Agenda and minutes

Venue: Norfolk Room, The Conference Suite, Elizabeth House, Dereham

Contact: Committee Services  Tel: 01362 656870

Items
No. Item

35.

Minutes (Agenda Item 1) pdf icon PDF 96 KB

To confirm the Minutes of the meeting held on 28 October 2009.

Minutes:

The Minutes of the meeting held on 28th October 2009 were confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.

36.

Apologies (Agenda Item 2)

To receive apologies for absence. 

Minutes:

There were no apologies for absence.

37.

Declaration of Interest

Members are asked at this stage to declare any interests that they may have in the following items on the agenda.

 

The Members’ Code of Conduct requires that declarations include the nature of the interest and whether it is personal or prejudicial interest. 

Minutes:

The Chairman and Mr M. Fanthorpe both declared a ‘Pre-Determined’ interest in the TPO matter (Agenda Item 12).   (As Members of the Development Control Committee they had participated in a recent vote which had directly concerned the piece of land under consideration with respect to the TPO objection.)  

38.

Non-Members Wishing to Address the Meeting (Agenda Item 5)

To note the names of any non-members who wish to address the meeting.

Minutes:

Mr John Labouchere was in attendance, as Ward representative, for Agenda Item 12.

39.

Exclusion of the Press and Public (Agenda Item 7)

To consider passing the following resolution:

 

“That under Section 100(a)(4) of the Local Government Act 1972, the press and public be excluded from the meeting for the following items of business on the grounds that they involve the disclosure of exempt information as defined in paragraph 7 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A to the Act.”

 

PART B –

ITEMS FROM WHICH THE PRESS AND PUBLIC HAVE BEEN EXCLUDED

 

Minutes:

RESOLVED that under Section 100(a)(4) of the Local Government Act 1972, the press and public be excluded from the meeting for the following four items of business (Agenda numbers 8-11), on the grounds that they involve the disclosure of exempt information as defined in paragraph 7 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A to the Act.

 

40.

Suspension/Revocation of a Hackney Carriage/Private Hire Drivers Licence (Agenda Item 8)

Report of the Director for Community Services, Rob Walker.

Minutes:

The Hearing took place in the presence of the appellant and his solicitor (Mr D. Foulkes).    Mr Phil Mason (Solicitor) was also in attendance for this item.

 

The Committee heard the appeal in accordance with the Council’s agreed procedure.

 

The Principal Officer Licensing and Business Support (POLBS) presented the report, which was to consider the suspension/revocation of the appellant’s Hackney Carriage/Private Hire drivers licence.

 

Having heard the background to the case, the Chairman asked the POLBS to clarify some details about Appendex D, which comprised an incomplete and unsigned letter, originating from the same address as the appellant. 

 

The POLBS said that the full original letter was held on file.   Some details had been blanked out as they were not considered relevant for the Hearing.   She confirmed that it bore a signature, and explained that the reason it was from the same address was because the Operator was the appellant’s mother, who lived in the same house.

 

Mr D. Foulkes, speaking on behalf of his client, asked if any further information was known about the Objector whose e-mail of complaint was before the Committee under Appendix C.

 

The POLBS said that the gentleman had been invited to attend.   He had declined, but had confirmed that he was happy for his email to be included as part of the documentation presented to the Hearing.   She then confirmed that he was not known to the Licensing team, nor had he made previous complaints about taxi drivers.     As far as she and her colleagues were aware, he was a genuine member of the public who had made a complaint.  She also confirmed that she believed the matter had been reported to the police, although nothing had been heard from them. 

 

With regard to an earlier complaint (December 2008), Mr Foulkes reminded the Committee that whilst his client had a slightly different version of events to those detailed by the first complainant, he had, nonetheless, acknowledged some fault, and had written a comprehensive letter, detailing his record of events and also apologising.   He had then received a verbal, followed by formal written, warning from the Licensing team.   As a direct result of this, the Operator (his mother) had taken her own action by suspending the appellant from driving for one week.   

 

Moving to the second complaint (July 2009), the appellant was clear that he had not taken undue risk.   There had been a trail of vehicles which had backed-up behind a tractor.   When the tractor had finally pulled over, the appellant and others all overtook when, and where, it was safe to do so.  Mr Foulkes said that his client denied the version of events as outlined in the e-mail.

 

Mr Foulkes added that:

 

  • The complainant’s account bore no signature.
  • There had been no corroboration of the e-mail account.
  • There had been no police investigation into this matter.
  • The writer was not in attendance at the Hearing to put forward his version of events directly to the Committee, or to have his  ...  view the full minutes text for item 40.

