Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council

Big plans, bright future

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

Date:
Friday, 17th October, 2014
Time:
10.00 a.m.
Place:
Council Chamber, Town Hall, High Street, Stockton on Tees, TS19 1UE
 
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 Eileen Johnson, Cllr Jean Kirby, Cllr Ray McCall, Cllr Maurice Perry, Cllr David Wilburn, Cllr Bill Woodhead
Officers:
P Edwards, J Jones, S Mills(PH), A Pilgrim, S Whaley)LD)
In Attendance:
Applicant-Ref 138212 and his representative, Applicant-Ref 137842, Private Hire Driver-Ref 130071
Apologies for absence:
Cllr Ken Dixon, Cllr Miss Tina Large, Cllr Alan Lewis,
Item Description Decision
Public
L
61/14
EVACUATION PROCEDURE
 
L
62/14
DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST
 
L
63/14
PRIVATE HIRE & HACKNEY CARRIAGE LICENSING POLICY REVIEW
RESOLVED that Members noted the report and that their comments be received.
L
64/14
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
65/14
APPLICATION FOR A PRIVATE HIRE DRIVERS LICENCE - REF 138212
  • Application for a Private Hire Drivers Licence - Ref 138212
RESOLVED that Applicant - Ref 138212 be granted his Private Hire Drivers Licence with conditions as set out above.
L
66/14
APPLICATION FOR A PRIVATE HIRE DRIVERS LICENCE - REF 137842
  • Application for a Private Hire Drivers Licence - Ref 137842
RESOLVED that Applicant - Ref 137842 be granted his Private Hire Drivers Licence with a warning as to his future conduct and with conditions as set out above.
L
67/14
PRIVATE HIRE DRIVER - REF - 120867
  • Private Hire Driver - Ref - 120867
RESOLVED that Private Hire Driver - Ref 120867's licence be revoked.
L
68/14
PRIVATE HIRE DRIVER - REF 130071
  • Private Hire Driver - Ref 130071
RESOLVED that Private Hire Driver - Ref 130071's licence be revoked.
10:00 am

Preamble

ItemPreamble
L
61/14
The evacuation procedure was noted.
L
62/14
There were no declarations of interest.
L
63/14
Members were asked to comment on a review of the Council's current
Private Hire and Hackney Carriage Licensing Policy with a view to producing a revised document for further consultation with the trade and interested stakeholders.

The main issues discussed were as follows:

- Appendix 1 - Summary of changes

- Appendix 2 - A full copy of the draft policy including the changes so Members could see where the suggested changes had been made.

- It was recommended that the policy review should be every 5 years and not every 3 as it stood currently. Members agreed that this change was acceptable.

- There was a change in the policy update in relation to e-cigarettes. Taxi drivers would not be permitted to smoke e-cigarettes in their vehicles. Members requested that the no smoking of e-cigarettes policy also included passengers. It was explained to the Committee that it would be the drivers' responsibility to request that passengers did not use e-cigarettes in their vehicles. However operators and drivers could be approached requesting that they enforced the suggestion.

- Brief discussion took place concerning the number of Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles(WAV) required within the Borough. Members were concerned that drivers were being forced to buy expensive new vehicles which had wheelchair access when the actual need may be less than the Authority had stated. Officers explained that those vehicles which currently had wheelchair access were not available at all times and the licensing department were receiving regular complaints from the public stating that there weren't the number of vehicles required available, especially outside sociable hours. It was also noted that the number of Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles had dropped from 26 in 2012 to 22 currently. Members agreed that further consultation and evidence was required before final views could be made on this particular change.

- The Committee went on to discuss Driver Training. In order to enhance the professional image of the private hire and hackney carriage trade and to enhance related skills and knowledge, all existing drivers and private hire operators (or a representative of the licensed company) would be required, if they had not already done so, to successfully complete one of two level 2 courses, which were, NVQ Level 2 in Road Passenger Vehicle Driving (Hackney Carriage/Private Hire Vehicle Pathway), or BTEC Level 2 Certificate in Introduction to the Role of the Professional Taxi and Private Hire Driver (or equivalent) at their own expense, by the anniversary of their licence in 2016. New applicants would have 12 months from the first grant of their licence to successfully complete one of these level 2 courses.
L
65/14
Consideration was given to a report for Members to determine what action to take in relation to an application for a private hire drivers licensed from someone with relevant convictions on their Disclosure and Barring (DBS) Certificate.

