Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council

Big plans, bright future

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

Date:
Tuesday, 6th May, 2014
Time:
10.00am
Place:
Council Chamber, Town Hall, Hight Street, Stockton, TS18 1AU
 
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 Evaline Cunningham, Cllr Phillip Dennis, Cllr Jean Kirby, , Cllr Alan Lewis, Cllr Ray McCall, Cllr David Wilburn, Cllr Bill Woodhead
Officers:
Mr C Barnes,Miss P Edwards, Miss L Wilford,(DNS) Mr J Nertney, Mrs S Whaley(LD
In Attendance:
Applicant - Ref 135426, Applicant - Ref 135229, Applicant - Ref 001253 and his Representative Mr M Vaines, Hackney Carriage & Private Hire Driver - Ref 000945
Apologies for absence:
Cllr Ken Dixon, Cllr Eileen Johnson, Cllr Miss Tina Large, Cllr Maurice Perry.
Item Description Decision
Public
L
8/14
EVACUATION PROCEDURE
 
L
9/14
DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST
 
L
10/14
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
11/14
APPLICATION FOR A SCRAP METAL COLLECTORS LICENCE - REF 135426
  • Application For A Scrap Metal Collectors Licence - Ref 135426
RESOLVED that Applicant - Ref 135426 be granted his Scrap Metal Collectors Licence.
L
12/14
APPLICATION FOR A SCRAP METAL COLLECTORS LICENCE - REF 135229
  • Application For A Scrap Metal Collectors Licence - Ref 135229
RESOLVED that Applicant - Ref 135229 be granted his Scrap Metal Collectors Licence.
L
13/14
APPLICATION FOR A PRIVATE HIRE DRIVERS LICENCE - REF 001253
  • Application For A Private Hire Drivers Licence - Ref 001253
RESOLVED that Applicant - Ref 001253 be granted his Private Hire Drivers Licence.
L
14/14
HACKNEY CARRIAGE & PRIVATE HIRE DRIVER - REF 000945
  • Hackney Carriage & Private Hire Driver - Ref 000945
RESOLVED that:

1. Combined Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Driver - Ref 000945 be issued with a final written warning.

2. Combined Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Driver - Ref 000945 undertake a further test which in particular would address his knowledge of the hackney carriage byelaws.
10:00

Preamble

ItemPreamble
L
8/14
The evacuation procedure was noted.
L
9/14
There were no declarations of interest.
L
11/14
Members were asked to consider a report detailing a new application for a Scrap Metal Collector's Licence from Applicant - Ref 135426, who had an unspent conviction for battery and relevant offence of failing to furnish documents under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 (EPA).

Applicant - Ref 135426 was in attendance at the meeting and was given the opportunity to make representation.

The report detailed:

- Applicant - Ref 135426's background.

- Details relating to Applicant - Ref 135426's unspent conviction and failure to furnish documents under the Environmental Protection Act(EPA) 1990.

Attached to the report were copies of:-

- Applicant - Ref 135426's application for a Scrap Metal Licence.

- A letter confirming Applicant Ref - 135426's release from prison.

- A copy of a witness statement relating to Applicant - Ref 135426's failure to produce documents relating to waste material under section 34 of the Environmental Protection Act.

- A copy of Applicant - Ref 135426's written representation in support of his application.

- The policy guidelines relating to the Relevance of Convictions which included a full list of relevant offences.

Members considered all of the evidence including the report, appendices and oral evidence that was given. Members were asked to consider whether Applicant - Ref 135426 was a suitable person to carry on a business as a scrap metal dealer.

The Committee noted that Applicant - Ref 135426 was convicted of an offence under section 34 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 on the 6th December 2011. The case was heard in Applicant - Ref 135426's absence and he was fined 575 and ordered to pay 172.07 in costs. The incident in question occurred on the 21st July 2011 when Applicant - Ref 135426 was stopped by Neighbourhood Enforcement Officers and was asked to produce documents for the waste he was carrying. Applicant - Ref 135426 failed to comply with the request and was issued with a fixed penalty notice, which he failed to pay. The Committee noted Applicant - Ref 135426's assurance that he did keep records of waste that he transferred and that he was aware of his legal obligations. Applicant - Ref 135426 explained to the Committee that the reason for his failure to produce the documentation in relation to the above mentioned incident was due to him being extremely concerned about proceedings which were taking place for a serious assault he had committed and he was mindful that he would be going to prison. The Committee noted that the proceedings before Teesside Magistrates Court were actually dealt with in Applicant - Ref 135426's absence as he was in prison on 06 December 2011.

