Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council

Big plans, bright future

Other Licensing Committee Minutes

Date:
Tuesday, 29th May, 2018
Time:
10:00 am
Place:
Council Chamber, 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 Mrs Kathryn Nelson(Vice-Chairman), Cllr Derrick Brown, Cllr Chris Clough, Cllr Ken Dixon, Cllr Elsi Hampton, Cllr Eileen Johnson, Cllr Mrs Jean O'Donnell, Cllr Julia Whitehill, Cllr David Wilburn, Cllr Norma Wilburn, Cllr Bill Woodhead MBE
Officers:
Jonathan Nertney (DHRL&C), Craig Barnes, Sandra Percival, Kirsty Wannop, Sarah Whaley (DCE)
In Attendance:
Private Hire Driver - Ref 110169 and his legal representative Mr Deadman, Private Hire Driver - Ref 109831, Combined Driver - Ref 066876 and his legal representative Mr Schiller, A witness who was accompanied by her husband. An interpreter was provided for Private Hire Driver - Ref 110169 and Combined Driver - Ref 066876.
Apologies for absence:
Cllr Evaline Cunningham, Cllr Maurice Perry,
Item Description Decision
Public
OLC
7/18
EVACUATION PROCEDURE
 
OLC
8/18
DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST
 
OLC
9/18
DRAFT MINUTES FROM THE OTHER LICENSING COMMITTEE MEETING WHICH WAS HELD ON THE 17TH APRIL 2018
RESOLVED that the draft minutes of the Other Licensing Committee meeting which was held on the 17th April 2018 be approved and signed as a correct record by the Chairman.
OLC
10/18
INTRODUCTION OF A LICENSED PREMISES AWARD SCHEME: SETTING THE BAR
AGREED that;

1) The scheme be approved and presented to Cabinet on 21st June 2018.

2) Should Members have any further suggestions/comments then these be forwarded to the Chairman of the Other Licensing Committee to be discussed and agreed with the relevant Officer.
OLC
11/18
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
OLC
12/18
PRIVATE HIRE DRIVER - REF 110169
  • Private Hire Driver - Ref 110169
RESOLVED that Private Hire Driver - Ref 110169 Licence be revoked for the reasons as detailed above.
OLC
13/18
PRIVATE HIRE DRIVER - REF 141491
  • Private Hire Driver - Ref 141491
RESOLVED that the item be deferred.
OLC
14/18
PRIVATE HIRE DRIVER - REF 109831
  • Private Hire Driver - Ref 109831
RESOLVED that Private Hire Driver - Ref 109831 be issued with a final written warning for the reasons as detailed above.
OLC
15/18
COMBINED DRIVER - REF 066876
  • Combined Driver - Ref 066876
.RESOLVED that Combined Driver - Ref 066876' Hackney and Private Hire Drivers Licence be revoked with immediate effect for the reasons as detailed above.
10:00am

Preamble

ItemPreamble
OLC
7/18
The Evacuation Procedure was noted.
OLC
8/18
There were no declarations of interest.
OLC
9/18
Consideration was given to the draft minutes from the Other Licensing Committee meeting which was held on the 17th April 2018 for approval and signature.
OLC
10/18
Members were asked to consider and comment on a report proposing a licensed premises award scheme for Stockton which promoted a thriving, safe, night-time economy supporting improvements in the management of licensed premises and promoting responsible drinking in Stockton prior to being considered at the next Cabinet meeting to be held on 21st June 2018.

The Assistant Licensing Officer presented the report to the Committee highlighting the following.

- Current national accreditation schemes.

- A national award scheme supported by the Home Office known as Best Bar None which was centred around the four licensing objectives.

- The Purple Flag standard which was launched in 2012 which was an accreditation process similar to the flag awards for parks and the Blue Flag for beaches.

- The proposed Stockton Scheme which was to be bespoke to Stockton was based on a range of standards (mandatory, desirable and exceptional) and would apply to all existing licensed premises, clubs with a further phase of the scheme to include off-sales in Stockton.

- Brief discussion took place in relation to Trade feedback relating to the scheme and the various routes the scheme would take in terms of licence application, renewal, targeted inspection and promotion of the scheme.

Full details of scheme were contained within the main report.

