Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council

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

Date:
Tuesday, 6th September, 2011
Time:
10.00 a.m.
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 (Chair); Cllr Michael Clark, Cllr Evaline Cunningham, Cllr Phillip Dennis, Cllr Eileen Johnson, Cllr Jean Kirby, Cllr Miss Tina Large, Cllr Alan Lewis, Cllr Ray McCall, Cllr Maurice Perry and Cllr Bill Woodhead.
Officers:
C Barnes, M Vaines (DNS); J Nertney, P K Bell (LD).
In Attendance:
Mr S A L for agenda item 3 - Private Hire Driver - Mr S A L; Mr A H for agenda item 4 - Application for Licence to Drive Private Hire Vehicles - Mr A H; Mr D L H for agenda item 5 - Application for Licence to Drive Private Hire Vehicles - Mr D L H.
Apologies for absence:
Cllr Ken Dixon, Cllr Kath Nelson and Cllr David Wilburn.
Item Description Decision
Public
L
28/11
DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST
There were no interests declared.
L
29/11
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 paragraphs 1 and 2 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Act.
Confidential
L
30/11
PRIVATE HIRE DRIVER - S.A.L.
  • Private Hire Driver - S.A.L.
RESOLVED that no further action be taken regarding the incident.
L
31/11
APPLICATION FOR PRIVATE HIRE DRIVERS LICENCE - A.H.
  • Application For Private Hire Drivers Licence - A.H.
RESOLVED that Mr A A H's application for a Private Hire Drivers Licence be granted with a written warning as to his future conduct.
L
32/11
APPLICATION FOR A PRIVATE HIRE DRIVERS LICENCE - DLH
  • Application For A Private Hire Drivers Licence - DH
RESOLVED that Mr D L H's application For A Private Hire Drivers Licence be granted.
10.00 am - 2.00 pm

Preamble

ItemPreamble
L
30/11
Consideration was given to a report on a licensed Private Hire vehicle driver who was alleged to have driven a Licensed Private Hire Vehicle in an inappropriate manner.

Mr S A L had been a licensed private hire driver since 27 October 2010, and his Licence was due to expire on 31 October 2011.

Written information was received from an anonymous complainant on 8th June 2011 that outlined in detail a complaint about Mr S A L's manner of driving, whilst he was using Licensed Private Hire Vehicle plate number 846 for the purpose of hire and reward. The vehicle registration number SH06 ZBL was a white Skoda Octavia as described in the letter.

The letter clearly stated the day of the incident to be Saturday 4 June 2011 and the incident took place at approx 4.00pm in the afternoon. Booking records for the date in question indicated that Mr S A L was the driver of the vehicle at the time. A copy of the anonymous letter of complaint was attached to the report.

The complainant described approaching a roundabout at Portrack Lane from the nearby Asda Supermarket in order to turn left and head to Stockton along Portrack Lane. He described looking and finding the traffic clear for him to join the roundabout and proceed onto Portrack Lane. As he had done this he describes a White Skoda coming onto the roundabout "using both lanes as he was going that fast".

This had caused the complainant to make an emergency stop to brake to avoid a collision with the private hire vehicle. The complainant had then tried to catch up with the vehicle to make a note of the plate number. He stated he had reached speeds of up to ninety miles per hour in order to do this but couldn't get anywhere near the white Skoda on Portrack Lane.

The complainant had then followed him onto Riverside Road where he says the private hire vehicle reached speeds between 75 and 80mph. The complainant had followed the taxi onto the Mecca Bingo site where he had spoken to the driver and advised him that his manner of driving for that time of day was both "stupid and dangerous". It was then alleged the driver Mr S A L had replied "so what I'm late for a job, nobody has got hurt", so what was it to do with him.

The complainant had then told the driver he was going to report the issues to Licensing and the driver was reported to have laughed at him and said, "Nowt to do with them". The complainant repeated the fact that the matter was going to be reported to Licensing and the driver was then said to have replied, "Go do it, yeah man, see what the happens to you".

The complainant was deeply disturbed by the manner of driving and the driver's attitude, he managed to get the drivers name. He wanted to remain anonymous but believed the Council should be aware of the situation.

Mr S A L was interviewed in the Licensing Office on 20th July 2011 in relation to the above and the full transcript of that interview was attached to the report. During the interview Mr S A L confirmed he was the driver of the vehicle at the relevant date and time.

