Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council

Big plans, bright future

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

Date:
Tuesday, 19th March, 2013
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 (Chairman), Cllr Michael Clark, Cllr Evaline Cunningham, Cllr Phillip Dennis, Cllr Eileen Johnson, Cllr Miss Tina Large, Cllr Alan Lewis, Cllr Ray McCall, Cllr Maurice Perry, Cllr David Wilburn, Cllr Bill Woodhead
Officers:
P Edwards, D Kitching, S Mills, M Vaines (DNS); P Bell, A Pilgrim (LD)
In Attendance:
Taxi Drivers and operators
Apologies for absence:
Cllr Ken Dixon, Cllr Jean Kirby, Cllr Mrs Kath Nelson
Item Description Decision
Public
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86/12
DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST
 
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87/12
APPLICATION FOR STREET TRADING CONSENT - CURRY IN A HURRY
RESOLVED that the application for Street Trading Consent for Curry In A Hurry be approved.
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88/12
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
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89/12
APPLICATION FOR A PRIVATE HIRE/HACKNEY CARRIAGE DRIVER LICENCE - REF 000987
  • Application For a Private Hire/Hackney Carriage Driver Licence - Ref 000987
RESOLVED that the application for a private hire/hackney carriage driver licence was refused.
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90/12
COMBINED HACKNEY CARRIAGE & PRIVATE HIRE DRIVER - REF 001133
  • Combined Hackney Carriage & Private Hire Driver - Ref 001133
RESOLVED that a final written warning would be issued.

Should any further incidents arise regarding the drivers fitness to hold a licence to drive hackney carriage and private hire vehicles, this written warning would be taken into account.
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91/12
PRIVATE HIRE DRIVER - REF 123252
  • Private Hire Driver - Ref 123252
RESOLVED that a final written warning be issued.

The warning letter will remain on the drivers file and could be referred to in the future.
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92/12
PRIVATE HIRE DRIVER - REF 082865
  • Private Hire Driver - Ref 082865
RESOLVED that the suspension of the drivers private hire driver's licence be lifted and two additional conditions be added to the private hire driver's licence as follows:-

1. When working in the capacity as a licensed private hire driver, your working hours will be restricted to day shifts only between the hours of 8am and 6pm.

2. You must inform the Licensing Department immediately of any change in your employer which will include a private hire operator and/or a vehicle proprietor.
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93/12
APPLICATION FOR A PRIVATE HIRE DRIVERS LICENCE - REF 118592
  • Application For A Private Hire Drivers Licence - Ref 118592
RESOLVED that the item be deferred.
10.00am - 1.00pm

Preamble

ItemPreamble
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86/12
Cllr Tina Large declared a personal interest and left the room for the duration of the item in relation to Private Hire Driver - Ref 123252 as she knew the driver.
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87/12
Members considered a report to determine an application for the grant of a Street Trading Consent in respect of a trader who wished to sell hot and cold food and drink in Stockton High Street for one month commencing on a date to be agreed and to which letters of objection had been received.

Application had been received from Mrs Riaz of Yarm, for the grant of a Street Trading Consent to permit the sale of hot and cold food and drink from a purpose built kiosk in Stockton High Street/Dovecot Street. A copy of the application was provided to Members.

The applicant wished to trade between the hours of 11.00 am and 5.00 pm Monday to Sunday.

A plan showing this location and details of the proposed kiosk to be used were provided to Member.

It was noted that the applicant had stated on the application form that the kiosk would remain on the High Street when the street consent was not operating. As Members were aware the Licensing Committee did not have delegated powers to approve the kiosk remaining outside of the consent hours and therefore the applicant would be required to apply to Highways for appropriate permission to do this.

Following consultation with Ward Councillors, Officers of the Council and local businesses, two objections had been received from local traders.

A copy of the adopted guidelines in respect of Street Trading Consents was provided to Members for information purposes.

The applicant and objectors had been invited to attend the meeting.

Mr Laws (Regenerations Project Manager) provided an update on the Town Centre regeneration.

The applicant was in attendance and outlined his current businesses and his intentions for street trading consent.
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Members considered a report to determine a new application from a person who was previously licensed by this Authority as a Combined Driver, but had his licence revoked by this Committee on the 23rd November 2010 after he was convicted for an offence of battery.

The applicant of Stockton had applied to become a Combined Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Driver with this Authority. A copy of his application including his DVLA driving licence was provided to Members.