Members also noted that Applicant - Ref 135426 was convicted on the 2nd December 2011 of an offence causing grievous bodily harm with intent to cause grievous bodily harm and was sentenced to 4 years imprisonment.

Offences under section 34 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 are relevant offences under the Scrap Metal Dealers Act 2013 (Prescribed Relevant Offences and Relevant Enforcement Action) Regulations 2013. In addition, Stockton Borough Council's Scrap Metal Policy stated that any conviction, caution, reprimand or final warning for offences involving violence which was less than 3 years old from the date of application would be included in the consideration of whether an applicant was a suitable person to hold a licence.

Members concluded that the violence related offence was an isolated incident. Members also accepted Applicant - Ref 135426's explanation that he was preoccupied with the criminal investigation (as detailed above) as a reason for him not producing his waste transfer notes to Enforcement Officers and that the case had been proved in his absence as Applicant - Ref 135426 was in prison at the time.

Members therefore decided to grant Applicant - Ref 135426 his licence with a warning as to his future conduct.
L
12/14
Members were asked to consider a report detailing a new application for a collector's licence from Applicant - Ref 135229, who had a relevant offence of theft of scrap metal.

Applicant - Ref 135229 was in attendance at the meeting and was given the opportunity to make representation.

The report detailed:

- Applicant - Ref 135229's background.

- Information relating to the theft.

Attached to the report were copies of:

- Applicant - Ref 135229's application for a Scrap Metal Licence.

- A copy of Applicant - Ref 135229's written representation in support of his application.

- The policy guidelines relating to the Relevance of Convictions which included a full list of relevant offences.

Members considered all of the evidence including the report, appendices and oral evidence that was given. Members were asked to determine whether Applicant - Ref 135229 was a suitable person to carry on a business as a scrap metal dealer.

The Committee noted that Applicant - Ref 135229 was convicted of a theft offence on the 14th June 2011 and as a result had received a fine of 100. The offence related to an incident detailing a stolen tumble dryer which was found on Applicant - Ref 135229's vehicle by Police. The Committee noted Applicant - Ref 135229's explanation, that at the time he had someone working for him who had taken the item, from a front garden, without the owner's permission and without Applicant - Ref 135229's knowledge.

The Committee also noted Applicant - Ref 135229's assurance that he kept records of waste he transferred and that he was aware of his legal obligations. Applicant - Ref 135229 also stated that most of his customers were local garages and that he rarely collected door to door.

Certain offences under the Theft Act which related to metal or were environment-related were relevant offences under the Scrap Metal Dealers Act 2013 (Prescribed Relevant Offences and Relevant Enforcement Action) Regulations 2013. In addition, Stockton Borough Council's Scrap Metal Policy stated that any conviction, caution, reprimand or final warning for offences involving dishonesty which was less than 3 years old from the date of application would be included in the consideration of whether an applicant was a suitable person to hold a licence.

After considering the facts, Members concluded that the theft offence was an isolated incident.

Members therefore decided to grant Applicant - Ref 135229's licence with a warning as to his future conduct.
L
13/14
Consideration was given to a report for Members to determine whether Applicant - Ref 001253 was considered to be a fit and proper person to be granted a private hire drivers licence in accordance with Section 51 of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976.

Applicant - Ref 001253 was in attendance at the meeting alongside his representative Mr M Vaines, and was given the opportunity to make representation.

The report detailed:

- Details of Applicant - Ref 001253's background.

- Information which had been disclosed following an enhanced criminal record check.

Attached to the report were copies of:

- Applicant - Ref 001253's application for a Private Hire Drivers Licence.

- A minute reference, detailing a previous incident which had resulted in Applicant - Ref 001253 having his licence revoked in July 2007.

- A letter to Applicant - Ref 001253 confirming the decision of the Committee in July 2007.

