Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council

Big plans, bright future

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

Date:
Tuesday, 17th September, 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 (Chair); Cllr Michael Clark, Cllr Phillip Dennis, Cllr Ken Dixon, Cllr Eileen Johnson, Cllr Miss Tina Large, Cllr Alan Lewis, Cllr Ray McCall, Cllr Maurice Perry, Cllr David Wilburn and Cllr Bill Woodhead.
Officers:
P Edwards, S Mills L Wilford (DNS); A Pilgrim, P K Bell (LD).
In Attendance:
Private Hire Driver Application 133054, Hackney Carriage Driver 000946 and his representative, Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Driver 001393 and his representative.
Apologies for absence:
Cllr Evaline Cunningham, Cllr Jean Kirby and Cllr Mrs Kathryn Nelson.
Item Description Decision
Public
L
16/13
DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST
There were no interests declared.
L
17/13
SCRAP METAL DEALERS ACT 2013
RESOLVED that Members comments be noted.
Confidential
L
18/13
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 it involved the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in paragraphs 1 and 2 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Act.
L
19/13
APPLICATION FOR A PRIVATE HIRE DRIVERS LICENCE - REF 133054
  • Application For A Private Hire Drivers Licence - Ref 133054
RESOLVED that Private Hire Driver Application 133054 be granted a Private Hire Drivers Licence with a warning as to his future conduct.
L
20/13
PRIVATE HIRE DRIVER - REF 000952
  • Private Hire Driver - Ref 000952
RESOLVED that:-

1. Private Hire Driver 000952'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
21/13
HACKNEY CARRIAGE DRIVER - REF 000946
  • Hackney Carriage Driver - Ref 000946
RESOLVED that:-

1. Hackney Carriage Driver 000946 provide a written apology to the Council Officers at which his letter had been directed.

2. Hackney Carriage Driver 000946 receive a written warning.
L
22/13
HACKNEY CARRIAGE & PRIVATE HIRE DRIVER - REF 001393
  • Hackney Carriage & Private Hire Driver - Ref 001393
RESOLVED that Hackney Carriage & Private Hire Driver 001393 be issued with a written warning.
10.00 am - 2.00 pm

Preamble

ItemPreamble
L
17/13
Consideration was given to a report on the new provisions contained in the Scrap Metals Dealers Act 2013.

Increases in metal theft, driven by the rise in scrap values, were estimated to cost the economy between 220 and 700 million a year. The legislation, which dated form 1964, was ineffective in dealing with a problem that causes disruption to energy supplies, transport, and telecommunications.

The Scrap Metal Dealers Act 2013 was introduced in March 2013. The Home Office were proposing that the measures would commence on the 1 October 2013, with a transition period running until 1 December 2013. Businesses holding a registration would be able to continue to trade legally if they submitted a new application before the 15 October 2013.

The legislation repealed the old 1964 Act and parts of Vehicles (Crime) Act 2001 and brought forward a revised regulatory regime for the scrap metal dealing and vehicle dismantling. The key features of the Act were detailed within the report.

A new draft policy had been drafted which set out how the Council would process, assess, and decide licence applications. A copy of this draft policy was attached to the report. The final version of the relevant convictions and additional guidance had not been published by the Home Office.

There were 49 scrap dealer's registered with the Authority. 43 of these were itinerant collectors i.e. they did not have a scrap metal store.

There were 9 motor salvage operators registered with the Authority.

A letter of advice had been issued to these businesses outlining the forth coming changes. A copy of the letter was attached to the report.

There was no fee for a scrap metal registration. The fee for a motor salvage operator registration was 70. A preliminary costing exercise had been undertaken and it was likely that new application fees would be in the region of 400.

