Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council

Big plans, bright future

Licensing Committee Minutes

Date:
Tuesday, 31st May, 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 Mrs Kathryn Nelson(Vice Chair), Cllr Derrick Brown, Cllr Chris Clough, Cllr Philip Dennis, Cllr Mrs Jean O'Donnell, Cllr Stephen Parry, Cllr Maurice Perry, Cllr Julia Whitehill, Cllr David Wilburn, Cllr Norma Wilburn, Cllr Bill Woodhead MBE
Officers:
Jonathan Nertney, Polly Edwards, Leanne Maloney, Simon Mills, Sarah Whaley
In Attendance:
Private Hire Driver - Ref 004661 and his representative Mr David Wilson, Applicant - Ref 000957, Applicant - Ref 004820 and friend for support, Private Hire Driver - Ref 110169, his interpreter and wife for support.
Apologies for absence:
Cllr Evaline Cunningham, Cllr Eileen Johnson, Cllr Paul Kirton(Chairman)
Item Description Decision
Public
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1/16
EVACUATION PROCEDURE
 
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2/16
DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST
 
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3/16
MINUTES FROM THE LICENSING COMMITTEE MEETING WHICH WAS HELD ON THE 23RD FEBRUARY 2016.
RESOLVED that the minutes be approved and signed as a correct record by the Chairman.
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4/16
MINUTES FROM THE LICENSING SUB COMMITTEE WHICH WAS HELD ON THE 12TH APRIL 2016.
RESOLVED that the minutes be approved and signed as a correct record by the Chairman
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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
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6/16
PRIVATE HIRE DRIVER - REF 004661
  • Private Hire Driver - Ref004661
RESOLVED that

1) Private Hire Driver - Ref 004661 be issued with a final written warning as to his future conduct.

2) a full DVLA group 2 medical examination report be completed immediately.
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7/16
PRIVATE HIRE DRIVER APPLICATION REF 000957
  • Private Hire Driver Application Ref 000957
RESOLVED that Applicant - Ref 000957 be refused a Private Hire Drivers Licence for the reasons as detailed above.
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8/16
PRIVATE HIRE DRIVER APPLICATION REF 004820
  • Private Hire Driver Application Ref 004820
RESOLVED that Applicant - Ref 004820 be refused a Private Hire Drivers Licence for the reasons as detailed above.
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9/16
PRIVATE HIRE DRIVER - REF 110169
  • Private Hire Driver - Ref 110169
RESOLVED that Private Hire Driver - Ref 110169 be issued with a written warning.
10.00am - 2.10pm

Preamble

ItemPreamble
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1/16
The Evacuation Procedure was noted.
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2/16
There were no declarations of interest.
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3/16
Consideration was given to the minutes from the Licensing Committee Meeting which was held on the 23rd February 2016.
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4/16
Consideration was given to the minutes from the Licensing Sub Committee Meeting which was held on the 12th April 2016.
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Consideration was given to a report for Members to determine what action to take in relation to Private Hire Driver - Ref 004661 who had allegedly punched another licensed driver in the face whilst both of their vehicles were alongside each other. CCTV of the area showed some of the incident, however the driver had given Officers a contradicting account of the incident and after viewing the CCTV evidence himself, the driver made claims that he had not done anything wrong.

On Tuesday 29 March 2016 the Licensing Committee resolved to defer this item at the request of Private Hire Driver - Ref 004661 and his representative Mr David Wilson.

Private Hire driver - Ref 004661 and his representative Mr David Wilson 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 the following:

- Private Hire Driver - Ref 004661's background and details of the incident and allegations against him.

- A copy of a recorded interview with Private Hire Driver - Ref 004661.

- A copy of various correspondences between the Licensing Officer and the complainant.

- A copy of Licensing Committee Meeting minutes and a Committee decision letter detailing when Private Hire Driver - Ref 004661's Licence was granted with a warning.

- A copy of a sketch showing details of the alleged incident.

- A copy of a letter from Private Hire Driver - Ref 004661's representative Mr David Wilson requesting that the original hearing date be deferred.

