Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council

Big plans, bright future

Other Licensing Committee Minutes

Date:
Tuesday, 10th July, 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 Chris Clough, Cllr Evaline Cunningham, Cllr Ken Dixon, Cllr Elsi Hampton, Cllr Mrs Jean O'Donnell, Cllr Maurice Perry, Cllr Julia Whitehill,
Officers:
Jonathan Nertney (DHRL&C), Simon Mills, Kirsty Wannop, Margaret Waggott, Sarah Whaley (DCE)
In Attendance:
Private Hire Operator - Ref 072, accompanied by his brother and his legal representative Mr Antony Schiller. Private Hire Driver - Ref 000913 and his representative Mr Mick Vaines.
Apologies for absence:
Cllr Derrick Brown, Cllr Eileen Johnson, Cllr David Wilburn, Cllr Norma Wilburn, Cllr Bill Woodhead MBE
Item Description Decision
Public
OLC
22/18
EVACUATION PROCEDURE
 
OLC
23/18
DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST
 
OLC
24/18
MINUTES FROM THE OTHER LICENSING COMMITTEE MEETING WHCIH WAS HELD ON THE 29TH MAY 2018
RESOLVED that the draft minutes of the Other Licensing Committee meeting which was held on the 29th May 2018 be approved and signed as a correct record by the Chairman.
OLC
25/18
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
26/18
PRIVATE HIRE OPERATOR - 072
  • Private Hire Operator - 072
RESOLVED that Private Hire Operator - Ref 072's additional conditions imposed by Teesside Magistrates Court at an appeal hearing on 27th June 2017 remain unchanged for the reasons as detailed above.
OLC
27/18
PRIVATE HIRE DRIVER - REF 000913
  • Private Hire Driver - Ref 000913
RESOLVED that Private Hire Driver - Ref 000913's Combined Private Hire Drivers Licence be revoked for the reasons as detailed above.
10:00am

Preamble

ItemPreamble
OLC
22/18
The Evacuation Procedure was noted.
OLC
23/18
There were no declarations of interest.
OLC
24/18
Consideration was given to the draft minutes from the Other Licensing Committee meeting which was held on the 29th May 2018 for approval and signature.
OLC
26/18
Members were asked to consider a report and determine what action to take in relation to a request to remove / amend additional conditions on Private Hire Operator - Ref 072's licence, which were attached to their Private Hire Operators Licence by Teesside Magistrates Court in 2013, following an appeal against the Committee decision to refuse to renew the Private Hire Operator Licence.

Present at the meeting was Private Hire Operator -Ref 072 company representative and his legal representative Mr Antony Schiller, Solicitor. It was noted that the Director of Private Hire Operator - Ref 072, was not in attendance at the start of the meeting. The Committee requested an explanation as to why he was not in attendance and Mr Schiller advised that he had been involved in a meeting that morning which had gone on longer than anticipated and he was therefore running late. The Committee resolved that they were not minded to proceed to consider the report without Private Hire Operator - Ref 072's Director being in attendance at the meeting. The matter was therefore stood down in order for the Director to attend.

After considering the next item on the agenda the Committee were informed that Private Hire Operator - Ref 072's Director was now in attendance and the matter was then heard.

Committee papers and reports had been provided to all parties prior to the meeting and all parties were given the opportunity to make representation.

The report detailed the following:

- A copy of a committee decision letters.

- A copy of the Court Order following the appeal hearing.

- A copy of Private Hire Operator - Ref 072's Operators Licence.

- A copy of an e mail from the Private Hire Opertaor - Ref 072's legal representative.