The applicant was licensed with this Authority from 2000 until November 2010 when his licence was revoked by this Committee after he was convicted of an offence of Battery in 2009. A copy of the meeting minute and the decision letter were provided to Members.

An important part of the vetting process was to undertake a Criminal Record Bureau check. This was done and returned to the applicant with a copy being sent to the Local Authority. The record disclosed no further convictions but a substantial amount of additional information. This was disclosed at the discretion of the Chief Constable of Cleveland Police and the final paragraph stated, ‘After careful consideration Cleveland Police believe that the information ought to be disclosed because children and adults could be put at risk of violence if he were to be in a position of trust. In this case the applicant's right to privacy was outweighed by the need to disclose to protect the interests of the vulnerable. A copy of the applicants CRB disclosure was provided to Members.

The applicant was written to and advised that his licence was revoked on the grounds of public safety and was asked if he would like to submit any comments in advance of the hearing explaining to Members why he felt he was a fit and proper person to hold such a licence and what had changed since his licence was revoked in November 2010.

On the 19th November 2012, the applicant attended the Customer Contact Centre to check on the progress of his application. At this time he advised the customer services advisor he did not wish to make any comments and that he had not received the above mentioned letter. He did receive a copy of Mr Mills (Licensing Officer) letter at this time.

Member were reminded that under the provisions of Section 51(1) (a) of the Local Government Miscellaneous Provisions Act 1976, which stated that District Councils should not grant a licence to a driver 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 provided to Members.

Members noted that the applicant was not in attendance, but he had contacted the Licensing Department and requested an adjournment as he was on holiday. Members granted the applicant's previous adjournment request and adjourned the consideration of his application to today's meeting. The applicant was informed of this date and invited to attend the meeting but he failed to attend. As the applicant had been invited to the meeting Members decided to proceed with the hearing in his absence.

Members had regard to the report and appendices.

Members considered the application on the basis of the documentary evidence that was before them, which included the applicant's CRB check. Members had noted that the applicant had two convictions for violence offences, the most recent of which was a conviction for battery of which he was convicted in June 2009. Members were concerned that the violence conviction when the applicant was younger was not an isolated incident and in 2009 the applicant received a further conviction for violence. Members noted that the applicant's conviction from June 2009 was received while he held a licence to drive hackney carriage and private hire vehicles and this was deemed to be a relevant and aggravating factor when considering his fitness. Members also noted under their policy on the relevance of convictions for violent offences the applicant would normally have to show a period of three years from the date of conviction before being deemed suitable to hold a licence and noted that the applicant's last conviction for violence was June 2009. Although this meant that consideration would be given to granting your licence in 2012 Members were mindful that the violence offences were not isolated incidents.

Members were also extremely concerned about the large amount of additional information disclosed by the Police on the applicant's CRB check and it was also noted that the majority of the information related to violence. Members took into consideration that the applicant had not been convicted of any of the offences of which he had previously been charged. However Members were concerned that this information appeared on his CRB check and were of the opinion that this could be taken into consideration when considering his fitness. Members noted the additional views expressed by Cleveland Police and Members did attach some weight to this when considering the applicant's fitness.

Members were of the view that the applicant's previous history of violence offences and the additional information disclosed by Cleveland Police on his CRB check persuaded them to depart from their guidelines on the relevance of convictions and the applicant was not considered to be a fit and proper person to hold a combined hackney carriage and private hire drivers licence with this Authority. His application was refused under the above mentioned legislation.
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Members considered a report to determine what action to take in relation to a licensed Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Driver who had received a conviction for an offence of ‘racially/religiously aggravated intentional harassment/alarm/distress/words/writing' and was awarded a 200 fine, costs of 300 and a victim surcharge of 15.

The driver of Thornaby, Stockton-On-Tees, was a Licensed Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Driver with this Authority and had been since 2001 and his current licence expired in September 2013.

The driver called the licensing department on 12 April 2012 to report that he had been arrested for racially aggravated assault. He advised that he had been arrested on 11 April following an altercation on 5 April 2012 at Thornaby Town Centre.

The driver was bailed until 17 May, then had to be on Court in 26 July 2012. This was then moved to September 2012. The case was dealt with on 26 September 2012 when the driver was found guilty and received a conviction for an offence of ‘racially/religiously aggravated intentional harassment/alarm/distress/words/writing' and was awarded a 200 fine, costs of 300 and a victim surcharge of 15. A copy of the disclosure from Cleveland Police with conviction details was provided to Members.

