Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council

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

Date:
Tuesday, 21st April, 2015
Time:
10.00 am
Place:
Conference Room, The Education Centre, Junction Road, Norton, Stockton-on-Tees, TS20 1PR
 
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 Evaline Cunningham Cllr Eileen Johnson, Cllr David Wilburn
Officers:
C Barnes, P Edwards, S Mills(PH), A Pilgrim, S Whaley(LD)
In Attendance:
Applicant - Ref 139273 and his supporter, Applicant - Ref 066042 and his representative Mr Mick Vaines.
Apologies for absence:
Cllr Michael Clark, Cllr Philip Dennis, Cllr Ken Dixon, Cllr Jean Kirby, Cllr Tina Large, Cllr Alan Lewis, Cllr Ray McCall, Cllr Maurice Perry, Cllr Bill Woodhead
Item Description Decision
Public
L
104/14
EVACUATION PROCEDURE
 
L
105/14
DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST
 
L
106/14
MINUTES FROM THE LICENSING COMMITTEE WHICH WAS HELD ON THE 27TH JANUARY 2015.
RESOLVED that the minutes be approved and signed as a correct record.
L
107/14
MINUTES FROM THE MEETING WHICH WAS HELD ON THE 10TH MARCH 2015.
RESOLVED that the minutes be approved and signed as a correct record.
L
108/14
MINUTES FROM THE LICENSING SUB COMMITTEE MEETINGS WHICH WERE HELD ON THE 3RD FEBRUARY AND 10TH FEBRUARY 2015.
RESOLVED that the minutes be approved and signed as a correct record.
L
109/14
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
110/14
PRIVATE HIRE DRIVER APPLICATION 139273
  • Report 139273
  • |
    Appendix 1
  • |
    Appendix 2
  • |
    Appendix 3
RESOLVED that Applicant - Ref 139273's Licence to drive Private Hire vehicles be refused as detailed above.
L
111/14
SCRAP METAL DEALER 135234
  • Report
  • |
    Appendix 1
  • |
    Appendix 2
  • |
    Appendix 3
  • |
    Appendix 4
  • |
    Appendix 5
  • |
    Appendix 6
RESOLVED that Scrap Metal Dealer - Ref 135234's licence be revoked.
L
112/14
APPLICATION FOR A COMBINED HACKNEY CARRIAGE AND PRIVATE HIRE DRIVER'S LICENCE - REF 066042
  • Report 066042
  • |
    Appendix 1
  • |
    Appendix 2
  • |
    Appendix 3
  • |
    Appendix 4
  • |
    Appendix 5
RESOLVED that Applicant - Ref 066042's Combined Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Driver's Licence be refused.
10:00

Preamble

ItemPreamble
L
104/14
The evacuation procedure was noted.
L
105/14
There were no declarations of interest.
L
106/14
Consideration was given to the Licensing Committee minutes which were held on the 27th January 2015 for approval and signature.
L
107/14
Consideration was given to the Licensing Committee minutes which were held on the 10th March 2015 for approval and signature.
L
108/14
Consideration was given to the Licensing Sub Committee meeting minutes which were held on the 3rd and 10th February 2015 for approval and signature.
L
110/14
Consideration was given to a report for Members to determine what action to take in relation to an application for a Private Hire Drivers Licence from Applicant - Ref 139273 who had three convictions on his Disclosure and Baring Certificate (DBS).

Applicant - Ref 139273 and his supporter were in attendance at the meeting and had been provided with a copy of the Committee report prior to the meeting and given the opportunity to make representation.

The report detailed:

- Applicant - Ref 139273's background and details of his three convictions.

Attached to the report were copies of:

- A copy of Applicant - Ref 139273's application, including his DVLA licence.

- A copy of a summary of transcript dated 15th January 2015.

- A copy of a statement from a Customer Services Officer in relation to Applicant - Ref 139273's behaviour.

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.

The Committee considered the report, appendices and oral evidence given by Applicant - Ref 139273 during the meeting. The role of the Committee was to determine if Applicant - Ref 139273 was considered a fit and proper person to hold a Private Hire Drivers Licence with this Authority.

The Committee heard evidence from Applicant - Ref 139273 regarding the three convictions on his DBS disclosure in addition to the information set out in Applicant - Ref 139273's notes of interview held on the 15th January 2015, as detailed within the main report.

Members noted that the first conviction was in September 2008. Applicant - Ref 139273 informed the Committee that there had been an incident at a bingo hall where Applicant - Ref 139273 and his friends had been racially abused. The second conviction was in September 2009. Applicant - Ref 139273 claimed there was an issue with the Bingo Hall Manager as a friend's card was refused at entry to the Bingo Hall which resulted in the Police being called. The third conviction was in May 2012. Applicant - Ref advised the Committee that he, his brother and a friend of his brother were passing a layby where his brother's car had broken down. Applicant Ref - 139273 explained to the Committee that he saw someone stealing from his brother's car and went over to speak to them. Applicant - Ref - 139273 called the Police and detained the male against his will for over 45 minutes until the police attended. However, Applicant - Ref 139273 stated he did not restrain him. Applicant - Ref 139273 also explained that he was initially charged with kidnap but this was reduced to the less serious offence of affray following a plea bargain during the course of the criminal proceedings.

