Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council

Big plans, bright future

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

Date:
Tuesday, 1st July, 2014
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 Mrs Kathryn Nelson(Vice-Chairman), Cllr Michael Clark, Cllr Phillip Dennis, Cllr Eileen Johnson, Cllr Jean Kirby, Cllr Ray McCall, Cllr Maurice Perry, Cllr David Wilburn, Cllr Bill Woodhead
Officers:
P Edwards, L Maloney(DNS), J Nertney, S Whaley(LD)
In Attendance:
Applicant - Ref 134928 and his representative Mr M Vaines. Driver - Ref 000798 and Witness, Driver - Ref 001451, Applicant - Ref 001278
Apologies for absence:
Cllr Evaline Cunningham, Cllr Ken Dixon, Cllr Miss Tina Large, Cllr Alan Lewis
Item Description Decision
Public
L
25/14
EVACUATION PROCEDURE
 
L
26/14
DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST
 
L
27/14
MINUTES FROM THE MEETING WHICH WAS HELD ON THE 6TH MAY 2014.
RESOLVED that the minutes be approved and signed as a correct record.
L
28/14
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
L
29/14
APPLICATION FOR A PRIVATE HIRE/HACKNEY CARRIAGE DRIVER LICENCE - REF 134928
  • Application for a Private Hire/Hackney Carriage Driver Licence - Ref 134928
RESOLVED that:

1. Applicant - Ref 134928 be granted his Private Hire drivers licence with a warning.

2. Applicant - ref 134928 submit to random drugs test by attending the Licensing Office as and when requested to undertake an Oral Swab Drugs Test at his own cost.
L
30/14
PRIVATE HIRE/HACKNEY CARRIAGE DRIVER - REF 000798
  • Private Hire/Hackney Carriage Driver - Ref 000798
RESOLVED that Combined Private Hire/Hackney Carriage Driver - Ref 000798's licence be revoked.
L
31/14
PRIVATE HIRE/HACKNEY CARRIAGE DRIVER - REF 001451
  • Private Hire/Hackney Carriage Driver - Ref 001451
RESOLVED that Combined Private Hire/Hackney Carriage Driver - Ref 001451, be issued with a written warning.
L
32/14
APPLICATION FOR A PRIVATE HIRE DRIVER LICENCE - REF 001278
  • Application For A Private Hire Driver Licence - Ref 001278
RESOLVED that Applicant - Ref 001278 be granted his Private Hire Drivers Licence with a written warning.
10.00am - 12.30pm

Preamble

ItemPreamble
L
25/14
The Evacuation procedure was noted.
L
26/14
There were no declarations of interest.
L
27/14
Consideration was given to the minutes from the meeting which was held on the 6th May 2014 for approval and signature.
L
29/14
Members were asked to consider a report to determine what action to take in relation to an application for a Private Hire Drivers Licence from an applicant who had Caution for ‘Possessing a Controlled Drug - Class B - Amphetamine' in 2011.

The report had been deferred from a previous meeting which was held on 10th June 2014, due to Applicant - Ref 134928's representative not being able to attend.

Applicant - Ref 134928 was in attendance at the meeting alongside his representative Mr M Vaines, they had been provided with a copy of the report prior to the meeting and given the opportunity to make representation.

The report detailed:

- Details of Applicant -Ref 134928's background

- Information relating to a Caution for ‘Possessing a Controlled Drug - Class B - Amphetamine' in 2011.

Attached to the report were copies of:

- Applicant - Ref 134928's application to drive Private Hire vehicles.

Members were respectfully reminded that 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.

Members considered all of the evidence including the report, appendices and oral evidence given. The role of the Committee was to determine whether Applicant - Ref 134928 was a fit and proper person to be granted a Private Hire Drivers Licence.

The issue which was before Members was that Applicant - ref 134928 had originally applied for a licence to drive Private Hire Vehicles with this Authority, received by the Council in September 2013. A copy of Applicant - ref 134928's Disclosure & Barring Services (DBS) Certificate was received and contained information that required further explanation. The application had initially been put before the Licensing Committee but Applicant - Ref 134928 had requested that the matter be adjourned so that he could make his own enquires with the DBS. Applicant - Ref 134928 attended an interview at the Licensing Office on the 19 November 2013 to ascertain the circumstances surrounding the Caution he had received on the 19 October 2011 for ‘Possessing a Controlled Drug - Class B - Amphetamine'.

