Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council

Big plans, bright future

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

Date:
Tuesday, 13th November, 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 Derrick Brown (Vice Cllr Evaline Cunningham), Cllr Michael Clark, Cllr Eileen Johnson, , Cllr Miss Tina Large, Cllr Alan Lewis, Cllr Ray McCall, Cllr Mrs Kathryn Nelson, Cllr Maurice Perry and Cllr Bill Woodhead.
Officers:
P Edwards, S Mills, C Barnes, M Vaines (DNS); J Nertney, P K Bell (LD).
In Attendance:
Mr M N and Mr N H for agenda item 7 - Application to Licence a Hackney Carriage Vehicle; Mr P M and Mr J Nixon (Representing Mr P M) for agenda item 8 - Hackney Carriage Driver Licence - Mr P M; Miss A G for agenda item 9 - Private Hire Driver Application; Mr S R and his brother for agenda item 12 - Euro 2 Emission Standards.
Apologies for absence:
Cllr Evaline Cunningham, Cllr Phillip Dennis, Cllr Ken Dixon, Cllr Jean Kirby and Cllr David Wilburn.
Item Description Decision
Public
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47/12
DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST
There were no interests declared.
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48/12
MINUTES
The minutes of the meetings held on 29th May 2012, 25th June 2012 and 10th July 2012 were signed by the Chair as a correct record.
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49/12
LICENSING ACT 2003 - MINOR VARIATION APPLICATIONS
RESOLVED that the report be noted.
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50/12
ANIMAL BOARDING ESTABLISHMENTS ACT 1963 - HOME BOARDING CONDITIONS
RESOLVED that the model conditions be adopted as they are, and will apply to all premises subject to particular circumstances of specific applications which might require special conditions being attached to a licence in order to achieve the welfare of the animals. These special conditions may be added in line with the views of the Licensing Officer, Council Licensing Policy and any veterinary advice.
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51/12
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 paragraphs 1 and 2 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Act.
Confidential
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52/12
PRIVATE HIRE VEHICLE REFERENCE 111195
  • Private Hire Vehicle Reference 111195
RESOLVED that Mr S R be given until the end of January 2013 to replace the vehicle.
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53/12
APPLICATION FOR A HACKNEY CARRIAGE VEHICLE LICENCE
  • Application For A Hackney Carriage Vehicle Licence
RESOLVED that given the individual circumstances of the application a departure be made from the Council Policy and the application be approved.
L
54/12
APPLICATION FOR A HACKNEY CARRIAGE VEHICLE LICENCE
  • Application For A Hackney Carriage Vehicle Licence
RESOLVED that given the individual circumstances of the application a departure be made from the Council Policy and the application be approved.
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55/12
HACKNEY CARRIAGE DRIVER - P.M.
  • Hackney Carriage Driver - P.M.
RESOLVED that Mr P M be issued with a severe written warning.
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56/12
APPLICATION FOR A PRIVATE HIRE DRIVER'S LICENCE - A.G.
  • Application For A Private Hire Driver's Licence - A.G.
RESOLVED that Miss A G's private hire drivers licence be granted with a warning as to her future conduct and subject to Miss A G satisfactorily completing the Driver Improvement Course.
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57/12
HACKNEY CARRIAGE DRIVER - P.C.
  • Hackney Carriage Driver - P.C.
RESOLVED that Mr P C be written to and told that he must attend the next meeting of the Licensing Committee and if he doesn't then this may be considered as holding the Committee in contempt and members will take that into consideration when considering his fitness to hold a Hackney Carriage licence.
10.00 a.m. - 1.00 p.m.

Preamble

ItemPreamble
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49/12
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 June 2012 until September 2012.

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 had been refused. Minute L 2/10 referred.

Members were advised that since the last report a further seven applications for minor variations had been received, one 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 application that was refused; this was to vary the conditions relating to the supply of drink in polycarbonate glass, to permit the service of drinks in toughened glasses and glass bottles and to alter the starting time for the deployment of SIA door staff. The application was refused following an objection from a responsible authority.
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50/12
Consideration was given to a report on the Animal Boarding Establishment Act 1963 - Home Boarding Conditions.

The report detailed the model conditions for the home boarding of cats and dogs.

The Animal Welfare Act required anyone running a boarding establishment to ensure the welfare needs of the animals in their care were met. The act makes it a legal requirement for any person boarding animals to be licensed. This included persons boarding animals in a home environment, whether it was during the day (day care) or overnight.

