Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council

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Licensing Committee Minutes

Date:
Tuesday, 23rd February, 2016
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 Mrs Kathryn Nelson(Vice-Chairman), Cllr Derrick Brown, Cllr Chris Clough, Cllr Evaline Cunningham, Cllr Philip Dennis, Cllr Eileen Johnson, Cllr Mrs Jean O'Donnell, Cllr Maurice Perry, Cllr Julia Whitehill, Cllr David Wilburn, Cllr Norma Wilburn, Cllr Bill Woodhead
Officers:
L Maloney(PH), J Nertney, Sarah Whaley(LD)
In Attendance:
Private Hire Driver - Ref 135325, Witness
Apologies for absence:
Cllr Stephen Parry
Item Description Decision
Public
L
52/15
EVACUATION PROCEDURE
 
L
53/15
DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST
 
L
54/15
MINUTES FORM THE MEETING WHICH AS HELD ON THE 3RD NOVEMBER 2015
RESOLVED that the minutes were approved and signed as a correct record by the Chairman.
L
55/15
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
56/15
PRIVATE HIRE DRIVER - REF 135325
  • Private Hire Driver - Ref 135325
RESOLVED that Private Hire Driver - Ref 135325 Private Hire Driver Licence be revoked for the reasons as set out above.
10.00 am

Preamble

ItemPreamble
L
52/15
The Evacuation Procedure was noted.
L
53/15
There were no declarations of interest.
L
54/15
Consideration was given to the minutes from the Licensing Committee Meeting which was held on the 3rd November 2015.
L
56/15
Consideration was given to a report for Members to determine what action to take in relation to Private Hire Driver - Ref 135325 who had been convicted of an offence and had not notified the Licensing Department. In addition Private Hire Driver - Ref 135325 had been accused of, and admitted pushing another licensed driver off his property using threatening and abusive language towards him.

Private Hire Driver - Ref 135325 and a character witness he had called to give evidence on his behalf 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 complainant was also in attendance at the meeting and given the opportunity to make representation.

The report detailed the following:

- Private Hire Driver - Ref 135325's background and details of the offences and allegations against him.

Attached to the report were copies of:

- A copy of a letter detailing a complaint about Private Hire Driver - Ref 135325.

- A copy of a written apology from Private Hire Driver - Ref 135325.

- A copy of a recorded interview with Private Hire Driver - Ref 135325.

- A copy of a witness statement.

- A copy of a letter to Private Hire Driver - Ref 135325 from Stockton Borough Council.

The Committee considered the report, appendices and oral evidence given by Private Hire Driver - Ref 135325, his character witness and the complainant.

Members were reminded that under the provisions of Section 61(1)(a) of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 the Council may suspend or revoke or refuse to renew the licence of a hackney carriage and/or private hire driver on any of the
following grounds:-

(a) that he has since the grant of the licence:-

(i) been convicted of an offence involving dishonesty, indecency or violence; or
(ii) been convicted of an offence under or fails to comply with the provisions of the Act of 1847 or of this part of this Act; or

(b) any other reasonable cause

Members were also advised of the revisions to Section 61 introduced under the Road Safety Act 2006 as follows:

(2a) Subject to subsection (2b) of this section, a suspension or revocation of the licence of a driver under this section takes effect at the end of the period of 21 days beginning with the day on which the notice is given to the driver under subsection
(2)(a) of this section

(2b) If it appears that the interests of public safety require the suspension or revocation of the licence to have immediate effect, and the notice given to the driver under subsection (2)(a) of this section includes a statement that that is so and an explanation why, the suspension or revocation takes effect when the notice is given to the driver.

The Committee made the following findings:-

• Private Hire Driver - Ref 135325 had physically pushed and verbally abused the complainant at an incident at Private Hire Driver - Ref 135325's home address on 15 January 2016.

• Despite Private Hire Driver - Ref 135325 being warned by the Police about his behaviour and sending a letter of apology to the complainant, Private Hire Driver - Ref 135325 continued to send a text message to the complainant which was considered to be threatening.

• Private Hire Driver - Ref 135325 had received a criminal conviction for a littering offence being convicted before Teesside Magistrates Court on 15 December 2015. Private Hire Driver - Ref 135325 then failed to comply with his driver licence conditions which required him to notify the Council within seven days of any conviction in writing.

The Committee carefully considered the information provided however were extremely concerned that:-

• Private Hire Driver - Ref 135325 appeared to take no responsibility for his behaviour and actions. The Committee noted that when the Police visited Private Hire Driver - Ref 135325's property in relation to the incident involving the complainant, Private Hire Driver - Ref 135325 wrote a letter of apology to the complainant but then proceeded to send a threatening text. Private Hire Driver - Ref 135325's submissions to the Licensing Committee lacked any genuine remorse and it was felt that Private Hire Driver - Ref 135325 sought to deflect all blame away from him.

• Private Hire Driver - Ref 135325 had been granted his licence initially with a warning as to his future conduct, the pattern of behaviour displayed in relation to the incident involving the complainant seemed to mirror that set out in the letter which initially granted Private Hire Driver - Ref 135325's licence. In the opinion of the Committee Private Hire Driver - Ref 135325 had not learned any lessons and the Committee were genuinely concerned that the behaviour and aggression Private Hire Driver - Ref 135325 had displayed could be easily targeted at a passenger or member of the public.

• During an interview which Private Hire Driver - Ref 135325 had attended with Council Officers, Private Hire Driver - Ref 135325 smelt strongly of alcohol. The Committee were concerned that despite Private Hire Driver - Ref 135325's assurances, there was a strong likelihood that Private Hire Driver - Ref 135325 had an alcoholic related problem.

The Committee deliberated over their decision as to whether they were satisfied that Private Hire Driver - Ref 135325 was a fit and proper person to hold a private hire drivers licence. In light of their concerns, the Committee found on the balance of probability, that Private Hire Driver - Ref 135325 was not a fit and proper person to hold a licence and Private Hire Driver - Ref 135325's licence was revoked pursuant to sections 61(1)(b) of The Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions ) Act 1976.

The Committee found that Private Hire Driver - Ref 135325's physical assault of the complainant and his aggressive behaviour posed a potential risk to the public and therefore the Committee resolved that public safety was an issue and Private Hire Driver - Ref 135325's licence was revoked with immediate effect under Section 61 (2B) of The Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976.

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