Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council

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Other Licensing Committee Minutes

Date:
Tuesday, 28th November, 2017
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 Evaline Cunningham, Cllr Ken Dixon, Cllr Eileen Johnson, Cllr Mrs Jean O'Donnell, Cllr Julia Whitehill, Cllr David Wilburn, Cllr Norma Wilburn, Cllr Bill Woodhead MBE
Officers:
Jonathan Nertney (DHR&LC), , Polly Edwards, Simon Mills, Kirtsy Wannop (DCE)
In Attendance:
Applicant - Ref 118372 and his representative Mr Mick Vaines. Applicant - Ref 119522
Apologies for absence:
Cllr Elsi Hampton, Cllr Maurice Perry,
Item Description Decision
Public
OLC
46/17
EVACUATION PROCEDURE
 
OLC
47/17
DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST
 
OLC
48/17
DRAFT MINUTES OF THE OTHER LICENSING COMMITTEE WHICH WAS HELD ON THE 8TH AUGUST 2017.
RESOLVED that the draft minutes of the Other Licensing Committee meeting which was held on the 8th August 2017 be approved and signed as a correct record by the Chairman.
OLC
49/17
DRAFT MINUTES OF THE OTHER LICENSING COMMITTEE WHICH WAS HELD ON THE 12TH SEPTEMBER AND 3RD OCTOBER 2017
RESOLVED that the draft minutes of the Other Licensing Committee meeting which was held on the 12th September and 3rd October 2017 be approved and signed as a correct record by the Chairman.
OLC
50/17
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
51/17
APPLICATION FOR A COMBINED DRIVERS LICENCE - REF 118372
  • Application for a Combined Drivers Licence - Ref 118372
RESOLVED that Applicant - Ref 118372 application for a Combined Drivers Licence be refused for the reasons as detailed above.
OLC
52/17
APPLICATION FOR A PRIVATE HIRE DRIVER LICENCE - REF 119522
  • Application For A Private Hire Driver Licence - Ref 119522
RESOLVED that Applicant - Ref 119522 application for a Private Hire Driver Licence be granted for the reasons as detailed above.

Preamble

ItemPreamble
OLC
46/17
The Evacuation Procedure was noted.
OLC
47/17
There were no declarations of interest.
OLC
48/17
Consideration was given to the draft minutes from the Other Licensing Committee meeting which was held on the 8th August 2017 for approval and signature.
OLC
49/17
Consideration was given to the draft minutes of the Other Licensing Committee meeting which was held on the 12th September and 3rd October 2017 for approval and signature.
OLC
51/17
Members were asked to consider a report and determine what action to take in relation to an application for a Combined Drivers Licence from an Applicant - Ref 118372 who had his previous licence revoked with immediate effect by this Authority. This action was taken after information was received from Cleveland Police who were investigating an allegation that Applicant - Ref 118372 had engaged in an online conversation of a sexual nature with a 12 year old girl and discussed meeting up with her.

The role of the Committee was to determine if Applicant - Ref 118372 was a fit and proper person' to hold a Combined Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Driver's Licence with this Authority, based on his current application, additional information received from Cleveland Police and the Council's Policy and Relevance of Convictions.

Applicant - Ref 118372 and his representative Mr Mick Vaines attended the meeting and were 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 Applicant - Ref 118372's application.

Copies of various correspondence to Applicant ref - 118372.

A copy of a redacted Police report.

A copy of a redacted Police witness statement.

A summary of an interview with Applicant - Ref 118372.

A copy of an email from Social Services.

Pursuant to section 51(1)(a) of The Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976, the Committee had to be satisfied that Applicant - Ref 118372 was a fit and proper person to hold a licence. The issuing and holding of a licence was a privilege and not a right and the overriding consideration was the safety of the public.

In order to help make fair and consistent decisions when considering applications, the Council had adopted Guidelines on the Relevance of Convictions, Cautions, Reprimands, Warnings, Complaints and Character. The Committee carefully considered the information in the Report which included information from Cleveland Police. The Committee noted that the Police had decided that in relation to the criminal allegation of engaging in sexual communication with a child, there was insufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of a conviction.

The Committee noted that their role in determining whether or not Applicant - Ref 118372 was a fit and proper person carried different and wider considerations than that of the Police when they considered whether to commence a criminal prosecution. The Committee had to make their considerations on the civil burden of proof which was on the balance of probabilities.

The Committee noted that the allegation against Applicant - Ref 118372 was that he had engaged in sexual communication with a child. There was evidence to suggest that Applicant - Ref 118372's mobile phone had been used and that the Wi-Fi at his home address had also been the source of the communication (Applicant - Ref 118372's IP address was linked to the use of the phone and communication). When interviewed Applicant - Ref 118372 stated that he had given his phone to his Cousin. When questioned by the Committee Applicant - Ref 118372 stated that his Cousin was on his father's side of the family and was his Uncle's Son. Applicant - Ref 118372 informed the Committee that he had not seen his Cousin since he had given him the IPhone 6 and that he had not made any efforts to find out where he was, nor had Applicant - Ref 118372 made any enquiries within his family. The Committee noted that although Applicant - Ref 118372 had given the Police his Cousin's name and identified him as being the person responsible for the sexual conversation with the child the Police had been unable to track the Cousin of Applicant - Ref 118372 .

