Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council

Big plans, bright future

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

Date:
Tuesday, 10th July, 2012
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 Jean Kirby, Cllr Miss Tina Large, Cllr Alan Lewis, Cllr Ray McCall, Cllr Mrs Kathryn Nelson, Cllr Maurice Perry, Cllr David Wilburn and Cllr Bill Woodhead.
Officers:
M Vaines, S Mills (DNS); R McKenzie, P K Bell (LD).
In Attendance:
Mr T R (Witness) for agenda item 7; Mr T A, Mr M D (Support for Mr T A) for agenda item 8.
Apologies for absence:
Cllr Ken Dixon and Cllr Eileen Johnson.
Item Description Decision
Public
L
24/12
EVACUATION PLAN
The evacuation plan was noted.
L
25/12
DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST
There were no interests declared.
L
26/12
CHANGES TO THE LICENSING ACT 2003
RESOLVED that:-

1. The changes to the Licensing Act 2003 be noted.

2. Functions in relation to the making of representations and/or application for reviews on behalf of the Licensing Authority as a Responsible Authority be delegated to the Corporate Director of Development and Neighbourhood Services.

3. Functions relating to the suspension of premises licences/club premises certificates be delegated to the Corporate Director of Development and Neighbourhood Services.
L
27/12
THE LICENSING ACT - MINOR VARIATION APPLICATIONS
RESOLVED that the report be noted.
L
28/12
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
L
29/12
PRIVATE HIRE DRIVER - N.A.
  • Private Hire Driver - N.A.
RESOLVED that Mr N A's Private Hire Driver Licence be revoked.
L
30/12
APPLICATION FOR A PRIVATE HIRE DRIVERS LICENCE - T.A.
  • Application For A Private Hire Drivers Licence - T.A.
RESOLVED that:-

1. Mr T A be granted a Private Hire Drivers licence with a warning as to his future conduct.

2. Mr T A's Private Hire Drivers licence be granted on the condition that he complete the BTEC Introduction to the Role of the Professional Taxi and Private Hire Driver (L2) in taxi licensing within 6 months of the grant of his licence.
10.00 am - 1.00 pm

Preamble

ItemPreamble
L
26/12
Consideration was given to a report on the changes to the Licensing Act 2003 as a result of the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011 and to propose the delegation of certain functions in respect of the licensing authority acting as a responsible authority and the new powers to suspend premise licences and club premises certificates to officers.

In 2010 The Home Office launched a public consultation entitled "Rebalancing the Licensing Act 2003". This consultation sought the views on a number of proposed changes to the Licensing Act 2003 with the overall aim of achieving a "fundamental shift in the licensing regime in this country, with more emphasis on local accountability and less emphasis on central interference."

The resulting Bill became law on 15th September 2011, The Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011 would commence in stages, April 2012 and October 2012.

An overview of the main reforms to the Licensing Act 2003 most of which came into force in April 2012 was attached to the report.

One of the more significant changes that would require consideration of the delegation of the functions to officers was in relation to the Licensing Authority becoming a responsible Authority thus enabling the Licensing Authority itself to make representations on new applications; to make representations on variations to licences; and to request the review of an existing licence.

In their Preliminary Guidance on this matter the Home Office Stated:-

"In cases where a licensing authority is also acting as responsible authority in relation to the same process, it is important to achieve a separation of responsibilities within the authority to ensure procedural fairness and eliminate conflicts of interest. In such cases licensing determinations will be made by the licensing committee or sub committee comprising elected members of the authority (although they are advised by a licensing officer). Therefore, a separation is achieved by allocating distinct functions (i.e. those of licensing authority and responsible authority) to different officials within the authority."

The Licensing Authority had always been a Responsible Authority in respect of the Gambling Act 2005 and that function was delegated to the Corporate Director of Development and Neighbourhood Services. It was proposed therefore that the function for the 2003 Act should also be so delegated.

Additional powers were also introduced in respect of premises that failed to pay their annual fee. Premises licences were not renewed annually, but there was an annual fee to pay, based on the rateable value. This was normally due on the anniversary of the grant of the licence. If the fee was not paid promptly, the licensing authority must issue a suspension notice, which would have the delayed effect of suspending the licence / club certificate and preventing licensable activities taking place until the fee had been paid. There was a 21 day period of grace to allow for any disputes about the fee to be settled.

