Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council

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

Date:
Tuesday, 9th October, 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 Phillip Dennis, Cllr Ken Dixon, Cllr Eileen Johnson, Cllr Jean Kirby, Cllr Miss Tina Large, Cllr Alan Lewis, Cllr Ray McCall, Cllr Mrs Kathryn Nelson, Cllr Maurice Perry and Cllr David Wilburn.
Officers:
L Maloney (DNS); J Nertney, T Harrison, P K Bell (LD).
In Attendance:
Witness for agenda item 2.
Apologies for absence:
Cllr Evaline Cunningham and Cllr Bill Woodhead.
Item Description Decision
Public
L
45/12
DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST
There were no interests declared.
Confidential
L
46/12
COMBINED HACKNEY CARRIAGE AND PRIVATE HIRE DRIVER - M.S.
  • Combined Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Driver - M.S.
RESOLVED that:-

1. Owing to Mr M S's medical condition and under the provisions of Section 61(1)(b) of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 Mr M S's licence be suspended.

2. Under Section 61(2B) of the said Act and as public safety was deemed to be a relevant issue Mr M S's licence be suspended with immediate effect.
10.00 am - 11.00 am

Preamble

ItemPreamble
L
46/12
Members noted that the meeting was a special meeting to consider matters against Mr M S and that it had been arranged specifically to accommodate Mr M S's attendance and that of Mr Allanson (Mr M S's Solicitor). Witnesses who were required to give evidence were also in attendance.

Before considering the report Members noted that a request had been received for the matter to be adjourned. Members had regard to the following documents which had been submitted in support of Mr M S's request for the hearing to be adjourned, namely:-

1. A letter from Mr Allanson dated 2nd October 2012 addressed to Mr Bell (Democratic Services Officer) and c.c. to Miss Maloney (Licensing Officer);
2. An e-mail from Mr J K dated 8th October 2012 attaching a copy of Mr M S's sick note dated 1st October 2012; and
3. A letter from Mr Allanson dated 8th October 2012 addressed to Mr Nertney

Members noted that neither Mr Bell nor Miss Maloney had received the letter dated 2nd October 2012 until the afternoon of 8th October 2012. Members noted that the adjournment request had therefore only been brought to the attention of the Council on the afternoon of the 8th October 2012. Miss Maloney was e-mailed a copy of the letter dated 2nd October at 14.04 p.m. and then received a copy of Mr M S's sick note at 15.58 p.m.

There had then been a number of telephone conversations between Mr Allanson's office and Council officers including Mr Jones, Principal Trading Standards and Licensing Officer, Mr Bell, Democratic Services Officer, and Mr Nertney, Principal Solicitor and Miss Maloney. The letter dated 8th October 2012 was e-mailed to Mr Nertney and Leanne Maloney at 18.03 p.m. on that date and was therefore not picked up until the Councils offices opened on 9th October 2012.

After giving consideration to the information submitted in relation to the adjournment request the Members were extremely concerned at the delay in this matter progressing. Members noted that this was now the fourth time this matter had been before them. It was noted that some of the previous delays had been without fault. However the request for the previous adjournment on 25th June 2012 had been made at Mr M S's request in order to allow him more time to prepare his case, and also to provide a copy of an audio recording which Mr M S alleged he possessed and which he wished to submit to Members in his defence. It was noted that since the last meeting had been adjourned Mr M S had refused to provide a copy of the recording which he allegedly had in his possession.

It was also noted that when efforts were made to arrange this Committee date Mr M S had requested through his Solicitor that the month of Ramadan be avoided. There seemed to be little justification for making such a request and Members noted that many drivers who observe Ramadan continued to work. It was highly unlikely that the Courts would agree not to list cases during Ramadan and this request seemed to be both unreasonable and a possible time wasting tactic. Members were concerned that there could be a perception that Mr M S was attempting to delay the Committee process by his actions.

Notwithstanding that possible perception Members did give consideration to the evidence which was submitted in support of Mr M S's request for the matter to be adjourned. It was noted that the sick note detailed that Mr M S was "not fit for work" but that this did not state that Mr M S was not fit to attend the Committee. Members noted that they had discretion whether to disregard the certificate if they find it unsatisfactory. When considering whether the certificate was unsatisfactory Members took into account that the sick note indicated a period of four weeks from 1st October 2012. This conflicted with the detail provided in the letter from Mr Allanson dated 8th October 2012 where he stated "we are unable to assist with the period of adjournment and when next to add this to an agenda". As the evidence before Members was that the sick note was for a period of four weeks Members were persuaded to grant the adjournment on this occasion. Members directed that the meeting be adjourned to a special Committee which should be arranged for a date after the expiration of the sick note which appeared to expire on 29th October 2012, Members also noted that they may choose to exercise their discretion and could proceed with the hearing in Mr M S absence if he failed to attend on the next arranged date.

Members considered whether given the information received on Mr M S's medical condition there was a need to take any action at this time. Although the sick note provided very few details the letter from Mr Allanson dated 8th October 2012 gave additional information as to the symptoms of the condition and the effects it had on Mr M S. It was also noted that Mr Allanson had provided confirmation that Mr M S was "incapacitated" and "cannot drive". It was also noted that Mr M S condition related to his left leg and that he could not sit for more than 5 minutes before having to get up to move his leg or move his foot constantly. It was alleged Mr M S endured constant pain and also had sudden jolts of pain, leaving him unable to concentrate.

Although Mr Allanson had noted that Mr M S was unable to drive Members were concerned that should Mr M S drive his licensed vehicle then public safety could well be an issue both for Mr M S, any passengers and for other road users. The symptoms described did in the opinion of Members pose a risk to public safety if Mr M S were to drive a vehicle under his combined hackney carriage licence.

Members also had regard to the Councils licensing policy, notes for drivers of hackney carriage vehicles and medical fitness which stated:-

"You must inform the Licensing Office immediately if you suffer from a medical condition or disability or a condition or disability previously notified worsens that may alter your ability to drive a vehicle.
A driver who receives medical treatment or medical consultation shall confirm with their medical attendant whether they are at that time fit to undertake the duties of a Hackney Carriage Driver in accordance with the DVLA Guide to Medical Standards of Fitness for a Group 2 licence holder.
Where any medical attendant specifies that a driver or prospective driver should not drive for a determinate or indeterminate period that the driver or prospective driver should notify the Council immediately in writing of such medical opinion."

It was noted that Mr M S did not notify the Council immediately to a change in his medical condition and in fact he had received a sick note confirming the medical opinion that Mr M S was "not fit to work" dated 1st October 2012. The Council was not in receipt of this information until 8th October 2012.

Members therefore agreed that owing to Mr M S's medical condition and under the provisions of Section 61(1)(b) of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 this was sufficient reasonable cause to suspend Mr M S's licence. Members agreed that under Section 61(2B) of the said Act Mr M S's licence be suspended with immediate effect. Members agreed that the symptoms of Mr M S's present medical condition led them to conclude that in the interests of public safety the suspension should take immediate effect. Members agreed that the matter be brought back before them with details of any medical reports or other relevant information in order for them to determine whether the suspension could be lifted.

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