Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council

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

Date:
Tuesday, 29th November, 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 Ken Dixon, Cllr Alan Lewis, Cllr Mrs Kath Nelson and Cllr Maurice Perry.
Officers:
C Barnes, E Bird (DNS); J Nertney, P K Bell (LD).
In Attendance:
For agenda item 7 - Mr M N F and Mother of Mr M N F; For agenda item 8 - Mr I U H A; For agenda item 9 - Mr J D K.
Apologies for absence:
Cllr Eileen Johnson, Cllr Jean Kirby, Cllr Miss Tina Large, Cllr Ray McCall, Cllr Dave Wilburn and Cllr Bill Woodhead.
Item Description Decision
Public
L
41/11
DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST
Councillor Michael Clark declared a personal prejudicial interest in respect agenda item 7 - Complaint Against Driver - Mr M N F as Mr M N F was know to him. Councillor Clark withdrew from the meeting and left the room during consideration of the item.
L
42/11
THE MINUTES OF THE MEETINGS HELD ON 26TH JULY 2011 AND 23RD AUGUST 2011 TO BE SIGNED BY THE CHAIR AS A CORRECT RECORD.
The minutes of the meetings held on 26th July 2011 and 23rd August 2011 were signed by the Chair as a correct record.

L
43/11
THE MINUTES OF THE MEETING HELD ON 6TH SEPTEMBER 2011 FOR CONFIRMATION AND SIGNATURE.
The minutes of the meeting held on 6th September 2011 were confirmed by the Committee and then signed by the Chair as a corrected record.
L
44/11
THE LICENSING ACT 2003 - MINOR VARIATION APPLICATIONS
RESOLVED that the report be noted.
L
45/11
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
46/11
PRIVATE HIRE DRIVER - MNF
  • Private Hire Driver - MNF
RESOLVED that:-

1. Mr M N F private hire drivers licence be revoked.

2. Public safety was deemed to be relevant and therefore the revocation of Mr M N F's licence take immediate effect.
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47/11
APPLICATION FOR GRANT OF A PRIVATE HIRE/HACKNEY CARRIAGE DRIVERS LICENCE - IUHA
  • Application For Grant of a Private Hire/Hackney Carriage Drivers Licence - IUHA
RESOLVED that:-

1. Mr I U H A be granted a Private Hire/Hackney Carriage Drivers Licence.

2. Mr I U H A be given a written warning as to his future conduct.
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48/11
HACKNEY CARRIAGE DRIVER - JDK
  • Hackney Carriage Driver - JDK
RESOLVED that Mr J D K's licence be renewed should he make application for renewal.
10.00 am - 1.00 pm

Preamble

ItemPreamble
L
44/11
Consideration was given to a report on the delegated decisions that had been taken by officers in relation to minor variation applications under the Licensing Act 2003 for the period July - September 2011.

At the meeting held on 27 April 2010 Members considered a report on the number of minor variation applications determined by officers under the Licensing Act 2003 using delegated powers.

At that meeting Members agreed that there be no change to the delegated powers but requested that future update reports provide more details of applications that have been refused. Minute L 2/10 referred.

Members were advised that since the last report a further five applications for minor variations had been received, two of which had been refused. A list of the premises that had been subject to minor variation applications was attached to the report.

In respect of the applications that were refused; one was to extend the hours for the sale or supply of alcohol between 23.00 hours and 07.00 hours; the second application was to extend the time on any day during which alcohol may be sold by retail or supply. Variations to extend the hours for the supply of alcohol are excluded from the minor variation process and can only be applied for using the full variation process.
L
46/11
Consideration was given to a report on a complaint regarding a Private Hire Driver. A number of allegations relating to the driver were received in the first instance from the parent of a young person who was transported to College by the driver. The complaints included the driver using his mobile phone whilst driving, using an unfit vehicle and using an unlicensed vehicle, also having unauthorised persons in the vehicle on some occasions.

Mr M N F had been a licensed private hire driver since December 2006. Previous to this complaint he had only come to the Licensing Unit's attention for notification of 3 points for speeding and failure to have drivers badges and dash display in the vehicle in May 2008. Also a verbal warning was given in February 2011 regarding use of bus lane.

A complaint was received from a Mrs N D on 3 May 2011. Following the complaint a statement was taken which outlined the nature of the complaint. This was in relation to the Mr M N F and the college transport run her son (Mr A A) was using. He had special needs due to being within the Autistic Spectrum. A copy of the statement was attached to the report.