Applicant Ref - 134928 informed Officers during interview that the Police had a warrant to search his brother's room at Applicant - ref 134928,'s family home and as his room was a box room off his brothers the Police assumed it was the same room and continued to search that. During the search the Police found some pills and arrested Applicant - ref 134928. Applicant - ref 134928 explained that the pills were slimming tablets that had been given to him by third party at the gym he was a member of. The Police had the pills analysed and confirmed they contained Amphetamine and as a result, Applicant ref - 134928 was issued with and accepted a Caution.

At a previous Committee hearing Applicant - ref 134928 disputed the Caution as he stated he did not recall signing anything, and whilst the dispute was being investigated the matter was deferred from Committee. Applicant - ref 134928 had now confirmed that Police records showed that the Caution was issued on the date shown on his DBS certificate.

Applicant - ref 134928 was aware the Councils Relevance of Convictions guidelines stated that where an applicant had a drug related offence of this nature an applicant must show five years free from Caution or conviction before an application was considered.

Members were minded to depart from the guidelines and depart from the Policy in order to grant Applicant - ref 134928 his private hire driver's badge, on completion of the application process. Members of the Committee were satisfied that this was an isolated incident and that there was no other evidence that indicated he was not a fit and proper person to hold a licence.

The Committee noted Applicant - ref 134928's assurance that he was willing to submit to random drugs test should his licence be granted. Members resolved to grant the licence on the condition that Applicant - ref 134928 attend the Licensing Office as and when requested to undertake an Oral Swab Drugs Test. These tests would be at Applicant - ref 134928's own cost.

Members were also minded to grant the licence with a warning as to Applicant - ref 134928's future conduct. If any incidents of a similar nature were brought to the attention of the licensing department, in the future, then this would call in to question Applicant - ref 134928's fitness and the matter would be referred back to the Licensing Committee for them to determine his continued fitness to hold a license with this Authority.
L
30/14
Members were asked to consider a report to determine what action to take in relation to Combined Private Hire/Hackney Carriage driver - Ref 000798 following an alleged assault on another licensed driver and an oral fluid sample which had tested positive for cannabis.

The report was deferred from a previous meeting which was held on 10th June 2014, to accommodate dates for Applicant - Ref 000798's solicitor.

Private Hire/Hackney Carriage Driver - Ref 000798 was in attendance at the meeting and had been provided with a copy of the report prior to the meeting and was given the opportunity to make representation.

The report detailed:

- Combined Private Hire/Hackney Carriage Driver - Ref 000798's background.

- Information detailing the incident.

Attached to the report were copies of:

- Correspondence from a member of the public who had witnessed an incident involving Combined Private Hire/Hackney Carriage Driver - Ref 000798.

- Further correspondence confirming a dispute involving Combined Private Hire/Hackney Carriage Driver - Ref 000798.

- A transcript following an interview with Combined Private Hire/Hackney Carriage Driver - Ref 000798 which took place on 22nd January 2014.

- Witness statements in relation to an incident involving Combined Private Hire/Hackney Carriage Driver - Ref 000798.

- An analysis certificate from Alere Toxicology.

- A suspension notice issued to Combined Private Hire/Hackney Carriage Driver - Ref 000798.

- Additional information received from a Senior Toxicologist dated 19 May 2014.

- A Police Officer statement relating to a taxi driver protest involving Combined Private Hire/Hackney Carriage Driver - Ref 000798.

- A warning letter in relation to behaviour towards another road user.

- A warning letter in relation to driving whilst holding a mobile phone.

Members were respectfully 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.

Members considered all of the evidence including the report, appendices and oral evidence given by Combined Private Hire/Hackney Carriage Driver - Ref 000798 and from that of his witness. The role of the Committee was to determine whether the allegations of driver misconduct occurred and if, on balance of probabilities they did occur, what action should be taken against Combined Private Hire/Hackney Carriage Driver - Ref 000798.

The issues which Members were required to consider were as follows:

1. An allegation that Combined Private Hire/Hackney Carriage Driver - Ref 000798 was involved in a physical confrontation with another driver in Thornaby Town centre.

