Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council

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Licensing Committee Minutes

Date:
Tuesday, 15th November, 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 David Wilburn( In the Chair), Cllr Derrick Brown, Cllr Chris Clough, Cllr Evaline Cunningham, Cllr Philip Dennis, Cllr Eileen Johnson, Cllr Mrs Jean O'Donnell, Cllr Stephen Parry, Cllr Maurice Perry, Cllr Julia Whitehill, Cllr Norma Wilburn, Cllr Bill Woodhead MBE
Officers:
Jonathan Nertney (HR,L&C), Craig Barnes, Polly Edwards, Simon Mills, Leanne Maloney, Sarah Whaley(DCE)
In Attendance:
Private Hire Driver - Ref 119992, Complainant against Private Hire Driver - Ref 119992 and her supporter, Private Hire Driver - Ref 004997 accompanied by his wife, Witness providing evidence against Private Hire Driver - Ref 004997, Hackney Carriage Driver - Ref 004995 and two supporters.
Apologies for absence:
Cllr Paul Kirton, Cllr Kathryn Nelson
Item Description Decision
Public
L
20/16
APPOINTMENT OF CHAIR
RESOLVED that Councillor David Wilburn be appointed as Chairman for this meeting only.
L
21/16
EVACUATION PROCEDURE
 
L
22/16
DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST
 
L
23/16
MINUTES FROM THE MEETING WHICH WAS HELD ON THE 29TH JULY FOR APPROVAL AND SIGNATURE
RESOLVED that the minutes were approved and signed as a correct record by the Chairman.
L
24/16
MINUTES FROM THE MEETING WHICH WAS HELD ON THE 23RD AUGUST 2016
RESOLVED that the minutes were approved and signed as a correct record by the Chairman.
L
25/16
EXCLUSION OF THE PUBLIC
 
Confidential
L
26/16
APPLICATION FOR A PRIVATE HIRE DRIVERS LICENCE - REF 119992
  • Application for a Private Hire Drivers Licence - Ref 119992
RESOLVED that Private Hire Driver- Ref 119992 private hire drivers licence be granted as detailed above.
L
27/16
PRIVATE HIRE DRIVER - REF 130546
  • Private Hire Driver - Ref 130546
RESOLVED that the meeting be deferred to a future meeting of the Licensing Committee.
L
28/16
PRIVATE HIRE DRIVER - REF 004997
  • Private Hire Driver - Ref 004997
RESOLVD that Combined Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Driver - Ref 004997's Combined Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Drivers Licence be revoked for the reasons as detailed above.
L
29/16
HACKNEY CARRIAGE DRIVER - REF 004995
  • Hackney Carriage Driver - Ref 004995
RESOLVED that Hackney Carriage Driver - Ref 004995 be issued with a written warning as to his future conduct and his manner of driving for the reasons as detailed above.
10:00 am

Preamble

ItemPreamble
L
21/16
The Evacuation Procedure was noted.
L
22/16
There were no declarations of interest.
L
23/16
Consideration was given to the minutes from the Licensing Committee Meeting which was held on the 29th July 2016.

L
24/16
Consideration was given to the minutes from the Licensing Committee Meeting which was held on the 23rd August 2016.
L
25/16
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.
L
26/16
Consideration was given to a report for Members to determine what action to take in relation to Private Hire Driver - Ref 119992 who was previously revoked by this Authority after he was arrested in connection with the rape of a female friend.

Members were asked to determine whether or not the applicant was ‘a fit and proper person' to hold a private hire drivers licence based on his current application and additional information received from Cleveland Police and the Authority's existing policy guidelines.

Private Hire Driver - Ref 119992 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 complainant and her supporter were also in attendance at the meeting and given the opportunity to make representation.

The report detailed the following:

- Private Hire Driver - Ref 119992's background and details of the allegations against him.

Attached to the report were copies of:

A copy of a revocation letter to Private Hire Driver - Ref 119992.

A copy of an application to have Private Hire Driver - Ref 119992's licence reinstated.

A copy of an email from Private Hire Driver - Ref 119992 to Cleveland Police refuting allegations made against him.

A copy of a Storm Incident Report which was the initial report made by the victim to the police.