On the 15th January 2013 the renewal of Private Hire Operator - Ref 072's licence was determined by the Committee and members refused to renew the Private Hire Operator Licence. Private Hire Operator - Ref 072 lodged an appeal against the decision and this was heard by Teesside Magistrates Court on 27th June 2013. The matter was heard before District Judge Lower who allowed the appeal and attached additional conditions to the Operator Licence. Private Hire Operator - Ref 072 was ordered to pay the Council's costs in the sum of 3,450.00

Since 2013 Private Hire Operator - Ref 072's Private Hire Operator Licence had been renewed annually with the conditions being attached. Private Hire Operator - Ref 072 applied to renew their Private Hire Operators Licence in November 2017. The renewal application took some time to process as the Licensing Department were investigating a number of issues which may have had a bearing on the decision to renew the licence. These issues however were resolved and the renewal of the licence was granted on 27th April 2018.

Following the grant of the Private Hire Operator Licence the company had made a request to amend conditions 7 and 8. The basis of this request was to allow one of the company representatives to have a managerial position within the company and also to remove the requirement that a Director of Private Hire Operator - Ref 072 had to attend Licensing Committee meetings.

The Committee considered the report and the submissions that were made by Mr Schiller, Private Hire Operator - Ref 072's legal representative.

The Committee noted that the request was for the Committee to agree to amend two of the conditions attached to the Operator's licence, namely condition 7 and 8.

"Condition 7 - a named representative shall not be employed in any management capacity within the Company nor should any management function be delegated to him by anyone in a position of authority in the Company."

Mr Schiller on behalf of Private Hire Operator - Ref 072 explained the reason for this request was:-

. The named company representative had held a Private Hire Drivers licence granted by Middlesbrough Council for a period of approximately 4 years; and
That there were no recent concerns about him

The Committee considered the evidence and oral submissions given and decided that they had not been provided with sufficient evidence to persuade them to remove or vary the condition :-

•Weight had to be attached to the previous lengthy disciplinary history concerning Private Hire Operator - Ref 072 which did involve issues concerning the named company representative. Weight also had to be attached to the fact that District Judge Lower had found it necessary that the condition should be attached to Private Hire Operator - Ref 072's, Operators licence;

•The fact that the named company representative held a private hire drivers licence with Middlesbrough was not deemed to be sufficient grounds to remove the condition and permit him to be involved in a management capacity within the company;

. The named company representative was not in attendance at the Committee meeting and the Committee were therefore unable to hear from him or ask him any questions they may have had in order to give proper consideration to the request;

•No evidence had been presented to show that the named company representative should be permitted to undertake any management functions within Private Hire Operator - Ref 072's business. For example there was no evidence presented that the named company representative had undertaken any management training or obtained any other relevant experience that could persuade the Committee that issues which had occurred in the past would not reoccur;

•The passage of time in itself since the condition had been attached by District Judge Lower was not deemed to be a sufficient reason to persuade the Committee to agree that the condition should be removed.

"Condition 8 - Any meeting of the Licensing Committee of Stockton -on-Tees Borough Council which requires a representative of the Company to attend must be attended by a Director of the Company".

Mr Schiller on behalf of Private Hire Operator - Ref 072 had explained the reason for this request was:-

• Private Hire Operator - Ref 072's Manager had been the main point of regulatory contact with the Council for some years and he was the manager of the Company;

• It had become oppressive to have a Director at every meeting and that Private Hire Operator - Ref 072 should be able to delegate tasks to the manager of the company.

The Committee considered all of the evidence including all oral submissions and decided that they had not been provided with sufficient evidence to persuade them to remove or vary the condition:-

•To suggest that this condition was oppressive was totally without merit. No evidence had been presented to demonstrate that this condition was oppressive. On the contrary the evidence showed that it was certainly not oppressive. Since 2013 Private Hire Operator - Ref 072 had only appeared before the Committee on one occasion, namely this meeting. The Committee were of the view that the condition had been misinterpreted by Private Hire Operator - Ref 072 and/or Mr Schiller. The condition was quite clear in only requiring the attendance of Private Hire Operator - Ref 072's sole Director for meetings of the Licensing Committee;

•The Committee noted that condition 3 specifically permitted Private Hire Operator - Ref 072's manager shall be allowed to undertake any regulatory matters delegated to him by Private Hire Operator - Ref 072 Director";