The driver was interviewed by Officers on 8 October when he was asked the details but was advised that they cannot go behind the conviction.

The driver stated he had been away in Pakistan but had come home to the UK because his brother was very poorly. He returned to the UK in March 2012. He then had to return to Pakistan to get his wife and he was very stressed out at the time, due to his brother's illness.

The driver was interviewed by the Police and he stated he did not recall the incident at all and blamed this on the stress he was under at that time. However when interviewed again by the Police, The driver recalled the altercation but denied the allegation that he had been racially abusive to a member of the public. The driver stated that: "he was pulling off Trenchard Avenue towards the rear of ASDA Thornaby; he pulled in off the road as there were cars parked and another vehicle coming towards him". The driver thought he had a passenger in his vehicle. Further details of the incident were provided for Members.

Licensing Officers contacted the Police Officer involved and asked for the statements and information of injured party. A copy of the injured party's statement was received on 17 October 2012. A copy was provided to Members.

The statement from the injured party described the incident and stated he was walking away from the town, towards Trenchard Avenue on the right hand side of the road, facing oncoming traffic. The injured party stated there was a car parked and unattended on the right hand side and he walked on the road because there was no pavement. He observed a taxi coming from Trenchard Avenue and turn into the road. The injured party said the car was travelling at speed, faster than the speed limit. The vehicle swung round past a parked car then swung back in, as it swung back in the injured party was struck by the passenger side wing mirror. The wing mirror had hit him with force on the left elbow causing immediate pain. The vehicle stopped, the driver emerged from the vehicle and was stood by the side of the car. When getting out of the taxi the male had shouted aggressively. He got back into his car and picked a fare up at the taxi rank. The injured party then stated he attended James Cook Hospital due to the pain.

A call was made by Licensing Officers, to the injured party, who was still upset by this whole incident and was still under-going treatment for his injury. A meeting was held with the injured party and licensing officers when he went on to describe how he was still receiving medical help for his injuries and that the effects of the accident and the subsequent court appearance had, had an impact on him both physically and emotionally. The injured party states he was now scared of taxi drivers. He stated he suffered soft tissue injury in his arm and had to have numerous hospital visits and was now waiting to see a specialist for further treatment.

The injured party confirmed that he picked the driver out of the ID parade immediately and knew that it was only after this that the driver admitted that he recalled an incident.

The injured party advised that there were initially more offences but that the CPS wouldn't take three of them to Court. An email from the Police Officer involved stated: "I can confirm that he was only charged with a racially aggravated public order offence and CPS decided that he should not be charged with any driving offences after looking at the evidence".

The injured party stated that he could not attend the Committee meeting as he did not wish to face the driver again as being in Court was difficult enough for him.

The driver brought character references to the interview; copies were made available to Members at the meeting.

Since being licensed in 2001 the driver had been issued a written warning for swearing at a pedestrian at Chandlers Wharf in November 2004.

The driver also received a warning for driving the wrong way down Stockton High Street, in November 2005.

Another driver complained that the driver was bullying him and after investigation both drivers were issued warnings, in July 2008.

The driver received a complaint about refusing a fare from the train station when he was issued advice, in June 2010.

In March 2011, the driver was issued an oral warning about his manner of driving after a report from a member of the public who observed him on Bridge Road.

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 had 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 failed 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.

Members had regard to the report and attached appendices, copies of which had been given to the driver prior to the meeting; Members also listened carefully to what the driver had to say with regard to the matters disclosed. This included the fact that he was apologetic of his behaviour and accepted that some of his actions were not considered fit and proper behaviour of a licensed driver. Although the driver denied that he used the words that he was accused of using, he admitted that he got out of his vehicle and shouted aggressively at the pedestrian. More importantly, the driver accepted that he was convicted of "racially/religiously aggravated intentional harassment/alarm/distress on 26 September 2012 following a not guilty plea.

Members noted that there had been a history of complaints and enforcement visits with the driver in his time as a licensed driver, namely:

• In 2004 he was issued a written warning for swearing at a pedestrian at Chandlers Wharf.
• In 2005 he was issued a warning for driving the wrong way down Stockton High Street.
• In 2008 a complaint was received from another taxi driver who stated the driver was bullying him and both drivers were issued warnings.
• In 2010 the driver was given advice after a report that he had refused a fare from the train station.
• In 2011 the driver was issued an oral warning about his manner of driving after a report from a member of the public who observed him on Bridge Road.