Under the Animal Boarding Establishments Act 1963 local authorities licence premises for the boarding of cats and dogs. The Council had nine residential premises licensed for the home boarding of cats and dogs and one pending application. The premises varied in size and vary in the number of dogs and cats licensed to be boarded.

Since being licensed, there had been no complaints made to the Council regarding any of these premises. A table showing premise details was attached to the report.

Due to the rise in popularity of the boarding of dogs and cats in a domestic environment and the rise in applications received for home boarding licenses by the authority, a need had been identified to differentiate home boarding from commercial animal boarding establishments (kennels / catteries) in respect of the conditions attached to the grant of a licence. A copy of the conditions covering all animal boarding establishments was attached to the report.

Existing home boarders were licensed using Stockton Borough Council standard animal boarding establishment licence conditions, however it was proposed to adopt model licensing conditions specifically for home boarding premises.

The proposed home boarding conditions were based on a set of home boarding conditions drafted by Lacors. They were adapted from the full model conditions that were in place for purpose built kennels and catteries and were drafted by a group including the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, the British Veterinary Association, British Small Animal Association and the Pet Trade and Industry Association. A copy of the draft conditions were attached to the report.

The proposed conditions covered the same issues as the conditions for kennels and catteries but were adapted for the home environment. The conditions required many controls to be in place for disease control, insurance, fire safety and security as well as feeding and general care.

The home boarding licence conditions did not allow any structure, such as kennels to be outside in the garden, meaning that there was no opportunity or scope for a home boarding establishment to grow into the size and scale of a commercial boarding establishment.

Copies of the model conditions along with a covering letter and a short questionnaire were sent to all home boarding establishments. 8 replies were received, with the majority of comments positive to the proposed conditions. Some comments were specific to the premises and called for the model conditions to be adapted to suit that specific premise. A copy of the covering letter was attached to the report and copies of the completed questionnaires were attached to the report.

Five of the respondents answered that they did board dogs from different households at the same time. If the model conditions were implemented responsibility would be put on the licensee to require dog owners to sign that they were permitting their dog to be boarded with dogs from different families and to conduct a familiarisation exercise with any potential dog that was to be boarded.

One respondent answered that it offered puppy training alongside home boarding, so there were occasions where puppies under 6 months were boarded with other dogs. If the model conditions were implemented responsibility would be put on the licensee to ensure the puppies were suitably vaccinated and difficulties had not been identified during a trial socialisation period.

Six of the respondents confirmed they had resident cats or dogs, If the model conditions were implemented responsibility would be put on the licensee to obtain specific written consent would need to be obtained from each household showing confirmation that they are content for their dogs to be boarded with others, following a trial familiarisation session.

At present the Animal Boarding application fee was 82, plus vet fees associated with the initial inspection of the premises.

The renewal fee was 82, but no vet inspection was arranged unless there had been issues at the premises or there were significant changes to the layout or operation of the premise.

If members approve the adoption of these model conditions this would mean a change to the licence conditions as of January 2013.
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52/12
Consideration was given to a report on a request from a vehicle proprietor to depart from the Private Hire and Hackney Carriage Licensing Policy requirements relating to a Euro 2 Emission Standards vehicle not having its licence renewed.

Mr S R was the proprietor of a licensed private hire vehicle which had been licensed since October 2008 and its licence expired on 31st October 2012.

Vehicle proprietor, Mr S R contacted the Licensing Department on the 21st June 2012, wanting advice regarding as to whether his vehicle licence would be renewed. He was advised that as his vehicle was Euro 2 emission standards the licence would not be renewed when it expired on the 31st October 2012.

Mr S R then received a renewal application form for his vehicle in September 2012. On receipt of his renewal form Mr S R contacted the Licensing Department to see if his vehicle licence could in fact be renewed and he was incorrectly advised that it could be. Both the renewal form being sent out and the subsequent advice given were done in error.

The vehicle was first registered on 27th March 2000 and enquiries with the manufacturer had confirmed that the vehicle only met Euro 2 Emission standards. A copy of the letter dated 31st October 2012, sent to Mr S R advising him that his licence would not be renewed was attached to the report.

A letter had been received from Mr S R requesting dispensation from the policy requirement not to re-licence this vehicle at the expiry of his licence because of the misunderstanding with the Licensing Department. He requests that the licence be renewed for a short period of time therefore allowing him time to find a replacement vehicle. A copy of the letter was attached to the report.

Mr S R and his brother were in attendance at the meeting and were given the opportunity to make representation.

Members agreed that Mr S R be given until the end of January 2013 to replace the vehicle.
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53/12
Consideration was given to a report on an application for a Hackney Carriage Vehicle Licence. The vehicle was a saloon vehicle that did not meet current Policy requirements with regard to wheelchair accessibility.

