Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council

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Licensing Committee Minutes

Date:
Tuesday, 23rd August, 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 (In the Chair), Cllr Derrick Brown, Cllr Chris Clough, Cllr Evaline Cunningham, Cllr Philip Dennis, Cllr Stephen Parry, Cllr Maurice Perry, Cllr David Wilburn, Cllr Norma Wilburn and Cllr Bill Woodhead MBE.
Officers:
Jonathan Nertney (HR,L&C); Simon Mills, Polly Edwards, Peter Bell (ACE).
In Attendance:
Mr Ross (Representative for Application Ref 102063)
Apologies for absence:
Cllr Eileen Johnson, Cllr Paul Kirton, Cllr Mrs Jean O'Donnell and Cllr Julia Whitehill.
Item Description Decision
Public
L
14/16
EVACUATION PROCEDURE
The evacuation procedure was noted.
L
15/16
DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST
There were no declarations of interest.
L
16/16
MINUTES FROM THE LICENSING COMMITTEE MEETINGS WHICH WERE HELD ON THE 29TH MARCH AND 31ST MAY 2016.
RESOLVED that the minutes be approved and signed as a correct record.
L
17/16
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 and 2 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Act.
Confidential
L
18/16
APPLICATION FOR PRIVATE HIRE DRIVERS LICENCE - REF 140489
  • Application for Private Hire Drivers Licence - Ref 140489
RESOLVED that application ref 140489 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 a fit and proper person to hold such a licence.
L
19/16
APPLICATION FOR PRIVATE HIRE DRIVERS LICENCE - REF102063
  • Application for Private Hire Drivers Licence - Ref102063
RESOLVED that application ref 102063 be refused under the provisions of section 51(1) (a) of the above-mentioned Act, on the grounds that he was considered not to be a fit and proper person to hold such a licence.
10.00am - 12 noon.

Preamble

ItemPreamble
L
16/16
Consideration was given to the minutes of the Licensing Committee held on 29th March and 31st March 2016.
L
18/16
Consideration was given to a report on an application for a private hire driver's licence from an applicant ref 140489 who had seventeen convictions ranging from being carried in a stolen vehicle when he was 16 years old, using threatening words or behaviour, conspire / theft of a vehicle, affray, fraudulently using a vehicle licence, breach of community order, using a vehicle whilst uninsured, drunk and disorderly, possession of controlled drug, battery and most recently drink driving.

The report detailed the Applicant Ref 140489's background and details of his convictions.

As part of the application process the applicant was required to undertake a statutory declaration, the applicant did not declare any of his convictions and stated he had not been convicted of any offences. A copy of his declaration was included in his application and was attached to the report. When asked
why he did not declare these he advised he was informed by Royal Cars, he cannot confirm who specifically, that if convictions were over 11 years then he did not need to declare them. However, the last conviction was only 7 years ago and was not declared. Royal Cars had paid for his application, after he applied to them through Indeed Job Search website.

In terms of the Councils Policy on Relevance of Convictions a person with a current conviction, caution, reprimand or final warning need not be permanently barred from obtaining a licence but should be expected to remain free from conviction for 3 to 5 years, according to the circumstances, before an application was entertained. Applicants should also demonstrate evidence of good character. It was noted that the applicant's convictions were between March 1994 and April 2009.

The policy also stated it may be appropriate to depart from the general policy in some cases, for example, situations where the offence was isolated and there were mitigating circumstances. Similarly, multiple offences or a series of offences over a period of time were likely to give greater cause for concern and may demonstrate a pattern of inappropriate behaviour, which would be taken into account. A copy of the Council's Policy was available for member's information.

The policy stated, in relation to drink driving offences, a person who had been disqualified from driving as a result of a drink driving offence must show at least four years free from conviction after the restoration of their driving licence before their application would be considered. A licence would normally be refused if an applicant had more than one conviction for driving under the influence of alcohol. Whilst the applicant's initial alcohol offence was being in charge of a vehicle not driving it, it was still considered a major traffic offence ‘In charge of a vehicle while alcohol level above limit'.

The applicant was written to on 17 June 2016 advising the authority were minded to refuse his application based on his DBS. He was asked to provide written submission as to why the Council should depart from their Policy. A copy of this letter was attached to the report. The applicant replied by email and a copy of this email was attached to the report.

Member were reminded that under the provisions of Section 51(1)(a) of the Local Government Miscellaneous Provisions Act 1976 which instructed District Councils 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 applicant was in attendance at the meeting and was given the opportunity to state the reasons why he thought he should be given a Private Hire Drivers Licence.

Members considered all of the evidence including the report, appendices and oral evidence given.

The role of the Committee Members was to determine the application to drive private hire vehicles with this Authority. After considering all of the evidence Members decided to refuse the application for the grant of a Private Hire Drivers Licence on the grounds that he was considered not to be a fit and proper person at this time because of his convictions.

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. Members carefully considered the applicant's submissions together with the policy guidelines.

However, despite the time elapsed since his most recent conviction, Members were not persuaded that his submissions were exceptional such as to justify a departure from the policy guidelines particularly in light of the nature and seriousness of some of the offences for which he had been convicted.
L
19/16
Consideration was given to a report on an application for a private hire drivers licence from an applicant who had relevant convictions and had had two previous applications refused by the Committee.

The report detailed the Applicant Ref 102063's background and details of his convictions.

The Council's Policy states, in relation to drugs related offences, An applicant with a conviction, caution, reprimand or final warning for a drug-driving related offence should be required to show a period of five years free of such conviction, caution, reprimand or final warning before an application was considered or, if the person was disqualified from driving, five years after the
restoration of their driving licence, whichever was the later.


The conviction, caution, reprimand or final warning relates to the supply of prohibited drugs then it was unlikely that even after this period the application would be granted. In addition, a licence would normally be refused if an applicant had more than one conviction for drugs related offences. A copy of the guidance on the ‘Relevance of convictions, cautions, reprimands, warnings and complaints and character' was available for Members Information.

Also if an applicant had an endorsement in respect of a major traffic offence then the application would 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, whichever was the later.

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 applicant and his representative (Mr Ross) were in attendance at the meeting and were given the opportunity to state the reasons why they thought he should be given a Private Hire Drivers Licence.

Members considered all of the evidence including the report, appendices and oral evidence given.

The role of Members was to determine the application to drive private hire vehicles with the Authority. After considering all of the evidence Members decided to refuse the application for the grant of a Private Hire Drivers Licence on the grounds that he was considered not to be a fit and proper person at this time, because of his convictions. In particular Members noted that the applicant's convictions for drug offences related to both possession and supply of Class A drugs which were deemed to be extremely serious matters. Members were mindful of the guidelines which the Council had adopted in their Transport Licensing Policy which stated that for possession of drugs with intent to supply "it is unlikely that even after this period the application will be granted".

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. Members carefully considered the applicants and his represenative's submissions regarding the relevant conviction together with the policy guidelines.

However, despite the time elapsed since the applicant's conviction for Possessing a ‘Controlled Drug With Intent To Supply, Class A, Heroin', Members were not persuaded that the 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 he had been convicted.

Members noted that the applicant was employed in the family taxi business and that he held a PSV licence to drive minibuses. Those facts were not deemed by Members to be sufficient reasons to persuade them to depart from their policy and grant him a licence to drive Private Hire Vehicles.

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