As part of their deliberations, Members considered the Local Authority's guidelines on the "Relevance of Convictions, Cautions, Reprimands, Warnings and Complaints and Character". In particular, Members considered that his conviction was classed as an assault and, therefore, considered the guidelines in paragraph (f) "Violence", which advise that an applicant should be free of conviction for at least three years.

After considering all of the evidence Members were satisfied that the manner in which the driver had conducted himself and the resulting conviction for ‘racially/religiously aggravated intentional harassment/alarm/distress/words/writing', was not fit and proper behaviour for a licensed driver.

Members were minded to revoke the drivers licence as there were sufficient grounds to question his continued fitness particularly in light of the driver's history, his conviction and the guidelines referred to above. However, Members considered the character references provided by the driver, the fact that he had been driving since the conviction without any incidents, and the fact that he had shown regret and remorse for his actions during the Committee hearing. In the circumstances, Members decided to depart from the guidelines and exercise leniency on this occasion by issuing the driver with this written warning.

Should any further incidents arise regarding the drivers fitness to hold a licence to drive hackney carriage and private hire vehicles, this written warning would be taken into account.
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91/12
Members considered a report to determine what action to take in relation to a licensed private hire driver who has received a Caution for ‘Assault Occasioning Actual Bodily Harm'.

The driver of Thornaby, Stockton-On-Tees, was a Licensed Private Hire Driver with this Authority and had been since October 2011. The driver's licence was granted with advice as to his conduct after it was disclosed on his CRB that he had a reprimand for criminal damage in 2005. His current licence expired in October 2013. The driver had not received any customer complaints or enforcement visits since the grant of his licence.

The driver received a Caution from Cleveland Police on 14 October 2012. The Caution was for ‘Assault Occasioning Actual Bodily Harm' and the report stated: On 14.10.12 at Stockton, the driver along with another male approached a 19 year old male and assaulted him by punching and kicking him in the face causing a broken hand and bruising and swelling to the right eye. The driver was identified to the Police by CCTV footage.

The driver was interviewed at the Licensing Office on 14 November 2012. During his interview the driver stated he had been on a night out with his mother, his partner and a few other people. He said they had been to Stephenson's pub in the High Street and then to Lasers.

The driver said that when they were all in Lasers they were getting stared at by a couple, particularly the male, possibly because his mother had previously barred them from her premises (Stephenson's). The couple were removed from Lasers and the driver said this was because there had been complaints by other customers.

During interview the driver said he and four other people (his mother, partner and two of mothers friends) then left Lasers to go to Tabu at the other end of High Street and as they passed by Boots near Shambles / Town Hall, the couple from Lasers, were on the opposite side of the road shouting and being abusive.

The driver said his companions went over to the road and he did not, but then he noticed the male from the couple had his mother around the neck, from behind. The driver went over to assist his mother. He got the male from behind and put his arm around his neck and punched him once or twice, to get him to let go of his mother.

The driver stated he then left the area, towards Finkle Street to have a cigarette and then he went to Tabu, where the Police were waiting for him.

The disclosure information from the Police stated The driver had kicked the injured party. When asked during interview about this the driver stated that at no point did he kick him. He said he could not say if anyone else did as he left the location, after the male fell to the floor. The Police had asked the driver and the other parties involved what had happened when they caught up with them all at Tabu that night.

The driver said the Police Officer confirmed he didn't appear drunk and the other people involved apparently seemed to be drunk and not making much sense. The driver said the Police Officer told him to get a taxi straight home from outside Tabu. His friends and family had arrived by then and they all went home. The driver said he was not a big drinker, did not go out often and had only had two pints that night.

The driver advised during interview that he was later interviewed by the Police who told him the offence was ABH, because the male had suffered an injury to his hand, probably after falling. However, had no injury occurred the driver would have been cautioned for Common Assault. The driver admitted that he did hook his arm around the male's neck and punched him in the side of the face and that this would have caused injury to his eye area. The driver insisted he only punched him because he was holding his mother and he could not understand why the Police report stated kicking because he had not kicked him. The Police Officer later advised Miss Edwards that the inured party said he was kicked.