•It was noted that Private Hire Operator - Ref 072 had only one Director. Private Hire Operator - Ref 072 could if it so wished appoint further Directors if they wished to have some flexibility in attendance at Licensing Committee. The company had chosen to only have one director.
OLC
27/18
Members were asked to consider a report and determine what action to take in relation to Private Hire Driver - Ref 000913's renewal application who, during the term of his licence had been convicted of illegally plying for hire whilst driving a Stockton private licensed hire vehicle in Middlesbrough, contrary to section 45 of the Town Police Clauses Act 1847 and also for driving without insurance which resulted in Private Hire Driver - Ref 000913's DVLA driving licence being endorsed with 6 penalty points.

Private Hire Driver - Ref 000913 and his representative Mr Mick Vaines was in attendance at the meeting and given the opportunity to make representation. Committee papers and reports had been provided prior to the meeting.

The report detailed the following:

- Information detailing the Private Hire Driver - Ref 000913's conviction and details relating to driving without insurance.

- A copy of a summary transcript of an interview with Private Hire Driver - Ref 000913.

- A copy of a number of warning letters to Private Hire Driver - Ref 000913.

- A copy of Committee decision letters relating to Private Hire Driver - Ref 000913.

The role of the Committee was to determine if Private Hire Driver - Ref 000913 was considered a fit and proper person to remain a combined hackney carriage and private hire driver with this Authority.

The Committee had regard to all of the evidence presented and the information given orally by Private Hire Driver - Ref 000913 and his representative.

The Committee noted that Private Hire Driver - Ref 000913 had produced two references one from Stockton Borough Councillor, Councillor Javed and one from the firm through which he currently operated.

The Committee noted that Private Hire Driver - Ref 000913 had no other criminal or motoring convictions, however were aware that there was some history of relatively low level disciplinary matters while Private Hire Driver - Ref 000913 had been a licensed driver with the Authority.

The main issues which the Committee had to consider were the convictions for offences from April 2018 when Private Hire Driver - Ref 000913 had been caught plying for hire in an enforcement exercise carried out by Middlesbrough Council within their area. It was noted that Private Hire Driver - Ref 000913 had initially pleaded not guilty and had subsequently been convicted of the offence. Private Hire Driver - Ref 000913 did not accept responsibility for the offence and had pleaded not guilty, the Court had taken a dim view of this and imposed a large fine on Private Hire Driver - Ref 000913 and ordered him to pay costs. The explanation Private Hire Driver - Ref 000913 gave for committing the offence was that he needed the money. There were no mitigating factors that could be considered and in addition to receiving a conviction for the offence of plying for hire the Committee were also aware that Private Hire Driver - Ref 000913 had also been convicted of driving without insurance and that his licence was endorsed with 6 penalty points.

The Committee noted that under the Councils Policy and Guidelines on relevance of Convictions Private Hire Driver - Ref 000913's driving conviction was classed as a major traffic offence. It was submitted on behalf of Private Hire Driver - Ref 000913 that he was not a risk to the public, however the Committee felt that driving without insurance did potentially put the public at risk. The Committee were aware that receiving a conviction for an offence under the Local Government (Miscellaneous) Provisions Act 1976 gave specific grounds under section 61(1)(a) allowing a suspension or revocation of a drivers Private Hire Drivers licence. The Committee felt that plying for hire was an offence that undermined the licensing regime and that in itself was deemed to be a sufficient reason to revoke the licence. The Committee also took into consideration that the conviction for driving without insurance was, under the Councils policy, a major motoring offence and again provided sufficient reasonable cause to revoke the licence.

The Committee found that the previous disciplinary history was an aggravating factor and found that there were no mitigating factors which could persuade them to step back from revoking the licence. It was submitted that Private Hire Driver - Ref 000913 was in some financial hardship but that was an irrelevant consideration when considering whether there were grounds to take action against a licence and/or to find that a person was no longer fit and proper.

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