Mr M N was a licensed Hackney Carriage driver with the Authority and had been since May 2007.

Mr M N had made an application to licence a vehicle. The vehicle was a saloon type vehicle and did not meet the Private Hire and Hackney Carriage Licensing Policy that became effective in May 2012 after full consultation. A copy of the application was attached to the report.

The circumstances of the application were that Mr M N had had a saloon vehicle licensed with the Authority but it had suffered mechanical failure and was uneconomic to repair. He made a decision to purchase a new vehicle.

The vehicle was licensed with Chairman's approval on 14th September 2012 after a letter was submitted asking for departure from normal application procedure. This was with regard to the production of a registration document for the vehicle to be licensed. This was done to show the vehicle was not accident damaged and met the correct Euro Emission Standards.

The reason for the approval was to avoid delay in licensing the vehicle as Mr M N was awaiting return of the vehicle registration document from the DVLA. The vehicle was licensed with specific conditions being attached to the grant of the licence regarding the registration document being compliant.

The vehicle registration document was returned a few weeks later and it was found not to be compliant with the Euro Emissions Standards set out in the Licensing Policy document. Therefore on the 3rd October 2012 a letter of revocation was sent out for the vehicle. A copy of that letter was attached to the report.

The vehicle's plates were returned to the Office on the 11th October 2012. It was understood Mr M N had managed to sell the vehicle. Not fully understanding the implications of the vehicle licence being revoked, he had then sourced another vehicle that was Euro Emission standards compliant and assumed he could transfer the plate to this vehicle.

However this was not the case, and could not be done as the vehicle licence had been formerly revoked and therefore could not be transferred.

Mr M N had submitted a letter requesting the Committee depart from the Policy given his special circumstances; a copy of that letter was attached to the report. In brief it outlined the financial situation he had been placed in, and the hardship he would experience if the request was refused.

Members were respectfully reminded that paragraph 79 of the Council's Private Hire and Hackney Carriage Licensing Policy stated:-

The Council has therefore agreed a revised specification for wheelchair accessible vehicles (WAV's) which is set out at appendix A and has determined that all new applications for hackney carriage vehicle licences shall be required to comply with this specification, until the total number of WAV's licensed reaches 25% of the total hackney carriage fleet, which equates to 70 vehicles, when the policy will then be renewed. Existing licensed saloon hackney carriages can be replaced by another saloon vehicle until this policy is next reviewed.

At the time of this meeting, the Council had 294 licensed hackney carriage vehicles, of which 22 were wheelchair accessible.

Mr M N and Mr N H were in attendance at the meeting and were given the opportunity to make representation.
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54/12
Consideration was given to a report on an application for a Hackney Carriage Vehicle licence. The vehicle was a saloon vehicle that did not meet current Licensing Policy requirements with regard to wheelchair accessibility.

Mr M A was combined hackney carriage and private hire driver with the Authority and had been since 1996. His driver's licence was renewed on 1st September 2012.

Mr A H had made an application to licence a vehicle. The vehicle was a saloon type vehicle and did not meet the Private Hire and Hackney Carriage Licensing that became effective in May 2012 after full consultation. A copy of the application was attached to the report.

The circumstances of the application were that the vehicle was previously licensed as a Hackney Carriage up until 30th September 2012, when Mr M A inadvertently failed to renew the licence.

Council records showed that a letter enclosing the relevant renewal application form was sent to Mr M A on 6th July 2012, reminding that the vehicle licence was due to expire on 30th September 2012. A copy of the letter was attached to the report.

As no renewal application was received, a letter was sent on 1st October 2012, advising that the vehicle licence had expired and had been deleted from the register. A copy of the letter was attached to the report.

On 4 October 2012, Mr M A visited the Customer Service Centre, submitting a letter asking officers to look at the matter with compassion and returning the vehicle's plates. A copy of the letter was attached to the report.

On 8th October 2012 the Principal Trading Standards and Licensing Officer spoke to Mr M A on the telephone and advised that the Council could not now renew the vehicle's licence as it had expired but he was free to submit a new application which would need to go before the Licensing Committee for them to decide whether to accept the application and depart from the Council's Licensing Policy with regard to wheelchair accessibility.

On 12 October 2012, Mr M A duly submitted the application to licence the vehicle as a new hackney carriage along with a covering letter requesting the Committee depart from the Licensing Policy. A copy of the letter was attached to the report. In brief the letter stated that the failure to renew was down to human error and it outlined the difficult financial situation he had been placed in and the hardship his family would experience if the request was refused.