41.

Application for the Grant of a Hackney Carriage Vehicle Licence (Agenda Item 9)

Report of the Director for Community Services, Rob Walker.

 

Minutes:

The application was considered in the presence of the applicant and his solicitor, Mr Lane.  Mr Phil Mason (Solicitor) was also in attendance for this item, representing the Council.

 

Members were asked to consider an application for a Hackney Carriage Vehicle Licence, with consideration of the current policy requirements and with regard to the safety of the public.

 

Following the presentation of the report by the Principal Officer Licensing & Business Support (POLBS), the Committee heard the appeal in accordance with the Council’s agreed procedure. 

 

An application had been made for the grant of a Hackney Carriage (Vehicle) Licence for a Chrysler Grand Voyager.   All relevant documentation had been satisfactorily provided, and the vehicle had passed the required mechanical test. 

 

It was pointed out that the initial documentation sent out to all applicants clearly stated at the top, in red lettering, that “before purchasing a vehicle the applicant should contact the Licensing Team to ensure that Breckland Council will licence the vehicle”.    Breckland Council’s current licensing policy stated that the Authority “will not licence a vehicle that does not meet the vehicle specification”.  

 

In this case, the POLBS explained that the vehicle did not, in her opinion, meet a specific section of the policy conditions because it had tinted windows which impaired the ability for Officers to tell at a glance how many passengers were being carried in the vehicle.  This was a serious public safety matter, particularly if children were being carried, also because it had implications for insurance (which could be invalidated in the event that more passengers were carried than the licence permitted).  

 

The relevant section of policy was clearly stated in the report. 

 

The Committee, accompanied by the applicant, then examined the vehicle which had been parked outside.

 

A Member then asked the POLBS to explain when, and where, Licensing Officers would expect to be able to see how many passengers were being carried.   Also whether the team had an appropriate light machine to enable them to measure the level of tinting and visibility (from the outside, inwards). 

 

The POLBS explained that Licensing Officers needed to be able to count passengers at any time.   Whilst they were not allowed to stop a taxi to do so, they could check if they happened to be driving behind the taxi, or if they were passing by as a pedestrian (e.g. at traffic lights).

 

With regard to a light monitor, she explained that the windows would have met, and passed, the usual MOT and vehicle tests in terms of national standards, or standards expected from the inside, outwards.   However the key issue here was visibility from the outside in.

 

Members drew attention to the fact that the vehicle outside was liveried and seemed, to all intents and purposes, to be a licensed taxi.

 

The POLBS said that the vehicle was not licensed, even on a temporary basis. 

 

Mr Lane said that the car was a top-of-the range American car, which could carry 6-7 people and had very high specifications.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 41.

42.

Application for the Grant of a Hackney Carriage/Private Hire Drivers Licence (Agenda item 10)

Report of the Director for Community Services, Rob Walker.

 

Minutes:

The application was considered in the presence of the applicant.  Mr Phil Mason (Solicitor) was also in attendance for this item, representing the Council. 

 

The Committee heard the appeal in accordance with the Council’s agreed procedure. 

 

The Principal Officer Licensing and Business Support (POLBS) presented the report, which was to determine an application for the grant of a Hackney Carriage/Private Hire driver’s licence. 

 

The applicant gave a brief summary of his history and background.   Having moved away from London – and a group of people who had been a bad influence during his youth - he had married and started a new life.

 

He had moved to Norfolk about four years’ ago, settling near his parents.   Initially he had worked in Norwich.   However he had lost his job when he found he was unable to afford a car, since commuting to and from his village had proved impractical.    

 

A neighbour had suggested that he should go through the tests and procedure to apply for a personal driving licence, and, having done so, he was now employed by a local minicab company. 

 

He admitted that previous driving offences had included lack of insurance/MOT/tax etc.   He had also once been found guilty of driving whilst disqualified.    However all these offences had been committed many years ago, and he reiterated that he had started a new life in Norfolk.  He was now keen to retain a decent job, in order to earn a living and help support his family.    

 

RESOLVED to grant a Hackney Carriage/Private Hire driver’s licence for a period of six months.    

 

The Chairman added that providing there had been no problems during this period, then Officers would be delegated to extend this licence.   

43.

Application for the Renewal of a Hackney Carriage/Private Hire Drivers Licence (Agenda Item 11)

Report of the Director for Community Services, Rob Walker.

 

Minutes:

The application was heard in the presence of the applicant.  Mr Phil Mason (Solicitor) was also in attendance for this item.

