Agenda item

Suspension/Revocation of a Hackney Carriage/Private Hire Drivers Licence

Report of the Assistant Director of Commissioning.

Minutes:

The Chairman recognised the appellant, Councillor Wassell was a Member for the Watton Ward.

 

The Committee heard the application in accordance with the Council’s agreed procedure.

 

The Hearing took place in the presence of the appellant, the complainant, a Licensing Officer, and the Principial Licensing Officer.  Mr Phil Mason was also in attendance as the Council’s Solicitor.

 

The appellant had received all relevant documentation.

 

The Licensing Officer presented the report, which was to determine the suspension/revocation of a Hackney Carriage/Private Hire driver’s licence due to his recent behaviour in respect of a fellow Breckland Council licensed Hackney Carriage/Private Hire Driver.  The appellant had been a licensed Breckland Council Hackney Carriage/Private Hire Driver since at least 2002.

 

The complainant was given the opportunity to put his case forward.  He advised he was very nervous and could not speak much.  The appellant always made him frightened but since the incident he had calmed down, but he still did not feel safe around him or sitting on a Hackney rank, and he described the manner he behaved in was aggressive.  He conducted most of his business in Dereham, and did not want to be stopped from working freely due to fear.  Prior to the incident, he had not met the appellant before.

 

The appellant was given the opportunity to put his case forward, he advised he had run taxis since November 1989.  He had stopped beside the complainant’s vehicle on the day for about 8-10 seconds as he had heard that he was undercutting rates, which was something he personally did not agree with.  He denied using the language as recorded in Item 3.1.3 of the report or referring to him as a ‘foreigner’.  He did ask the complainant where he came from and told him to get back, but he told the Committee he was remorseful.  He had suffered a ‘bad day’ on the day in question.  He had been driving in Dereham for 23 years, and this was the first ever incident he had been involved in, he was one of the longest serving drivers with a Hackney Carriage Licence.  When he started in business there were 3 other taxi companies in Dereham now there were 7-8.  It was getting harder to make a living with the increase in private vehicles.  He said he would be financially affected if he lost his licence.

 

Having heard everything the appellant and the complainant had to say and evidence put before them, the Solicitor explained that the Committee would withdraw to consider the application and would do so by considering the evidence presented to them and they would then apply the statutory test (i.e that the Council, as Licensing Authority, needed to be satisfied that the appellant was a fit and proper person to hold a Hackney Carriage/Private Hire driver’s licence).

 

After considering the matter, the Committee returned.  The Chairman of the Committee advised the appellant they had considered whether to revoke of suspend his licence. They took a very dim view of the example he was setting to his own staff as owner of the company and their employer and this was reflected in the period the Committee had decided to suspend his licence for.

 

The Solicitor advised the findings of fact :

 

·        The appellant had been involved in the taxi business for many years.

·        There was a serious incident in Dereham on 1 May 2011 between the appellant and the complainant.

·        There was no independent evidence as to what took place at the time on 1 May 2011.

·        The appellant had admitted confronting the complainant on that occasion.

·        The appellant had expressed remorse about the incident, however the Committee was concerned that high standards should prevail amongst licensed Breckland drivers, and the appellant failed to reach the required standard of behaviour in this particular incidence.

·        Furthermore, the Committee takes very seriously its duty under the Race Relations Act 1976 and the Committee believed there was a racial incident on 1 May 2011

 

Accordingly it was,

 

RESOLVED, that the appellant’s Hackney Carriage/Private Hire driver’s licence be suspended for the period of four months for the reasons set out above.

 

The Chairman advised the appellant the decision was subject to appeal to the Magistrates Court.  The Appeal period was 21 days from the date on which the notice of the decision was given.