Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council

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

Date:
Tuesday, 16th April, 2013
Time:
10.00am
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 Jean Kirby, Cllr Miss Tina Large, Cllr Alan Lewis, Cllr Maurice Perry, Cllr Bill Woodhead.
Officers:
Jimmy Jones, Simon Mills, Mick Vaines (DNS); Tanya Harrison, Jonathan Nertney (LD).
In Attendance:
Mr Ross (Hawkins Ross Solicitors); Driver Ref 118592; Driver Ref 112026.
Apologies for absence:
were submitted on behalf of Cllr Ken Dixon, Cllr Ray McCall, Cllr Kathryn Nelson, Cllr David Wilburn.
Item Description Decision
Public
L
94/12
DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST
There were no declarations of interest.
L
95/12
MINUTES
 
L
96/12
THE LICENSING ACT 2003 - MINOR VARIATION APPLICATIONS
RESOLVED that the report be noted and that the next update report be more detailed.
L
97/12
EXCLUSION OF THE PUBLIC
 
Confidential
L
98/12
APPLICATION FOR A PRIVATE HIRE DRIVERS LICENCE - REF 118592
  • Application For A Private Hire Drivers Licence - Ref 118592
RESOLVED that the licence be granted with a warning regarding future conduct and subject to completion of the remaining Licensing process and procedures.
L
99/12
APPLICATION FOR A COMBINED DRIVERS LICENCE - REF 112026
  • Application For A Combined Drivers Licence - Ref 112026
RESOLVED that:-

1. The application for a Combined Private Hire and Hackney Carriage Driver's Licence be refused under the provisions of Sections 51(1) and 59(1) of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976.

2. 112026 be advised that although he may apply at any time for a licence that he should wait until April 2014. However, as each application was considered on its own individual merits there was no guarantee that he would be deemed fit and proper at that time.

Preamble

ItemPreamble
L
95/12
The minutes of the meetings held on 13th November 2012 were signed by the Chairman as a correct record.
L
96/12
Members were provided with a report to inform them of the delegated decisions that had been taken by officers in relation to minor variation applications under the Licensing Act 2003 for the period October 2012 until March 2013.

At the meeting held on 27th April 2010 Members considered a report on the number of minor variation applications determined by officers under the Licensing Act 2003 using delegated powers. At that meeting Members agreed that there be no change to the delegated powers but requested that future update reports provided more details of applications that had been refused. Minute 2/10 refers.

Members were advised that since the last report a further seventeen applications for minor variations had been received, one of which had been refused. A list of the premises that had been subject to minor variation applications was provided. The majority of these applications had been in respect of either minor alterations to the layout of the premises or amendments/removal of conditions.

In respect of the application that was refused; this was to extend the opening hours on a Friday and Saturday evening. This application was refused as the applicant would need to apply for a full variation to allow consultation with local residents.

Members requested that the next report be more detailed.
L
97/12
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 paragraphs 1 and 2 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Act.
L
98/12
Members were requested to determine an application for a private hire driver's licence from an applicant who has previously had an application refused by this Authority in December 2010. At this time the applicant had a police caution for soliciting a woman for prostitution in February 2008 and also a police caution for being drunk and disorderly in December 2008. In March 2011 the applicant received a further 6 DVLA penalty points on his driving licence for driving a vehicle without the appropriate insurance.

An important part of the vetting process was to undertake a Criminal Record Bureau check (CRB). This was done on the 4 October 2012 with a copy being returned to the applicant. This revealed that ref. 118592 had two police cautions one for persistently soliciting a woman for prostitution in February 2008 and a caution for an offence of drunk and disorderly in December 2008. A copy of this CRB was available at the meeting.

When 118592 applied to this Authority in 2010 he was interviewed regarding the offences mentioned above. During the interview 118592 confirmed that he had not gone out intentionally looking for a prostitute. He was on Yarm Lane when he was approached and propositioned for sex, he took the female in his car and drove to Dovecot Street where he had sex with her and he was caught by Police.

In relation to the second caution on the 27.12.08, 118592 stated that he entered a bar in Leeds with a friend, after purchasing a drink the bar staff called time and they were asked to leave. When they asked if they could finish their drinks the bouncer grabbed his drink and spilt it on him, a scuffle followed and both he and his friend were arrested but he was not involved in the scuffle.