Mr S A L initially denied knowing anything about the incident, but then said the other driver had tried to cut into the left hand lane from the right hand lane. Mr S A L said he couldn't let him switch lanes as there was a car behind him, and he would have had to "slam brakes" to let him in. Mr S A L denied speeding.

Mr S A L claimed he was aware the other driver was following him along Riverside Road. It was put to him that this may have been a reason he was speeding, he insists he was not speeding and he was only doing 40 or maybe 44 or 45.

The passenger from the incident on 4 June 2011 at the Mecca Bingo had been contacted and spoken too and can not recall the incident as described by the driver. She uses the taxi company on a regular basis and said she would have recalled any dispute the driver was having, as it would be out of the ordinary.

During interview Mr S A L was also reminded about another two incidents where his speed has been an issue. About a month after being licensed in the October 2010 Mr S A L was stopped by the Police in an unmarked car, as he was going too fast approaching a traffic light junction on Yarm Road and Yarm Lane which resulted in him being issued with a warning for going through an amber light. Mr S A L reported the incident to Licensing Staff.

Further in December 2010 a complaint was received regarding Mr S A L's manner of driving regarding his speed. Also his behaviour regarding an alleged conversation of a religious nature. Mr S A L was issued with a warning letter regarding this matter by the Officer dealing and a copy of that letter was attached to the report.

During the investigation and the collection of evidence from the Private Hire Company the Officer asked if the operator was aware of any incidents regarding Mr S A L's manner or driving. The officer was made aware of an incident on Hartington Road in Stockton where Mr S A L had been seen reversing the car at speed for a considerable distance.

Mr S A L was specifically asked if anybody else had spoken to him about his manner of driving. He denied anybody had spoken to him regarding this initially; he was asked the same question again and asked to think about an incident on Hartington Road. Mr S A L had then remembered an incident where Mr Z one of the Company owners had cause to speak to him and give him advice about the way he was driving.

Mr S A L was spoken to about the speed he was travelling whilst reversing, and eventually admitted he was going too fast and it was not acceptable to drive in this manner. Mr S A L also admitted his manner of driving was something to be concerned with regarding "Public Safety". He was advised the matters would be reported to Committee and he made no reply.

Members were reminded Mr S A L first appeared before the Licensing Committee in February 2010 when he applied for his Private Hire Licence, when Members resolved to refuse the application due to his convictions. Minute 81/09 which referred was attached to the report.

Mr S A L had no DVLA penalty points.

Mr S A L was in attendance at the meeting and was given the opportunity to outline his version of events. Mr S A L outlined that he was not doing 90mph and he was doing between 40mph - 45mph. Mr S A L also outlined that the complainant was tailgating him and that he had become intimidated by the complainant and he feared the complainant would become violent towards him.

Members felt that as the complainant was not in attendance at the meeting it was difficult to corroborate the evidence that he had submitted in writing. Members therefore agreed that the details of the incident should remain on Mr S A L's file but no further action should be taken.
L
31/11
Consideration was given to a report on an application for a private hire driver's licence who had a number of relevant convictions including driving whilst disqualified and using a vehicle whilst uninsured.

Mr A A H had submitted an application for a licence to drive private hire vehicles with the Authority. A copy of his application including a copy of Mr A A H's DVLA driving licence was attached to the report.

Mr A A H had been subject to a Criminal Record Bureau (CRB) check which confirmed the details of his convictions and in his application Mr A A H had declared all of his convictions. A copy of the CRB disclosure was available at the meeting.

Also at the request of officers Mr A A H had also been subject to a DVLA mandate check. A copy of the DVLA mandate was available at the meeting.

Mr A A H was interviewed by officers on 28 June 2011 and gave the facts surrounding each conviction in turn, which were detailed within the report, and a summary of the interview was attached to the report.

During interview Mr A A H agreed to submit to an oral fluid drug test at any point of his application or at any time if his licence was granted. On the 28 June 2011 Mr A A H supplied and oral fluid sample which tested negative.

Mr A A H's DVLA mandate was returned on 22 July 2011 this showed Mr A A H was granted a full licence in March 2004. During interview Mr A A H claimed this licence was revoked in 2006 after receiving 6 points on his licence within 2 years of the licence being granted. This ban did not show on the DVLA mandate. Mr A A H's licence was granted on 3 July 2009.

