Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 (Agenda Item 6)
Verbal update and review by the Licensing & Business Support Manager.
The Licensing & Business Support Manager reminded Members that at a meeting in 2013 she had requested that authority be delegated to Officers to suspend or revoke a licence in urgent cases where information indicated that the driver might pose a risk to public safety.
At that time the Committee had decided not to delegate authority to Officers, but to require a Special Committee to be convened within three days to make the decision in urgent cases. They had agreed to review the procedures for suspension and revocation of licences after 12 months.
Following the Special Committee meeting in June which had dealt with just such a case, it was felt to be the right time to ask Members to reconsider the issue.
The Licensing & Business Support Manager had serious concerns that an occasion could arise where information was received, late on a Friday for example, which indicated that a licence holder might pose a threat to public safety and under the current procedures there would be no way to stop that person from operating as a Taxi Driver over the weekend.
She was also concerned that the legality of current procedures regarding suspension or revocation of a licence had been called into question by a court case involving Cardiff City Council. There was now some doubt about whether the licence could be revoked after it had been suspended.
The Solicitor thought that in the Cardiff case the judge had found that suspensions were being used as punishment. The decision to suspend the licence at the Special June meeting, for a specific period, had been to allow time for the licence holder to provide additional information. She considered that the licence could still be revoked if necessary, as long as there was another Committee meeting.
Members discussed that case and the reasons behind the ruling. They also discussed the Officer’s concerns about the need to be able to take urgent action to protect public safety.
The Chairman did not think that a licence should be suspended without the licence holder having the opportunity to put their case.
The Licensing & Business Support Manager advised that the licence holder would be invited to the Council offices to put their case. All the information would be taken into account. The matter would then be discussed with the Chairman of the Appeals Committee, the Portfolio Holder and the Director. The decision to revoke or suspend a licence would always be made following consultation, never in isolation.
Members then discussed suspension timescales and it was agreed that a specific period for suspension should be determined on a case by case basis. The period should allow time for further evidence to be provided and for a Committee meeting to be arranged if an additional one was needed.
RESOLVED that authority be delegated to the Licensing Officers (in conjunction with others) to suspend a licence for a specific period, not exceeding three months, in urgent cases only, where immediate action is required.
Members then discussed the case that had been heard at the special meeting and agreed that in the absence of the information which had been expected it would be necessary to arrange another special meeting before the licence suspension period expired.
RESOLVED that a Special meeting of the Appeals Committee be arranged for 10.00am on 25 July 2014.