Within the content of the statement Mrs N D outlined a number of issues regarding the driver and vehicles being used to fulfil this contract, which was organised by the Council's Education Transport Department. The first issue reported via her son was that sometime between September and December of 2010 he reported that the vehicle windscreen was damaged due to a large crack. Mrs N D advised that the damage was reported to both the College and the Council. She can not recall the vehicle being taken off the road. She does recall her son again saying a few weeks later that the windscreen was still damaged.

In relation to the windscreen, the vehicle was stopped by Mr Mills one of the Licensing Officers during routine enforcement activities on 20 January 2011 at 22.55hrs, when it was suspended with immediate effect and the licence plates removed. One of the faults noted was a damaged windscreen. A copy of the suspension notice given to Mr M N F at the time was attached to the report. For Members information the Notice was complied on the 16 February 2011 when the plates were given back.

During the time the vehicle was off the road due to the suspension, Mr M N F had been given the use of a courtesy vehicle which was licensed by an Accident Claims Company with the Council.

Due to the nature of the allegations that were being made and that the matters in the main involved his Education Transport run it was decided to liaise with Elizabeth Bird the lead Officer in that Department. Mrs Bird then indicated she would carry out an investigation after speaking to Mr A A's Mother in person. A copy of the Investigation Notes made by Mrs Bird were attached to the report.

Following the investigative interview with Mrs D, Mr M N F was interviewed by Mrs Bird. Her conclusion was that on his own admissions, and on the balance of probability he had done in the main what had been alleged. A copy of the record of interview was attached to the report.

Therefore on the 3rd of August 2011 Mr M N F was written to and advised that because it had been found that the complaints made by Mrs D had been upheld, he was being withdrawn from carrying out School Contact work. A copy of Mrs Birds letter to Mr M N F was attached to the report.

Following the outcome of that investigation Mr M N F was interviewed by Licensing Officers in relation to the same allegations, Mr M N F's answers to the same or similar questions differed slightly, but in the whole the outcome of that interview was that the matters would be reported to the Licensing Committee for any action to be taken. This was due to the serious nature of the complaints. A copy of the record of interview was attached to the report.

During both interviews in relation to the allegations it was seen that Mr M N F had been in the whole honest with his answers. In relation to using his mobile phone he had been a little vague with his response. In relation to the other allegations of ignoring road traffic signs, using unlicensed vehicles and a dangerous vehicle he had admitted this. Also in relation to having unauthorised passengers in the vehicle, he also admitted this.

Mr M N F, the mother of Mr M N F and Mrs E Bird were in attendance at the meeting and were given the opportunity to make representation.

Members noted that during the investigation of the issue Mr M N F had agreed with the main substances of the complaints against him. In particular Mr M N F agreed he had used his mobile phone whilst driving and had driven his vehicle with a cracked windscreen even though he had been advised that this should be repaired. The Councils concern over the cracked windscreen on the vehicle had first been brought to Mr M N F's fathers attention in October/November but he continued to use the vehicle and to undertake school runs with his vulnerable passengers. The windscreen was only repaired after Mr Mills suspended Mr M N F's vehicle licence on 20th January 2011.

Members took a very dim view of drivers who use their mobile phones whilst driving. This behaviour was aggravated by the fact that Mr M N F was found to have used his mobile phone whilst undertaking a school run and carrying young and vulnerable passengers.

Of most concern to Members was that Mr M N F had used an unlicensed vehicle to undertake the school run. Mr M N F also confirmed that he was aware that his mother who did not hold the necessary licence also undertook a school run with Mr M N F in the vehicle.

Members did give Mr M N F some credit for the fact that he had been licensed since 2006 but noted that Mr M N F had previously received penalty points for speeding and had also been required to attend a speed awareness course.

After taking all of the facts into consideration Members found Mr M N F behaviour was totally unacceptable and as such he was deemed not to be a fit and proper person to hold a private hire drivers licence.

Members considered these issues to be so serious that they were deemed to be sufficient reasonable cause to revoke Mr M N F's licence under Section 61(1)(b) of the Local Government (Miscellaneous) Provisions Act 1976.

Given that Mr M N F had driven while using a mobile phone and had driven an unlicensed vehicle with passengers Members were of the view that Mr M N F had undermined public safety. Members therefore deemed public safety to be relevant and revoked Mr M N F's licence with immediate effect under Section 61 2B of the said Act.
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47/11
Consideration was given to a report on the suitability of an applicant for a combined hackney carriage and private hire drivers licence, who had previously had his licence revoked by the Committee.

An application for a combined hackney carriage and private hire drivers licence had been received from Mr I U H A. A copy of his application, including a copy of his DVLA licence, was attached to the report.

