The Director of Adult Social
Care and Health Integration submitted an exempt report in connection with an
application for a Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licence Ref: 07/ 23.
The Chair introduced those present
and outlined the procedure to be followed. The applicant, who was in
attendance at the meeting verified his name and address. The applicant was
provided a copy of the report by the Licensing Enforcement Officer. The
Licensing Enforcement Officer advised the Committee that Stockton Council had
revoked the applicant’s taxi licence in 2005, but this information was not in
the report. The Council’s legal representative queried the reason for the
revocation. It was confirmed this was unknown due to the time that had elapsed
and predated the public register.
The Licensing Enforcement
Officer presented a summary of the report, outlining that the applicant
appeared before Committee in relation to the offences detailed at one and two
in the report. Members were advised that the application was made on 1 December
2022 and the details of the offences were disclosed on the application form.
The applicant confirmed that
the report was an accurate representation of the facts and was invited to
address the Committee in support of his application. The applicant presented
the case in support of his application and responded to questions from Members
and the Council’s Legal Representative.
The applicant advised Members
that the offence in question occurred nine years prior and that since being the
conviction he had no other issues. The applicant stated he was applying for his
licence so he could earn a living.
It was confirmed that there
were no further questions and the applicant and Officers of the Council, other
than representatives of the Council’s Legal and Democratic Services, withdrew
from the meeting whilst the Committee determined the application.
Subsequently, all parties
returned and the Chair announced a summary of the Committee’s decision and
highlighted that the applicant would receive the full decision and reasons
within five working days.
ORDERED that the application for
Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licence, Ref No: 07/23, be refused.
Authority to Act
Under Section 51 of the Local Government Miscellaneous Provisions Act 1976 (“the Act”) the Committee may decide to grant a private hire vehicle driver’s licence only if it is satisfied the driver is a fit and proper person to be granted such a licence.
The Committee considered Section 51 of the Act, the Middlesbrough Council Private Hire and Hackney Carriage Policy 2022 (“the Policy”), the report and representations made by the Applicant.
The Application was considered on its own particular facts and on its merits.
After carefully considering all the information the Licensing Committee decided to refuse the Application for a private hire vehicle driver’s licence on the grounds that the Committee was not satisfied the Applicant was a fit and proper person to be granted the licence. The reasons for the decision were as follows:
The Applicant had been convicted on the 28 January 2014 of using a passenger vehicle with a defective tyre on the 14 January 2014 and convicted of Assault of a Constable on the 14 January 2014.
The Policy stated a firm line was to be taken with those who had a conviction for offences of violence or had been involved in violent acts. The Policy stated that a licence would normally be refused where the applicant had a conviction for an offence of violence against the person or was connected with any offence of violence until a period of at least ten years free of such conviction had elapsed since the completion of any sentence imposed.
The Policy which came into force in 2022, reflected the requirements of the Department of Transport’s Statutory Taxi and Private Hire Vehicle Standards. The Statutory Standards were set to directly address the safeguarding of the public, potential failings in this area and to ensure that protection of the public was paramount. The Statutory Standards stated that recommendations on the assessment of previous convictions drew on the work from various linked institutions and was fully consulted upon. The Statutory Standards stated where an applicant had a conviction of violence against the person, a licence would not be granted until at least 10 years had elapsed since completion of the sentence imposed. It stated the period should be taken as a starting point.
An incident free period of ten years would not expire until 13 January 2024.
The Applicant stated that he had pleaded not guilty. He stated he was stopped by traffic police who thought he was driving erratically. The Police had found the defective tyre but whilst he was disputing his driving with the officers an officer arrested him and as he stepped back off the pavement the officer had stumbled and hit her hand.
However, the Committee noted that the court had tested the evidence and found the Applicant guilty to the criminal standard and would not and could not go behind the conviction. It appeared the Applicant still did not fully accept responsibility.
Although the Committee noted the sentence was only a fine, it still considered it to be serious because it was an assault on a female officer whilst carrying out their official duties.
In addition, the Applicant had previously been licensed as a private hire vehicle driver for Stockton Council, but his Licence was revoked in 2005. There was no information on record as to the reasons for the revocation and the Applicant could not fully explain the reasons which concerned the Committee. Although the Committee accepted this occurred a long time ago, at some point the Applicant was no longer fit and proper to hold a licence in 2005.
The Committee, after considering the Policy, Statutory Standards, the offence and explanations, could find no exceptional or good reason to depart from the Policy that requires 10 years free of incidents and decided to refuse to grant the licence.
If the Applicant was aggrieved by the decision, they may appeal to a Magistrates Court within 21 days from the date of the notice of the decision. The local magistrates for the area are the Teesside Justice Centre, Teesside Magistrates, Victoria Square, Middlesbrough.
If the Applicant did appeal the decision and the appeal was dismissed by the Magistrates Court, the Council will claim its costs in defending its decision from the Applicant which could be in the region or in excess of £1000.