Licensing Committee Minutes

Licensing Committee Minutes

Date:
Monday 19 December 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 D J Branson, Councillor J Goodchild, Councillor L Lewis and Councillor J Rathmell.
Officers:
C Cunningham, J Dixon and T Hodgkinson.
Apologies for absence:
Councillor S Dean, Councillor T Higgins, Councillor T Lawton, Councillor T Mawston, Councillor D McCabe
Declarations of interest:

 

Name of Member Type of Interest Item/Nature of Interest
Councillor Taylor Non-pecuniary Agenda item 5 - driver known to him.
     
Item Number Item/Resolution
PUBLIC
16/69 MINUTES - LICENSING COMMITTEE - 5 DECEMBER 2016

The minutes of the previous Licensing Committee held 5 December 2016 were submitted and approved as a correct record.

16/70 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.

 

** DECLARATION OF INTEREST - VICE CHAIR IN THE CHAIR **

 

At this point in the meeting, the Chair, Councillor Taylor, declared a non-pecuniary interest in relation to the following item and took no further part in the consideration of the matter.

 

Councillor J Walker, Vice Chair, took the Chair for the following item only.
 

EXEMPT
16/71 REVIEW OF PRIVATE HIRE DRIVER LICENCE - REF. NO: 49/16

The Assistant Director of Supporting Communities submitted an exempt report in connection with the review of Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licence, Ref: 49/16, where circumstances had arisen which required special consideration by the Committee.

 

The Licensing Manager advised that the driver had contacted the Licensing Section last week to advise that his legal representative was not available to attend today’s meeting and requested that the matter be deferred until January.

 

ORDERED that consideration of the review of Private Hire Vehicle Driver licence, Ref 49/16, be deferred to the next meeting of the Licensing Committee in order allow the driver’s legal representative the opportunity to attend.

 

** Councillor Taylor resumed the Chair at this point in the meeting. **

 

** SUSPENSION OF COUNCIL PROCEDURE RULE NO. 5 - ORDER OF BUSINESS

 

ORDERED that, in accordance with Council Procedure Rule No 5, the Committee agreed to vary the order of business to deal with Agenda Item 10) as the next item of business.
 

16/72 REVIEW OF COMBINED HACKNEY CARRIAGE/PRIVATE HIRE DRIVER LICENCE - REF. NO: 53/16

The Assistant Director of Supporting Communities submitted an exempt report in connection with the review of Combined Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licence, Ref: 53/16, where circumstances had arisen which required special consideration by the Committee.

 

The Licensing Manager advised that the driver had contacted the Licensing Section to advise that he was unable to attend Committee as he was due to appear in the Family Court on the same date/time. The Licensing Manager confirmed that he had seen proof of the driver’s appointment.

 

ORDERED that consideration of the review of Combined Hackney Carriage/Private Hire Vehicle Driver licence, Ref 53/16, be deferred to the next meeting of the Licensing Committee in order allow the driver a further opportunity to attend.
 

16/73 REVIEW OF PRIVATE HIRE DRIVER LICENCE - REF. NO: 43/16

The Assistant Director of Supporting Communities submitted an exempt report in connection with the review of Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licence, Ref: 43/16, 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 Licensing Manager presented the report setting out the circumstances of the case in relation to the driver having received a written warning from Redcar and Cleveland Council in relation to plying for hire.

 

Members were reminded that the matter was due to be considered by the Licensing Committee on 14 November 2016, however, the driver failed to attend. Officers subsequently discovered that the driver had been out of the country and the matter was deferred to the meeting on 5 December 2016. The driver again failed to attend and he subsequently stated he had believed that the meeting was arranged for 6 December 2016. The driver was advised that should he fail to attend today’s meeting the matter would likely be heard in his absence.

 

The driver was first licensed with Middlesbrough Council in February 2016 and appeared before Committee due to a written warning he had received from Redcar and Cleveland Council in relation to plying for hire on 2 July 2016 and for making a false allegation during his interview with enforcement officers against his current employer. (The driver had stated that he had been trained by his employer to accept un-booked fares and to telephone the operator to make the booking himself). A copy of the warning letter was attached at Appendix 1.

 

The driver was interviewed by a Licensing Enforcement Officer on 18 July 2016 when he confirmed that there were no outstanding matters of which the Council was unaware and offered an explanation in relation to the incident.

 

It was highlighted that, on 2 July 2016, two Licensing Enforcement Officers from Redcar and Cleveland Council had observed the driver picking up a fare that had not been booked. The Officers formally cautioned the driver and conducted an interview at the roadside. A copy of the interview record was attached at Appendix 2. During the interview, the driver told officers that his current employer had advised him, during his training, that when a customer approached the car, the fare must be booked by the driver.