Members welcomed the new regime as they felt it provided an improvement on the exiting system of registration but they raised a number of concerns about the new rules. These related to the absence of any new environmental requirements to resolve issues that had arisen at sites where processing and handling of scrap took place; the fact that gold and silver had specifically been excluded from the new rules; the fact that waste transfer sites had not been specifically included in the legislation and they were concerned that no additional funding had not been provided to deal with enforcement at unlicensed premises.
L
19/13
Consideration was given to a report on Private Hire Driver Application 133054 for a private hire drivers licence from an applicant who had number of cautions and convictions on his DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service Certificate), the most recent being 2009.

The report detailed:-

* Private Hire Driver Application 133054's background
* Private Hire Driver Application 133054's convictions and his comments regarding the convictions

Attached to the report were copies of:-

* Private Hire Driver Application 133054's application and DVLA Licence
* A transcript of the interview between the Licensing Officer and Private Hire Driver Application 133054
* The policy guidelines relating to the Relevance of Convictions, Cautions, Reprimands, Warnings and Complaints and Character

Members were reminded of their powers under the provisions of section 51(1)(a) of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provision) Act 1976, District Councils were instructed 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.

Private Hire Driver Application 133054 was in attendance at the meeting and was given the opportunity to make representation.

Members had full regard to the report presented, a copy of which had been delivered to Private Hire Driver Application 133054 prior to the meeting. Members also took into account what Private Hire Driver Application 133054 had to say in relation to the matters in question.

Members noted that Private Hire Driver Application 133054 had a number of convictions on his Disclosure and Barring Certificate dating back to July 1995 and the most recent being October 2009.

Members gave consideration to the report in respect of the Council's Policy and on this occasion decided to put their trust in Private Hire Driver Application 133054 and to grant him a private hire driver's licence.

However, Members did state that Private Hire Driver Application 133054 licence was granted with a warning as to his future conduct. Convictions and complaints of any sort were considered serious and as a licensed driver the Council expect Private Hire Driver Application 133054 to behave civil and orderly at all times and demonstrate a high standard of driving at all times.

Private Hire Driver Application 133054 was also reminded that he needed to apply for a new DBS Certificate and obtain a further medical or letter from his GP confirming there had been no changes to his medical condition since his last medical.
L
20/13
Members were made aware that Private Hire Driver 000952 had declined to attend the meeting and that he had requested the matter be considered in his absence.

Consideration was given to a report on Private Hire Driver - Ref 000952 who had, since the grant of his licence, provided a positive drugs test sample to officers of the Council and was suspended.

The report detailed:-

* Private Hire Driver 000952's background
* The details of the drugs test

Attached to the report were copies of:-

* The results of the drugs test
* The analysis certificate
* The suspension notice
* The policy guidelines relating to the Relevance of Convictions, Cautions, Reprimands, Warnings and Complaints and Character

Members were reminded of their powers under the provisions of Section 61(1)(a) of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 and of the power to suspend or revoke a licence with immediate effect if the interests of public safety so require.

On the balance of probabilities, Members found that while holding a licence to drive private hire vehicles Private Hire Driver 000952 had used illegal drugs. This could potentially have an effect on public safety for those persons been driven by him or for other road users. Furthermore even if Private Hire Driver 000952 used such drugs in a recreational manner, this called into question his fitness to hold a licence.

Members agreed that Private Hire Driver 000952's behaviour in taking illegal drugs, whether for recreational use or otherwise, was not that of a fit and proper person to be licensed by the Authority and was sufficient reasonable cause under Section 61(1) (b) of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 to revoke Private Hire Driver 000952's licence. Members found that the taking of illegal drugs could have an impact on public safety they agreed to revoke his licence with immediate effect under Section 61(2)(B) of the Act.
L
21/13
Consideration was given to a report on Hackney Carriage Driver 000946 who had since the grant of his licence sent correspondence to the Licensing Department with copies to Director of Law and Democracy Head of Community Protection.