As this was considered to be an administrative function it was proposed that this function also be delegated to the Corporate Director of Development and Neighbourhood Services.

As stated above the changes were being introduced in phases and certain new powers were being considered and may be implemented later this year or early next year. These related to:-

• Early morning alcohol restriction orders - this new measure would provide a curfew power in relation to the supply of alcohol between midnight and 6 am.

• Late Night Levy - which would be intended to cover the costs of policing and other arrangements for the reduction or prevention of crime and disorder, in connection with the supply of alcohol between midnight and 6 am. It would not be possible to apply the levy in a specified area only.

• Locally set licence fees - subject to new regulations, the Licensing Authority would have the power to set fees on a cost-recovery basis

Members were also advised that the Home Office Guidance Issued Under Section 182 of the Licensing Act 2003 had been amended to reflect these changes. This publication was available for download at www.official-documents.gov.uk
L
27/12
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 November 2011 until May 2012.

At the meeting held on 27th 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 nineteen applications for minor variations had been received, three 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 increase the hours for the sale or supply of alcohol. Variations to extend the hours for the supply of alcohol were excluded from the minor variation process and could only be applied for using the full variation process.

The second application was to extend the time children were allowed in a premise, the third application was a request to remove ventilation and alarmed doors and windows, both these applications were refused following objections from responsible authorities.
L
29/12
Members were informed that Mr N A had been provided with a copy of the report and supporting papers, which had been hand delivered to Mr N A's home address. It was noted that Mr N A had been invited to attend the meeting but he was not in attendance and that the hearing had previously been deferred at Mr N A's request from 29th May 2012 when Mr N A also did not attend. It was noted that Mr N A had not contacted the Council to advise of a reason for his non attendance. Members therefore agreed to consider the matter in Mr N A's absence.

Consideration was given to a report on a licensed Private Hire Driver who had previously been issued a final written warning by the Licensing Committee due to driving convictions. Mr N A had received a further three DVLA points and not informed the Licensing Department in line with his conditions or mention it at the Committee in March 2011. Mr N A then had a complaint made against him for his attitude and behaviour at Billingham Tesco Filling Station in December 2011.

Mr N A was a Licensed Private Hire Driver with the Authority and had been since July 2008 and his licence would expire on the 31st July 2012.

On 25th January 2011, Licensing Officers interviewed Mr N A when he was asked about an incident for which he was issued a Section 59 warning for his manner of driving on 2nd December 2010. During this interview Mr N A discussed a previous written warning he had received in December 2008 because of speeding conviction for which he received 8 penalty points. Mr N A advised at this time it was still being dealt with by the Courts as they were not permitted to issue him more than 6 points for this and therefore he was appealing to have this re-examined.

Mr N A attended Licensing Committee on 1st March 2011 regarding his Section 59 warning for his manner of driving in the ice and snow in December 2010. After deliberating, Members advised Mr N A that he was a "hairs breadth" away from having his licence revoked especially given the fact that he had received a previous final written warning in October 2009 and attended the driver improvement course in October 2009.

Members took into consideration Mr N A's remorse and assurances that he would not appear before them again. In taking this into account, Members agreed to issue Mr N A with a further final written warning. Mr N A was also reminded at the time that should there be any further examples of bad driving behaviour, speeding or other relevant offences then Mr N A could have his licence revoked. A copy of the decision letter, dated 9 March 2011, from that meeting was attached to the report.

In September 2011 it was brought to the attention of the Licensing Department that Mr N A had been issued 3 points for a TS10 (Failing to comply with traffic light signals) on 14 May 2010.

Mr N A did not advise the Licensing Department of this additional conviction, as per his conditions and he was interviewed about this on 8th November 2011. Mr N A stated he took a filter lane left from Yarm Lane to Yarm Road and a Police Car witnessed this and stated the lights were not green to go for the filter lane. Mr N A contested this and advised the whole procedure went to Court and it took until January 2011 to get sorted. It was in Court on 27th January 2011, two days after his interview in this office, about the Section 59.