118592 application in 2010 was refused by the Trading Standards & Licensing Manager exercising his delegated powers and a copy of the refusal letter was provided.

118592 had 6 live points on his DVLA driving licence for driving without the appropriate insurance which he received in March 2011. This was deemed as a serious motoring offence under the Council's Guidelines on Relevance Of Convictions which state, ‘if an applicant has a live endorsement in respect of a major traffic offence then the application will be referred to the Licensing Committee and will normally be refused until at least four years after the most recent conviction, caution, reprimand, final warning or if the person was disqualified, after the restoration of their driving licence'.

On the 19th December 2012, the Licensing Enforcement Officer wrote to 118592 explaining that he had a live serious motoring conviction on his DVLA driving licence and he was asked to provide written comments as to why the Council should depart from the policy. A copy of the letter was provided. 118592 requested a one to one session with an officer as he was not very competent writing in English.

A meeting was arranged in January 2013 and 118592 explained that this offence came about when he was running his own Pizza shop. One evening the pizza shop was very busy with delivery orders and he only employed one delivery driver so to try and assist the driver 118592 got into his own vehicle to deliver some orders. He was stopped by Police and was found not to have the appropriate business insurance to undertake pizza deliveries. He was issued with an endorsable fixed penalty ticket and was fined 200 and received 6 penalty points on his DVLA driving licence.

In mitigation 118592 stated, ‘it wasn't completely no insurance as the vehicle had insurance to be on the road' but he did not realise that he needed specific business insurance to deliver pizzas.

118592 stated he had learnt from his mistakes and he really regretted what he had done and did not want to live on benefits. 118592 was married and his 19 year old daughter had moved from Eritrea in Africa to live with him here in the UK. He was currently working at Dominoes Pizza as a delivery driver for approximately 47-50 hours a week.

118592 was given a copy of the Council's guidelines on Relevance of Convictions at the time of his application and a copy was provided.

Member were reminded that under the provisions of Section 51(1) (a) of the Local Government Miscellaneous Provisions Act 1976 which instructs District Councils not to grant a licence to drive private hire vehicles unless they were satisfied that the applicant was a fit and proper person to hold such a licence.

118592 was in attendance at the meeting.

The Committee deliberated over their decision as to whether they were satisfied at this time whether 118592 was a fit and proper person to hold a licence. The Committee noted that the caution which appeared on his CRB disclosure were from 2008 and would not have been sufficient grounds under the Councils guidelines to refuse the application. However it was of concern that 118592 received 6 penalty points in 2011 for an offence of driving whilst uninsured. The Committee had to consider whether to depart from their guidelines as this was a live conviction for a serious motoring offence and applicants with a live conviction for such an offence would normally have to show a period of 4 years free from such convictions.

The Committee considered the circumstances of the offence and noted that the vehicle 118592 was driving was insured but as he was delivering pizzas at the time he did not have the correct business insurance cover and was therefore liable for the offence. The Committee noted the explanation and reminded 118592 that it was his responsibility to ensure that he complied with the law and that ignorance was no defence.
L
99/12
Members were requested to determine a new application for a combined private hire and hackney carriage driver's licence, in respect of an applicant who was previously licensed by this Authority and whose licence was revoked by the Licensing Committee at their meeting on 12 April 2011.

Driver Ref. 112026 had previously been a licensed private hire and hackney carriage driver with this Authority from December 2008 to April 2011, when his licence was revoked by Members at their Committee meeting on 12 April 2011.

Members were informed at the meeting in April 2011 of an incident on 25th December 2010, when 112026 was caught on CCTV driving on the wrong side of the road as he overtook a vehicle travelling in the same direction, going around a traffic island in the middle of the road as he did so. At this time another vehicle was travelling towards 112026 on the opposite side of the road and he narrowly avoided a collision.

In addition Members noted that 112026 had previously received 5 penalty points for careless driving and in 2010 had been convicted of a traffic signal offence when he had gone through a red light. 112026 had also received a verbal warning over his manner of driving following receipt of information that he had been speeding.

Members also considered a reference that 112026 produced to the Committee, purported to have been written by 112026's course tutor at Teesside University. The course tutor denied completing or producing any reference for him. On the balance of probabilities the Committee found the reference to be a forged document.