Members were given the opportunity to make comments/ask questions and these could be summarised as follows:

- The scheme was welcomed by Members.

- Discussion took place around the outside appearance of some of the public houses within the Borough in particular where some had been neglected and left to deteriorate. Members questioned whether this should also be included as part of the accreditation criteria.

- Discussion took place around the cost of the scheme and whether dialogue had been had with other interested parties and stakeholders.

- Comments were made as to the life span of the accreditation in terms of did it have one and if not that it should be a time limited accreditation scheme so premises would have to re-apply and therefore give the authority an opportunity for re inspection to make sure the accreditation level was still being met.

- Questions were raised in relation to how micro pubs would be accredited compared to traditional establishments in terms of how small they were and the fact some may not be able to accommodate a wheelchair, etc.

Officers were given the opportunity to respond to Members questions/comments. These could be summarised as follows:

- Regards dialogue with interested parties, it was confirmed that discussion had been had with the Police's Licensing Team, however it was not known if any agreements had been made regards contribution to the cost of the scheme.

- A meeting had been had with Members of Pubwatch where it had been highlighted that not all establishments would need the same services for its customers, for instance where establishments catered for older clientele it was felt that the provision of condom machines were not necessary. Following discussion with Pubwatch it was agreed that a percentage of desirable criteria could be achieved rather than all of the criteria to meet accreditation standards. This would also encourage more establishments to get on board with the scheme.

- It was highlighted that the criteria for micro pubs and traditional establishments would be the same.

Members agreed that the scheme be approved and presented to Cabinet as detailed within the report and that should Members have any further comments / suggestions prior to that then these be forwarded to the Chairman of the Other Licensing Committee to discuss and agree with the relevant Officer.
OLC
12/18
Members were asked to consider a report and determine what action to take in relation to the continued fitness of a Private Hire Driver who had allegedly held a young female in his vehicle against her will and then taken her mobile phone
from her; two passers-by had to intervene as the female was so distraught.

Private Hire Driver - Ref 110169 was in attendance with his legal representative Mr Deadman and given the opportunity to make representation. Papers had been provided with a copy of the committee report prior to the meeting.

The report detailed the following:

1. A copy of an e mail from a Police Officer to the Licensing Department detailing the allegation against Private Hire Driver - Ref 110169.

2. A copy of a statement from the passenger who had made the allegation.

3. A copy of a witness statement.

4. A copy of a recorded interview with Private Hire Driver - Ref 110169.

5. A copy of various letters detailing complaints against Private Hire Driver - Ref 110169.

6. A copy of a CRB disclosure interview.

7. A copy of a letter from the Licensing Department to Private Hire Driver - Ref 110169.

8. A copy of a set of minutes from a previous Licensing Committee meeting which contained details of a previous allegation against Private Hire Driver - Ref 110169.

The Committee were asked to consider what action to take in relation to a complaint received, where it was alleged that Private Hire Driver - Ref 110169 had behaved in an inappropriate way towards a lone female passenger. The complainant stated that Private Hire Driver - Ref 110169 had attempted to take her mobile phone from her, with force, whilst preventing her from leaving the vehicle. Private Hire Driver - Ref 110169 had previous history and previous warnings, regarding his conduct which were also considered.

Private Hire Driver - Ref 110169 was assisted by his legal representative Mr Deadman, from Watson & Woodhouse Solicitors, who in turn was assisted by an appointed independent Interpreter.

The Committee had regard to all of the evidence presented and information given orally by Private Hire Driver - Ref 110169 and his legal representative.

The Committee were of the view that there were some discrepancies between the version of events Private Hire Driver - Ref 110169 had given to Officers during interview and the evidence Private Hire Driver - Ref 110169 had given to the Committee on the day of the meeting.

Members of the Committee considered the matter on the balance of probabilities. The Committee did note that they had not heard any live evidence from the complainant and the independent witness, who had provided statements contained within the main report. The Committee noted that the independent witness was unable to attend the meeting due to holiday commitments. The Committee were of the view that Private Hire Driver - Ref 110169's handling of the issue with the lone female passenger was wholly inappropriate.

