Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council

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

Date:
Thursday, 17th April, 2014
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 Mrs Kathryn Nelson(Vice-Chairman), Cllr Michael Clark, Cllr Phillip Dennis, Cllr Eileen Johnson, Cllr Alan Lewis, Cllr Ray McCall, Cllr Maurice Perry, Cllr David Wilburn, Cllr Bill Woodhead
Officers:
J Allwood, P Chilver, A Gledhill, J Jones, S Mills, J Nertney, S Whaley(L&D)
In Attendance:
Joan Smith(Barrister), PC Johnson, Private Hire & Hackney Carriage Driver - Ref 001401, Hackney Carriage Driver - Ref 001413, Hackney Carriage Driver - Ref 000908, Mr Allanson(Solicitor)
Apologies for absence:
Cllr Evaline Cunningham, Cllr Miss Tina Large,
Item Description Decision
Public
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1/14
EVACUATION PROCEDURE
 
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2/14
DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST
 
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3/14
MINUTES - 11TH MARCH 2014
RESOLVED that the minutes be approved and signed as a correct record.
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4/14
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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5/14
PRIVATE HIRE & HACKNEY CARRIAGE DRIVER - REF 001401
  • Private Hire & Hackney Carriage Driver - Ref 001401
RESOLVED that Private Hire & Hackney Carriage Driver - Ref 001401's licence be revoked.
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6/14
HACKNEY CARRIAGE DRIVER - REF 001413
  • Hackney Carriage Driver - Ref 001413
RESOLVED that Private Hire & Hackney Driver - Ref 001413 contact officers no later than Monday 16th June 2014 to arrange for a test to be taken as outlined above. Failure to do so would result in the matter being referred back to the next available Licensing Committee hearing.
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7/14
HACKNEY CARRIAGE DRIVER - REF 000908
  • Hackney Carriage Driver - Ref 000908
RESOLVED that Private Hire & Hackney Driver - Ref 000908 contact officers no later than Monday 16th June 2014 to arrange for a test to be taken as outlined above. Failure to do so would result in the matter being referred back to the next available Licensing Committee hearing.
10:00am - 4.00pm

Preamble

ItemPreamble
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1/14
The evacuation procedure was noted.
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2/14
There were no declarations of interest.
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3/14
Consideration was given to the minutes from the meeting which was held on the 11th March 2014.
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5/14
Consideration was given to a report on Private Hire & Hackney Carriage Driver - Ref 001401 who it was alleged, through his actions on Yarm High Street, had breached paragraph 7 of the Byelaws with Respect to Hackney Carriages by failing, when plying for hire and not actually hired, to proceed to the next available designated rank. Private Hire & Hackney Carriage Driver - Ref 001401 had appeared before the Licensing Committee on 25 June 2012 for similar breaches and had received a final written warning.

Private Hire & Hackney Carriage Driver 001401 and his representative Mr Allanson (Allanson's Solicitors), 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:-

- Private Hire & Hackney Carriage Driver 001401's background.

- Information relating to the reasons why Private Hire & Hackney Carriage Driver 001401 was before the Committee.

- The minutes from a previous meeting of the Licensing Committee that related to Private Hire & Hackney Carriage Driver 001401.

- A copy of the Committee decision letter from a previous meeting of the Licensing Committee which was held on the 2nd July 2012 which related to Private Hire & Hackney Carriage Driver 001401.

- A copy of an officer witness statement relating to events which took place on the evening of Saturday 6th July 2013.

- Copies of witness statements relating to a test purchase which had taken place on the evening of Friday 11th October 2013.

- A copy of a letter to Private Hire & Hackney Carriage Driver 001401 from Stockton Borough Council.

- A copy of a witness statement.

- A copy of a witness statement relating to events which took place on the evening of 22nd November 2013.

- A copy of a written submission from Private Hire & Hackney Carriage Driver 001401's legal representative.

- A copy of an e mail from a witness.

- A detailed plan of Yarm High Street.

- A copy of the Byelaws for Hackney Carriages.

Oral evidence was heard from PC Johnson and Council Officers including J Allwood, P Chilver, A Gledhill, J Jones and S Mills.

Members considered all of the evidence including the report, appendices and oral evidence that was given. Members had to determine firstly whether the allegations of driver misconduct occurred and secondly if, on the balance of probabilities they did occur, what action should be taken against the driver.

Members were reminded of their powers under the provisions of Section 61(1)(a) of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 and of the power to suspend or revoke a licence with immediate effect if the interests of public safety so require.

The issue which was before the Committee was an allegation that on more than one occasion Private Hire & Hackney Carriage Driver - Ref 001401 had acted in a manner contrary to the Council's Byelaws relating to Hackney Carriages. The Council had received complaints regarding the activities of a number of licensed drivers and the manner in which they were operating in Yarm. It was remembered that the Hackney Carriage Byelaws were in place for the benefit of the wider taxi trade and to ensure fairness for all members of the trade. Licensing Officers sought to resolve the issues in Yarm by exercising a light touch approach and seeking driver's co-operation. The Council's view on how hackney carriage drivers should operate had been communicated in both the Trade Times and in warning letters. The vast majority of drivers co-operated with these requests, however a number of drivers had failed to follow the advice and requests given by Officers.