Mr N A also failed to mention this additional conviction at his Committee appearance on 1st March 2011. When he was questioned over this in interview he advised he had asked his brother to inform the Licensing Department as he was busy with his final year at University in Bradford, he was also planning his wedding and it wasn't a priority at the time. A transcript summary of the interview was attached to the report.

Mr N A was asked to obtain a DVLA mandate, following his interview on 8th November 2011 and nothing was produced. Mr N A was then written to on 12th April 2012 asking again for him to complete a DVLA mandate. A copy of the letter, hand delivered on 12th April 2012, was attached to the report. A copy of the mandate had not been received.

Mr N A was asked why he did not mention these additional points at his appearance at the Committee in March 2011 and he advised he thought he had given something in writing explaining everything because it looked like he had about 19 points because of how it was showing on there and advised he needed to ask the DVLA for a refresh from them showing the actual relevant live points. A copy of the note received in the Licensing Office in July 2011 was attached to the report. A copy of the most recent DVLA licence the Licensing Department had on file, for Mr N A was attached to the report.

A complaint was then received by the Licensing Office on 20th December 2011 in relation to an incident at Tesco Filling Station in Billingham. The Licensing Department was advised that CCTV was available for the incident as the filling station had a number of cameras.

Details were checked and booking records were requested from Tees Valley. The booking records confirmed the driver of that vehicle at that time to be Mr N A.

A statement was taken from the complainant on 11th January 2012 where he advised what had occurred in the early hours of 20th December 2011. He stated that the taxi pulled up to the forecourt and the driver made no attempt to exit and fuel. He was there about 10 -15 minutes before he got out of the car. When Mr N A got to the kiosk he was advised by the kiosk attendant not to use the forecourt as a parking area. The complainant alleged Mr N A got argumentative with him and was shouting and banging on the kiosk window. The witness statement was attached to the report.

Mr N A was interviewed by Officers on 21st March 2012 when he was asked about the incident in the early hours of 20th December 2011. Mr N A didn't initially recall this incident. Officers then started to read the witness statement at which point Mr N A said he did recall the incident and he went on to describe what had happened. Mr N A's recollection of the events were somewhat different to those of the witness statement and when challenged on this he advised he was confused as he has previously had an altercation at this filling station and with this same kiosk attendant, when Mr N A alleged the attendant left the building and approached his vehicle and was verbally abusive towards him. When Officers then showed Mr N A the CCTV footage he went on to say that he was getting confused with the earlier incident. A copy of the transcript was attached to the report.

Members were reminded that under the provisions of Section 61 (1)(a) of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 the Council may suspend or revoke or refuse to renew the licence of a hackney carriage and/or private hire driver on any of the following grounds:-

(a) that he has since the grant of the Licence:-

(i) been convicted of an offence involving dishonesty, indecency or Violence; or

(ii) been convicted of an offence under or fails to comply the provisions of the
Act of 1847 or of this part of this Act; or

(b) any other reasonable cause.

Members were also advised of the revisions to Section 61 introduced under the Road Safety Act 2006 as follows:-

(2A) Subject to subsection (2B) of this section, a suspension or revocation of the licence of a driver under this section takes effect at the end of the period of 21 days beginning with the day on which the notice is given to the driver under subsection (2)(a) of this section

(2B) If it appears that the interests of public safety require the suspension or revocation of the licence to have immediate effect, and the notice given to the driver under subsection (2)(a) of this section includes a statement that that is so and an explanation why, the suspension or revocation takes effect when the notice is given to the driver.

A copy of the policy guidelines relating to the Relevance of Convictions, Cautions, Reprimands, Warnings and Complaints and Character was attached to the report.

Members had regard to the report, which included a number of appendices including the complainants witness statement. Members then heard evidence from Mr R, the complainant in this matter. Members had regard to the complaint received regarding Mr N A's conduct and behaviour in relation to an incident at the Tesco Filling Station, Marsh House Avenue, Billingham. After considering the evidence Members found that on the balance of probabilities Mr N A had not behaved in a civil and orderly manner towards the complainant, and further to that Mr N A had been aggressive in his manner.