Applicant - Ref 138212 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:

- Details of Applicant -Ref 138212's background.

- Applicant -Ref 138212's application for a Private Hire Drivers Licence.

- Details of two convictions which had shown on a DBS certificate.

- Details of a tape recorded interview between Applicant - Ref 138212 and Officers of Stockton Borough Council which took place on the 8th September 2014.

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 138212 was a fit and proper person to be granted a Private Hire Drivers Licence.

The Committee noted that Applicant - Ref 138212 had a conviction for ‘Assault Occasioning Actual Bodily Harm' in 1991 which centred around a family dispute. As this had occurred approximately 23 years ago, and the circumstances were explained to the Committee, the Committee were satisfied that they had no existing concerns about this particular offence impacting on the question as to whether Applicant - Ref 138212 was a fit and proper person to be licensed.

The Committee also noted that Applicant - Ref 138212 had a conviction for ‘Fail to Notify Changes of Circumstances Affecting Entitlement to Benefit / Other Payment in 2012'. The details of the offence were that Applicant - Ref 138212 knowingly claimed benefits to which he was not entitled as he had failed to disclose the existence of personal income in an Individual Savings Account (ISA) which he held at the material time. Applicant - Ref 138212 did, however, repay the money in full after it was discovered and he had continued to claim benefits legitimately.

The Council's "Guidelines on the Relevance of Convictions, Cautions, Reprimands, Warnings and Complaints" stated that applicants should normally show a period of three years free from conviction for an offence involving dishonesty. As Applicant Ref - 138212 was convicted in October 2012, the three year period free of conviction would be October 2015.

Members took into consideration all of the information before them, and gave particular weight to the explanation Applicant - ref 138212 gave for his actions in relation to the dishonesty offence. On this occasion, the Committee were persuaded to depart from the Guidelines and were minded to grant Applicant - Ref 138212 a Private Hire Drivers Licence subject to the satisfactory completion of all requirements of the application process including, (but not limited to), the Authority's Drivers Knowledge Test.
L
66/14
Consideration was given to a report for Members to determine an application for a private hire driver's licence from an applicant with a conviction for soliciting a female for prostitution.

Applicant - Ref 137842 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:

- Details of Applicant -Ref 137842's background

- Applicant -Ref 137842's application for a Private Hire Drivers Licence

- Details of a DBS check which showed one conviction for soliciting a female prostitute.

- Details of a tape recorded interview between Applicant - Ref 137842 and Officers of Stockton Borough Council which took place on the 23rd July 2014.

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 137842 was a fit and proper person to be granted a Private Hire Drivers Licence.

The Committee deliberated over their decision as to whether they were satisfied at this time that Applicant - ref 137842 was a fit and proper person to hold a licence. Members noted that, whilst the conviction against Applicant - Ref 137842 was from 2004 - some 10 years ago - there would have been sufficient grounds under the Council's guidelines to refuse the application as it was a sexual offence and the Council's Relevance of Convictions, Cautions, Reprimands, Warnings, Complaints and Character states; "Applicants with a conviction, caution, reprimand or final warning for indecent exposure, indecent assault, importuning or any sexual offence, would normally be refused a licence".

Members considered the circumstances surrounding Applicant - Ref 137842's offence and noted he claimed to have done this as part of a bet with a friend, albeit a very silly bet. After considering the individual circumstances of Applicant - Ref 137842's application, the Committee were persuaded to depart from their guidelines and decided to grant Applicant - Ref 137842's licence subject to satisfactory completion of all requirements of the application process, and a warning as to his future conduct. As a licensed driver with this Authority, Applicant - Ref 137842 was reminded that he must comply with all of the Authority's Conditions of Private Hire Drivers Licence and in particular Applicant - Ref 137842 was reminded of the condition "to behave in a civil and orderly manner at all times…and not engage in any activities of a sexual nature whilst acting as a driver of any vehicle licensed by the Council"
L
67/14
Consideration was given to a report for Members to determine what action to take in respect of a licensed private hire driver who had been given a 27 month custodial sentence for Fraud.