A copy of a Taxi Drivers witness statement dated the 8th November 2015.

A copy of an Accident and Emergency Nurses statement dated 13th April 2016.

A copy of a Cleveland Police Summary of Video Interview Form from the complainant.

A copy of a taped interview with Private Hire Driver - Ref 119992 and a Licensing Officer.

The role of the Committee was to determine Private Hire Driver - Ref 119992's continued fitness as a Licensed Private Hire Driver with the Authority, following a complaint on the 9th November 2015 when Private Hire Driver - Ref 119992's licence to drive private hire vehicles was revoked with immediate effect following notification that Private Hire Driver - Ref 119992's had been arrested for the rape of a female on the 3 October 2015.

However, due to insufficient evidence the Police case against Private Hire Driver was dropped on 29 April 2016.

Members were reminded that under the provisions of Section 51(1) (a) of the Local Government Miscellaneous Provisions Act 1976 which instructs District Councils not to grant a licence to drive private hire vehicles unless they are satisfied that the applicant was a fit and proper person to hold such a licence.

Private Hire Driver Ref - 119992 made an expedited application in June 2016 to have his Private Hire Drivers Licence reinstated. It was noted that Cleveland Police had undertaken an investigation into the allegation made against Private Hire Driver Ref - 119992. On completion of their investigation and consideration of the evidence Cleveland Police confirmed to Private Hire Driver Ref - 119992 that there would be no further action against him in relation to the allegation which had been made. Private Hire Driver Ref - 119992's application was referred to the Council's Licensing Committee on Tuesday 15 November 2016.

During the meeting Private Hire Driver Ref - 119992 was asked to take a seat behind a screen while the Committee heard evidence from the female complainant who made the allegation of rape against him. It was noted that complainant was in some distress whilst giving her evidence and had to leave the room on several occasions.

The witness finished giving her evidence and left the room. Private Hire Driver Ref - 119992 proceeded to give his account of what happened on the night in question.

The Committee were concerned such a serious allegation had been made. Members deliberated over their decision as to whether they were satisfied at this time that Private Hire Driver Ref - 119992 was a fit and proper person to hold a licence.

The Committee noted that the complainants recollection of the night in question was confused and could not, in the view of the Committee be relied upon. There was reference made in the evidence to the witness having ketamine in her system. The Police had searched Private Hire Driver Ref - 119992's flat and had not found any ketamine or other illegal substances. It was noted that the test for ketamine, which had been carried out by a nurse at North Tees Hospital was unreliable as the result had not been retained on record. There was no evidence that Private Hire Driver Ref - 119992 had administered ketamine to the female complainant and the evidence indicated that if any ketamine had been administered then another person could have been responsible. As ketamine may have been ingested by the female complainant her recollection of events was confusing and relied on what she described as flashbacks. Private Hire Driver Ref - 119992 denied that any sexual activity had taken place at his flat.

The Committee considered the report, appendices and oral evidence given by Private Hire Driver - Ref 119992 and the female complainant.

After considering all of the documentary and oral evidence that was given the Committee were of the view that the evidence that Private Hire Driver - Ref 119992 had acted in an inappropriate manner could not be relied on. The Committee could not be satisfied on the balance of probabilities that Private Hire Driver - Ref 119992 had taken advantage of the female complainant. The Committee also took into account the fact that Private Hire Driver - Ref 119992 had previously been a licensed taxi driver for many years with an unblemished record and the Council had not received any previous complaints about his behaviour. The Committee were satisfied that Private Hire Driver - Ref 119992 was a fit and proper person to hold a licence and Private Hire Driver - Ref 119992's application for a licence to drive private hire vehicles was granted.

It had been recognised that licensed drivers, had a unique position within the community and an important role to play in the safeguarding of vulnerable children and adults, including those with disabilities. In recognition of this unique position, all existing drivers and private hire operators (or a representative of the licensed company) should have successfully completed safeguarding awareness training arranged by the Council, by the end of 2016.

Private Hire Driver - Ref 119992 was therefore advised to book a place on the Safeguarding Training Course as soon as possible. Private Hire Driver - Ref 119992 must have completed the course as soon as possible given the Policy requirement that all licensed drivers must complete it by the end of 2016.