Members were respectfully reminded that paragraph 79 of the Council's Private Hire and Hackney Carriage Licensing Policy stated:-

"The Council has therefore agreed a revised specification for wheelchair accessible vehicles (WAV's) which is set out at appendix A and has determined that all new applications for hackney carriage vehicle licences shall be required to comply with this specification, until the total number of WAV's licensed reaches 25% of the total hackney carriage fleet, which equates to 70 vehicles, when the policy will then be renewed. Existing licensed saloon hackney carriages can be replaced by another saloon vehicle until this policy is next reviewed."

At the time of this meeting, the Council had 294 licensed hackney carriage vehicles, of which 22 were wheelchair accessible.

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

Members agreed on this occasion to depart from the Licensing Policy.
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55/12
Consideration was given to a report on a Hackney Carriage Driver, after alleged inappropriate behaviour was witnessed by a member of public and also on public space CCTV.

Mr P M attended Licensing Committee on 2nd October 2012 and Members agreed to defer the item at the request of the Mr P M and his solicitor Mr Nixon.

Mr P M had been a licensed driver with the authority since 13th June 2003, his licence was due to expire on 12th September 2014.

On the 20th August 2012, a complaint was received from a member of public; she alleged that her and her two sons of 14 & 15 yrs witnessed a taxi driver with Miss K G a known prostitute, engaging in what she called a sexual act at the driver side door. The incident happened at approximately 6pm on Sunday the 19th August 2012 in Skinner Street Car Park, Stockton. The details of the incident were within the report and a copy of the complainant's witness statement and a further statement was attached to the report.

Closed Circuit Television Cameras (CCTV) operate in the area.

The CCTV footage showed the incident happening as the complainant alleged in her witness statement.

Intelligence from Police Licensing Unit suggested the female involved was a known prostitute involved with drugs.

Mr P M was interviewed 28th August 2012 and changed his story repeatedly under questioning. Mr P M admitted he was driving the vehicle and the female at the car park was his girlfriend of two years.

Mr P M denied the suggestion that the CCTV and Miss K G's behaviour suggested she was involved in some sort of drug deal and he was complicit in the drug deal.

Mr P M admitted Miss K G had a drugs problem and that he was trying to help her quit, despite taking her to a known drugs drop off / pick up location that day. Mr P M denied taking drugs or being involved with drugs.

On the 28 August 2012 Mr P M provided an oral fluid sample for a drug screening test which proved positive for Amphetamine and Benzodiazepine. Mr P M signed for the initial test result and was given a copy print out for his information. A further test sent for analysis, and was returned negative. It was thought the positive result was due to the types and amounts of medication Mr P M was on for heart trouble.

On the 11th September 2012, Licensing Officer went back to the location to take photos from the complainant's address, these photos showed distances and lighting conditions and were distributed at the meeting.

Mr P M had been involved with the taxi trade for over 30 years. He had been licensed with the authority for approximately 10 years. In this time Mr P M had no complaints from members of the public; Licensing Officers had cause to speak to Mr P M only in relation to minor enforcement issues.

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.

and Section 61(2)

(A) 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 notice is given to the driver under subsection (2)(a) of this section,

(B) If it appears in 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.

Mr P M and his solicitor (Mr Nixon) were in attendance at the meeting and were given the opportunity to make representation.

Members had regard to the report and attached appendices and CCTV footage, copies of which had been given to Mr P M and his solicitor prior to the meeting. Members also listened carefully to what Mr P M had to say with regard to the matters disclosed.

The complainant in this matter had made a statement stating that she had witnessed Mr P M and his girlfriend performing a sexual act. It was accepted that the CCTV evidence was inconclusive as to whether a sexual act had taken place. Mr P M had accepted that his partner had been acting in a manner which led Mr P M to ask his girlfriend to stop what she was doing. Members noted the complainant statement.

What was of a concern to Members was the possibility that Mr P M had taken his girlfriend to the location to either drop off or pick up drugs. Mr P M had accepted that his girlfriend was a recovering drug addict but he denied any knowledge that a drugs transaction had taken place.

On viewing the CCTV the behaviour of Miss K G was extremely suspicious. She appeared to be in an agitated state, kept using her mobile phone and on a number of occasions disappeared into the alleyway. Although there was no other evidence to demonstrate that a drug transaction had taken place the incident shown on the CCTV footage was a matter of concern to Members and as stated above was deemed to be very suspicious activity. For a licensed driver to be party to or facilitate an illegal act such as a drugs transaction would be likely to result in revocation of a licence.