There was insufficient time to complete consideration of the matter and the Committee agreed to adjourn the meeting to another date. A further hearing was arranged for 27 May 2014.

Reconvened Licensing Committee Meeting of 27th May 2014.

Present: Cllr Mrs Kathryn Nelson (Chair), Cllr Michael Clark, Cllr Phil Dennis, Cllr Eileen Johnson, Cllr Ray McCall, Cllr David Wilburn

Officers: J Jones (DNS); S Whaley, J Nertney (LD)

Also in attendance: J Smith(Barrister), Private Hire & Hackney Driver - Ref 001401, R Allanson (Allanson's Solicitors), J Khazir, M Saeed.

Apologies: Cllr P Kirton, Cllr Alan Lewis

There were no declarations of interest.

Private Hire & Hackney Carriage Driver 001401 and his representative Mr Allanson (Allanson's Solicitors), 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. Mr Allanson called oral evidence from J Khazir and M Saeed.

The Committee were mindful that they had already dealt with a number of similar matters concerning several different drivers. Despite being aware of the issue, Private Hire & Hackney Carriage Driver - Ref 001401 was caught twice in test purchase operations by Trading Standards Officers and the Committee found that on the balance of probabilities Private Hire & Hackney Carriage Driver - Ref 001401 had acted in breach of the Byelaw by failing to proceed to the next available rank when the rank in Yarm High Street was full.

The Committee noted that Officers had allowed drivers a degree of flexibility when the Yarm High Street rank was full and that action had not been taken against drivers who attempted to join the rank by queuing on the Town Hall side of the High Street. Private Hire & Hackney Carriage Driver - Ref 001401 was aware that the Council had responded to complaints and had taken action against drivers who wilfully chose not to use the rank and who parked up outside busy licensed premises or the fast food takeaway with the clear intention of obtaining a fare without using the rank.

For the avoidance of doubt the Committee noted that it would be entirely legal for a hackney carriage driver to be flagged down in the street or for the driver to attend the location to collect a pre booked fare. The Hackney Carriage Byelaw which applied in Stockton on Tees was based on the Department for Transport model byelaw and came into force in 1981. All hackney carriage drivers should be well aware of the Byelaws which apply in the Borough. The Committee were of the opinion that Private Hire & Hackney Carriage Driver - Ref 001401 was well aware of the issue as he had appeared before the Licensing Committee in 2012 for similar matters where he had received a final written warning.

Despite this, the evidence heard by the Committee indicated that Private Hire & Hackney Carriage Driver - Ref 001401 continued to operate in Yarm in exactly the same manner. Private Hire & Hackney Carriage Driver - Ref 001401's actions and behaviour demonstrated a complete disregard for the Byelaw and the previous advice, guidance and warnings he had received. The Committee found that Private Hire & Hackney Carriage Driver - Ref 001401's actions enabled him to obtain an advantage over his colleagues by parking in locations close to public houses and takeaways where Private Hire & Hackney Carriage Driver - Ref 001401 was likely to obtain fares from passengers leaving those public houses or the fast food takeaway and that this was to the detriment of those licensed drivers who used the rank and complied with the Byelaw in the correct manner. The Council had taken action to deal with the drivers who were acting in this manner following the receipt of complaints from members of the trade. It should be quite clear to Private Hire & Hackney Carriage Driver - Ref 001401 that if a large number of drivers acted in such a way then the rank would take longer to clear and ultimately members of the public may not use the rank at all if they could simply walk out of any pub and get straight into a hackney carriage standing for hire which they had not pre booked or flagged down.

After considering all the evidence the Committee concluded that despite the warnings and advice that had been communicated by the Trade Times and in warning letters more recently in July 2012 and July 2013, Private Hire & Hackney Carriage Driver - Ref 001401's manner of operating in Yarm was in direct breach of the Council's Hackney Carriage Byelaw as he had failed to proceed to the next available rank when the Yarm High Street rank was full. Private Hire & Hackney Carriage Driver - Ref 001401's opinion of the Council's Byelaw was in direct conflict with that of the Council. Private Hire & Hackney Carriage Driver - Ref 001401 had shown no remorse nor had he indicated that he would act differently in the future. As Private Hire & Hackney Carriage Driver - Ref 001401 had previously received a final written warning for similar matters the Committee resolved that there was sufficient reasonable cause to revoke his licence under Section 61(1)(b) of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976.
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6/14
Prior to consideration of the item relating to Private Hire & Hackney Driver - Ref 001413, officers of Stockton Borough Council provided the legal representative of Hackney Driver - Ref 001413 with a letter detailing that a test comprising of 20 multiple choice questions regarding legislation including the byelaws would be required to be taken.

It was noted that if Private Hire & Hackney Driver - Ref 001413 did not contact officers by Monday 16th June 2014 to arrange a time and date to sit the test then these matters would be referred back to the next available Licensing Committee hearing.
L
7/14
Prior to consideration of the item relating to Private Hire & Hackney Driver - Ref 000908, officers of Stockton Borough Council provided the legal representative of Hackney Driver - Ref 000908 with a letter detailing that a test comprising of 20 multiple choice questions regarding legislation including the byelaws would be required to be taken.

It was noted that if Private Hire & Hackney Driver - Ref 000908 did not contact officers by Monday 16th June 2014 to arrange a time and date to sit the test then these matters would be referred back to the next available Licensing Committee hearing.

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