Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council

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Licensing Committee (ceased to operate 10/04/2017) Minutes

Date:
Thursday, 19th December, 2013
Time:
10:00
Place:
Council Chamber, Town Hall, High Street, Stockton on Tees, TS18 1AJ
 
Please note: all Minutes are subject to approval at the next Meeting

Attendance Details

Present:
Cllr Paul Kirton(Chairman), Cllr Michael Clark, Cllr Evaline Cunningham, Cllr Phillip Dennis, Cllr Eileen Johnson, , Cllr Miss Tina Large, Cllr Alan Lewis, Cllr Ray McCall, Cllr Maurice Perry, Cllr Bill Woodhead
Officers:
Miss P Edwards, Miss L Wilford(DNS, Mr J Nertney, Mrs S Whaley(L&D)
In Attendance:
Private Hire Driver 066119, Mr Woodhouse Solicitor representing Private Hire Driver 066119, Witness for item 5.
Apologies for absence:
Cllr Kathryn Nelson, Cllr Ken Dixon, Cllr Jean Kirby, Cllr David Wilburn
Item Description Decision
Public
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41/13
EVACUATION PROCEDURE
 
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42/13
DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST
 
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43/13
MINUTES FROM THE MEETING WHICH WAS HELD ON THE 17TH SEPTEMBER 2013
RESOLVED that the minutes be approved and signed as a correct record.
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44/13
EXCLUSION OF THE PUBLIC
RESOLVED that under Section 100A(4) of the Local Government Act 1972 the public be excluded from the meeting for the following items of business on the grounds that they involved the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in paragraph 1 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Act.
Confidential
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45/13
COMBINED HACKNEY CARRIAGE & PRIVATE HIRE DRIVER - REF 066119
  • Combined Hackney Carriage & Private Hire Driver - Ref 066119
RESOLVED that:

1. Private Hire Driver 120368's licence be revoked.

2. Public safety was an issue and therefore the revocation take immediate effect under Section 61(2)(B) of the Act.
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46/13
PRIVATE HIRE DRIVER - REF 120368
  • Private Hire Driver - Ref 120368
RESOLVED that:

1. Private Hire Driver 120368's licence be revoked.

2. Public safety was an issue and therefore the revocation take immediate effect under Section 61(2)(B) of the Act.
L
47/13
APPLICATION FOR A PRIVATE HIRE DRIVERS LICENCE - REF 134351
  • Application For A Private Hire Drivers Licence - Ref 134351
RESOLVED that the item be deferred.
10:00

Preamble

ItemPreamble
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41/13
The evacuation procedure was noted.
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42/13
There were no declarations of interest.
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43/13
Consideration was given to the minutes from the meeting which was held on the 17th September 2013.

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45/13
Consideration was given to a report on Private Hire Driver - Ref 066119 who has received a number of complaints about his attitude and behaviour, manner of driving and alleged overcharge, from several different complainants. In addition Private Hire Driver 066119 had also received a Police caution after he admitted to having a verbal altercation with a customer which involved using racial abuse towards the customer.

Private Hire Driver 066119 and his representative were in attendance at the meeting and were given the opportunity to make representation.

The report detailed:

- Private Hire Driver 066119's background

- Information relating to the complaints made against Private Hire Driver 066119.

Attached to the report were copies of:-

- The minutes from a previous meeting of the Licensing Committee that related to Private Hire Driver 066119.

- The Committee decision letter from a previous meeting of the Licensing Committee that related to Private Hire Driver 066119.

- A copy of a decision letter detailing that Private Hire Driver 066119's license be reinstated.

- A record of a tape recorded interview with Private Hire Driver 066119.

- A copy of Cleveland Police witness statement.

- Copies of complainants letters and statements.

- A copy of Private Hire Driver 066119's Police caution.

- Copies of warning letters issued to Private Hire Driver 066119 by Stockton Borough Council.

- The policy guidelines relating to the Relevance of Convictions, Cautions, Reprimands, Warnings and Complaints and Character.

Members considered all of the evidence including the report, appendices and oral evidence that was given. Members were asked to determine whether the allegations of driver misconduct occurred and if, on balance of probabilities they did occur, what action should be taken against Private Hire Driver 0066119.

Members were reminded of their powers under the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976.

The issue which Members considered concerned allegations that Private Hire Driver 0066119 did not behave in a civil and orderly manner towards a Police Officer, an allegation of poor driving, an allegation of an overcharge and a Caution he received for a racially aggravated offence under the Public Order Act 1986.

Members considered the matter on the balance of probabilities and made the following findings in relation to each of the complaints detailed within the report as follows:-