Mr I U H A was licensed with the Council from April 2006 until January 2008, during that time he received one warning letter from the Licensing Department upon grant of his licence which was a warning as to his future conduct. This followed on from disclosure of criminal activity on his CRB check. This was for a Caution for Handling Stolen Goods and an offence on his DVLA licence of Driving Without Appropriate Insurance. A copy of that letter was attached to the report.

Mr I U H A attended Licensing Committee in January 2008 after he notified the department that he had been convicted of ‘Perverting the Course of Justice'. He was given a six month custodial sentence, suspended for two years and 150 hours unpaid work.

At Committee in January 2008, Members decided to revoke Mr Mr I U H A's combined hackney carriage and private hire driver's licence. Minute reference L 57/07 that referred was attached to the report.

Mr I U H A was interviewed on 6 October 2011 he apologises for his mistake and stated he had learnt a valuable lesson from this and would not make such an error again. His interview was attached to the report.

Mr I U H A was advised of the Relevance of Convictions Guidelines document and had it explained to him that despite the offence being over three years since ago, it was only 18 months since the end of his suspended sentence. Officers advised Mr I U H A that his convictions for ‘Perverting the Course of Justice' cames under a Dishonesty offence and the guidelines stated he must demonstrate at least three years free from further conviction, from the end of any sentence imposed. Three years would be September 2012. A copy of the guidance on the Relevance of Convictions was attached to the report.

Mr I U H A had no convictions on his DVLA licence at the time of his application.

Mr I U H A had provided a satisfactory medical. He had passed his DSA driving test and passed the Council written knowledge test.

A copy of his CRB was available for Members.

Members were respectfully reminded that under the provisions of section 51(1)(a) of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provision) 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.

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

Members had full regard to the report presented, a copy of which Mr I U H A had received prior to the meeting. Members considered the facts and took into account what Mr I U H A had to say in relation to the matters in question and his past convictions.

Members had regard to their guidelines on the relevance of convictions. For offences of dishonesty an applicant would normally have to show a period of three years free from conviction. It was noted that Mr I U H A's last offence was in September 2007. The offences for which Mr I U H A was convicted were, in the opinion of Members, extremely serious. However it was noted that they were from over 3 years ago and Members believed Mr I U H A had learnt a valuable lesson. Members indicated that it was a borderline decision as to whether Mr I U H A's licence should be granted but after considering the submissions made by Mr I U H A they were minded to put their trust in Mr I U H A and grant him a hackney carriage and private hire drivers licence, with this severe warning as to his future conduct.

This warning letter would remain on Mr I U H A's file and would be referred to should any future complaint or disciplinary matter come to the attention of the Licensing Unit. It was noted that Mr I U H A had given an assurance to Members that he had learned from his previous conduct and he had no intention of acting in a manner that would bring him back before the Committee.
L
48/11
Consideration was given to a report that gave an update on the conduct of Driver Mr JDK since his last appearance before the Committee on 31st August 2010.

Mr J D K had been a licensed driver since November of 1999, and his current Licence would expire on 31 December 2011.

Mr J D K appeared before the Licensing Committee on Tuesday 31 August 2010. This was due to having received a Police Caution. The caution was dated 15 February 2010. Minute Ref L45/10 referred and was attached to the report.

Members are advised that since his last appearance before you he has been arrested. This information was received in the usual manner via letter from Cleveland Police under the Notifiable Occupations Scheme. A copy of the letter was attached to the report.

Following consultation with the Council legal advisor it was felt appropriate not to suspend Mr J D K's licence. Officers were aware of a number of previous malicious complaints against Mr J D K from the same complainant. Mr J D K was written to and advised to keep the Licensing Unit informed of the progress of the complaint and a copy of that letter was attached to the report.

On 10th February 2011 the Licensing Unit received a further letter from Cleveland Police, dated 4th February 2011 informing them that the allegations had been withdrawn and no further action was being taken. The reason for this was that the statement given by the complainant had been withdrawn and there was insufficient evidence to proceed. A copy of that letter was attached to the report.

On the 11th February 2011 Officers wrote to Mr J D K advising him that we were aware of the case against him being dropped and no further action was being taken. A copy of that letter was attached to the report.

Members were informed that Mr J D K received a thank you from a member of the public who had left a Laptop Computer in his car which was returned to him.

Mr J D K was in attendance at the meeting and was given the opportunity to make representation.

Members had full regard to the report presented, a copy of which Mr J D K had received prior to the meeting. Members considered the facts and took into account what Mr J D K had to say in relation to the matters in question. Members agreed that Mr J D K's licence would be renewed should he make application for renewal.

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