Licensing Committee Minutes

Licensing Committee Minutes

Date:
Monday 8 April 2019
Time:
1:00 p.m.
Place:
Mandela Room, Town Hall, Middlesbrough
 

Attendance Details

Present:
Councillor J A Walker (Chair), Councillor T Higgins (Vice Chair); Councillor R Arundale, Councillor S Biswas, Councillor R Brady, Councillor S Dean, Councillor J Goodchild, Councillor A Hellaoui and Councillor L Lewis.
Officers:
J Dixon, A Perriman, S Wearing and Z Manders (for agenda item 4 only).
Apologies for absence:
Councillor T Harvey, Councillor T Mawston, Councillor D Rooney
Declarations of interest:

There were no Declarations of Interest made by Members at this point in the meeting.

Item Number Item/Resolution
PUBLIC
18/72 MINUTES - 18 MARCH 2019

The minutes of the previous meeting of the Licensing Committee held on 18 March 2019 were submitted and approved as a correct record.

18/73 MIDDLESBROUGH SPORTS VILLAGE SAFETY CERTIFICATE

The Head of Transport and Infrastructure submitted a report seeking approval for the issue of a Regulated Stand Safety Certificate in respect of the grandstand at Middlesbrough Sports Village for a period of one year.

Members were advised that where there was a covered stand providing accommodation for 500 or more standing or seated spectators at any non-designated ground, the local authority was responsible for issuing and enforcing a regulated stand safety certificate in accordance with the provisions of the Fire Safety and Safety of Places of Sport Act 1987.

 

The current permitted number of spectators for the stand was up to 584 and it was confirmed that there had been no significant changes to the grandstand or operating procedures in the past year.

The bi-annual inspection took place on 25 March 2019 and the stand was found to be satisfactory.

 

ORDERED as follows:-

  1. That approval be given to the re-issue of the Regulated Stand Safety Certificate in respect of the grandstand at Middlesbrough Sports Village, for the period of one year, with a spectator capacity of up to 584. 
  2. That the Assistant Director of Economic Development, or appropriate representative, be authorised to issue the certificate, as outlined above.
     
18/74 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
18/75 REVIEW OF PRIVATE HIRE VEHICLE DRIVER LICENCE REF: 9/19

The Director of Culture and Communities submitted an exempt report in connection with a review of Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licence, Ref: 9/19, 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 accompanied by a sign language interpreter, verified his name and address and confirmed that he had received a copy of the report and understood its contents.

 

The Principal Licensing Officer presented a summary of the report. The report outlined that the driver was first issued with a Private Hire Driver licence in April 2015 and that he first appeared before the Committee on 15 February 2016 following a complaint made against him. On that occasion, the Committee permitted the driver to retain his licence but expressed concern regarding his actions and required that he be issued with a warning in relation to his future conduct.

 

The driver most recently appeared before the Committee on 4 February 2019 following a further complaint in relation to the driver. A copy of the Committee’s decision was attached at Appendix 1 to the report. The Committee decided, on that occasion, to suspend the driver’s Private Hire Driver licence for a period of four weeks due to the serious nature of the complaint. The driver did not appeal the Committee’s decision, therefore, the suspension took effect from 27 February 2019 and ended on 27 March 2019.

 

The driver now appeared before Members following a further complaint received on 21 February 2019 regarding his conduct. A copy of the complaint and a photograph was attached at Appendix 2 to the report, relating to an incident where the driver was observed throwing litter out of his parked Private Hire Vehicle. Furthermore, the driver was observed to light a cigarette whilst seated in the vehicle.

 

The driver was subsequently interviewed by a Licensing Officer on 25 March 2019 in relation to the latest complaint. A copy of the interview was attached at Appendix 3 to the report.

 

It was highlighted that the complaint was brought to the attention of the relevant Council departments dealing with the enforcement of both littering offences and smoke free regulations. It was confirmed that since the report was written, the driver was issued with a Fixed Penalty Notice in the sum of £80 (discounted to £50 if paid by 12 April). With regard to the smoking incident, the driver had been sent a written warning by Environmental Health which highlighted that the matter could have been dealt with by way of a £50 Fixed Penalty Notice or prosecution in Court with a maximum fine of £200.

 

Members were advised that, since the report was written, the driver’s Private Hire Vehicle driver licence had expired on 31 March 2019 and he had now renewed his licence.

 

The driver confirmed that the report was an accurate representation of the facts and was invited to present the case in support of his application.

 

The driver addressed the Committee via his sign language interpreter and responded to questions from Members and the Council’s legal representative.

 

It was confirmed that there were no further questions and the driver, his interpreter 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.

