Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council

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

Date:
Friday, 28th March, 2014
Time:
10:00 am
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 Ray McCall, Cllr Maurice Perry, Cllr David Wilburn, Cllr Bill Woodhead
Officers:
P Edwards, J Nertney, S Whaley(LD)
In Attendance:
Combined Hackney and Private Hire Driver - Ref 001481, Private Hire Driver - Ref 001110.
Apologies for absence:
Cllr Ken Dixon, Cllr Mrs Kathryn Nelson, Cllr Jean Kirby, Cllr Alan Lewis
Item Description Decision
Public
L
63/13
EVACUATION PROCEDURE
 
L
64/13
DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST
 
L
65/13
MINUTES - 11TH FEBRUARY 2014
RESOLVED that the minutes be approved and signed as a correct record.
L
66/13
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
L
67/13
COMBINED HACKNEY CARRIAGE AND PRIVATE HIRE DRIVER - REF 001481
  • Combined Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Driver - Ref 001481
RESOLVED that:

1. Combined Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Driver - Ref 001481 be issued with a written warning.

2. Combined Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Driver - Ref 001481 undertake a further test which in particular would address his knowledge of the hackney carriage byelaws.
L
68/13
PRIVATE HIRE DRIVER - REF 001110
  • Private Hire Driver - Ref 001110
  • |
    Appendix 1
  • |
    Appendix 2
  • |
    Appendix 3
  • |
    Appendix 4
  • |
    Appendix 5
  • |
    Appendix 6
  • |
    Appendix 7
RESOLVED that:

1. Private Hire Driver - Ref 001110 be issued with a written warning.

2. Private Hire Driver - Ref 001110 undertake and pass the driver improvement course at his own expense as soon as possible.
10:00am

Preamble

ItemPreamble
L
63/13
The evacuation procedure was noted.
L
64/13
There were no declarations of interest.
L
65/13
Consideration was given to the minutes from the meeting which was held on the 11th February 2014.
L
67/13
Consideration was given to a report for Members to consider what action to take in relation to a Combined Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Driver - Ref 001481 who was observed standing for hire other than on a designated rank and who had accepted an unbooked fare other than from a designated rank. The item had previously been deferred from a previous meeting of this Committee which had been held on the 27th November 2013.

Combined Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Driver - Ref 001481 was in attendance at the meeting and had been provided with a copy of the Committee report prior to the meeting and was given the opportunity to make representation.

The report detailed:

- Combined Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Driver - Ref 001481's background.

- The details of the incident.

Attached to the report were copies of;

- The Trade Times

- The Byelaws with respect to Hackney Carriages.

- A summary of a recorded interview.

- A witness statement.

- A letter to Combined Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Driver - Ref 001481 dated 4th October 2011 detailing a vehicle registered to him which had been observed by public CCTV participating in an unauthorised rank on Yarm High Street.

Members considered all of the evidence including the report, appendices and oral evidence that was given. The role of this Committee was to determine firstly whether the allegations of driver misconduct occurred and secondly if, on the balance of probabilities they did occur, what action should be taken against the driver.

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.

The issue which was before Members was an allegation that Combined Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Driver - Ref 001481 had acted in a manner contrary to the Councils byelaws relating to Combined Hackney Carriages. The Council had received complaints regarding the activities of a number of licensed drivers and the manner in which they were operating in Yarm. It should be remembered that the Hackney Carriage byelaws were in place for the benefit of the wider taxi trade and to ensure fairness for all members of the trade. Licensing Officers sought to resolve the issues in Yarm by exercising a light touch approach and seeking driver's co-operation. The Councils view on how hackney carriage drivers should operate had been communicated in both the Trade Times and in warning letters. The vast majority of drivers co-operated with these requests. However a number of drivers failed to follow the advice and requests given by Officers. The Committee were mindful that they had already dealt with a number of similar matters concerning several different drivers. Despite being aware of the issue, Combined Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Driver - Ref 001481 was caught in a test purchase operation by Trading Standards Officers.

After considering all the evidence the Committee concluded that despite the warnings and advice that had been communicated by the Trade Times Combined Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Driver - Ref 001481 acted in breach of the byelaws by not proceeding to the next available rank when the Yarm High Street rank was full.

Members noted that Officers had allowed drivers a degree of flexibility when the Yarm High Street rank was full and that action had not been taken against drivers who attempted to join the rank by queuing on the Town Hall side of the High Street. Combined Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Driver - Ref 001481 was aware that the Council had responded to complaints and had taken action against drivers who wilfully chose not to use the rank and who parked up outside busy licensed premises or the fast food takeaway with the clear intention of obtaining a fare without using the rank.

For the avoidance of doubt the Committee noted that it would be entirely legal for a hackney carriage driver to be flagged down in the street or for the driver to attend the location to collect a pre booked fare. The hackney carriage byelaw which applied to Stockton on Tees was based on the Department for Transport model byelaw and came into force in 1981. All hackney carriage drivers should be well aware of the byelaws which apply in the Borough. The Committee was of the opinion that despite being aware of the issue Combined Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Driver - Ref 001481 actions and behaviour on 26 July 2013 demonstrated a complete disregard for the byelaw. The Committee found that Combined Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Driver - Ref 001481 actions enabled him to obtain an advantage over his colleagues by parking in locations close to public houses where Combined Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Driver - Ref 001481 was likely to obtain fares from passengers leaving those public houses or the fast food takeaway and that this was to the detriment of those licensed drivers who used the rank and complied with the byelaw in the correct manner. The Council had taken action to deal with the drivers who were acting in this manner following the receipt of complaints from members of the trade. It should be quite clear to Combined Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Driver - Ref 001481 that if a large number of drivers acted in such a way then the rank would take longer and longer to clear and ultimately members of the public may not use the rank at all if they could simply walk out of any pub and get straight into a hackney carriage standing for hire which they had not pre booked or flagged down.