On 29 June 2011 Mr A A H appeared in the Evening Gazette Scales of justice which stated he had been convicted on the 20 June 2011 at Teesside Magistrates of keeping an unlicensed vehicle on a public road and was fined 175 with 75 costs.

Mr A A H was contacted on 30 June 2011 and asked if there were any further offences he would like to disclose other than what was discussed in interview, when Mr A A H declined he was informed him of the offence. Mr A A H went on to say he sold a van in December 2010, he sent the relevant paperwork off to the DVLA however, they did not receive it. Mr A A H was then contacted by the DVLA and informed of the offence, he could not prove he sent the paperwork so decided to plead guilty without attending court.

A copy of the Council's guidelines on the Relevance of Convictions was attached to the report.

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

Members were advised that Mr A A H had passed the medical, driving standards and knowledge test requirements and if considered to be a fit and proper person at this time based on his CRB disclosure his application would proceed and his licence would be granted upon payment of any outstanding fee's.

Mr A A H was in attendance at the meeting and was given the opportunity to make representation.

After due deliberation of all the information Members decided to depart from the usual policy and grant Mr A A H's licence to drive private hire vehicles.

This was done on the clear understanding that Mr A A H did not come to the Council's attention again for any offences relating to his driving or any other offences.
L
32/11
Consideration was given to a report on an application for the grant of a Private Hire drivers licence from an applicant who had historical criminal convictions for offences of dishonesty. In addition to this the Chief Constable had made the Local Authority aware of additional information on the applicants returned Criminal Record Bureau enhanced check.

Mr D L H had made an application to become a Licensed Private Hire Vehicle driver. The application was received in November 2010. A copy of his application form and driving licence was attached to the report.

The process was undertaken and Mr D L H initially failed a number of the tests required in relation to the process. It was then identified that the applicant had a problem with his reading and writing skills. As a result of this Mr D L H knowledge test was determined by an Officer on a one to one verbal test which he passed. He had now passed all of the requirements.

The declared convictions on the application form related to only one driving offence for speeding relating to August 2010. No other convictions were declared on the application despite this being sworn in the presence of a Solicitor.

As part of the application process a Criminal Record Bureau check was carried out. This was returned with a number of historical offences relating to dishonesty the last one being dated June 1989. Also declared on the application was other relevant information disclosed at the Chief Police Officers discretion. This information was be available for Members to view at the meeting.

Because of the information received it was thought relevant to invite Mr D L H to the office to discuss the matters. He was invited to attend for an Interview and he attended on 30 June 2011. The interview was undertaken in the written format as tape recording facilities were not available. The details of the interview were included within the report.

When asked about the other relevant information that was disclosed he became very defensive and agitated saying it had nothing to do with the Council he had not been charged for any offences and that the incident did not occur. The officer attempted to explain why he was being asked about it and the details were recorded on the Record of Interview which was attached to the report.

Mr D L H refused to discuss the allegation and became more and more agitated and at one point was shouting. He was advised to remain calm and to conclude the interview as it would be in his best interests if he did. The officer was unable to reason with Mr D L H and he left the offices. He was then written to and advised if he did not contact the office within 14 days his application would be considered withdrawn. A copy of that letter was attached to the report.

Mr D L H contacted the Officer and he arranged to attend for interview on the Wednesday 27 July 2011. This interview was undertaken and a copy was attached to the report. He was accompanied at the interview by Mr N who was willing to employ him should he be successful with his application. He was well aware of Mr D L H previous history as he had know him most of his adult life.

The additional information was discussed and this time Mr D L H. The Police took a witness statement from the complainant and Mr D L H was arrested and interviewed. He gave an honest and frank interview. It was then said the complainant was spoken to again and the information was put to the Crown Prosecution Service who decided no further action was to be taken based on inconsistencies with what was said in the initial statement and the fact that there were no witnesses.

Mr D L H indicated during an initial conversation prior to being interviewed that a previous complaint by the same person of a similar nature was made to the Police and these too were unsubstantiated. This was confirmed by the investigating officer when enquires were made by the Licensing Officer.

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 is a fit and proper person to hold such a licence.

A copy of the Council's adopted guidelines on the relevance of convictions was attached to the report.

Mr D L H was in attendance at the meeting and was given the opportunity to outline why he felt his application should be approved.

Members discussed the application at length and felt that with regard to the information that had been declared by the Chief Police Officer as the Crown Prosecution Service had not taken any further action the incident should be noted and remain on Mr D L H's file but not be prejudicial to Mr D L H's application.

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