Private Hire Driver - Ref 119992 was reminded that as a licenced driver he should behave in a civil and orderly manner at all times and this included when Private Hire Driver - Ref 119992 was not working as a taxi driver.

Should Private Hire Driver - Ref 119992 be convicted of any offences or should any complaints be received regarding his future conduct then those matters may be referred to the Council's Licensing Committee for their consideration as to Private Hire Driver - Ref 119992's continued fitness to hold a private hire drivers licence.
L
27/16
Members were asked to consider a report and determine what action to take in relation to the continued fitness of Private Hire Driver - Ref 130546 who had been suspended from driving since 10 February 2015, following an allegation that he sexually assaulted a female on the 8 February 2015.

Prior to the commencement of the meeting Stockton Borough Council had received correspondence from Private Hire Driver - Ref 130546's legal representative requesting that the hearing be deferred in order for them to consider the paperwork and provide legal advice.

Members agreed to adjourn the hearing to a future meeting of the Licensing Committee.
L
28/16
Consideration was given to a report for Members to determine what action to take in relation to the continued fitness of Combined Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Driver - Ref 004997 who was involved with a road traffic collision, and admitted to leaving passengers at the scene of the accident without reporting the incident to the Police.

Combined Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Driver - Ref 004997 was in attendance at the meeting alongside his wife who had been provided with a copy of the Committee report prior to the meeting and given the opportunity to make representation.

An independent witness who was also a licenced taxi driver was in attendance at the meeting and given the opportunity to make representation.

The report detailed the following:

- Combined Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Driver - Ref 004997's background and details of the allegations against him.

A copy of an e mail and photo taken of the incident from the complainant.

A copy of a summary of the transcript between Combined Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Driver - Ref 004997 and a Licensing Officer.

A copy of the accident damage form completed by Combined Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Driver - Ref 004997.

A copy of a detailed witness statement.

A copy of e mail correspondence between a Police Constable and a Licensing Officers.

A copy of further email correspondence from the complainant.

A copy of a letter to Combined Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Driver - Ref 004997, detailing a prior complaint which allegedly took place in May 2016.

The role of the Committee was to determine whether Combined Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Driver - Ref 004997 was a fit and proper person to hold a Combined Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Drivers Licence in accordance with sections 61(1)(a) of The Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976.

The Committee considered the report, appendices and oral evidence given by the witness and Combined Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Driver - Ref 004997 and concluded that:

•Combined Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Driver - Ref 004997's explanation in relation to the accident on Sunday 18 September 2016 was inconsistent and untruthful;

•The independent witness to the accident gave good and truthful evidence.

The Committee carefully considered the above facts and evidence and determined on the balance of probabilities that :-

• Combined Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Driver - Ref 004997 did go through a red light;

• Combined Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Driver - Ref 004997 was driving at speed in excess of that which he had informed the Committee. Photographic evidence showed damage caused to street furniture;

•Combined Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Driver - Ref 004997 left his passengers at the scene of an accident without adequately assessing whether they required any medical attention or ensuring that they could receive medical attention;

•Combined Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Driver - Ref 004997 did not report the accident to the Police.

In light of these findings the Committee deemed there to be sufficient reasonable cause to revoke Combined Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Driver - Ref 004997's licence and his licence was revoked pursuant to sections 61(1)(b) of The Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions ) Act 1976.

Given the particular circumstances of the road traffic accident and the fact that Combined Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Driver - Ref 004997 had left his passengers at the scene of the accident and failed to report it to the Police, the Committee found that public safety was an issue and Combined Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Driver - Ref 004997's licence was revoked with immediate effect under Section 61 (2)B of The Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976.

Combined Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Driver - Ref 004997 was given a further 7 days to return driver badges to the Licensing Officer and failure to comply with the request was an offence for which Combined Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Driver - Ref 004997 may be prosecuted under the above legislation.

Combined Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Driver - Ref 004997 was notified of his right to under section 61(3) of the above-mentioned Act to the Magistrates Court within 21 days from receipt of this notice. If Combined Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Driver - Ref 004997 wished to lodge an appeal he was advised he should produce his letter to the Court or to a Solicitor of his own choice, who would be in a position to offer Combined Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Driver - Ref 004997 further advice.