Complaint of Police Constable P

Members were satisfied that despite Private Hire Driver 0066119 receiving anger management counselling he did not act in a civil and orderly manner in relation to his interaction with Police Constable P. To swear at a Police Officer acting in the course of his duty was clearly not fit and proper behaviour for a licensed driver. Although PC Parker had dealt with his matter by issuing Private Hire Driver 0066119 with a Fixed Penalty Notice he felt so strongly about Private Hire Driver 0066119's inappropriate behaviour that he made a complaint to the licensing section at Stockton Borough Council. Members noted that Private Hire Driver 0066119 had accepted the statement of Police Constable P and did not dispute the contents of his statement.
Miss D - was in attendance at the meeting.
Private Hire Driver 0066119 had also received a caution for a Public Order Offence which detailed Private Hire Driver 0066119 calling a female passenger an inappropriate racist name. Members noted that the caution form provided by the Police corroborated Private Hire Driver 0066119's evidence that the complainant was the first person to make an inappropriate comment of a racist nature. However Private Hire Driver 0066119's response was wholly inappropriate. The caution for using racially aggravated words also corroborated a previous complaint which Stockton Borough Council had received when Private Hire Driver 0066119 was alleged to have made racist remarks to two passengers . That complaint had been received in June 2012 and it was noted that at the time the Officers took the view that there was an issue over the reliability of the witnesses. Members felt that in light of Private Hire Driver 0066119's caution the previous complaint was deemed to be relevant and provided some corroborative evidence that Private Hire Driver 0066119 had spoken to passengers in such a manner.
Mr W
Members noted that Mr W was not in attendance at the meeting but it was clear that some incident had occurred which led to Mr W feeling so aggrieved at Private Hire Driver 0066119's manner of driving that he felt the need to speak to Private Hire Driver 0066119 about it. Members had no criticism of Private Hire Driver 0066119 taking a photograph of Mr W as detailed within the report as Private Hire Driver 0066119 stated that he had felt threatened due to Mr W approaching him. Members were of the view that Private Hire Driver 0066119's manner of driving led to the complaint from Mr W. Members felt that had this complaint been received on its own, the matter would have been likely to have resulted in a warning as to Private Hire Driver 0066119's manner of driving.
Mrs D
Members noted that Mrs D was not in attendance at the Committee. Members had some concerns that Mrs D's statement recorded that Private Hire Driver 0066119 had said that he ‘had put the meter on when they approached Private Hire Driver 0066119's taxi'. Members noted that Private Hire Driver 0066119 denied the accusation however Members felt it seemed strange that Mrs D would make the allegation up if Private Hire Driver 0066119 had not said it to Mrs D. It did seem clear to Members that the amount of 9.50 which Mrs D said you had charged was far more than the fare should have been. Members did have some concerns over this complaint but found it to be inconclusive.

Members considered what action should be taken in relation to all of the evidence which had been presented to them. Members concluded that as detailed above, if the complaint received from Mr W was an isolated case then a warning would have been issued as to the manner of Private Hire Driver 0066119's driving, however the complaints of Police Constable P and Miss D were deemed to be serious matters especially given Private Hire Driver 0066119's previous licensing history. Private Hire Driver 0066119's licence had been granted in December 2010 after much deliberation by the Licensing Committee at that time. Private Hire Driver 0066119's licence was at that time granted with a warning as to his future conduct. Despite that Stockton Borough Council had continued to receive complaints about Private Hire Driver 0066119's behaviour. Members felt that although Private Hire Driver 0066119 had attended anger management counselling sessions over some time, he still appeared to have an issue in controlling his temper, and, as such, public safety was deemed to be an issue.
Members findings as detailed above were deemed to be relevant to Private Hire Driver 0066119's fitness as a licensed driver and as such under the provisions of Section 61(1)(b) of the Local Government (Miscellaneous) Provisions Act 1976 was considered to be sufficient reasonable cause to revoke Private Hire Driver 0066119's licence. The Committee resolved that public safety was an issue and that revocation took immediate effect pursuant to Section 61 2(B) of the said Act.
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46/13
Consideration was given to a report to determine what action should be taken in relation to Private Hire Driver 120368 who had received a conviction at Teesside Crown Court for ‘Produce controlled drug - Class B - Cannabis'.

Private Hire Driver 120368 was not in attendance at the meeting.

The report detailed:-

- Private Hire Driver 120368's background

- Information detailing the incident

Attached to the report were copies of:-

- Meeting minute from a previous Licensing Committee dated the 6th September 2011 during which Private Hire Driver 120368 was granted his private hire drivers licence.

- Notification of arrest from Cleveland Police dated 20th May 2013.

- Record of a tape recorded interview with Private Hire Driver 120368.

- The results of a drugs test.

- A copy of the suspension notice.

-Notification of the final outcome of Private Hire Driver 120368's Court appearance.

- The policy guidelines relating to the Relevance of convictions, Cautions, Reprimands, Warnings and Complaints and Character.

Members considered all of the evidence including the report and appendices included in relation to the conviction that Private Hire Driver 120368 had received. Members were asked to determine what action should be taken in relation to the conviction.
Members were reminded that under the provisions of Section 61(1)(a) of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 and of the power to suspend or revoke or refuse to renew a licence with immediate effect if the interests of public safety so require.

The issue which was before Members was to consider Private Hire Driver 120368's conviction at Teesside Crown Court for ‘Produce controlled drug - Class B - Cannabis'. Private Hire Driver 120368's sentence was: Imprisonment 6 months wholly suspended 24 months, Forfeiture and destruction drugs and paraphernalia, Supervision order 6 months, Victim surcharge 80.00.

After considering all of the evidence Members concluded that a conviction of such nature was unacceptable for a licensed driver. Members of the Committee deemed this to be relevant to Private Hire Driver 120368's fitness as a licensed driver and as such under the provisions of Section 61(1)(b) of the Local Government (Miscellaneous) Provisions Act 1976 was considered to be sufficient reasonable cause to revoke Private Hire Driver 120368's licence. Members also resolved that as Private Hire Driver 120368 had admitted to smoking cannabis on a daily basis then public safety was an issue and the revocation would take immediate effect pursuant to Section 61 2(B) of the said Act.
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47/13
Members were made aware that applicant - Ref 134351 who had made an application for a private hire drivers licence was not in attendance due to obtaining work during the Christmas period. The applicant requested that the matter be considered at a future Licensing Committee meeting.

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