Private Hire Driver - Ref 120867 was not in attendance at the meeting, however had been provided with a copy of the report prior to the meeting.

The report detailed:

- Details of Applicant -Ref 120867's background

- A copy of the notification from Cleveland Police under the Notifiable Occupations Scheme Home Office Circular 6/2006.

- Details of Private Hire Driver - Ref 120867's conviction.

- Copy of letters to Private Hire Driver - Ref 120867 from Officers of Stockton Borough Council dated 1st October 2013 and 9th May 2014.

The Committee considered the matter on the balance of probabilities and deemed this to be relevant to Private Hire Driver - Ref 120867's fitness to remain a licensed driver with this Authority. Under the provisions of Section 61(1)(a)(i) of the Local Government (Miscellaneous) Provisions Act 1976, the Committee were satisfied that Private Hire Driver - Ref 120867 had been convicted of an offence involving dishonesty, the circumstances of which, were particularly aggravating in light of the age and vulnerability of the victim. The Committee also considered the Council's "Guidelines on the Relevance of Convictions, Cautions, Reprimands, Warnings and Complaints" which suggested that a licence would normally be refused in such circumstances.

The Committee, therefore, resolved to revoke Private Hire Driver - Ref 120867's Licence, under section 61(1)(a)(i). The Committee were also of the view that public safety was an issue in this case, and therefore, the revocation would take immediate effect pursuant to Section 61 2(B) of the said Act.
L
68/14
Consideration was given to a report for Members to determine the fitness of a private hire driver who during the term of his licence was convicted of driving without insurance and also breached his private hire driver conditions by not notifying the Licensing Department of the said conviction in writing within 7 days.

Private Hire Driver - Ref 130071 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:

- Details of Private Hire Driver - Ref 130071's background.

- A copy of Private Hire Driver - Ref 130071's renewal application.

- A summary transcript of an interview between Private Hire Driver - Ref 130071 and Officers of Stockton Borough Council dated 9th July 2014.

- Copies of the private hire driver licence conditions.

The Committee deliberated over their decision as to whether Private Hire Driver - Ref 130071 remained a fit and proper person to hold a private hire drivers licence. The Committee gave weight to the following facts:-

• The Committee noted that Private Hire Driver - Ref 130071's conviction was a serious motoring conviction despite the mitigation he put forward at the meeting.

• The Committee had regard to the Council's Guidelines on the "Relevance of Convictions, Cautions, Reprimands, Warnings, Complaints and Character" which stated; ‘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".

• The Committee also noted that Private Hire Driver - Ref 130071 had breached his licence conditions by failing to declare the conviction within 7 days and that he had only held his private hire drivers licence for 1 year 6 months before being convicted of a serious motoring offence.

The Committee were satisfied that, on balance of probability, there was sufficient evidence presented to justify the revocation of Private Hire Driver - Ref 130071's licence under Section 61(1)(b) of The Local Government (Miscellaneous) Provisions Act 1976.

It was explained to Private Hire Driver - Ref 130071 that the revocation would take effect at the end of a period of 21 days beginning with the day on which Private Hire Driver - Ref 130071 receive a letter pursuant to section 61(2A) The Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976.

Private Hire Driver - Ref 130071, must, therefore, return his driver badges to the licensing office no later than the end of the 21 day period if he did not lodge an appeal. Failure to comply with the request would be an offence for which Private Hire Driver - Ref 130071 may be prosecuted under the above legislation.

Private Hire Driver - Ref 130071 was reminded that if he did re-apply to become a licensed driver with this, or any other Authority in the future, and if Private Hire Driver - Ref 130071 was asked on the application form if he had ever had a licence revoked he should select the relevant box and advise them that he had previously held a private hire driver's licence with Stockton-On-Tees Borough Council but that his licence had been revoked.

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