Agenda item

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 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 and was happy for Aida Li and Celestina Mahovic, Law students to be present for the hearing for observation/training purposes only.

 

Patrick O’Brien, Licensing Officer summarised the report which was to consider the suspension/revocation of a Hackney Carriage/Private Hire driver’s licence in accordance with Section 61(1)(b) of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 under any other reasonable cause due to the failure of the licence holder to comply with the conditions attached to his Hackney carriage vehicle. The appellant had appeared before the Appeals Committee on 22 February 2012 at which time it had been resolved to defer a decision to allow the Licensing Officer time to carry out further investigations.

 

The principal consideration was the appellant’s continual breach of licensing conditions including failure to notify of a change of address, his untruthfulness regarding ongoing insurance cover and the manner of his disposal of the Hackney Carriage.

 

Enquiries had subsequently been made via the Call Centre Manager and no reference was made relating to a ‘temporary address’ query.  The Licensing Officer had therefore been unable to verify the appellant’s claim that he had had a conversation with a member of Breckland staff regarding his proposed use of a temporary address. 

 

Whilst the appellant advised he had never had problems as detailed in the report before and would not do so again, he did state that he had had previous problems with insurance companies where they did not enter details on their databases.  He was not able to defend or explain why the Breckland Council Call Centre did not have any record of his phone call to them.  Taxi driving was his only form of employment.

 

A Councillor asked the appellant why, when he assured the Assistant Licensing Officer on 6 December 2011 that the vehicle would continue to be insured by him, that on the same day it was cancelled.  He replied by stating that he had asked his insurance company to overlap it and provide a free week’s insurance, he provided them with his new address but he never asked them to cancel the insurance.

 

Having heard all the evidence, the Committee withdrew to consider their options.  The Solicitor explained that Members would apply the statutory test to the application to determine if they considered that the appellant was a fit and proper person to perform the duties expected of a Breckland Council Hackney Carriage/Private Hire driver.

After considering the matter the Committee returned.

 

The Chairman stated to the appellant that whilst he was given a copy of the Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Byelaws and Conditions Document, he appeared not to have read it.  He was asked if he still had the Document and did he now realise he had to both read it and abide by it, to which he confirmed he did have it, and understood he needed to abide by it.  He was advised that the Committee had seriously considered the revocation of his licence.

 

The Solicitor advised the following findings of fact :

 

1.                  The appellant had held a driving licence granted by Breckland District Council since August 2008.

2.                  The appellant failed to notify the Licensing Authority of his change of address contrary to the current bylaws in force.

3.                  The appellant failed to notify the Licensing Authority of the transfer of vehicle, contrary to current bylaws in force.

4.                  The appellant failed to ensure that adequate insurance was in place whilst a vehicle was in his control.

5.                  There was no evidence of any proper contact between the appellant and the Licensing Authority over a period of time, in connection with the administration of his licences.

 

In the circumstances it was :

 

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

 

Reasons for the decision were :

 

1.                  The safety of passengers in vehicles licensed by Breckland District Council was of paramount importance

2.                  The local Licensing Authority impresses on all licence holders, that licences under their control should be properly administered

 

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

 

It was impressed upon the appellant that he must ensure at all times his insurance details were accurate and up to date and that he must notify Breckland District Council if he changed his address.