- A written statement from Applicant - Ref 001253 in support of his recent application.

Members considered all of the evidence including the report, appendices and oral evidence that was given. Members were asked to determine whether Applicant Ref - 001253 was a fit and proper person to be granted a Private Hire Drivers Licence.

Members were reminded that under the provisions of section 51(1)(a) of the Local Governments (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.

Member's noted that Applicant Ref - 001253, had previously had his private hire drivers licence revoked by this authority in 2007 due to a conviction for drink driving, where he had received a fine and a sixteen month driving ban. As part of the process to become a licensed driver an enhanced criminal record check was carried via the Disclosure & Barring Service. The Disclosure Certificate had been returned which showed a further conviction. A copy of the Disclosure Certificate was made available to Members at the meeting.

The Committee noted that Applicant Ref - 001253 was remorseful and that he felt he was a changed character. In addition it was noted that Applicant 001253 had, had his DVLA licence back for approximately 5 years, without accruing any further convictions. The Committee was assured by Applicant Ref - 001253 that he was a safe and responsible driver and during the 10 years he had held a private hire drivers licence neither himself nor the local authority had received any customer complaints. Members also noted that Applicant Ref - 001253 currently held a Public Service Vehicle Licence bringing him into daily contact with members of the public including vulnerable adults and children.

Members took in to consideration all of the information before them and the comments made by Applicant Ref - 001253 at the hearing and found him to be a 'fit and proper' person and agreed to grant Applicant - Ref 001253's private hire drivers licence.
L
14/14
Consideration was given to a report to determine what action should be taken in relation to Combined Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Driver - Ref 000945 who had been found standing for hire other than on a designated rank, after he agreed to take passengers from outside Lotus Lounge, Yarm High Street to the Beckfields Public House, Ingleby Barwick.

Combined Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Driver - Ref 000945 was in attendance at the meeting and was given the opportunity to make representation.

The report detailed:

- Combined Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Driver - Ref 000945's background.

- Information detailing the incident.

Attached to the report were copies of:

- A letter advising Combined Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Driver - Ref 000945 that he had taken an unbooked fare, other than from a designated rank.

- A copy of the Trade Times and Byelaws.

- A summary of a tape recorded interview.

- A copy of a Trading Standard Officers witness statement.

- A copy of a warning letter relating to an incident which had occurred in 2011.

- A copy of a warning letter relating to a previous incident which had occurred in 2013.

Members considered all of the evidence including the report, appendices and oral evidence that was given. The role of the 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 Combined Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Driver - Ref 000945.

The issue which was before Members was an allegation that Combined Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Driver - Ref 000945 had acted in a manner contrary to the Councils byelaws relating to 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 was highlighted that 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. There were however a number of drivers who had 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 000945 was caught in a test purchase operation by Trading Standards Officers and the Committee found that on the balance of probabilities Combined Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Driver - Ref 000945 had acted in breach of the byelaw by failing to proceed to the next available rank when the rank in Yarm High Street was full.

After considering all of 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 000945 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 000945 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 in 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 applied in the Borough. Members were of the opinion that despite being aware of the issue, Combined Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Driver - Ref 000945's actions and behaviour on 13 December 2013 demonstrated a complete disregard for the byelaw. The Committee found that Combined Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Driver - Ref 000945 actions enabled him to obtain an advantage over his colleagues by parking in locations close to public houses where he 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 have been quite clear to Combined Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Driver - Ref 000945, that if a large number of drivers acted in such a way then the rank would take longer to clear and ultimately members of the public may prefer not to 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 000945 had been licensed it appeared there was a need for him to improve his knowledge and awareness of legal responsibilities. Members resolved that Combined Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Driver - Ref 000945 should undertake a further test which in particular would address his knowledge of the hackney carriage byelaws.

As Combined Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Driver - Ref 000945 had previously received a written warning for a similar matter in 2011 the Committee resolved to issue him with a final written warning.

It was made clear to Combined Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Driver - Ref 000945 that he should be in no doubt that if he was to appear before the Committee in similar circumstances then they would consider revoking his licence. Combined Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Driver - Ref 000945 was reminded that he should exhibit high standards of conduct to demonstrate that he was a fit and proper person.

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