The report detailed:-

* Private Hire Driver 000946's background
* The details of the incident surrounding the correspondence

Attached to the report were copies of:-

* The correspondence that had been sent to Private Hire Driver 000946 including warning letters
* Private Hire Driver 000946's letter that was sent to the Licensing Department
* The minutes from previous meetings of the Licensing Committee that related to Private Hire Driver 000946
* The Council guidelines on The Relevance of Convictions

Members also viewed the video recording of the night of the incident that was taken from the Licensing Officers overt body camera

Members were reminded of their powers under the provisions of Section 61(1)(a) of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 and of the power to suspend or revoke a licence with immediate effect if the interests of public safety so require.

Hackney Carriage Driver 000946 and his representative were in attendance at the meeting and were given the opportunity to make representation.

Members noted that Hackney Carriage Driver 000946's representative raised a preliminary point before the hearing commenced and made a submission on his behalf that the video recording of the night in question (‘the DVD'), should be regarded as inadmissible evidence and should not be played to Members. Hackney Carriage Driver 000946's representative claimed that Hackney Carriage Driver 000946 had not been supplied with a copy of the footage prior to the meeting and that on the night in question Hackney Carriage Driver 000946 had not been cautioned under the provisions of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act. Members then adjourned for a short period to consider these preliminary points.

After a short adjournment, the Committee reconvened and it was decided that the hearing would proceed as Members were satisfied that Hackney Carriage Driver 000946 did not need to be cautioned on the evening of 6 July 2013 as a criminal offence was not being investigated and as such, a caution under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 was not required. Furthermore Members noted that these were civil proceedings and as such there was a great degree of flexibility in what evidence the Committee could consider. Members were not persuaded by Hackney Carriage Driver 000946's representative that submission and directed that the matter should proceed to be heard.

Members heard evidence from Hackney Carriage Driver 000946, and the Licensing Officer regarding the delivery of the committee report on the 28 August 2013. Members were satisfied that the DVD along with the Committee report, were delivered to Hackney Carriage Driver 000946 at this time.

Members indicated that Hackney Carriage Driver 000946 could, if he wished, had an opportunity to view the DVD in private with his representative and that he would be given time to consider it. Hackney Carriage Driver 000946 indicated that he did not wish to view the DVD. Members noted that Hackney Carriage Driver 000946 was happy to proceed with the hearing.

Hackney Carriage Driver 000946's representative raised a further issue and noted that the Licensing Officer had not included a formal witness statement as an appendix to the report. Hackney Carriage Driver 000946 was advised that the Committee was not a court of law, and although the proceedings were quasi-judicial, it was not a legal requirement to have a witness statement. Members did not feel that Hackney Carriage Driver 000946 was prejudiced in any way by the absence of a witness statement as the facts which Members would have to consider were set out in the report and Hackney Carriage Driver 000946 had opportunity to challenge or dispute any of the facts and evidence put before the Committee.

Members considered all of the evidence including the report, DVD footage, appendices and oral evidence that was given.

Members considered Hackney Carriage Driver 000946's oral evidence when he stated that the DVD recording shown to members was not the incident that his letter referred to on 6 July 2013; Hackney Carriage Driver 000946 advised Members that he had spoken to the Licensing Officer again on the same evening. Members then heard contradictory evidence from the Licensing Officer explaining that he had only spoken to Hackney Carriage Driver 000946 once on 6 July 2013 and that was the incident recorded on the DVD footage shown to Members. The Licensing Officer had not spoken to Hackney Carriage Driver 000946 at any other time on 6 July 2013. This was supported by handwritten entries in the Licensing Officer's notebook.

Members considered the evidence on balance of probability, and found Hackney Carriage Driver 000946 evidence at the hearing to be unreliable. Members were of the view that the tone of Hackney Carriage Driver 000946 letter was not acceptable behaviour of a licensed driver and Hackney Carriage Driver 000946 account of the discussion between him and the Licensing Officer was wholly inaccurate.