2. Combined Private Hire/Hackney Carriage Driver - Ref 000798 had tested positive for cannabis following a drugs test.

Members noted that Combined Private Hire/Hackney Carriage Driver - Ref 000798 accepted that an argument had occurred between himself and another licensed driver on 7 November 2013. Combined Private Hire/Hackney Carriage Driver - Ref 000798 had denied that there had been any physical violence and stated that he had had his hands in his pockets at all times. The Committee noted that Combined Private Hire/Hackney Carriage Driver - Ref 000798 had received a formal caution some years ago for using disorderly behaviour when he had been observed shouting, swearing and causing distress at a taxi protest. Members found Combined Private Hire/Hackney Carriage Driver - Ref 000798's evidence to be contradictory and unreliable. Combined Private Hire/Hackney Carriage Driver - Ref 000798 called evidence from his witness in relation to the incident, however the witness evidence did not corroborate the version of events Combined Private Hire/Hackney Carriage Driver - Ref 000798 had given to the Committee.

Members were satisfied on the balance of probabilities that Combined Private Hire/Hackney Carriage Driver - Ref 000798 was involved in a physical confrontation with another licensed driver in Thornaby Town Centre. The Committee were of the view that Combined Private Hire/Hackney Carriage Driver - Ref 000798 had not acted in a civil and orderly manner and had also thrown at least one punch at the other driver.

The Committee noted that Combined Private Hire/Hackney Carriage Driver - Ref 000798 had tested positive for cannabis following a drugs test carried out by licensing officers. Due to Combined Private Hire/Hackney Carriage Driver - Ref 000798's failing the test he had been suspended with immediate effect on the grounds of public safety. When Combined Private Hire/Hackney Carriage Driver - Ref 000798 was initially asked to explain the result of the test he stated that the only explanation was that the positive result was caused by passive smoking when he had been in the same room as someone smoking cannabis. The testing laboratory confirmed that this was not a plausible explanation. Combined Private Hire/Hackney Carriage Driver - Ref 000798 informed the Committee that he now accepted he had smoked cannabis but would not have done so if he had known the drug would have stayed in his system for more than 24 hours. Combined Private Hire/Hackney Carriage Driver - Ref 000798 informed the Committee that he had been at a party and had been very drunk and had smoked cannabis. Combined Private Hire/Hackney Carriage Driver - Ref 000798 also stated that this was a one off and he had never done this in the past. Members were of the view that the taking of any illegal drug was an extremely serious matter and one that clearly questioned Combined Private Hire/Hackney Carriage Driver - Ref 000798's fitness to hold a licence.

Members were of the view that the drug allegation on its own was sufficient reasonable cause to revoke Combined Private Hire/Hackney Carriage Driver - Ref 000798's licence under the provisions of Section 61(1) (b) of the Local Government (Miscellaneous) Provisions Act 1976. The Committee also resolved that public safety was an issue and the revocation took immediate effect pursuant to Section 61 2(B) of the said Act.
L
31/14
Members were asked to consider a report to determine what action to take against a Combined Private Hire/Hackney Carriage Driver - Ref 001451, who had admitted to punching another licensed driver, which he claimed he did under provocation and in self-defence.

The report was deferred from a previous meeting which was held on 10th June 2014, to accommodate dates for Applicant - Ref 001451's solicitor.

Combined Private Hire/Hackney Carriage Driver - Ref 001451 was in attendance at the meeting and had been provided with a copy of the report prior to the meeting and given the opportunity to make representation.

The report detailed:

- Combined Private Hire/Hackney Carriage Driver - Ref 001451's background.

- Information detailing the incident.

Attached to the report were copies of:

- Correspondence from a member of the public who had witnessed an incident involving Combined Private Hire/Hackney Carriage Driver - Ref 001451.

- Further correspondence confirming a dispute involving Combined Private Hire/Hackney Carriage Driver - Ref 001451.

- A copy of a transcript following an interview with Combined Private Hire/Hackney Carriage Driver - Ref 001451 which took place on 13 December 2013.

- Copies of witness statements in relation to an incident involving Combined Private Hire/Hackney Carriage Driver - Ref 001451.

- A copy of a warning letter received on 2 November 2011 relating to standing for hire away from the designated rank in Yarm.

Members were respectfully 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.

