Agenda item

Application for the suspension/revocation of a Hackney Carriage/Private Hire Driver's Licence

Report of the Assistant Director of Commissioning.

Minutes:

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

 

The Hearing took place in the presence of the appellant, the Licensing Officer, Assistant Licensing Officer and Mr P Mason, the Council’s Solicitor.

 

The Chairman made introductions and explained the procedures to the appellant. 

 

The Licensing Officer presented the report which was to determine an application to suspend/revoke a Hackney Carriage/Private Hire drivers licence in accordance with Section 61(1)(b) of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 due to the incurrence of motoring convictions and the failure to notify the Licensing Authority of such convictions as required by the conditions of his licence.  The appellant no longer lived at the address shown in the report.

 

The appellant confirmed he had received a copy of the report.  He explained that after he telephoned Breckland Council to ascertain what was expected of him with regard to the speeding conviction incurred on 16.10.2009, he advised them in writing within seven days of receiving the conviction (which a member of the Licensing Team acknowledged), that he would appeal against it to Norfolk Constabulary.  He confirmed he had been advised that if he did receive penalty points he would need to let Breckland Council know.  When Norfolk Constabulary advised him that their decision was final around February/March 2010, he had surrendered his vehicle plates to Breckland Council as he no longer worked as a taxi driver, but instead, from the first week in February 2010 he was employed in a new job.  On 11.7.2010 he received a further conviction, but again it was during the time he did not work as a taxi driver.  Therefore, as he was not working as a taxi driver during the period March 2010 to July 2011 he did not think he had to let Breckland Council know.

 

At the Hearing, the Licensing Officer was not able to confirm that the appellant had handed in his vehicle licence without checking the computer system.  The appellant did not have a copy of the letter he sent to Breckland Council and the Licensing Officer confirmed there was no record of the letter on file. For the benefit of Members, the Licensing Officer explained the procedure followed when a driver received a conviction.

 

It was explained by the appellant that the only reason he returned to taxi driving was due to the work at his new employment having “dried up”, the financial climate and to carry out contracts on behalf of his father who was unable to do so himself, due to illness and hospitalisation.  He acknowledged the offence was against the rules and apologised, and explained it had not been done to be dishonest.

 

When questioned by the Solicitor, the appellant stated that he did not surrender his Hackney Carriage/Private Hire driver’s licence in February/March 2010 due to there always being an opportunity to do extra work with his father’s company.

 

The appellant stated that whilst wrong, he believed that the two SP30s he received in three years were minimal offences and not dangerous ones, both of which he encountered whilst driving in the early hours of the morning.  He thought the amount of convictions he had received in 12 years of driving was not an excessively bad average given the number of miles he had driven and the times of day he worked. Members were concerned that the appellant thought that the 4 speeding convictions he received during 12 years of driving was an acceptable average. 

 

The appellant asked the Committee to take into account the work he covered for his father, as if they were not able to carry out the contracts, they would need to give four months’ notice.  His father had had a contract with Norfolk County Council since 2009, but the appellant did not have a personal contract with them himself.

 

Having heard all the evidence, the Committee withdrew to consider their options.  The Solicitor explained that the Members would apply the statutory test to the application to determine if they considered 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 Solicitor advised the following findings of fact :

 

1.                  The appellant had many years experience as a driver of a motor vehicle

2.                  The appellant had held a licence from Breckland Council for a period of three years

3.                  The appellant made contact with the Local Authority in relation to the first conviction in October 2009

4.                  The appellant failed to notify the Local Authority of a number of changes of address

5.                  The appellant failed to appreciate the seriousness of the accumulation of speeding offences whilst holding a driver’s licence issued by the Council.

 

RESOLVED, that the appellant’s Hackney Carriage/Private Hire driver’s licence be suspended for the period of one month for the reason of the safety of passengers which was of paramount importance.  From the evidence provided, the Committee felt the appellant failed to give due regard to the safety element required by the District Council.

 

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.

 

The Chairman advised the appellant he needed to be very careful in future of the statutory speed limits and to keep Breckland Council up to date with where he lived.