Members were also concerned that the version of events Mr P M had initially provided when interviewed was misleading. Mr P M changed his story after been confronted with the CCTV footage and even at the meeting Mr P M gave a different version of events by stating that Miss K G had been collecting some earrings and not a pair of jeans as Mr P M had stated in interview.

Members noted the fact that Mr P M stated he was not involved with any sexual or drug related activity and although Miss K G was a recovering drug user and he was helping her with her drug addiction, Mr P M was under the impression he was dropping her off for some clothing that she had left at her friends. Mr P M then stated that it was some earrings he had bought her. Mr P M also stated Miss K G was his girlfriend and therefore there was no need to perform sexual acts in a public car park, they could just go home.

If there had been any further corroborating evidence in this matter Members would have had no hesitation in finding that Mr P M had been a party to illegal activity. However although the incident appeared to be extremely suspicious Members were persuaded to step back from finding Mr P M was a party to a drugs transaction.

Members were mindful of the complainant's perception that a sexual act had taken place. Although Members were satisfied that the evidence did not demonstrate a sexual act they were minded to give Mr P M a severe written warning for his behaviour in relation to this incident.

Members deliberated as to whether they were satisfied at this time that Mr P M was a fit and proper person to hold a licence. After considering all of the facts and circumstances Members hoped that Mr P M had learnt a valuable lesson.

Holding a hackney carriage drivers licence was a position of trust and holders of such licences were expected to behave civil and orderly at all times. Mr P M should be aware of how his behaviour may be perceived by members of the public.

Members agreed on this occasion, to issue Mr P M with this severe written warning and to remind him as to his future conduct as such behaviour would not be tolerated by the Council.

Mr P M was in no doubt that should he appear before Members again for any issue which involved his fitness to hold a licence then Members were highly likely to consider revoking Mr P M's licence.

Members also noted that Mr P M had indicated that Miss K G did know the complainant in this matter. Mr P M was advised that he should speak to Miss K G and ensure that there were no repercussions in relation to the complainant raising this matter with the Council.
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56/12
Consideration was given to a report on a new application from a person who was a licensed private hire driver with the Authority but had her licence revoked by the Committee on the 18th October 2011, after her private hire vehicle was recorded travelling at 37mph at 12:55 hrs on the 19th November 2010, on Cowpen Lane, Billingham which is a 30mph speed limit. Cleveland Police sent out the Notice of Intended Prosecution And Request For Information to Identify The Driver of The Motor Vehicle. Miss A.G. was the driver at the time of the incident but in an attempt to avoid prosecution she returned the completed form to Cleveland Police and named an unlicensed male as the driver at the time.

Miss A G had applied to become a licensed driver with the Authority. A copy of her application form and DVLA licence were attached to the report.

Miss A G was a licensed Private Hire Driver with the Authority from January 2005 until 18th October 2011, when her licence was revoked by this Committee after made a finding that her actions in making false statements and attempting to pervert the course of justice went to the crux of a drivers fitness and found it was a wilful and deliberate attempt to deceive. In addition Members found that Miss A G driving history also fell far short of that expected of a licensed driver. A copy of the meeting minute and decision letter were attached to the report.

Miss A G was asked if she wished to make any comments in support of her application and a copy of her comments were attached to the report.

Member 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 were satisfied that the applicant was a fit and proper person to hold such a licence.

A copy of the adopted guidelines relating to the Relevance of convictions was attached to the report for Member's information.

Miss A G was in attendance at the meeting and was given the opportunity to make representation.

After consideration of the report, Members found Miss A G's previous action in attempting to pervert the course of justice to be extremely serious. However, Members listened to Miss A G's submission and noted that Miss A G was extremely remorseful and had indicated that she had learned a valuable lesson and assured the Members she would not appear before them again if her licence was granted. After considering all of the evidence Members were persuaded to depart from the Policy on the ‘Relevance of Convictions, Cautions, Reprimands, Warnings and Complaints and Character'. Members decided to grant Miss A G her private hire drivers licence with a warning as to her future conduct. Members also noted that Miss A G had 6 penalty points on her DVLA driving licence and therefore agreed that the grant of her licence was subject to Miss A G satisfactorily completing the Driver Improvement Course and any other remaining licensing application procedures and fees.
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57/12
Members were informed that Mr P C was not in attendance at the meeting. Members agreed that Mr P C be written to and told that he must attend the next meeting of the Licensing Committee and if he doesn't he will be held in contempt and it will go against him when Members are considering his fitness as a proper person to hold a Hackney Carriage Licence.

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