 

The Committee heard the appeal in accordance with the Council’s agreed procedure. 

 

The Principal Officer Licensing & Business Support (POLBS) presented the report, which was to determine an application for the renewal of a Hackney Carriage/Private Hire driver’s licence. 

 

The report explained that the applicant had received a total of 6 penalty points for two speeding offences, one in 2007 and one in 2009.  Neither of these had been notified in writing to the Licensing team as required by the formal conditions set out for Breckland Council driver’s licences.

 

The applicant was asked to explain the circumstances.   He said that he owned two cars.  On the first occasion he was elsewhere in one car, whilst one of his sons had borrowed the other car and committed the speeding offence.   He confirmed that both his sons were covered by motor insurance and had general permission to use his cars.  However, as he had been unable to determine which son had actually been driving on that occasion, he decided to take responsibility for the fine – and points – himself. 

 

On the second occasion he had committed the speeding offence personally.   He had been driving at 79 mph on a dual carriageway approaching Norwich and had been caught by an overhead speed camera.   He confirmed that he had not been carrying any passengers at the time but has been using the vehicle in a private capacity.

 

He admitted that he had simply forgotten to inform the Council in writing on both occasions, and apologised for this omission.

 

He confirmed that taxi driving was how he currently made his living – albeit on a part-time basis.

 

RESOLVED to suspend the Hackney Carriage/Private Hire driver’s licence for a period of four weeks.

 

The Chairman drew the applicant’s attention to Condition 10 of the conditions attached to a Breckland Council driver’s licence, requiring drivers to notify the Council in writing of any conviction, caution or driving offence imposed on them during the period of their licence, within seven days of the conviction.

 

He also reminded the applicant that he had the right to appeal this decision at a Magistrate’s Court.

 

The POLBS added that the suspension would not come into effect until the appeal period had expired, but said that she would be in touch in writing to confirm all relevant details to the applicant.

 

RETURNED TO PUBLIC SESSION

44.

Objection to the making of Tree Preservation Order 2009 No. 33 (Agenda item 12) pdf icon PDF 1020 KB

Report of the Deputy Chief Executive.

Minutes:

Having declared a pre-determined interest, the Chairman stood down and both he and Mr M. Fanthorpe left the room.

 

Mr I. Sherwood took the Chair for this matter and declared the meeting open to the press and public once more. 

 

Having apologised for the delay and explained the proceedings, the Chairman noted that Mr J. Labouchere was now in attendance as Ward Member.

 

The objector was present to put forward his case, and was accompanied by the co-owner of the property, as well as Mr R. Payne (Architect and agent) and Mr C. Yardley (Arborist).  Mr Mike Horn (Head of Breckland Council’s Legal Services) was in attendance for this item.

 

The Tree & Countryside Officer presented the report, which was to consider an objection to a Tree Preservation Order which would lapse on 3 March 2010 unless it was confirmed before then.

 

The report explained that a number of trees between 13 and 14 High Street, Tittleshall (which stood within the Tittleshall Conservation Area), had been removed without prior notification during recent years.   The largest and most prominent tree (an Ash) was now the oldest tree on site.

 

Various planning applications relating to the land around this property had been submitted over recent years which had involved varying degrees of potential conflict with this Ash.   An enquiry from the objector in July 2009 had confirmed that he would like the tree removed.  

 

The Tree & Countryside Officer, found that the tree – which was semi-mature, open grown and of moderate vigour – met all appropriate standard tests in terms of suitability for protection by a TPO.   It was prominent in the landscape of the High Street and was considered to offer significant visual amenity to a part of the village which had few other trees of comparable size and potential.   

 

It was felt that the retention of the tree did not preclude appropriate extension works to 13 High Street, but it would clearly need to be given due consideration in any proposed development plans.

 

Mr Yardley spoke on behalf of the objector and, having had the Chairman’s permission, presented folders of evidence to the Committee, upon which he based his presentation.  These comprised maps, photographs, computer-enhanced photographs, and a copy of a village petition in support of the proposed removal of the Ash and its replacement by two new trees in key positions.   

 

Mr Yardley started by explaining some previous history associated with the site.  However Mr Horn reminded him that this was not relevant to this Hearing, which was to consider whether or not to confirm the TPO which had been served on the Ash tree.   Mr Horn confirmed to all those present that whatever may have been alluded to in the report in terms of the site history, the Appeals Committee would only take into consideration matters concerning the Ash tree itself. 

 

Mr Yardley then gave details of what he believed to be a very positive plan proposed by the objector and his team, which they believed would be  ...  view the full minutes text for item 44.