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 appellant confirmed he had received all relevant documentation.

 

Tiffany Bentley, Licensing Officer presented the report which was to determine an application to suspend/revoke a Hackney Carriage/Private Hire driver’s licence in accordance with Section 61(1)(b) of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 due to failure to maintain his Hackney Carriage Vehicle licence.  She explained the process of how mechanical test certificates were issued by authorised garages and clarified that they were separate from MOTs.   For the benefit of the Committee, she explained the renewal application process, and confirmed that the appellant’s driver licence and Hackney Carriage Vehicle licence were both now current.

 

The appellant stated it was never his intention to deceive the Authority and would not have taken his vehicle for an MOT had that been his intention.  He advised that he attended Breckland Council with the fee to re-new his Hackney Carriage/Private Hire licence at the same time there was a change in procedures with regard to new plates and holders.  He was told by the Licensing Officer he saw on the day, of the change in procedure and was issued with a new holder.  The appellant stated he was told by the Licensing Officer that the new plate would be sent to him, so during that time, he continued to carry on with his normal business whilst he awaited receipt of the plate, at which time he would have returned to the Council office.

 

The Licensing Officer explained the change in procedure with regard to the plates and holders and stated that the procedure could not be completed with just one appointment with the Authority.  All taxi drivers had been written to with regard to obtaining the new free of charge brackets (holders).

 

When questioned by a Member of the Committee, the appellant confirmed he understood that the plate had to be fitted before the licence was attached.  When asked why he carried on for 10 months without an up to date licence, he stated he did have a plate on the vehicle, albeit an out of date one, due to personal circumstances he had encountered during that period.  The Chairman asked him what had prompted him to take the vehicle for a mechanical test in October 2011, to which he replied the vehicle was due for an MOT, and felt that it would prompt the Licensing Officer about the plate.

 

Members were concerned and could not understand how the appellant carried on for a period of 10 months with an out of date plate and did nothing to chase the plate up with the Authority, during which time the vehicle may have been uninsured.  He was asked how much work he had undertaken during that period to which he replied very little.  He advised that he had spoken to a gentleman at his insurance company who stated that his insurance was valid.

 

The appellant said he submitted the vehicle for a test in 2010.

 

It was explained to Members how the Authority’s Lalpac system worked when applications were received, and that there was no record on that system of an application from the appellant.  The Licensing Officer said it was possible to verify dates from the system if the vehicle had undergone a mechanical test prior to 2011.

 

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 used an unlicensed vehicle for a period of 10 months

2.                  The appellant failed to check with the Licensing Authority on the status of the vehicle in 2011

3.                  The duty to ensure that vehicles were properly licensed falls on the driver/operator

 

In the circumstances it was :

 

RESOLVED that the appellant’s Hackney Carriage/Private Hire driver’s licence be suspended for the period of two weeks, which the Committee believed to be an appropriate sanction under Section 61(1)(b) of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976.

 

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 appellant was told by the Chairman to concentrate on keeping all his paperwork with the Licensing Authority up to date in future.