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 who was accompanied by his Mother, the Licensing Officer, Mr P Mason the Council’s Solicitor, and Ms Bethany Hughff a work experience student.

 

The Chairman made introductions and explained the procedures to the appellant.  The appellant confirmed he had received all relevant documentation, and was happy for the work experience student to remain in the meeting.

 

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 principal consideration was the appellant’s continual breach of licensing conditions, including the manner of his disposal of the Hackney Carriage HCV160.

 

The appellant advised that whilst he now understood what he should have done, at the time he had assumed that the new owner of the Mercedes Vito would inform the Council of the sale and transfer of the index plate and that he had not been aware that the new owner had not done so.

 

As to the accident the Toyota Avensis had been involved in, he assumed that notice had to be given in 3 days, and due to his replacement vehicle braking down on the way to see the Licensing Team, they were not available to see him later that afternoon as he had suggested.  He did not realise that he had done anything wrong until he had re-read the Guidelines, and that 72 hours meant 3 days.

 

The Licensing Officer explained the procedure with regard to Breckland Council being informed of vehicle accidents, and that proprietors could notify them in any form, and despite it being the appellant’s duty to do so, they had not received any notification of an accident from him.  He also explained the procedure with regard to the transfer of interest in a vehicle.

 

An email was received by the Licensing Team a considerable time after the due date they should have been notified of an accident, which was shown to Members and included a photograph of the damage sustained to the vehicle’s front off side wing.

 

The Solicitor clarified that with regard to legislation relating to the transfer of interest in the vehicle (Section 49(1) of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976), it was clear that it was the duty of the proprietor to inform the Licensing Authority of any transfer of vehicle.

 

It was also the duty of the proprietor of a Hackney Carriage or Private Hire vehicle to report an accident involving a vehicle within 72 hours (Section 50(3) of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976).

 

He raised Members’ attention to whether or not damage to the vehicle had materially affected the safety, performance or appearance of the vehicle or comfort of people there in.  The appellant stated it had not affected its performance.

 

The appellant had since put in place procedures so that the situations did not happen again.  His Mother advised Members that when he set up his business he was full of determination to build a quality one. He worked very hard and there was high demand for taxis in Thetford.  His priority was keeping his taxis clean inside and outside, his customers happy by providing a good service and a business that people trusted in the town.  A complimentary letter was shown to Members that had been written by one of his customers.  He felt he had let himself down but he would not let it happen again and was sorry.

 

Having heard all the evidence, the appellant and his Mother withdrew to allow the Committee to consider their options.  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 perform the duties expected of a Breckland Council Hackney Carriage/Private Hire driver.

 

After considering the matter the appellant and his Mother returned.

 

The Solicitor advised the following findings of fact :

 

1.                  The appellant had held a drivers licence for a number of years

2.                  The appellant had failed to notify the Licensing Authority of the transfer of a licensed vehicle and the fact that another licensed vehicle had been involved in a road accident

3.                  The appellant failed to seek prior approval from the Licensing Authority for alterations to a licensed vehicle

4.                  The appellant had expressed remorse for his failure to complete the necessary administration requirements with regard to vehicle licenses

 

In the circumstances it was :

 

RESOLVED that the appellant’s Hackney Carriage/Private Hire driver’s licence be :

 

(a)               suspended for two weeks for failure to notify the Local Authority of the transfer of the vehicle contrary to Section 49(1) of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976

(b)               one week for failure to seek prior approval for alterations to a licensed vehicle, and

(c)               one week for failure to notify the Licensing Authority of the road accident, contrary to section 50(3) of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976

(d)               In view of his efforts to improve, and his personal circumstances, along with his remorse, the latter two weeks would run concurrently 

(e)               Suspension would therefore be in effect for three weeks, the latter two weeks would run concurrently

 

In the opinion of the Committee there was sufficient evidence to suspend the appellant’s drivers licence under Section 61(1) (b) of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976.

 

Reasons for the decision were :

 

1.                  The Licensing Authority needs to be satisfied that the appellant is capable of administering his licensed vehicle business in accordance with the relevant legislation

2.                  The failures admitted by the appellant undermine the Licensing Authority’s duty to administer the relevant legal provisions

3.                  The safety of passengers carried in Hackney Carriage/Private Hire vehicles licensed by Breckland District Council was of paramount importance

 

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.