Members noted that Hackney Carriage Driver 000946 accepted the letter was disrespectful and that he regretted sending it. It was also noted that somebody from the trade had helped Hackney Carriage Driver 000946 with the letter. Hackney Carriage Driver 000946 indicated that he was prepared to apologise to the Council and the Licensing Officer and to withdraw the letter as it was only his opinion.

Members directed that Hackney Carriage Driver 000946 must provide a written apology to the Council Officers at which his letter had been directed. This must be done immediately and if Hackney Carriage Driver 000946 failed to do so he would be brought back before the Committee. Hackney Carriage Driver 000946 was reminded that this was a direction of the Committee and if Hackney Carriage Driver 000946 failed to comply then he would be deemed not to have treated the Committee with respect.

Members also agreed that Hackney Carriage Driver 000946 would receive a formal written warning. This letter comprised Hackney Carriage Driver 000946 formal written warning and this would remain on his driver records and may be referred to in future.

Members reminded Hackney Carriage Driver 000946 that he should exhibit high standards of conduct to demonstrate that he was a fit and proper person. It was not acceptable for a licensed driver to send a letter of this nature which contained inaccurate information which could be perceived as fabricated or malicious allegations on his part. Members advised Hackney Carriage Driver 000946 that it was his livelihood that was in the balance and he should take caution if seeking advice from other members of the trade on such matters. Hackney Carriage Driver 000946 was reminded that if there were any further issues in the future which call into question his continued fitness then he would be brought back before the Licensing Committee.
L
22/13
Consideration was given to a report on Hackney Carriage & Private Hire Driver 001393 who had 12 live DVLA penalty points, who was not disqualified by the Courts due to exceptional hardship and had completed the driver improvement course.

The report detailed:-

* Private Hire Driver 0001393's background
* A summary account of Private Hire Driver 0001393's DVLA history

Attached to the report were copies of:-

* Hackney Carriage & Private Hire Driver 001393's DVLA Driving Licence
* A transcript summary of Hackney Carriage & Private Hire Driver 001393's interview at the Licensing Office
* A letter in support from one of Hackney Carriage & Private Hire Driver 001393's regular customers in support of his case
* A copy of the policy guidelines relating to the Relevance of Convictions, Cautions, Reprimands, Warnings and Complaints and Character

Members were reminded of their powers under the provisions of Section 61(1)(a) of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 and of the power to suspend or revoke a licence with immediate effect if the interests of public safety so require.

Hackney Carriage & Private Hire Driver 001393 and his representative were in attendance at the meeting and were given the opportunity to make representation.

Hackney Carriage & Private Hire Driver 001393's representative submitted that, as at the date of the hearing, he had only 6 live DVLA penalty points as the offence of failing to give information as to the identity of driver (MS90), (for which he had received 6 penalty points) should not be taken into account on interpretation of s29 of the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988. Hackney Carriage & Private Hire Driver 001393's representative submitted that DVLA penalty points should be calculated from the date of offence not conviction. Having taken legal advice from the Clerk, Members were satisfied that DVLA penalty points run from the date of conviction. Members, therefore, proceeded on the basis that Hackney Carriage & Private Hire Driver 001393 still had 12 live points on his driver's licence at the date of the hearing.

It appeared that 3 DVLA points were issued shortly after Hackney Carriage & Private Hire Driver 001393 had completed the Driver Improvement Course, however it transpired the offence was committed some 6 months earlier. Hackney Carriage & Private Hire Driver 001393 did state in interview and at the meeting that he had learnt a lot from the course and that he found it very beneficial and he had continued to exercise the skills he had learnt.

Members deliberated as to Hackney Carriage & Private Hire Driver 001393 continued fitness to hold a hackney carriage and private hire drivers licence with the authority due to the evidence that he had a poor driving history. However, with reservation, Members decided on this occasion to issue Hackney Carriage & Private Hire Driver 001393 with a written warning and remind him of the seriousness of poor driving and how this could have an impact on his hackney carriage and private hire driver licence with Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council.

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