Agenda item

Application for the Suspension/Revocation of a Hackney Carriage/Private Hire Driver's Licence

Report of the Assistant Director of Commissioning.


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, along with the Licensing Officer and Mr P Mason, the Council’s Solicitor.


The Chairman made introductions and explained the procedures to the appellant. 


Patrick O’Brien, Licensing Officer presented 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, his untruthfulness regarding ongoing insurance cover and the manner of his disposal of the Hackney Carriage.


The appellant stated he had prepared a written statement which was tabled at the hearing, and was read out by the Chairman.  The letter, dated 22 February 2012, had in fact been written by another Hackney Carriage Proprietor and the appellant was a driver for his company.


A second letter from the licensed driver who had had vehicle HV0123 transferred to him, was read out by the Chairman.  In response to the content of the letter, the Licensing Officer said that most of it was not relevant to the hearing and that the author had written a letter of complaint which had been dealt with separately.


Cllr Sherwood declared a personal and prejudicial interest by virtue of being the Chairman of the Licensing Committee as he had knowledge of the author of the second letter from the licensed driver, and therefore left the room.


The Licensing Officer was not aware of any offer of a temporary address having been provided by the appellant.  He explained the requirement was that notice had to be given in writing to the Council by the driver every time they moved, and that telephone notification was not accepted.


The appellant stated when he spoke to the Call Centre they advised him they would not accept a temporary address as they required a permanent one and that he did not need to meet anyone in person.  He had kept a Licensing Officer informed he was at no fixed abode and completed the appropriate forms in Thetford of his change of address. 


Given that all calls received by the Call Centre were recorded for training and general purposes a Councillor asked if those could be accessed to determine what was said during the telephone conversation the appellant had with them.  However in the Conditions issued to the appellant when his Hackney Carriage/Private Hire driver’s licence was issued, it did state that a licence holder on changing address shall notify the Council in writing of such a change within 7 days.


The appellant advised that during the time the vehicle was uninsured it had been parked up, as it could not be driven as the battery had been removed.  He had asked for “overlap” insurance to cover it, although having contacted his insurance company since, they advised him they had no record of him asking for 3-4 weeks “overlap” insurance.  He was not aware that the vehicle was uninsured until he was informed by Breckland Council.  He took out the “overlap” insurance by phone and the insurance company had his new address details.  He had never had any issues with his insurance before.


The Licensing Officer stated that they had never been told of any “overlap” insurance, only that the vehicle would be insured.  At no stage did they receive an application for HV0213 to be re-assigned or issued to a second party.


Having heard all the evidence, the Committee withdrew to consider their options. 


After considering the matter the Committee returned including Cllr Sherwood.  The Chairman stated that in view of the information provided to them, in the circumstances it was :


RESOLVED that a decision would be deferred until the next Appeal Committee scheduled to take place on 4 April 2012, to allow the Licensing Officer time to carry out investigations covering the period in question and to determine what information was held with regard to the records kept of calls received.


The Licensing Officer was asked to prepare a full report for the meeting on 4 April 2012 which was to include his findings following his investigations.