The role of the Committee was to determine Private Hire Driver - Ref 004661's continued fitness as a Licensed Private Hire Driver with the Authority, following a complaint which had been made by another licensed driver. The complainant alleged Private Hire Driver - Ref 004661 had punched another licensed driver in the face whilst their vehicles were alongside each other. The incident happened on the 12 September 2015 at approximately 1.00am on Tower Street.

The Committee considered the report, appendices and oral evidence given by Private Hire Driver - Ref 004661 and his representative Mr David Wilson.

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 is so and an explanation why, the suspension or revocation takes effect when the notice is given to the driver.

CCTV of the area had captured some of the incident, however Private Hire Driver - Ref 004661 gave Officers a contradicting account of the incident and after viewing the CCTV evidence himself, Private Hire Driver - Ref 004661 still claimed he had not done anything wrong.

Mr Wilson spoke on behalf of Private Hire Driver - Ref 004661 and advised the Committee that Private Hire Driver - Ref 004661 denied punching another licensed driver in the face, he further added that the other driver must have said something to provoke Private Hire Driver - Ref 004661 to get out of his vehicle and approach the other driver, although Private Hire Driver - Ref 004661 could not remember exactly what was said.

Members considered the CCTV footage of the alleged incident. The Committee agreed that the CCTV evidence was inconclusive in relation to the allegation that Private Hire Driver - Ref 004661 had punched another driver. The Committee also noted that there was no other witness evidence which would corroborate the evidence of the complainant or Private Hire Driver - Ref 004661. It was noted that Private Hire Driver - Ref 004661 provided copies of witness statements from drivers who were in the vicinity but they were unable to confirm whether Private Hire Driver - Ref 004661 had punched the complainant. As such the Committee found that the allegation Private Hire Driver - Ref 004661 had punched another licensed driver was inconclusive.

The Committee did however find that the CCTV evidence showed Private Hire Driver - Ref 004661 did lose his temper and after getting out of his vehicle behaved in an aggressive manner.

Members also considered the six live DVLA penalty points on Private Hire Driver - Ref 004661's driving licence, in conjunction with an account of poor standard of driving witnessed and supplied by Officer Mills. These matters when considered together showed a lack of patience, which Members noted was not a good characteristic for a licensed driver.

The Committee gave strong consideration to revoking Private Hire Driver - Ref 004661's licence as the standards shown were not considered to be fit and proper, and only took a step back from revocation after considering the character references which Private Hire Driver - Ref 004661 had provided. The Committee wished to remind Private Hire Driver - Ref 004661 that the issuing and holding of a licence was a privilege and not a right and the overriding consideration was the safety of the public.

The Committee resolved to issue Private Hire Driver - Ref 004661 with a final written warning as to his future conduct and his manner of driving and advised Private Hire Driver - Ref 004661 to strongly heed the warning. This had been the second time Private Hire Driver - Ref 004661 had appeared before the Licensing Committee.

If any further disciplinary matters arose or Private Hire Driver - Ref 004661 should appear before the Committee again then they would give strong consideration to revoking Private Hire Driver - Ref 004661's licence.

Members were also concerned about Private Hire Driver - Ref 004661's current medical condition, as Private Hire Driver - Ref 004661 had been in hospital for two weeks in December 2015 and when officers questioned why, Private Hire Driver - Ref 004661 informed Officers it was due to a water infection. During the hearing however Mr David Wilson confirmed Private Hire Driver - Ref 004661 had in fact received spinal surgery, and that he was currently on medication. A full DVLA group 2 medical examination report was ordered to be completed and returned immediately by a Doctor who had full access to Private Hire Driver - Ref 004661's medical records.
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Consideration was given to a report for Members to determine what action to take in relation to Applicant - Ref 000957 who was previously licensed, with this Authority, from September 1999. Applicant - Ref 000957 allowed his licence to lapse in 2010 due to health reasons and had now reapplied. However, due to a change in the Council's Transport Policy on the Relevance of Convictions the applicant no longer met the guidelines, due to a historic conviction for an ‘Indecent Assault', dating back to 1978.