 

As a result of the allegation, the driver’s current employer was interviewed by the Acting Principal Licensing Officer on 7 October 2016. During the interview, the driver’s employer refuted the allegation and produced copies of an extract from the training material provided to trainee drivers relating to a Code of Conduct which specifically stated that drivers were not allowed to take flag-downs or accept bookings. This was attached at Appendix 3. In addition, the employer also produced a copy of a notice to drivers that was displayed at various locations in the operator’s office. A copy of the notice was attached at Appendix 4.

 

The driver was subsequently re-interviewed by an Enforcement Officer on 10 October 2016 when he confirmed that he had signed forms in relation to having been trained and stated he recalled seeing the code of conduct issued to him and the information regarding flag-downs. The driver stated that he had misunderstood the training information provided to him.

 

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.

 

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 and Democratic Services, withdrew whilst the Committee determined the review.

 

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

 

The Committee considered the review on its own merits and considered the submitted report, representations made by the driver and the Council’s policy on convictions, cautions, complaints and driver conduct.

 

ORDERED that Private Hire Vehicle Driver licence, Ref 43/16, be retained but that the driver be issued with a warning.

 

The Committee considered that plying for hire was clearly an unlawful act but noted that the driver admitted he had misunderstood the legislation and thought that he could pick up passengers and book the job himself with the operator. The driver was now clear that a pre-booked job must be given to him by the operator and that he must not arrange the booking. In view of this, the driver was given a warning regarding his behaviour to illegally ply for hire which would, in all probability, have meant that he would have been uninsured for that journey.
 

16/74 APPLICATION FOR COMBINED HACKNEY CARRIAGE/PRIVATE HIRE DRIVER LICENCE - REF. NO: 50/16

The Assistant Director of Supporting Communities submitted an exempt report in connection with an application for a Combined Hackney Carriage/Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licence, Ref: 50/16, 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 Licensing Manager presented the report setting out the circumstances of the case. It was highlighted that the applicant had previously been licensed with Middlesbrough Council from November 1992 until March 2011 when his licence was revoked by the Licensing Committee following consideration of the offences at 1) and 2) in the report. The applicant now appeared before Members with a fresh application having obtained a further three motoring offences, detailed at 3) to 5) in the submitted report.

 

The applicant was interviewed by a Licensing Enforcement Officer on 1 December 2016 when he confirmed that there were no outstanding matters of which the Council was unaware and offered explanations in relation to the offences.

 

The applicant confirmed that the report was an accurate representation of the facts and was invited to address the Committee.

 

The applicant presented his case in support of his application and responded to questions from Members.

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 and Democratic Services, withdrew whilst the Committee determined the application.

 

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

 

The Committee considered: the application on its own merits, the report, the applicant’s representations and the Council’s policy on convictions, cautions, complaints and driver conduct.

 

ORDERED that the application for a Combined Hackney Carriage/Private Hire Vehicle Driver licence, Ref 50/16, be granted.
 

16/75 REVIEW OF COMBINED HACKNEY CARRIAGE/PRIVATE HIRE DRIVER LICENCE - REF. NO: 51/16

The Assistant Director of Supporting Communities submitted an exempt report in connection with the review of Combined Hackney Carriage/Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licence, Ref: 51/16, 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 Licensing Manager presented the report setting out the circumstances of the case in relation to an incident that occurred on 16 June 2016 with a Redcar and Cleveland Licensing Officer.

 

The driver was first licensed by Middlesbrough Council in March 2009 and now appeared before Members for review of his licence following a report from an officer from Redcar and Cleveland Council. The officer stated that throughout the incident, on 16 June 2016, the driver behaved in an aggressive, agitated manner towards her. A copy of the notes made by the officer following the incident were attached at Appendix 1.

 

The driver was interviewed by a Licensing Officer on 30 June 2016 in relation to the incident. A copy of the interview notes were attached at Appendix 2.

 

It was highlighted that the driver was re-interviewed by the Licencing Officer on 7 November 2016 and was asked if he could provide video footage of the incident that he had recorded on his phone, however, he stated he was unable to do so as he discovered his phone battery was flat and nothing had been recorded.

 

The driver confirmed that the report was an accurate representation of the facts.

 

The Officer from Redcar and Cleveland Council that had reported the incident, was in attendance at the meeting and subsequently joined the meeting.

 

The Chair introduced those present and explained the procedure to be followed.

 

The witness was invited to provide her version of events in relation to the incident on 16 June 2016 and responded to questions from Members, and subsequently withdrew from the meeting.

 

The driver was then asked to provide his version of events in relation to the incident and responded to questions from Members.

 

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 and Democratic Services, withdrew whilst the Committee determined the review.

 

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

 

The Committee considered: the review on its own merits, the report, the written and oral representations made by the Complainant and the written and oral representations made by the driver. The Committee also considered the Council’s policy on convictions, cautions, complaints and driver conduct.

