Agenda item

Consideration of suspension or revocation of a Hackney Carriage / Private HIre drivers licence (Agenda Item 9)

Report of the Executive Manager for Public Protection.

Minutes:

The Licence Holder was not present for the meeting but they had confirmed that they were happy for the meeting to go ahead in their absence. 

 

The Applicant had visited Councillor Brame the previous day and asked him to represent their views at the meeting as they were unable to attend.  They had given him a letter which was tabled for Members and Officers and time was given for the letter to be read.

 

The Licensing Officer then presented the report and tabled additional information about the offence in the form of a print-out of an on-line driving licence current summary which showed that the two speeding convictions had been eleven months apart.

 

The Licence Holder had notified the Licensing Officer that they had recently suffered an injury from which they were still recovering.  The injury did not prevent them from driving but as they were currently unable to help passengers with their shopping, as required by Breckland Council Licence conditions, they had not been working as a taxi driver.

 

The Chairman noted that there was a lot of detail in the letter from the Licence Holder but some of it was irrelevant to the case and she asked Members to ignore that.

 

The Licensing Officer explained that the Licence Holder had been before the previous Committee meeting on 9 March 2016 for failure to notify the Council of a conviction.  At that meeting, when the Licence Holder and the Licensing Officer had been asked to leave the room whilst the Committee made their deliberations, the Licence Holder had advised her of the latest speeding conviction.  The Licence Holder had not had the details of the dates of the conviction with them and so it had not been clear at that time whether there were any grounds for the Committee to consider that offence.  When written confirmation was received from the Licence Holder the following day it became clear that the two convictions were within a twelve month period and the Licence Holder had failed to notify the Council of the second conviction within the required seven day deadline.

 

Other than being a speeding offence no details of the second offence were known except from the Licence Holder who had said in their letter that they were not operating as a taxi driver at the time of the offence.

 

Councillor Brame explained that the Licence Holder was trying to comply with the conditions of their Licence which said they must be able to help passengers with their luggage.  They had therefore ceased to operate as a taxi driver, although they were still fit to drive.  As the decision at the previous meeting had been to take no action the Licence Holder had questioned why the second meeting was necessary.  Councillor Brame had explained that the decision to take no action had been on the failure to notify the Council of the previous conviction within the required timescale.  The current meeting was considering the fact that two driving convictions had occurred within twelve months.  He believed that the Licence Holder now understood the circumstances.

 

There were no questions for Councillor Brame and he left the meeting.

 

The Licensing Officers and Observers were asked to leave the room whilst the Committee made its deliberations and were then invited back to hear the decision.

 

RESOLVED to revoke the Licence.

 

The Chairman explained that the Committee had noted that there had been two motoring offences in a twelve month period.  The Licence Holder had also known of the second offence but had failed to notify the Council within the required timescale and had not mentioned it before the Committee at the last meeting despite being given an opportunity to speak up.  He had been warned at that meeting about the serious consequences of any future failure to notify. 

 

The Committee therefore took the view that the Licence Holder’s failure to notify the Council of the second conviction within seven days, and their failure to mention the matter to the Committee during the previous meeting, raised questions about their honesty and therefore their fitness to act as a taxi driver.

 

It was confirmed that the Licence Holder would be informed of the decision, in writing, by the Licensing Officers and they would be advised of their right of appeal.

 

Referring back to the previous meeting the Chairman asked if there was information on when Speed Awareness Courses were offered, whether there were any restrictions (if the offender had points on their licence for instance) and whether there was a restriction on the number of courses that a driver could be offered.

 

The Licensing Officer had done some investigation and found that the criteria varied depending on the Police force involved.  In Norfolk the course was offered to drivers who had exceeded the speed limit by less than 10%+2 over the limit.  The Police did have a scheme which allowed them to release information to the Licensing Authority about people in certain occupations which included taxi drivers, but that was usually for more serious cases than minor traffic offences.

 

The Licensing & Business Support Manager said that a requirement for Licence Holders to notify the Council if they attended a Speed Awareness Course could be included in the Council’s Policy when it was reviewed if Members wished.

 

The Chairman asked the Licensing Officer to get more information on the qualifying criteria for being offered a Speed Awareness Course before any amendments to the Policy were agreed.

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