Members stated that Mr N A had shown a total disregard toward the Licensing Committee and conditions of his licence. Mr N A failed to inform the Licensing Department of relevant convictions despite having the direct opportunities to mention this during an interview on 25th January 2011 or at the Licensing Committee Hearing on 1st March 2011.

Members noted that Mr N A had 11 DVLA licence points on his driving licence and a complaint against him where it had been found that Mr N A acted in an aggressive and threatening manner. Members deemed this to be relevant to his fitness as a licensed driver and as such under the provisions of Section 61(1)(b) of the Local Government (Miscellaneous) Provisions Act 1976 was considered to be sufficient reasonable cause to revoke Mr N A's licence.
L
30/12
Consideration was given to a report on an application for a private hire drivers licence from an applicant who had a series of criminal convictions dating back to 1974 for dishonesty and also a police caution for battery.

Mr T A submitted an application form on the 23rd April 2012, to become a licensed private hire driver with the Authority. A copy of his application including his DVLA driving licence was attached to the report.

An important part of the vetting process was to undertake a Criminal Record Bureau check (CRB). The record disclosed that Mr T A had several convictions ranging from theft, deception, driving whilst disqualified and driving a motor vehicle with excess alcohol with his last conviction being in 1997. There was a 15 year gap and then he received a caution for battery on 25th February 2012.

Due to the offences disclosed it was felt appropriate to interview Mr T A to hear his explanation. He was spoken to by officers on the 19th June 2012. During the interview Mr T A explained that he grew up in a rough part of Darlington and got in with the wrong crowd and the majority of his offences related to when he was a joiner and he described himself as a rogue trader.

During the interview Mr T A was very remorseful for his past and several times stated he was disgusted with himself for what he had done his younger days and couldn't to look at his CRB. It was the first time he had seen his CRB and he did not realise how much of a bad lad he had been.

Mr T A stated that he turned his life around in 1997 a series of events. Mr T A enrolled on a home study course and became a successful construction site manager but due to the down turn in construction industry Mr T A was out of work. A letter submitted by Mr T A was attached to the report.

Mr T A's explanation for the recent caution for battery was he had a dispute over finances.

Mr T A was also asked why he did not declare his caution on his application and as well as other offences. He stated that he didn't realise he had to declare the caution. He was only in the solicitors 5 minutes and the Solicitor did not go through the form or even ask him any questions. He also stated that he could not remember all of the other convictions he had therefore apologised for not putting them on his application.

Mr T A stated that he was not given a copy of the Councils guidelines on Relevance of Convictions at the time of his application as he got the application from representatives of Royal Cars. This document stated in the guidelines "Applicants with a conviction, caution, reprimand or final warning for grievous bodily harm, wounding, serious assault, or possession of a dangerous weapon will normally be refused a licence. An application may be granted if the applicant can show at least three years free of such conviction, caution, reprimand or final warning from either the date of conviction, caution, reprimand or final warning or 3 years from completion of any custodial sentence imposed, whichever is the latter. Please note that the Council deems incidents of domestic violence to be extremely serious as if an individual is prepared to assault an individual in a domestic or home environment then they would have concerns over the person's ability to maintain their temper when working in an environment dealing with members of the public". A copy of the Relevance of convictions was attached to the report.

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.

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

Members had regard to the report and attached appendices, copies of which had been given to Mr T A prior to the meeting. Members also listened carefully to what Mr T A had to say with regard to the matters disclosed on his Criminal Record Disclosure including the character references Mr T A produced at the hearing.

Members deliberated over their decision as to whether they were satisfied at this time whether Mr T A was a fit and proper person to hold a licence. After some deliberation and concerns raised around Mr T A's history of convictions Members agreed to grant Mr T A's licence with a warning as to his future conduct. As a licensed driver with the Authority Mr T A was expected to behave and civil and orderly manner at all times. Mr T A's licence was granted on the condition that he complete the BTEC Introduction to the Role of the Professional Taxi and Private Hire Driver (L2) in taxi licensing within 6 months of the grant of his licence. Failure to comply with this condition would result in Mr T A being brought back before the Licensing Committee when they would consider Mr T A's continued fitness to be a licensed driver with the Authority.

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