The Assistant Director of Supporting Communities submitted an exempt report in connection with the review of Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licence, Ref: 47/16, 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 Principal Licensing Officer presented the report setting out the circumstances of the case in relation to three incidents that had occurred between June 2015 and September 2016.
The driver was first licensed by Middlesbrough Council in January 2012 and appeared before the Licensing Committee in relation to the offences detailed at 1) to 6) in the submitted report. The driver now appeared before Members following three further incidents, one of which resulted in him being offered a driving improvement course by the Police as an alternative to prosecution.
The driver was interviewed by a Licensing Enforcement Officer on 17 October 2016 when he confirmed that there were no outstanding matters of which the Council was unaware and offered explanations in relation to the incidents.
Incident 1) related to a complaint made by a member of the public on 19 June 2015 in relation to an incident that occurred on 30 May 2015. The complainant alleged that the driver dangerously overtook his vehicle causing a car on the other side of the road to swerve and causing him to break hard to avoid an accident.
The Principal Licensing Officer advised that CCTV footage was available in relation to Incident 2). A complaint was made on 12 July 2016 by a member of the public in relation to an incident outside Ayresome Primary School. The driver was identified by the Private Hire Operator as being the driver of the vehicle at the time. The complainant provided CCTV footage taken from the rear of the complaints vehicle which showed the drivers private hire vehicle overtaking two vehicles, including a learner driver, on a school crossing close to the school entrance. Members viewed the footage during the meeting.
Incident 3) occurred in September 2016 when the driver was seen by a Traffic Police Officer looking at his mobile phone. As the driver had a clean DVLA licence, the driver was offered the opportunity to attend a driver improvement course as an alternative to prosecution. The driver confirmed that he completed the course on 23 November 2016.
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 Councils legal representative.
It was confirmed that there were no further questions and the driver and officers of the Council, other than representatives of the Councils Legal Services and Democratic Services, withdrew whilst the Committee determined the review.
Subsequently, all interested parties returned and the Chair announced the Committees decision.
Members considered the review on its own merits, the report and written representations made by the driver and the Councils policy document in relation to the relevance of convictions, cautions, complaints and driver conduct.
The Committee considered the review on its own merits, the report, written and oral representations made by the Driver and the Councils policy guidance on convictions, cautions, complaints and driver conduct.
ORDERED as follows:
The Committee decided to suspend the Drivers private hire vehicle drivers licence for a period of two weeks under Section 61(1)(b) of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 on the grounds of any other reasonable cause for the following reasons:
1. Since the grant of the Licence on the 9 January 2012 there had been three unsafe driving incidents reported to the Council.
2. The Committee noted that Member of the Public made a complaint about an incident on the 30 May 2015 where it was claimed the Driver dangerously overtook his vehicle causing a driver on the other side of the road to swerve and the complainant to break hard to avoid an accident. The Committee noted that the Driver claimed he had not been at fault and the Complainant had been swerving in and out of the 2 lanes. However, in view of the additional two further incidents below and that the complainant actually found it necessary to speak to the driver and to report the matter to the police and the Council, on balance the Committee considered that the Driver had been impatient and overtook the vehicle as described in the complaint.
3. The Committee were mainly concerned about the incident outside of Ayresome Primary School shown by CCTV footage on the 12 July 2016. The Committee considered the Driver acted dangerously by overtaking vehicles on a school crossing close to the entrance to the school, the manoeuvre was so unsafe it caused parents with children walking on the footpath to stop and turn. The Driver admitted that he had made a mistake.
4. The Committee noted that in September 2016 the Driver was reported for failing to take proper control of a vehicle, however, completed a driver awareness course arranged by the police as an alternative to prosecution. The Driver explained that he had picked up his mobile phone to check a message from his girlfriend because he was concerned as she was expecting their first child, and a police officer had seen him do this. However, the committee considered that although he may have been worried about his girlfriend the police were so concerned as to his standard of driving that they considered the Driver needed to attend the awareness course.
5. The Committee noted that the Driver had recently completed the course which should improve his road safety awareness. The Committee therefore did not consider it was appropriate to send the driver on the Councils Driver Improvement Course, as recommended by the Councils Guidance, at this time.
6. However, in view that the Committee considered the Drivers act outside of Ayresome Primary School to be dangerous and that there have been two other unsafe driving incidents, the Committee decided it was appropriate to suspend the Drivers private hire vehicle drivers licence for two weeks to deter the Driver from driving unsafely in the future. It is essential drivers licensed by Middlesbrough Council are safe drivers in order to protect the travelling public. The Councils Guidance states that if there is a significant history of offences showing a disregard for safety a licence may be revoked. It also states that where there is a history of poor driving a licence may be suspended until completion of a Driver Improvement Scheme. The Committee did consider that the Driver had a disregard for safety but considered that a suspension for two weeks instead of a revocation would result in the Driver ensuring he drives safely in the future.
The driver was reminded of his Right of Appeal to the Magistrates Court within 21 days of the date of the decision.