Members considered all of the evidence including the report, appendices and oral evidence given by Combined Private Hire/Hackney Carriage Driver - Ref 001451. The role of the Committee was to determine whether the allegations of driver misconduct occurred and if, on balance of probabilities they did occur, what action should be taken against Combined Private Hire/Hackney Carriage Driver - Ref 001451.

The issue which was before Members was that on the 10 November 2013, an email was received from a member of the public stating that her elderly mother had witnessed two taxi drivers from Thornaby Town Taxis physically punching each other in the car park behind Lidl on Thursday 8 November 2014. Combined Private Hire/Hackney Carriage Driver - Ref 001451 was spoken to about the incident on 11 December 2013 and alleged that another licensed driver with this Authority had assaulted Combined Private Hire/Hackney Carriage Driver - Ref 001451 on the 7 November 2013, after verbally abusing him. Combined Private Hire/Hackney Carriage Driver - Ref 001451 claimed to have suffered previous verbal abuse from the other driver and said the bullying had been going on for some time, but whilst Combined Private Hire/Hackney Carriage Driver - Ref 001451 had not reported it due to fear of reprisals, he was now sick of the way he was being bullied and wanted to make a formal complaint. Combined Private Hire/Hackney Carriage Driver - Ref 001451 went on to admit he did punch the other driver claiming he did so under provocation and in self-defence.

Members took into consideration all of the evidence and information before them. The Committee were satisfied with Combined Private Hire/Hackney Carriage Driver - Ref 001451's explanation, and noted that he was under a great deal of provocation, and that Combined Private Hire/Hackney Carriage Driver - Ref 001451 was sorry for how he had reacted. Members also noted Combined Private Hire/Hackney Carriage Driver - Ref 001451's very good driver's record.

Members could not condone this type of behaviour however as the incident was witnessed by members of the public, and resolved to give Combined Private Hire/Hackney Carriage Driver - Ref 001451 a written warning as to his future conduct. It was explained to Combined Private Hire/Hackney Carriage Driver - Ref 001451 that he should exhibit high standards of conduct to demonstrate that he was a fit and proper person.
L
32/14
Members were asked to consider a report to determine what action to take in relation to a new application for Private Hire Driver - Ref 001278 who had previously been licensed but who had been under medical examination for Paranoid Schizophrenia and who had accepted a Simple Caution in February 2014, for driving whilst suspended in August 2013.

The report was deferred from a previous meeting held on 10th June 2014. Members requested the attendance of the applicant at the meeting for them to be able to ask questions or seek clarification on any points or concerns they may have had.

Applicant - Ref 001278 was in attendance at the meeting and had been provided with a copy of the report prior to the meeting and given the opportunity to make representation.

The report detailed:

- Applicant - Ref 001451's background.

- Information detailing the incident.

Attached to the report were copies of:

- All the relevant correspondence between the applicant and the Licensing Department

Members were respectfully reminded that 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.

Members considered all of the evidence including the report, appendices and oral evidence given by Applicant - Ref 001278.

The issue which was before Members was that Applicant - Ref 001278 had submitted an application for a Private Hire Drivers licence however he had received a Caution for driving whilst suspended in August 2013 and that there had been concerns as to Applicant Ref- 001278's medical fitness due to suffering with Paranoid Schizophrenia when he was admitted to Roseberry Park on 03 January 2012 and discharged on 03 February 2012.

The Committee noted that Applicant - Ref 001278's Caution was an isolated incident and had been received as a result of a misunderstanding on his part. The Committee also had regard to a report from Applicant - Ref 001278's Consultant Psychiatrist who confirmed they had read the DVLA Medical Guidelines and believed that there were strong clinical grounds to depart from the guidelines and allow Applicant - Ref 001278 to be granted his licence. No medical evidence to the contrary was before the Committee and the Committee therefore gave weight to Applicant - Ref 001278's Consultant Psychiatrists opinion when reaching their decision.

The Members deliberated as to Applicant - Ref 001278's fitness and decided that there was sufficient evidence provided to them to persuade them that he was a fit and proper person to hold a licence at this time. The Committee were mindful that they were putting their trust in Applicant - Ref 001278 when deciding to grant him his Private Hire Drivers licence. Members granted Applicant - Ref 001278's Private Hire Drivers Licence with a warning as to his future conduct and a reminder that he was obliged to inform the Licensing Office immediately if he suffered from a medical condition or disability or a condition or disability previously notified worsened, that may alter his ability to drive a vehicle.

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