Members felt at best it was inappropriate and was a concern that Private Hire Driver - Ref 110169 did not appear to accept that he had done anything wrong or that Private Hire Driver - Ref 110169 would deal with a similar situation differently in future. It was clear that an incident had occurred in Private Hire Driver - Ref 110169's vehicle which had led to a member of the public having their attention drawn to screams coming from his vehicle and having to intervene to ensure the safety of the passenger, who was described by one of the witnesses as being very distressed.

Private Hire Driver - Ref 110169 then accepted that he did ask the complainant to leave her mobile phone but when interviewed Private Hire Driver - Ref 110169 had denied this.

The Committee were satisfied that Private Hire Driver - Ref 110169 had behaved in a manner which was not fit and proper for a licensed driver. It was also noted that Private Hire Driver - Ref 110169 had previously appeared before the Committee on disciplinary issues, and had been issued with a warning regarding his future conduct.

The Committee carefully considered their decision as to whether they were satisfied, at this time, that Private Hire Driver - Ref 110169 was a fit and proper person to continue holding a Private Hire Driver's licence with this authority.

Members of the Licensing Committee were of the view that Private Hire Driver - Ref 110169 was no longer considered a fit and proper person to hold a licence with this Authority. Therefore, Private Hire Driver - Ref 110169's licence to drive private hire vehicles with Stockton Borough Council, was revoked with immediate effect on grounds of public safety, due to the level of distress Private Hire Driver - Ref 110169 had caused to the lone female passenger on this occasion. This is pursuant to section 61(1)(b) and section 61(2B) of The Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976.

The Committee were of the view that the overriding consideration was the safety of the travelling public, and they felt this had been compromised during this incident.
OLC
13/18
Members were asked to consider and determine what action to take in relation to a renewal application from Private Hire Driver - Ref 141491 who had been convicted of driving without insurance during the process of his application and also failing to notify this Authority of his conviction.

Due to unforeseen circumstances Private Hire Driver - Ref 141491 was unable to attend the committee hearing and his representative requested that the hearing be deferred to a future meeting of the Other Licensing Committee.
OLC
14/18
Members were asked to consider a report and determine what action to take in relation to the continued fitness of Private Hire Driver - Ref 109831 who had a licence issued with a warning by this Committee in September 2008 following a previous driving ban for speeding. Since the grant of his licence Private Hire Driver - Ref 109831 had received a final written warning from officers after he failed to declare motoring convictions as required by his private hire driver conditions and Private Hire Driver - Ref 109831 had also been convicted of driving without insurance which resulted in 6 DVLA penalty points on his licence.

Private Hire Driver - Ref 109831 was in attendance and given the opportunity to make representation. Papers had been provided with a copy of the committee report prior to the meeting.

The report detailed the following:

- A copy of a previous warning letter dated September 2008.

- A copy of a warning letter dated January 2010.

- A copy of notification dated October 2017 notifying the Licensing Department that Private Hire Driver - Ref 109831 had been convicted of driving without insurance

The Committee had regard to all of the evidence contained within the Committee report and that given orally by Private Hire Driver - Ref 109831. The Committee had regard to Private Hire driver - Ref109831's explanation as to why he had received an IN10 conviction. Under the Council guidelines on relevance of convictions this was classed as a major traffic offence.

The Committee noted that the offence had not been committed by Private Hire Driver - Ref 109831 in a taxi or private hire vehicle but while he had borrowed his father's car. Private Hire Driver - Ref 109831's father had confirmed that he could do so while he was out of the country.

It was noted that owing to a breakdown in communication Private Hire Driver - Ref 109831's fathers insurance had expired while his father was out of the country. It was also noted that Private Hire Drive - Ref 109831 held insurance to drive his own vehicle but that his father's insurance had expired and therefore Private Hire Driver - Ref 109831 was not lawfully permitted to drive his father's vehicle under Private Hire driver - Ref 109831's own insurance and therefore had driven the vehicle uninsured.

The Committee noted that Private Hire Driver - Ref 109831 had received previous disciplinary warnings but that these were now somewhat historic with the last warning being issued in 2010. Private Hire Driver - Ref 109831 had appeared before the Committee in 2008 when his licence had been first issued with a warning.

The Committee noted that Private Hire Driver - Ref 109831 was remorseful and had apologised to the Committee and provided assurances that he would not appear before them again.

