Decision Maker: Licensing and Environmental Health Committee
Decision status: For Determination
Is Key decision?: No
Is subject to call in?: No
The Chairman took Item 4 on the agenda last.
The Chairman read the procedure for determining licenses to the applicant.
The Enforcement Officer gave a summary of the report.
On 05 December 2018, the Enforcement Officer received a telephone call from Chelmsford City Council to report that there had been an altercation between the driver and another Chelmsford licensed driver in Chelmsford on 01 December 2018. This resulted in Essex Police attending.
Summaries of the conclusion reached by the Police, and the driver’s version of events, were set out in the report. Essex Police’s Data Protection Team had also confirmed that the driver had been issued a caution for criminal damage.
The driver no longer met the Council’s licensing standards for drivers, as
standard 9 reads: ‘No official cautions (save for cautions administered by Uttlesford District Council) for any offences within the last 12 months.’
The driver gave his account of events. He had been waiting to collect a passenger at a pre-arranged meeting point. This was not a marked-taxi rank, and he was parked a clear distance away from a queue of other taxis. One taxi driver pulled up behind him, banged on the window and accused him of plying for trade. The driver explained that he was pre-booked, but the other driver proceeded to take photos of the vehicle and then the driver himself. At this point, the driver left his vehicle and pushed the phone away, resulting in it falling onto the floor and being damaged. The other driver then claimed he had been assaulted and left.
The driver said it was a bad decision of his to get out of the car and push the phone away, but the other driver’s behaviour had put him on edge. This sort of behaviour was not in his character.
At 11.35, the Committee retired to make its decision.
At 12.00, the Committee returned.
The decision was read to the driver.
The application before the Panel today is for the suspension or revocation of the driver’s joint private hire/hackney carriage licence number PH/HC0405 in accordance with S61 (1) (b) Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976.- any other reasonable cause. The licence is due to expire on 31st May 2019. The driver has been licensed by the Council since June 2011 and we note he is the proprietor of a licensed vehicle.
On 5th December 2018, the Council’s Enforcement Officer received a telephone call from Chelmsford City Council advising of an altercation between the driver and another driver on 1st December which had led to the Police being called. Email contact was made with the investigating officer, PC Akifjevs, who described a confused incident (described in the papers before us). As a result, it was decided that there was insufficient evidence to found a prosecution, but that what is more likely than not happened in the opinion of PC Akifijevs was that on Saturday 1st December 2018 at about 2145 hours the driver parked in the informal taxi rank in Baddow Road, Chelmsford (it is not a formally designated rank) and was sitting in the car waiting for his customer, when he was approached by a local taxi driver, who asked him to leave the taxi rank because he wasn't allowed to be there, which request the driver refused and stayed in the car.
The other driver took a picture of the driver’s car for the purpose of reporting him to the Licensing Authority and was taking a picture of him sitting in the car, when the driver jumped out and tried to prevent him from filming/recording, as a result of which the mobile phone was damaged. Both parties were generally abusive to each other and when police arrived, the driver stated he was still waiting for his customer; he picked her up at about 2220 hours, then left the taxi rank. The Council were subsequently advised that the driver had accepted a caution for criminal damage.
The driver was interviewed over the telephone by the Enforcement Officer on 12th February 2019. He stated that He arrived at approximately 9.50pm on Baddow Road in Chelmsford. He stated that he pulled up to the rear of the location at which Chelmsford taxis rank up. He did this as he was due to pick up a single female passenger.
He stated his taxi top light was not on and he was not plying for hire. He explained that Chelmsford taxis were coming back and forth to rank up. A Chelmsford taxi driver came up to him after parking behind his vehicle. That driver then approached his vehicle and banged on the window and said that he could not be there as it is for Chelmsford taxi drivers. The driver told him he was there for a pick up and that he is in a hackney carriage vehicle. The other driver said he would report him and the driver claimed he said ‘fine.’
The other driver went to his taxi and got his mobile phone and started taking pictures of his taxi and then went to the offside to take pictures of the driver. The driver then exited the vehicle and said get the phone out of my face and he pushed the hand with the phone in. This knocked the phone to the floor and damaged it.
The other driver then said that the driver had assaulted him. That driver then went and moved his vehicle and told other drivers on the rank what had happened and a few minutes later four Police Officers arrived.
He confirmed that the Police took a statement and he then left at about 10.20 hours. He subsequently accepted a caution conditional upon him agreeing to pay compensation to the other driver in respect of the damage to the mobile phone.
However, this means he no longer meets standard 9 of the Council’s current Licensing Standards for Drivers, which states:- “No official cautions (save for cautions administered by Uttlesford District Council) for any offences within the last 12 months”.
We have read the papers before us and we have heard from the driver. We have also perused the three character references he has submitted to us today. We note that he has no criminal record and that he has expressed contrition for what happened: we note specifically that he volunteered to reimburse the cost of the mobile phone repair and that the Police agreed to resolve the matter upon this basis. We have heard that the caution was only administered in order that the Police were able to process the compensation payment: it becomes spent at the end of this month.
We note that there in fact two breaches of the Council’s Licensing Standards – the caution itself and the failure to notify us under Condition 18(d). We also note that the driver is dual licensed holding an Epping Forest District Council licence as well, and that he has similarly not notified them. This is not acceptable.
However, we also observe that he is dyslexic and we further note his contrition. We are therefore upon this occasion prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt. We do not, though, expect to see him before us ever again.
The meeting closed at 12.10.
Report author: Matthew Chamberlain
Publication date: 11/04/2019
Date of decision: 26/03/2019
Decided at meeting: 26/03/2019 - Licensing and Environmental Health Committee