At the meeting in April 2011 the Committee found that 112026 was both a dangerous driver and dishonest and that this constituted reasonable cause to revoke his licence.

Members were provided with the minutes from the meeting on 12 April 2011 and a copy of the decision letter.

As part of the application process, 112026 had completed a CRB disclosure which had been returned showing clear of any criminal convictions.

In a follow up to the application, 112026's representative, Hawkins Ross Solicitors sent a letter dated 22 March 2013 enclosing a copy of a letter from Swift Cars, who were prepared to offer 112026 a job if his application was successful. A copy of this letter with the enclosure was provided to Members.

112026 and his Solicitor, Mr Ross, were in attendance at the meeting.

112026 provided a letter of support dated 10 April 2013 from his parents.

The Committee had regard to the submissions made by 112026's Solicitor, Mr Ross, the additional evidence presented in support of the application, namely a letter of support dated 10 April 2013 from 112026's parents and the evidence given by 112026. The Committee also had regard to the evidence called from the operator and proprietor of Swift Cars. The Committee noted that 112026 had been undertaking unpaid work for Mr Ali for a period of approximately 7-8 months. 112026 stated that he had no fixed hours but would help out when needed. The purpose of undertaking the unpaid work was in order for 112026 to gain experience and be employed as a driver should the licence be granted. It was noted that 112026 was claiming Job Seekers Allowance and he was questioned as to whether he had declared to the appropriate authority that he had been undertaking unpaid work at Swift Cars. 112026 confirmed that he had notified them and that approximately 6 months ago he had advised his employment advisor. 112026 stated that the Job Centre had assisted him in his application by paying for the application fee.

The Committee noted 112026's previous driving and licensing history and that 112026 had previously been revoked by the Licensing Committee in April 2011. The grounds of the previous revocation were related to an incident when 112026 was caught on CCTV driving on the wrong side of the road whilst overtaking a vehicle travelling in the same direction as himself. The incident was deemed particularly serious as when on the other side of the road he drove past a traffic island and narrowly avoided a collision with a vehicle travelling towards himself. It was noted that the Police had not taken any action against 112026 in relation to that incident.

A further ground for his previous revocation was that 112026 had attempted to deceive the Committee by producing a forged reference which purported to have been completed by his Course Tutor at University. 112026 had initially produced that to the Committee on 1st March 2011. The meeting held on 1st March 2011 was adjourned in order for enquiries to be made as to the validity of the reference 112026 had provided. Council enquiries with the alleged author of the reference confirmed that he had not provided 112026 with the reference and that it was a forgery. That information was relayed to 112026's legal advisor and he then continued to deceive by providing information to his legal advisor namely a letter from a gentleman called Mr Babul in an attempt to provide an explanation for the reference. The Committee met again on 12th April 2011 and at that time resolved that 112026 had deliberately tried to mislead them by providing a false reference and that this deliberate attempt at deception went to one of the main issues when assessing a driver's fitness, namely truthfulness.

The Committee were of the view that 112026's previous attempt to deceive them was thoroughly dishonest and they had regard to their guideline which for dishonesty offences an applicant would normally have to show three years from the date of conviction etc. As the Committee had made findings in their meeting on 12th April 2011 they were of the view that 112026 should show three years from that date before he may be deemed fit and proper to hold a licence. That would take 112026 to April 2014 but there was no guarantee that he would be deemed fit and proper at this time as each application was considered on its own merits. The Committee had regard to whether 112026 had provided sufficient grounds to persuade them to depart from their guidelines and find him to be a fit and proper person at this time. The submissions made on 112026's behalf and by 112026 indicated that he was now more mature, he was remorseful and had learned a valuable lesson from the revocation of his licence. The Committee had regard to the letter from 112026's parents but this did not provide any grounds to find that he was a fit and proper at this time. The letter was mainly focused on the fact that he would like to get married and to do so would need to gain employment. Although the Committee had some sympathy with his personal circumstances these did not persuade the Committee to find 112026 to be a fit and proper person at this time. The fact that 112026 would be provided with employment at Swift Cars was also not a relevant ground in relation to his fitness to be a licensed driver.

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