensing Section that all of the vehicles listed in the report had been transferred to another proprietor and as a consequence, the Review of the Private Hire Vehicle Licences was no longer applicable as the Applicant was no longer responsible for the vehicles.
In respect of the Review of Private Hire Driver Licence PD 180, Members were advised that the Applicant had surrendered his Private Hire Driver Licence to the Licensing Section on 1 July 2016 and as a consequence the Review of this Licence was no longer required.
The Principal Licensing Officer advised the Committee that the only application that remained to be considered by Members was the Review and/or Renewal of the Private Hire Vehicle Operator Licence PO/004.
The Principal Licensing Officer advised that the Applicant was not in attendance and confirmed that the Applicant had not contacted the Licensing Section to advise that he would not be able to attend.
The Committee noted that the reports and appendices had been sent to the Applicant and the Licensing Officer had tried to contact the applicant by telephone. The Committee considered that the position of Operator was a position of trust and importance. It appeared the Applicant had failed to respond to Licensing Officers previous requests for information and had failed to inform Officers or the Committee that he would not be attending and nor did he give any reasons for not attending. The Committee therefore decided it was in the public interest to proceed with the matter in the Applicants absence.
On 6 April 2010, the Applicant applied for a Private Hire Operator Licence. At that time he was already the holder of an Operator Licence which he acquired in his own name and his business but the Council did not have any records pertaining to the licence prior to 6 April 2010. The application was granted. On 13 March 2014, following a discussion with the Principal Licensing Officer, the Applicant submitted a letter requesting that an additional trading name be included on the operator licence. A copy of the Applicant's current licence which was due to expire on 30 June 2016 was attached at Appendix 1 to the report.
On 1 July 2016 the Applicant had applied to renew his Private Hire Operator Licence.
The Principal Licensing Officer presented the report setting out the circumstances of the case in respect of the Offences detailed at 1) in the report, including a number of other incidents and warnings that caused Licensing Officers concern also included in the submitted report. The Committee was advised that the Licensing Section had only prosecuted the Applicant in respect of the vehicles that had been stopped during enforcement duties and had been found to committing offences.
The Principal Licensing Officer summarised the Applicant's representations made during an interview prior to the Committee.
It was confirmed that there were no questions 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 Operator Licence PO/004 be Revoked and that the renewal of the licence be Refused as the Committee did not consider the Applicant to be a fit and proper person to hold a Private Hire Vehicle Operator Licence.
The Committee considered the information contained in the report and the information provided by the Licensing Officer regarding the Applicants representations given at a previous interview with Licensing Officers.
The Committee decided to revoke and refuse to renew the Applicants Private Hire Vehicle Operators Licence under Section 62 of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 on the grounds that he was not a fit and proper person to hold such a licence, for the following reasons:-
The Applicant had been convicted of 7 counts of causing or permitting a person to use a vehicle without insurance on 22 January 2016. Those incidents involved private hire vehicles operated and owned either solely or jointly by the Applicant.
There had been an additional three other incidents on 2 February 2013, 14 November 2014 and 28 November 2014 where vehicles operated or booked through the Applicants business were on two occasions being used by unlicensed private hire drivers and on the 28 November 2014 used by a driver who was not insured.
Members noted officers concerns that bookings did not appear to be properly logged onto systems, that the Applicant had claimed that computerised systems had been upgraded and no insurance incidents were a mistake as he thought drivers were insured. However, Members considered that these convictions and incidents showed the Applicant and his operation persistently put the travelling public at risk and it was clear to any reasonable operator that drivers under the age of 25 were not insured.
The Applicant also had failed to comply with the provisions of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976. The Applicant was convicted of failing to produce booking records in accordance with the Act on 22 January 2016. The Applicant had also received four warnings for failure to return licence plates, inform the licensing authority of convictions and provide information.
The Applicant failed to comply with a condition of his licence to inform Licensing Officers of a change in circumstance that his business was being operated by a limited company since February 2014 as confirmed by a District Judge during criminal proceedings. The Applicant failed to respond to formal requests for information even following his conviction on 22 January 2016. Members therefore considered that the Applicants continued failure to provide information and comply with the provisions of the Act showed contempt for the rules and regulations that govern the operation of private hire vehicle licences that are put in place to ensure the safety of the travelling public.
For these reasons the Committee decided to revoke and refuse to renew the Applicants Private Hire Vehicle Operators Licence.
The Applicant would receive the decision in writing, reminding of his Right of Appeal to the Magistrates Court within 21 days of the date of the decision.