Members received additional information received from the Police and Crime Commissioner North Yorkshire in a letter dated 20 April 2015 which confirmed further details about the three convictions. The information was made available to the Committee and Applicant - Ref 139273 prior to the meeting. The additional information stated that in relation to the first and second convictions Applicant - Ref 139273 was shouting, verbally abusive and aggressive.

Members were aware that in relation to the third conviction, the victim had been punched, kicked and poked in the face with a baseball bat and that the victim had been put in the back of the car and driven 10-15 minutes to Applicant - Ref 139273's home address. The victim suffered cuts, bruising and swelling to the face as a result. Applicant - Ref 139273 did not refute the information set out in the letter and acknowledged that he had done ‘bad things' for which he was apologetic.

The Committee considered Applicant -Ref 139273's application on the basis of the oral and documentary evidence before them, which included his DBS check. The Committee noted that Applicant - Ref 139273 had three convictions under The Public Order Act 1986 relating to threatening behaviour and violence; the most recent of which was in May 2012. The Committee noted Applicant - Ref 139273's comments in relation to these convictions and his explanation as to why he should be granted a private hire drivers licence. The Committee also considered the Council's Policy on the Relevance of Convictions specifically related to public order offences. The Policy suggested that an applicant would normally be expected to show a period of two years free from conviction before being deemed suitable to hold a licence. Although this meant that consideration would be given to granting Applicant - Ref 139273's licence from May 2014, the Committee were very concerned about the nature of the offences and the fact there had been a more recent, similar incident in December 2014 when Applicant - Ref 139273 became challenging and aggressive towards a Customer Services Officer regarding an issue he had about the paperwork required as part of the application process.

The Committee expressed concern that Applicant - Ref 139273's previous history and the recent incident in December 2014 were linked to issues with his temperament and the Committee were not satisfied, at this time, that he was a fit and proper person to hold a private hire drivers licence. Accordingly, the Committee were persuaded to depart from the Council's Guidelines on the Relevance of Convictions and refuse Applicant - Ref 139273's application pursuant to section 51(1)(a), of The Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976.
L
111/14
Consideration was given to a report for Members to determine what action to take in relation to a licensed scrap metal dealer who during the term of his licence had been convicted of an offence under Section 33 Environmental Protection Act 1990 which was a relevant offence under the Scrap Metal Dealers Act 2013.

Scrap Metal Dealer - Ref 135234 was not in attendance at the meeting. Scrap Metal Dealer - Ref 135234 had not contacted the Licensing Department prior to the hearing despite being previously notified in writing that his licence was going to be reviewed.

The report detailed:

Scrap Metal Dealer - Ref 135234's background and details of his offence.

Attached to the report were copies of:

- A copy of Scrap Metal Dealer - Ref 135234's licence.

- A copy of a refusal letter relating to a previous application to hold a Scrap Metal Dealer Licence dated February 2014.

- A copy of a letter following an appeal lodged by Scrap Metal Dealer - Ref 135234 which resulted in his licence being granted in May 2014.

- A copy of a letter informing Scrap Metal Dealer - Ref 135234 of a Notice of Proposal to revoke his Scrap Metal Collectors Licence.

- A copy of a further letter informing Scrap Metal Dealer - Ref 135234 of a Notice of Proposal to revoke his Scrap Metal Collectors Licence.

- A copy of the Guidance on Relevance of Convictions.

The Committee considered the report and appendices and also gave weight to the fact that Scrap Metal Dealer - Ref 135234 had been given several opportunities to make representations to the Licensing Department and that he had been informed of the date, time and venue of the meeting in writing. The Committee were also informed that the Licensing Department had made several attempts to contact Scrap Metal Dealer - Ref 135234 by telephone without success. The Committee were satisfied that Scrap Metal Dealer - Ref 135234 was aware of the date, time, venue and purpose of the hearing. Accordingly, the Committee resolved to hear the case in the absence of Scrap Metal Dealer - Ref 135234.

The Committee considered the report and appendices, copies of which had been provided to Scrap Metal dealer - Ref 135234, prior to the meeting. Members also considered evidence in the form of photographs which had been used in a recent prosecution against Scrap Metal Dealer - Ref 135234, in January 2015, showing a large pile of waste and rubble dumped on the road and roadside in what appeared to be a rural area without street lighting. The Committee noted that Scrap Metal Dealer - Ref 135234's licence was granted with a warning as to his future conduct after he was convicted of theft of scrap metal in 2011. The prior conviction was a relevant offence under the Scrap Metal Dealers Act 2013 and the conviction in January 2015 under Section 33 Environmental Protection Act 1990 (i.e. fly tipping) was also a relevant offence under the Scrap Metal Dealers Act 2013.