Applicant - Ref 000957 was 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 the following:

- Applicant - Ref 000957's background and details of the incident and convictions against him.

- A copy of Applicant - Ref 000957's application including his DVLA driving licence.

- A copy of a recorded interview with Applicant - Ref 000957.

- A copy of a letter to Applicant - Ref 000957 from the Local Authority.

- A copy of a letter from Applicant - Ref 000957.

The role of the Committee was to determine Applicant - Ref 000957's application to drive private hire vehicles with this Authority. A copy of Applicant - Ref 000957's Disclosure & Barring Certificate contained two convictions, one considered relevant under the current Policy. The primary concern for Members was the conviction, issued on 3 March 1978 for the offence of: ‘Indecent Assault on Female Aged 16 or Over', for which Applicant - Ref 000957 received a 3 month detention centre punishment.

The Committee considered the report, appendices and oral evidence given by Applicant - Ref 000957.

The Council's Guidelines on the Relevance of Convictions, Cautions, Reprimands, Warnings, Complaints and Character stated:

Sexual and Indecency Offence
As licensed drivers often carry unaccompanied and vulnerable passengers, applicants with convictions for sexual offences must be closely scrutinised. Those with convictions for the more serious sexual offences will generally be refused. For other offences, applicants will be expected to show a substantial period (normally at least ten years) free of conviction for such offences before a licence will be granted and even then the application may be referred to the Licensing Committee for Members to look at the individual circumstances of the case.

Unless there are exceptional circumstances, an application will normally be refused where the applicant has a conviction for an offence such as:-

- Indecent assault

Pursuant to section 51(1)(a) of The Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976, the Committee must be satisfied that Applicant - Ref 000957 was a fit and proper person to hold a licence. The issuing and holding of a licence was a privilege and not a right and the overriding consideration was the safety of the public.

In order to help make fair and consistent decisions when considering new applications, the Council had adopted Guidelines on the Relevance of Convictions, Cautions, Reprimands, Warnings, Complaints and Character. The Committee carefully considered Applicant - Ref 000957's submissions regarding his conviction together with the policy guidelines.

Despite the length of time that had elapsed, the Committee were not persuaded that Applicant - Ref 000957's submissions were exceptional such as to justify a departure from the policy guidelines particularly in light of the nature and seriousness of the offence for which Applicant- Ref 000957 was convicted.

The Committee resolved that Applicant - Ref 000957's application be refused under the provisions of section 51(1)(a) of the above-mentioned Act, on the grounds that he was not considered to be fit and proper person to hold such a licence.

Applicant - Ref 000957 was informed that if he was aggrieved by the decision then he had a right of appeal under section 52(2) of the above-mentioned Act to the Magistrates Court within 21 days from receipt of his notice.
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Consideration was given to a report for Members to determine what action to take in relation to Applicant - Ref 004820 who had a conviction for supplying heroin in January 2004.

Applicant - Ref 004820 was in attendance at the meeting alongside a friend who attended to support Applicant - Ref 004820. Applicant - Ref 004820 had been provided with a copy of the Committee report prior to the meeting and given the opportunity to make representation.

The report detailed the following:

- Applicant - Ref 004820's background and details of the conviction against him.

- A copy of Applicant - Ref 004820's application including his DVLA driving licence.

The role of the Committee Members was to determine Applicant - Ref 004820's application and his suitability to drive private hire vehicles with this Authority.

A copy of Applicant - Ref 004820's Disclosure & Barring Services (DBS) Certificate contained one conviction, from 9 January 2004. The conviction stated that Applicant - Ref 004820 was convicted for: ‘conspire / supplying controlled drug - class A - Heroin', which resulted in imprisonment for 45 months and forfeiture and destruction of all drugs recovered.

The Council's Guidelines on the Relevance of Convictions, Cautions, Reprimands, Warnings, Complaints and Character stated:

Drug Convictions
"An applicant with a conviction, caution, reprimand or final warning for a drug related non-driving offence should be required to show a period of at least five years free of conviction, caution, reprimand or final warning before an application was considered or five years from completion of any custodial sentence imposed, whichever is the later.