The Committee carefully considered their decision as to whether they were satisfied, at this time, that Private Hire Driver - Ref 109831 was a fit and proper person to continue holding a Private Hire Driver's licence with this authority.

The Committee decided on this occasion to take a step back from revoking Private hire Driver - Ref 109831's licence and to issue him with a final warning. It was noted that the previous final warning had been issued by an officer and that this was the first time Private Hire Driver - Ref 109831 had appeared before the Committee in relation to a disciplinary issue.

The Committee reminded Private Hire Driver - Ref 109831 that he was expected to demonstrate high standards as a professional licensed driver and that he should ensure he did so in future and that the Committee did not have cause to see Private Hire Driver - Ref 109832 again.
OLC
15/18
Members were asked to consider a report and determine what action to take in relation to Combined Driver - Ref 066876 who was currently suspended following two separate complaints of inappropriate behaviour towards lone female passengers who were being transported home.

The first female complainant alleged that Combined Driver - Ref 066876 attempted to kiss her and also touched her breast.

The second female complainant alleged she had fallen asleep in Combined Driver - Ref 066876's vehicle and woke to find he was kissing her on the lips.

Combined Driver - Ref 066876 was in attendance with his legal representative Mr Schiller and given the opportunity to make representation. Committee papers had been provided to Combined Driver - Ref 066876 and his legal representative Mr Schiller which included a copy of the committee report prior to the meeting.

The report detailed the following:

- A copy of a statement from female complainant's one, mother.

- A copy of a statement from female complainant one.

- A copy of a statement from a call handler from the same taxi office which Combined Driver - Ref 066876 was working from.

- A copy of a letter to Combined Driver - Ref 066876 inviting him for interview.

- A summary of an interview with Combined Driver - Ref 066876.

- A copy of a statement from female complainant two.

- A copy of a statement made by female complainants two husband.

- A summary record of an interview.

- A copy of a previous warning letter issued to Combined Driver - Ref 066876 in 2007.

The Committee had regard to all of the evidence including that contained within the Committee report and that given orally by the two witnesses who attended the hearing, The Committee also heard evidence from Combined Driver - Ref 006876, assisted by an interpreter. The Committee heard evidence from the witness (female complainant two), who had made a complaint to the Council concerning Combined Driver - Ref 006876's alleged inappropriate behaviour while she was a passenger in his vehicle.

It was accepted that the complainant had consumed a number of alcoholic drinks during the night in question and that she accepted she was drunk.

The Committee were aware that they must determine the issues on the balance of probabilities.

The Committee preferred the evidence of the complainant and her husband and found them to be believable and credible witnesses. The behaviour of Combined Driver - Ref 0066876 as alleged by the complainant was very similar to that received from the first complainant.

The Committee noted that the first complainant and her mother had not attended the meeting but they had regard to statements taken from them which had been recorded by officers who had attended their home. It was noted that the statement had not been signed as the first complainant and her mother had indicated that they did not wish to be further involved in the process should the matter proceed to Committee.

The Committee did find that the details of the first complaint acted as corroborative evidence to the evidence given by the second complainant. It was also noted that the complaint which the Council received in 2007 also related to similar behaviour when it was alleged that Combined Driver - Ref 006876 had asked a passenger for a kiss.

The Committee noted that Combined Driver - Ref 006876 denied that he had acted in the manner which was alleged by any of the complainants.

The Committee found that on the balance of probabilities Combined Driver - Ref 006876 had acted in the manner as alleged by the complainants. It was clear that such behaviour was totally inappropriate and provided sufficient reasonable cause to revoke Combined Driver - Ref 006876's licence. The Committee found that Combined Driver - Ref 006876 had taken advantage of lone and vulnerable female passengers and therefore public safety was deemed to be a relevant consideration and the revocation of his licence would be with immediate effect.

The Committee noted that Combined Driver - Ref 006876's licence had initially been suspended that the suspension was lifted and that given their findings there was sufficient reasonable cause for his licence to be revoked and that this would be with immediate effect on the grounds of public safety. Public safety was deemed to be a relevant consideration given the Committees findings that Combined Driver - Ref 006876 had behaved in an inappropriate manner towards two lone female passengers.

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