The Committee were of the view that Scrap Metal Dealer - Ref 135234's previous conviction for theft of scrap metal, along with his recent conviction for fly tipping, was extremely serious. The Committee was particularly persuaded by the photographs which showed a wanton disregard for public safety and an irresponsible and reckless attitude generally. The Committee were, therefore, satisfied that Scrap Metal Dealer - Ref 135234 was no longer a suitable person to carry on business as a scrap metal dealer. Accordingly, the Committee resolved to revoke Scrap Metal Dealer - Ref 135234's licence under Section 4(3) The Scrap Metal Dealers Act 2013.
L
112/14
Consideration was given to a report for Members to determine if an applicant who had previously held a licence with this Authority could now be considered to be a ‘fit & proper' person to hold a Combined Hackney Carriage and Private Hire driver's licence in accordance with Sections 51(1)(a) and 59(1)(a) of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976.

Applicant - Ref 066042 and his representative Mr M Vaines were in attendance at the meeting and had been provided with a copy of the Committee report prior to the meeting and given the opportunity to make representation.

The report detailed:

- Applicant - Ref 066042's background, including details of driving convictions.

Attached to the report were copies of:

- A copy of Applicant - Ref 066042's application and DVLA Licence.

- A copy of a letter from Applicant - Ref 0066042.

- A copy of a letter informing Applicant - Ref 0066042 that his licence had been revoked which was dated 28th October 2010.

- A copy of the Council Minute relating to the decision to revoke Applicant - Ref 0066042's licence.

- A copy of the Magistrates note following an appeal which was lodged by Applicant - Ref 0066042.

Members were respectfully reminded that under the provisions of section 51(1)(a) and 59 (1)(a) of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provision) Act 1976, District Councils are instructed not to grant a licence to drive private hire/hackney carriage vehicles, unless they were satisfied that the applicant was a fit and proper person to hold such a licence.

The Committee considered the report, appendices and oral evidence given by Applicant - Ref 066042 and his representative Mr M Vaines during the meeting. The role of the Committee was to determine if Applicant - Ref 066042 was considered a fit and proper person to hold a Combined Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Drivers Licence with this Authority.

The Committee noted that, at the time of Applicant - Ref 066402's application in February 2015, he had declared three driving convictions totalling 9 live penalty points endorsed on his DVLA licence. One was for a speeding conviction on 19 May 2012, and the remaining two were for using a mobile phone or similar device whilst driving on 15 May 2013 and 03 July 2014 respectively.

The Committee also noted that Applicant - Ref 066042 had previously held a licence with this Authority from August 2006 until his licence was revoked in October 2010 following a number of allegations and complaints made against him by a number of different complainants over a relatively short period of time. The Committee considered a copy of the Committee decision letter dated 28 October 2010 together with the Council Minute, reference L57/10 confirming the revocation.

The Committee also noted that Applicant - Ref 066042 had appealed the decision to the Magistrates Court, which was heard over two days - 14 and 15 February 2011. The appeal was dismissed and costs awarded in favour of the Council. In this regard, the Committee gave particular weight to the Magistrates' notes and the reasoning for their decision.

The Committee also took into account the representations put forward by Mr Vaines, which could be summarised as follows:-

• With reference to the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS), Applicant - Ref 066042 did not have any criminal convictions.

• Applicant - Ref 066042 was not on the Adult Barred List or Children Barred List.

• The Police had no objection to Applicant - Ref 066042's application for a Combined Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Drivers Licence.

• Applicant - Ref 066042 was a PSV driver for large Private Hire Operator in Stockton and there had been no complaints made against him in the last four years.

• Applicant - Ref 066042 transported school children and adults in his role as a PSV driver and there had been no concerns in this regard.

• In relation to the conviction on 15 May 2013, Applicant - Ref 066042 was stationary on the roadside on 01 September 2012 and took a telephone call while using his sister's car. Applicant - Ref 066042 did not appreciate that this was an offence as his vehicle was not in motion.

• In relation to the conviction on 03 July 2014, Applicant - Ref 066402 was taking a call on a two-way radio whilst stationery at traffic lights. Applicant - Ref 066042 was not using a mobile phone.

• Applicant - Ref 066042 had supplied a variety of references verifying his good character including the offer of employment with Skyline Taxis if his application was successful.

• Mr Vaines suggested to the Committee that allegations 4 and 5 set out in the Council's decision letter dated 28 October 2010 may have been made maliciously.

Mr Vaines clarified that Applicant - Ref 066042 was not questioning the findings of the Magistrates Court which dealt with his appeal against revocation on 14 and 15 February 2011.

The Committee carefully considered the above information but were still very concerned about the following:-

• The nature of the complaints that led to Applicant - Ref 066042's revocation.

• The fact that the Magistrates had reheard the evidence and dismissed Applicant - Ref 066042's appeal.

• The fact that the complainants were all unrelated to each other.

• The absence of any malicious motive or collusion by the complainants.

• The fact that there was a common thread involving vulnerable passengers.

The Committee also noted that, although Applicant - Ref 066042 was qualified to drive a PSV, and had been doing so since his licence was revoked in October 2010, a PSV licence was regulated through the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) - another body - which applied separate criteria.

In light of the Committees concerns, Members were not satisfied, on balance of probability, that Applicant - Ref 066042 was a fit and proper person to hold a licence at this time pursuant to sections 51(1)(a) and 59(1)(a) of The Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions ) Act 1976.

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