 

ORDERED that Combined Hackney Carriage/Private Hire Vehicle Driver licence, Ref 51/16 be retained but that a warning be issued in relation to the driver’s future conduct, for the following reasons:-

  1. The Committee heard two versions of an incident that occurred on Guisborough High Street on 16 June 2016. The complainant alleged that the driver had reversed up to her car, was aggressive towards her and demanded she move her vehicle in order for him to be able to take a disabled passenger. The complainant had parked on the street in order to take a photo of a statutory notice displayed at the Ship Public House. The complainant alleged that the driver had brought two men out of the pub, who appeared to be under the influence of alcohol, who heckled her. She alleged that the driver also knocked her mobile phone away when she tried to take a photograph.
  2. The driver claimed: that he and the complainant had reversed at the same time; that he was polite and asked her to move to enable him to put out the ramps to collect his disabled passenger; that the space he moved to was the only available safe place. The driver alleged the complainant was racially derogatory and swore. The driver stated that the passenger in a wheel chair and his son left the pub with him and that the passenger’s son argued with the complainant. He had tried to record the incident but his phone battery was just about out of charge. He also stated that the complainant put a camera in his face which he moved away.
  3. Members considered that the driver’s representations to the Committee contradicted, in parts, what he had written in his statement. Members felt it was unlikely that an officer who was used to dealing with licensees would use language that the driver alleged. It was not clear, from what the driver had said, at what point the passenger had come out of the pub but the complainant was clear that the disabled passenger did not come out of the pub during the incident and advised there was CCTV to show this. On balance, therefore, the Committee believed the complainant’s allegations.
  4. The Committee considered that, on this occasion, the driver had reacted badly to the situation and his behaviour was unacceptable. However, the Committee noted that the driver had held a clean licence since 2009 without complaint and therefore decided that the driver could continue as a licensed driver with Middlesbrough Council but that he be given a warning for this incident.
     
16/76 REVIEW OF COMBINED HACKNEY CARRIAGE/PRIVATE HIRE DRIVER LICENCE - REF. NO: 52/16

The Assistant Director of Supporting Communities submitted an exempt report in connection with the review of Combined Hackney Carriage/Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licence, Ref: 52/16, 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 Licensing Manager presented the report setting out the circumstances of the case in relation to the convictions detailed at 1) to 4) in the submitted report.

 

The driver first appeared before Members with an application in August 2008. On that occasion the application was refused due to a number of offences between 1997 and 2004 involving dishonesty, violence and possession of a controlled drug with intent to supply.

 

A further application was considered by the Licensing Committee in September 2009 and was granted with a warning in relation to his future conduct. The driver had received one written warning for inappropriate parking in July 2015.

 

The driver next appeared before Members in August 2016 following a conviction for plying for hire and no insurance (offences 1) and 2)) and received a four week suspension. It was highlighted that the information regarding the suspension issued by the Committee had been omitted from the report in error.

 

The driver now appeared before Members following two further convictions for plying for hire and no insurance, detailed at 3) and 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 and Democratic Services, withdrew whilst the Committee determined the review.

 

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

 

The Committee considered: the review on its own merits, the report, the written and oral representations of the driver and the Council’s policy on convictions, cautions, complaints and driver conduct.

 

ORDERED that Combined Hackney Carriage/Private Hire Vehicle Driver licence, Ref 52/16, be revoked for the following reasons:-

  1. The Committee decided to revoke the driver’s combined Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Vehicle Driver’s Licence under Section 61 (1)(a)(ii) on the grounds that since the grant of his licence the driver had been convicted of an offence under the Town Police Clauses Act 1847 or Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 and under Section 61(1)(c) for any other reasonable cause for the following reasons:
  2. On 14 September 2014 the Driver was granted a licence to drive hackney carriage and private hire vehicles, however, the grant was subject to the driver being issued with a warning as to his previous conduct. In July 2015 the driver received a further warning for inappropriately parking his private hire /hackney carriage vehicle. On 15 August 2016 the driver was suspended for four weeks for an offence of illegally plying for hire and for having no insurance on the 24 May 2015.
  3. On 8 November 2016 the driver was convicted of a second offence of illegally plying for hire and for having no insurance. The driver told the Committee that he was forced into plying for hire because his operator did not give him enough work, however, claimed he only illegally plied for hire on those two occasions when he was caught by officers. The Committee considered that illegally plying for hire was a serious breach of the rules that govern the private hire and hackney trade. He had been caught illegally plying for hire on two separate occasions within a relatively short period, after he was logged off from his private hire operator. On those occasions he put the travelling public at great risk because he was not insured and had accrued 12 points on his licence.
  4. The driver’s mitigation was to blame his operator for not giving him enough work and tried to state that he would not do it if he worked for a different operator. The Committee therefore considered that the driver was likely to continually flout the rules putting the public at risk.
  5. The Council’s policy supported the Committee’s decision and stated in these circumstances the Council may revoke a licence and not consider any further application until at least six months to three years had lapsed.
  6. The Council therefore decided to revoke the licence for the above reasons and to protect the travelling public.

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

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