Licensing Officers requested CCTV to ascertain if the driver was telling the truth as he denied any kicking. The footage had four different cameras showing the incident from different angles and none of them showed the actual attack. The footage showed that whilst five people in the driver's party crossed the road, initially only 4 moved over to the west side of the Town Hall, where the attack took place. One male stayed behind before following the others over. Shortly after a scuffle took place and a male left the location. Other cameras showed people walking about the location and then later the Police speaking to the injured party at the side of Tabu. None of the CCTV footage showed the injured male being punched or kicked. A breakdown of the footage was provided to Members.

The Police Officer in charge was contacted and asked about the incident and provided a verbal account of the investigation and followed this information up with an email. The Police Officer's comments were provided to Members.

The driver had a partner and two children and this was his only form of employment as he was working at Sainsbury's but gave that up to do taxi's full time.

Member 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.

The driver, his mother and the driver's representative were present at the meeting.

Members had regard to the report and attached appendices. Members also listened carefully to what the driver, Mr Wilson, and the driver's mother, had to say with regard to the matters disclosed including the Police caution the driver received on 14 October 2012 for assault occasioning actual bodily harm which took place on 27 September 2012. This also included the fact that the driver was apologetic of his behaviour and accepted that his actions were not considered fit and proper behaviour of a licensed driver.

As part of their deliberations, Members considered the local authority's guidelines on the "Relevance of Convictions, Cautions, Reprimands, Warnings and Complaints and Character". In particular, Members considered that the driver's caution was for a physical assault and, therefore, considered the guidelines in paragraph (f) "Violence", which advised that an applicant should be free of such a caution for at least three years.

After considering all of the evidence Members were satisfied that the manner in which the driver had conducted himself during this incident, and the resulting caution which the driver received, was not fit and proper behaviour. However, Members gave weight to the fact that, although the driver's behaviour was unacceptable and he should not have involved himself in the confrontation, he was acting in self-defence of his mother who was being attacked at the time.

Members were of the view that there were grounds to question the driver's continued fitness particularly in light of the caution and the guidelines referred to above. However, the Members noted that the driver had shown regret and remorse for his actions during the Committee hearing and when the driver was interviewed by the Police at the time.

In the circumstances, Members decided to depart from the guidelines and exercise leniency on this occasion by issuing the driver with a written warning.

A copy of this letter would remain on your drivers file and could be referred to in the future.
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Members considered a report to consider adding an additional condition to a private hire driver's licence which was currently suspended due to medical fitness. The additional condition would be to restrict the driver to working day shifts only based on medical advice.

The driver of Stockton-On-Tees was a licensed private hire driver with this Authority and he had been since September 2007 and his current licence expired in September 2013.

On the 27th June 2012 the Licensing Department received a complaint from a female member of the public who travelled in the driver's vehicle on Monday 25th June 2012. The complainant had booked a taxi through a taxi company to take her from her home address to a specified address in Hardwick. The driver took the female to the wrong destination and the complainant stated he was behaving strangely.

The driver was interviewed about the complaint on the 19th July 2012 and during interview he confirmed he was confused and dazed and had a lot of things on his mind. He also explained that people had been acting strange towards him and they had also been watching him and that he felt a little paranoid. He also mentioned that he had been seeing things that were not really there. He also confirmed that he had been feeling very anxious for the last three months and he had initially been treated by his GP for this condition with medication but had now stopped on his own accord as he thought he was feeling fine and dealing with his problems.

On the 20th July 2012 a letter was sent to the driver advising him that the Licensing Department were considering suspending his licence with immediate effect on the grounds of public safety unless he was able to provide satisfactory medical evidence that he was still fit to driver.

On the 24th July 2012 a decision was made to suspend the driver's private hire drivers licence with immediate effect, a copy of the suspension letter was provided to Members.

The driver contacted the Licensing Department in December 2012 advising that he was medically fit to return to work. The driver was asked to provide a full medical and also written confirmation in relation to his mental health condition. The driver provided the requested information and those documents were provided to Members.

The driver's specialist detailed the importance of regular sleep in his report and stated that it would be preferable for the driver to do day shifts.

On the 9th January 2013 a letter was sent to the drivers GP and a copy of the letter was also sent to the driver's specialist. A copy of this letter was provided to Members.

The driver's GP replied to the letter and in it he agreed with the suggestion that an appropriate day shift might be 8am to 6pm.

In accordance with the medical recommendations Members were asked to consider lifting the driver's suspension notice and adding additional conditions to his licence to restrict the driver's working hours to the suggested 8am to 6pm day shift in accordance with medical advice.