 

ORDERED that Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licence, Ref 9/19, be suspended for a period of two weeks, for the following reasons:-

  1. The Committee carefully considered: the review on its own merits; the report and appendices; the information and representations made by the driver; the Council’s Policy on the relevance of Convictions, Cautions, Complaints and Driver Conduct ("the Policy").
  2. The Committee ORDERED that the Private Hire Driver Licence, Ref 9/19, be suspended for a period of two weeks under section 61 of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 for any other reasonable cause and issued the driver with a warning as to his future conduct.
  3. The driver was advised that he would receive the full decision, considerations and reasons within five working days.
  4. The driver appeared before the Licensing Committee as a result of a complaint received on 21 February 2019. The circumstances of the complaint being that the driver was observed throwing litter from his Private Hire Vehicle and smoking in his Private Hire Vehicle. Both incidents were clearly identified as breaches of the 'Driver’s Code of Conduct', of which the driver was fully aware.
  5. The Committee determined that, the issues taken together and the fact that the driver had appeared before them some 17 days prior to the incident and had received a suspension on that occasion (4 February 2019), this therefore exacerbated the circumstances in the view of the Committee.
  6. The driver was given the opportunity to address the Committee, via a Sign Language Interpreter, in respect of the incidents. He acknowledged they were wrong and that he should not have done what he did and accepted the facts. Furthermore the Committee had regard to the fact that the driver had received a Fixed Penalty Notice in respect of the littering from Environmental Services and a warning letter from Environmental Health in respect of smoking in a smoke free environment.
  7. Having heard the representations, and having due regard to Middlesbrough Council’s Private Hire and Hackney Carriage Licensing Policy 2018, the Committee took the view that the driver showed a disregard for the Code of Conduct and especially considering he had appeared before the Committee some days earlier and decided to suspend his licence and issue a warning regarding his future conduct.
  8. The driver was advised that if he was aggrieved by the Committee’s decision he had 21 days in which to appeal the decision to Teesside Magistrates’ Court. Should the driver decide to appeal the decision and the appeal was dismissed, the Council would look to the Court for an Order to recover its costs incurred in defending its decision from the driver.
18/76 APPLICATION FOR A PRIVATE HIRE VEHICLE DRIVER LICENCE REF: 10/19

The Director of Culture and Communities submitted an exempt report in connection an application for a Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licence, Ref: 10/19, where circumstances had arisen which required special consideration by the Committee.

 

The Principal Licensing Officer advised that the applicant had informed the Licensing Office that he was unable to attend the meeting due to his child currently being in hospital and provided a letter from the hospital confirming this. He had, therefore, requested that the matter be deferred.

 

ORDERED that consideration of an application for a Private Hire Vehicle driver licence, Ref 10/19, be deferred to a future meeting at a point when the applicant was in a position to proceed.
 

18/77 APPLICATION FOR A PRIVATE HIRE VEHICLE DRIVER LICENCE REF: 11/19

The Director of Culture and Communities submitted an exempt report in connection with an application for a Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licence, Ref: 11/19, 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 accompanied by a driver from the firm of his prospective employer, verified his name and address and confirmed that he had received a copy of the report and understood its contents.

 

The Principal Licensing Officer provided a summary of the report in relation to the applicant’s convictions detailed at 1) to 5) in the submitted report and made reference to the relevant sections of the Council’s Policy Guidance on Convictions, Cautions and Complaints.

 

The report highlighted that the applicant was interviewed by a Licensing Officer on 5 February 2019 when he confirmed that there were no outstanding matters of which the Council was unaware and provided explanations for the offences at 1) to 5).

 

It was highlighted that during the interview, the applicant was asked why he had failed to declare all of his previous convictions on his application form. He responded that he had not considered convictions from 25 years ago to be relevant and had not intended to deceive the Licensing Authority and that it had merely been an error.

 

During the interview, the applicant advised he had previously been licensed as a private hire driver with Stockton Council. The applicant gave authorisation to Middlesbrough Council to obtain further information in relation to his convictions or previous complaints from the police or any other authority should Officers wish to do so.

 

Since the interview, Officers obtained further information from Cleveland Police on 28 February 2019 giving further details regarding the offences. This information was attached at Appendix 1. Following receipt of the information, the applicant was re-interviewed by a Licensing Officer on 12 March 2019 to clarify several points. Notes of that interview were attached at Appendix 2.

 

In addition, correspondence was received from Stockton Council which showed that in January 2008, the driver’s licence was revoked with immediate effect following his failure to produce a criminal records check. A copy of the correspondence was attached at Appendix 3.

 

Appendix 4 to the report was a statement obtained from the officer involved in the incident regarding the applicant’s conviction at 4).

 

The applicant confirmed that the report was an accurate representation of the facts and was invited to present the case in support of his application.

 

The applicant addressed the Committee and responded to questions from Members and the Council’s legal representative. The driver accompanying the applicant also addressed the Committee in support of the

application and responded to questions from Members.

 

It was confirmed that there were no further questions and the applicant, his representative 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.

 

ORDERED that the application for a Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licence, Ref 11/19, be granted.

 

Having considered: the application on its own merits; the report and appendices; the information and representations made by the applicant and his representative; the Council’s Policy on the relevance of Convictions, Cautions, Complaints and Driver Conduct ("the Policy") and Section 51 of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 ("the Act"), the Committee decided to grant the application for a Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licence.

 

The Chair provided advice to the applicant in relation to the behaviour and conduct that was expected of a licensed driver in Middlesbrough, including ensuring the safety of the travelling public at all times and treating passengers with respect.

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