If the conviction, caution, reprimand or final warning relates to the supply of prohibited drugs then it is unlikely that even after this period the application will be granted."

The Committee must be satisfied that Applicant - Ref 004820 was a fit and proper person to hold a licence. The issuing and holding of a licence was a privilege and not a right and the overriding consideration was the safety of the public.

In order to help make fair and consistent decisions when considering new applications, the Council had adopted Guidelines on the Relevance of Convictions, Cautions, Reprimands, Warnings, Complaints and Character. The Committee noted Applicant - Ref 004820 had made an honest submission to them, however due to the nature and seriousness of the offence, they concluded that Applicant - Ref 004820 had not provided sufficient exceptional reasons to persuade them to depart from those policy guidelines.

The Committee resolved that Applicant - Ref 004820's application be refused under the provisions of section 51(a) of the above-mentioned Act, on the grounds that Applicant - Ref 004820 was not considered to be fit and proper person to hold such a licence.

Applicant - Ref 004820 was informed that if he was aggrieved by the decision then he had a right of appeal under section 52(2) of the above-mentioned Act to the Magistrates Court within 21 days from receipt of his notice
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Consideration was given to a report for Members to determine what action to take in relation to Private Hire Driver - Ref 110169 who had allegedly reversed into a parked vehicle on the premises of a petrol station. Private Hire Driver - Ref 110169 then left the scene without reporting the incident and when interviewed denied knowing that an accident had occurred.

Private Hire Driver - Ref 110169 was in attendance at the meeting alongside his wife and an interpreter who attended to support Private Hire Driver - Ref 110169. Private Hire Driver - Ref 110169 had been provided with a copy of the Committee report prior to the meeting and given the opportunity to make representation.

The report detailed the following:

- Private Hire Driver - Ref 110169's background and details of the incident and allegations against him.

- A copy of an interview summary with Private Hire Driver - Ref 110169.

- A copy of various witness statements.

- A copy of a letter from Stockton Borough Councils Licensing Department issuing a formal written warning in 2009.

- A copy of a letter from Stockton Borough Councils Licensing Department detailing a complaint against Private Hire Driver - Ref 110169 received in 2011.

The Committee considered the report, appendices and oral evidence given by Private Hire Driver - Ref 110169 .

The role of the Committee Members was to determine Private Hire Driver - Ref 110169's continued fitness given that a complaint had been received from a member of the public stating Private Hire Driver - Ref 110169 had caused an accident at a Shell petrol station in Thornaby. It was alleged Private Hire Driver - Ref 110169 then left the location without reporting the matter. When interviewed Private Hire Driver - Ref 110169 denied knowing an accident had occurred.

The Committee needed to determine if, as a result of their findings, Private Hire Driver - Ref 110169 was a fit and proper person to hold a licence.

Private Hire Driver - Ref 110169 advised during the Committee Hearing that he had his radio on in the car and that the vehicle was damp due to just washing it, so perhaps Private Hire Driver - Ref 110169 did hit the vehicle without realising and this is why he drove away.

Private Hire Driver - Ref 110169 then advised that the complainant came to his home address and advised she knew it was Private Hire Driver - Ref 110169 and that she had evidence. Private Hire Driver - Ref 110169 then agreed to pay for the repair and took the required amount of money to her home address the following day.

The Members deliberated the facts before them and noted that from the eyewitness evidence and the CCTV footage from the forecourt of the petrol station Private Hire Driver - Ref 110169 was responsible for the damage caused to the vehicle.

Members were concerned that Private Hire Driver - Ref 110169 did not realise that he had hit another vehicle. Members noted that there had been no previous incidents when Private Hire Driver - Ref 110169's driving had been a cause for concern to the Council. The Committee did consider whether Private Hire Driver - Ref 110169 should attend a Driver Improvement Scheme but felt that this was not necessary at this time as it appeared to have been an isolated incident. Members determined to issue Private Hire Driver - Ref 110169 with a written warning as to his future conduct and his manner of driving. Private Hire Driver - Ref 110169 was advised to heed this warning and ensure he was more careful in the future.

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