After consideration of the report and appendices and to the comments made by the driver at the meeting, Members agreed that the driver was fit to drive again, and the suspension could be lifted, subject to two additional conditions being attached to the driver's licence.

Members considered the request to lift the drivers suspension and based on the report submitted Dr R Varghese, Associate Specialist and the driver's GP Dr SR Williams, Members agreed that the suspension would be lifted subject to two additional conditions being added to the driver's private hire driver's licence which are detailed below:-

1. When working in the capacity as a licensed private hire driver, your working hours will be restricted to day shifts only between the hours of 8am and 6pm.

2. You must inform the Licensing Department immediately of any change in your employer which will include a private hire operator and/or a vehicle proprietor.

Members also advised that it was essential that the driver continue to follow the medical advice given and the support systems in place for the driver, and that he continue to take his medication as and when he was required to do so. Officers looked forward to the driver's full co-operation in this respect and also requested that the driver notified the department of any changes in his medical condition that may affect the driver's ability to drive private hire vehicles.
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Members considered a report to determine an application for a private hire driver's licence from an applicant who had previously had an application refused by this Authority in December 2010. At this time the applicant had a Police caution for soliciting a woman for prostitution in February 2008 and also a police caution for being drunk and disorderly in December 2008. In March 2011 the applicant received a further 6 DVLA penalty points on his driving licence for driving a vehicle without the appropriate insurance.

The applicant of Stockton-On-Tees had applied to become a licensed private hire driver with this Authority.

An important part of the vetting process was to undertake a Criminal Record Bureau check (CRB). This was done on the 4 October 2012 with a copy being returned to the applicant. This revealed that the applicant had two Police cautions one for persistently soliciting a woman for prostitution in February 2008 and a caution for an offence of drunk and disorderly in December 2008. A copy of this CRB was provided to Members.

When the applicant applied to this Authority in 2010 the applicant was interviewed regarding the offences mentioned above. During the interview the applicant confirmed that he had not gone out intentionally looking for a prostitute. He was on Yarm Lane when he was approached and propositioned for sex, he took the female in his car and drove to Dovecot Street where he had sex with her and he was caught by Police.

In relation to the second caution in December 2008, The applicant stated that he entered a bar in Leeds with a friend, after purchasing a drink the bar staff called time and they were asked to leave. When they asked if they could finish their drinks the bouncer grabbed his drink and spilt it on him, a scuffle followed and both he and his friend were arrested but he was not involved in the scuffle.

The applicant's application in 2010 was refused by the Trading Standards & Licensing Manager exercising his delegated powers and a copy of the refusal letter was provided to Members.

The applicant had 6 live points on his DVLA driving licence for driving without the appropriate insurance which he received in March 2011. This was deemed as a serious motoring offence under the Council's Guidelines on Relevance Of Convictions which stated, ‘if an applicant has a live endorsement in respect of a major traffic offence then the application will be referred to the Licensing Committee and will normally be refused until at least four years after the most recent conviction, caution, reprimand, final warning or if the person was disqualified, after the restoration of their driving licence'.

On the 19th December 2012, Mr Mills Licensing Enforcement Officer wrote to the applicant explaining that he had a live serious motoring conviction on his DVLA driving licence and he was asked to provide written comments as to why the Council should depart from the policy. The driver requested a one to one session with an officer as he was not very competent writing in English.

A meeting was arranged in January 2013 and the applicant explained that this offence came about when he was running his own Pizza shop. One evening the pizza shop was very busy with delivery orders and he only employed one delivery driver, so to try and assist the driver the applicant got into his own vehicle to deliver some orders. He was stopped by Police and was found not to have the appropriate business insurance to undertake pizza deliveries. He was issued with an endorsable fixed penalty ticket and was fined 200 and received 6 penalty points on his DVLA driving licence.

In mitigation the applicant stated, ‘it wasn't completely no insurance as the vehicle had insurance to be on the road' but he did not realise that he needed specific business insurance to deliver pizzas.

The applicant stated he had learnt from his mistakes and he really regretted what he had done and did not want to live on benefits. He was married now and his 19 year old daughter had moved from Africa to live with him here in the UK. He was currently working at Domino's Pizza as a delivery driver and he was working approximately 47-50 hours a week.

The applicant was given a copy of the Council's guidelines on Relevance of Convictions at the time of his application.

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

The applicant was not in attendance.

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