Combined Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Driver - Ref 004997 was advised that should he exercise his right of appeal then under the provisions of Section 61(2)B of the above legislation Combined Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Driver - Ref 004997 was not entitled to drive a licensed private hire vehicle until the outcome of Combined Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Driver - Ref 004997's appeal was finalised as his licence had been revoked with immediate effect.
L
29/16
Consideration was given to a report for Members to determine the continued fitness of Hackney Carriage Driver - Ref 004995 who had received two complaints from other road users regarding his aggressive manner of driving. A check of Hackney Carriage Driver - Ref 004995's driver history files also showed officer warnings for similar behaviour which dated back to 2006.

Hackney Carriage Driver - Ref 004995 was in attendance alongside two character witnesses at the meeting. Hackney Carriage Driver - Ref 004995 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:

A copy of Hackney Carriage Driver - Ref 004995's background and details of the allegations made against him.

A copy of the complainants' e mail detailing the complaint made against - Hackney Carriage Driver - Ref 004995.

A copy of a summary transcript of the interview of Hackney Carriage Driver - Ref 004995 dated the 29th September 2016

A copy of a written version of the complainants' version of events.

A copy of an e mail from the complainant responding to Hackney Carriage Driver - Ref 004995's version of events.

A copy of an additional complaint/incident involving Hackney Carriage Driver - Ref 004995 which took place on the 16th September 2016.

A copy of a diagram of a roundabout.

A warning letter dated the 22nd December 2015 to Hackney Carriage Driver - Ref 004995 relating to a prior complaint.

A copy of Hackney Carriage Driver - Ref 004995 driver history from 2010 to 2015.

Copies of computer notes detailing other issues relating to Hackney Carriage Driver - Ref 004995.

The role of the Committee was to determine Hackney Carriage Driver - Ref 004995's continued fitness as a licensed Hackney Carriage Driver with this Authority, after two complaints had been made against him by two independent road users on two separate occasions.

Members were reminded of their powers under the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976.

The Committee considered all of the evidence including the report, appendices and oral evidence given by Hackney Carriage Driver - Ref 004995 and his two character references.

The Committee agreed that there was a consistent pattern of complaints being made against Hackney Carriage Driver - Ref 004995 regarding his aggressive behaviour and manner of driving. Officer warning letters issued to Hackney Carriage Driver - Ref 004995 in the past had not had the desired effect in curbing the behaviour of Hackney Carriage Driver - Ref 004995.

The Committee gave consideration to revoking Hackney Carriage Driver - Ref 004995's licence as the standards shown by him were not considered to be fit and proper.

The Committee resolved to issue Hackney Carriage Driver - Ref 004995 with a written warning as to his future conduct and his manner of driving and advised Hackney Carriage Driver - Ref 004995 to strongly heed the warning.

Hackney Carriage Driver - Ref 004995 was advised that if any further disciplinary matters arose and Hackney Carriage Driver - Ref 004995 should appear before the Committee again then they informed Hackney Carriage Driver - Ref 004995 that they would give strong consideration to taking further disciplinary action, which could include suspension or revocation of Hackney Carriage Driver - Ref 004995's hackney carriage driver's licence.

The Committee wished to remind Hackney Carriage Driver - Ref 004995 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 were of the view from the evidence presented to them that Hackney Carriage Driver - Ref 004995 appeared to have some difficulty in controlling his temper and that this resulted in Hackney Carriage Driver - Ref 004995 acting in an aggressive manner. This was clearly not fit and proper behaviour for a licensed hackney carriage driver.

Although the Committee could not force Hackney Carriage Driver - Ref 004995 to seek help in relation to anger management they recommended that Hackney Carriage Driver - Ref 004995 take advice perhaps from his GP as to what steps he could take to address that matter.

If Hackney Carriage Driver - Ref 004995 failed to act on the recommendation and appear before the Committee again in relation to further similar complaints then the Committee would be highly likely to take a dim view of that. In addition members also agreed the soiling charge relating to a complaint made against Hackney Carriage Driver - Ref 004995 during October 2015 should be paid immediately, and it was noted Hackney Carriage Driver - Ref 004995 pass the 30 relating to the matter to officers the day following the committee hearing.

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