Applicant - Ref 118372 alleged that his Cousin had been responsible for communicating with a child in a sexual nature and stated that Applicant - Ref 118372 had given an IPhone 6 to his Cousin. While Applicant - Ref 118372 was in Pakistan he had also given an IPhone 7 to the Imam. The IPhone 7 was a contract phone which had been taken out in Applicant - Ref 118372's wife's name and the contract for that phone continued to be paid by Applicant - Ref 118372.

The Committee noted that after the Police had attended Applicant - Ref 118372's home address his wife had contacted him in Pakistan and informed Applicant - Ref 118372 that the Police were wishing to speak to him despite the fact that the Police advised her not to do so. The Committee noted that Applicant - Ref 118372 left Pakistan and came back to the UK earlier than he was expecting to. It was submitted on Applicant - Ref 118372's behalf that this was not the action of someone who had something to hide. It was also submitted by Applicant - Ref 118372 that he had co-operated with the Police and the Council and that when licensed previously he had no record of complaints. The Committee noted and had regard to the fact that Applicant - Ref 118372 had co-operated with the Authorities.

The Committee also took into consideration the fact that Applicant - Ref 118372 currently had 9 points on his DVLA licence and that the first 6 points would not come off until 06 December 2019. The number of points on Applicant - Ref 118372's licence was also a relevant consideration for his fitness. It was noted that Applicant - Ref 118372 had failed to notify the Council of one set of the penalty points in contravention of the conditions which applied to his licence at the time.

The key matter of consideration for the Committee to determine was in relation to the use of Applicant - Ref 118372's mobile phone in a conversation of a sexual nature with a child.

Applicant - Ref 118372's explanation that he had given away an IPhone 6 to his Cousin, as he needed to contact a sick relative, was not believable. The Committee also felt that the gift of Applicant - Ref 118372's IPhone 7 to an Imam in Pakistan was also rather strange, especially given that he continued to pay the contract on that phone. The Committee noted that the Police had been unable to locate Applicant - Ref 118372's Cousin. It was noted that Applicant - Ref 118372 had also not taken any steps to locate his Cousin, and did not call any oral evidence to corroborate the version of events he sought to put before the Committee. Applicant - Ref 118372 did not produce any evidence to prove that his Cousin actually existed. If Applicant - Ref 118372's Cousin did exist then Applicant - Ref 118372 had chosen not to take any steps to identify or locate his whereabouts. Given Applicant - Ref 118372 had stated the family relationship; it was him that would have the ability to locate his Cousin. Applicant - Ref 118372 had not taken any steps to do so or given any proactive assistance to the Police other than to provide them with his name. The Committee did not believe Applicant - Ref 118372 and found that their concerns over his involvement with the phone that was used to engage in a sexual conversation with a child was a matter which could and should be taken into consideration when determining whether he was a fit and proper person.

It was therefore resolved that Applicant - Ref 118372's application would be refused under the provisions of section 51(1)(a) of the above-mentioned Act, on the grounds that he was not considered to be a fit and proper person to hold such a licence.
OLC
52/17
Members were asked to consider a report and determine what action to take in relation to an application for a Private Hire Drivers Licence from Applicant - Ref 119522 who had previously been licensed by this Authority but his licence had since lapsed in 2014. Since that date Applicant - Ref 119522 had been prosecuted by this Authority after he was found to be driving a private hire vehicle without a private hire drivers licence and also prosecuted by police for speeding, no insurance and obstructing a police officer by providing false details.

The role of the Committee was to determine whether or not Applicant - 119522 was a fit and proper person' to hold a Private Hire Drivers Licence with this Authority based on his current application in line with the authorities existing policy guidelines.

Applicant - Ref 119522 attended the meeting and was 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 the Applicant - Ref 119522's application including his DVLA licence.


A copy of a letter from Applicant - Ref 119522 detailing why he felt the Council should depart from the Policy on Relevance of Convictions in regards to his application.

The Committee heard all of the evidence that was available, along with Applicant - Ref 119522's verbal submission. The Committee also had consideration to the Councils Guidelines on the Relevance of Convictions and it was noted that previous convictions almost placed Applicant - Ref 119522 within those Policy Guidelines.

The Committee had regard to Applicant - Ref 119522's personnel mitigation and noted that his convictions had occurred during a particularly difficult period of time in his personal life. The Committee considered whether there were exceptional circumstances to justify a departure from the policy guidelines.

The Committee was satisfied after due consideration of all of the evidence available to them, that on this occasion there was sufficient exceptional circumstances to allow them to depart from the policy guidelines in this particular case.

However given Applicant - Ref 119522's previous convictions and history the Committee felt it appropriate that Applicant - Ref 19522's Private Hire Drivers Licence be granted with a firm warning as to his future conduct. Applicant - Ref 119522 was advised that he should ensure he complied fully with the conditions of his licence and all other associated regulations and legislation at all times so as to avoid any further appearance before the Committee in the future.

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