Members were of the view that as it had been a number of years since Combined Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Driver - Ref 001481 had been licensed that there appeared a need for him to improve his knowledge and awareness of legal responsibilities. The Committee resolved that Combined Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Driver - Ref 001481 should undertake a further test which in particular would address his knowledge of the hackney carriage byelaws. Combined Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Driver - Ref 001481 would be contacted by a Licensing Officer in order to make the necessary arrangements.

The Committee also resolved to give Combined Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Driver - Ref 001481 a written warning. Combined Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Driver - Ref 001481 should be in no doubt that if he appeared before the Committee in similar circumstances then they would consider revoking his licence. Combined Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Driver - Ref 001481 was reminded that he should exhibit high standards of conduct to demonstrate that he was a fit and proper person.
L
68/13
Consideration was given to a report for Members to consider what action to take in relation to a licensed Private Hire Driver - Ref 001110 who had 12 DVLA points due to a recent conviction for using his private vehicle on a public road without the appropriate insurance.

Private Hire Driver - Ref 001110 was in attendance at the meeting and was given the opportunity to make representation.

The report detailed:

- Private Hire Driver - Ref 001110's background.

- Details of the incident.

Attached to the report were copies of;

- A copy of a letter from Private Hire Driver - Ref 001110 informing Stockton Borough Council that Private Hire Driver - Ref 001110 had been stopped by the Police in his family car and was not insured.

- A letter informing the authority of Private Hire Driver - Ref 001110's court date.

- A notice of Private Hire Driver - Ref 001110 Written charges from Cleveland Police

- A letter from Private Hire Driver - Ref 001110 detailing new date for court appearance.

- A copy of Private Hire Driver - Ref 001110's DVLA counterpart.

- A summary of a transcript of an interview with Private Hire Driver - Ref 001110.

- A copy of a minute from a previous Licensing Committee meeting alongside a copy of decision letter to Private Hire Driver - Ref 001110 dated the 24th December 2009.

Members considered all of the evidence including the report, appendices and oral evidence that was given. The role of Members was to determine if Private Hire Driver - Ref 001110 was considered a fit and proper person to hold a private hire drivers licence with the Authority.

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.

Member's noted that Private Hire Driver - Ref 001110 had recently received a conviction for driving his private family vehicle without insurance and that at Court, Private Hire Driver - Ref 001110 had been issued 6 DVLA licence points, which took his live total to 12. The Court had permitted Private Hire Driver - Ref 001110 to keep his DVLA licence due to exceptional hardship.

Private Hire Driver - Ref 001110 advised Officers during interview and reiterated at the hearing that he had not realised the insurance had expired in August 2013. Private Hire Driver - Ref 001110 stated he did not recall receiving any reminder notifications that the insurance was due to run out and that he had not realised the policy had expired.

Stockton Council Transport Policy stated if the Courts decided not to disqualify a driver under the totting up procedures the Council may still consider that the driver was not a fit and proper person and may consider revocation of the private hire and/or hackney carriage driver's licence.

Members considered Private Hire Driver - Ref 001110's licensed history in relation to his long term of service as a licensed driver with the authority and noted that Private Hire Driver - Ref 001110 accepted he had made an error on this occasion by using his family car whilst uninsured and that Private Hire Driver - Ref 001110 was remorseful for his actions. However the Committee were quite clear that the responsibility for ensuring that Private Hire Driver - Ref 001110's vehicle was insured rested solely with him. It was stated by Members that if a situation such as this was to reoccur in the future then the Committee would take a very dim view.

Private Hire Driver - Ref 001110 explained to Members that he had a family and home to support and that he had been trying to obtain alternative work in the time since his renewal date but Private Hire Driver - Ref 001110 had been unsuccessful.

The Committee noted Private Hire Driver - Ref 001110's submission that he was a safe and responsible driver and his assurance that if Private Hire Driver - Ref 001110's renewal was granted he was confident that he would never appear before the Committee again.

The Council's Guidelines/Policy on the relevance of convictions stated application would be referred to the Licensing Committee and would normally be refused until at least four years after the most recent conviction.

When considering whether the Committee were persuaded to depart from the policy guidelines they noted that the 12 points Private Hire Driver - Ref 001110 had on his DVLA licence were not all for speeding and if they had been then that would have definitely questioned his continued fitness to hold a licence. Members also noted that Private Hire Driver - Ref 001110 had been consistent in the explanation he had given to the Police Officer as to the reason why his family car was uninsured.

After considering all of the evidence and the comments made by Private Hire Driver - Ref 001110 at the hearing the Committee decided that they were persuaded to depart from their Guidelines/Policy on this occasion and were minded to grant Private Hire Driver - Ref 001110 the renewal of his private hire drivers licence subject to a warning letter and on the condition that Private Hire Driver - Ref 001110 undertake the driver improvement course, at his own cost.

The licence and badges would be issued as soon as possible but Private Hire Driver - Ref 001110 must ensure that he undertook and passed the driver improvement course as soon as possible.

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