Agenda and draft minutes

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Items
No. Item

1.

Exclusion of the Public and Press

Consideration of reports containing exempt information within the meaning of section 100I and paragraph 1 part 1 Schedule 12A Local Government Act 1972.

Minutes:

RESOLVED to exclude the public and press for the following items on the grounds that they contained exempt information within the meaning of s.1 etc

2.

Determination of a private hire/hackney carriage driver's licence

To determine a private hire/hackney carriage vehicle licence.

 

Minutes:

The Chair moved Item 5 forward in the proceedings.

 

Mr Hussain, a director of Happicabs sent the Council an email detailing an incident where the driver transported a passenger on the late hours of 23 September 2019 in Chelmsford. This journey was not pre-booked through a private hire operator and at the time the driver was driving a private hire vehicle.

 

The female passenger entered the driver’s vehicle without an invite. She requested that the driver take her home and explained that she did not have a mobile telephone and had very little money to get home. The passenger is a regular customer of Happicabs for over 7 years and was known by the company as someone suffering from various ailments and issues.  According to Mr Hussain she has no family and has been diagnosed with a brain tumour. She often drinks and puts herself in vulnerable situations.

 

The driver then began to drive and called the office to get the job booked to get the passenger home safely. The Office was unable to create a job for the journey. Mr Hussain then became aware of the situation and instructed the driver to drop her off where he picked her up. He did this and returned to the Office for a meeting with Mr Hussain where he was then suspended by the company with immediate effect.

 

The driver said he had no intention of taking the passenger’s money as he was only trying to help someone in need.

 

The driver tabled proof that he had called the office to try and get the journey booked.

 

The driver’s representative said his client had been put in a very difficult situation and had tried do the right thing. He said Happicabs had taken appropriate action by suspending the driver until they were 100% sure that the story was true. The actions of the driver demonstrated he was a fit and proper person to hold a private hire licence.

 

At 10.25, the Committee retired to make its decision.

 

At 10.35, the Committee returned. The decision was read to those present.

 

RESOLVED to take no further action on the matter of the driver’s driving licence.

 

 

DECISION NOTICE –

 

The application before the Panel today is for the suspension or revocation  of the driver’s  joint private hire/hackney carriage licence number PH/HC2343  under S61  (1) (b) Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976.- any other reasonable cause. The licence is due to expire on 30th September next year and the driver was first licensed by this Council on 16th October 2017.  He was summarily suspended from his employment with Happicabs following the incident we have to consider today, though we understand that since then he has been reinstated in his role.

 

We have had the benefit of a detailed report from the Enforcement Officer and a notification email, plus a note of his subsequent telephone conversation with the driver, are before us. We have also received some supplemental information from Happicabs and we have considered  ...  view the full minutes text for item 2.

3.

Determination of a private hire/hackney carriage driver's licence

To determine a private hire/hackney carriage vehicle licence.

 

Minutes:

The Chair moved Item 6 forward in the proceedings.

 

The Enforcement Officer gave a summary of the report. Suffolk County Council (SCC) had received a complaint regarding the driver’s over-friendly interactions with a child he was transporting to school and his family. The driver had been suspended from Suffolk County Council contracts for over 5 months. SCC were unclear as to whether the behaviour constituted grooming to get close to the child or whether it was naïve and well meaning, misguided behaviour.

 

In response to a Member question, the driver said the Passenger Assistant had been present with him the whole time as he was transporting the child, and the child had never refused to get in the vehicle. As far as he knew, only one complaint had been made against him.

 

In response to a Member question, the driver said he had only received training on dealing with children since the complaint had been made.

 

At 11.05, the Committee retired to make its decision.

 

At 11.45, the Committee returned. The decision was read to those present.

 

RESOLVED to revoke the driver’s drivers licence.

 

 

DECISION NOTICE –

 

The application before the Panel today is for the suspension or revocation of the driver’s  joint private hire/hackney carriage licence number PH/HC2953  under S61  (1) (b) Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976.- any other reasonable cause. The licence is due to expire on 31st July 2021 and the driver is currently employed by 24 x 7 Ltd on the school contract side of the business.

 

We have had the benefit of a detailed report from the Enforcement Officer and his notes, together with the original correspondence received by him are also before us. The story begins with a complaint to Suffolk Council dated 28th March 2019. The matter was referred to us by their LADO (Local Authority Designated Officer for Safeguarding) who holds a statutory responsibility for the safeguarding of both children and vulnerable adults.

 

Their employee noted:-

“Mum called regarding her son’s transport, her son has been biting and hitting recently and he does not usually behave like this. The child has not had problems with the transport before this driver and PA started in September and does not want to get in the taxi now. The driver was trying to giving chocolate, toy trucks to the child and his younger brother and even offered money to mum when she had a baby.   This had been on and off since September but has got worse in the last month.   This last month is when the behavioural problems started and he refused to go in the taxi and the problems at school started.  The child is non-verbal so mum cannot ask him anything he just wants to vent his frustration by his behaviour… The driver stands very close to the door when picking up so the child has to brush past him then he touches his hair, he also tries to get close to mum.”

 

24x7 Limited investigated the matter and  ...  view the full minutes text for item 3.

4.

Determination of a private hire/hackney carriage driver's licence

To determine a private hire/hackney carriage vehicle licence.

 

Minutes:

The Chair moved Item 7 forward in the proceedings.

 

The Enforcement Officer gave a summary of the report.A Community Protection Officer for Maldon District Council and an accredited officer of Essex Police was performing road safety duties with a hand held speed camera in Maldon.

He was approached by the driver who appeared to be very agitated and confrontational, and seemed aggrieved that the Officer was doing speed checks without putting signage up. The driver stated that the Officer appeared to be holding a gun and looked dangerous and repeated this a number of times.

 

The Officer clearly identified himself as an Essex Police accredited Officer doing speed checks and supplied his name and said that the driver could make enquiries with Essex Police if he was unhappy with the situation. The driver said the Officer should get his “governors to kick your arse,” he also said that the Officer was a “sarcastic tosser” and an “idiot” a “jerk” and said that he should get “his arse kicked.”

 

A video of the driver’s encounter with the police officer was shown to the panel.

 

The driver said he had been on edge at the time when he went over to speak to the officer. He had not known he was with the police and his ID had been tucked into his jacket. He had thought he had a gun. He had never had any experiences like that before. He had genuinely believed something wasn’t right and had lost his temper, particularly when the officer did not seem to take the matter seriously and refused to let the driver take a photo of his ID.

 

In response to a Member question, the driver said he had reported the incident to Essex Police, and had received a response.

 

Copies of this response were circulated to Members.

 

In response to a Member question, the driver said that with hindsight he would have been more measured and called the police. Such behaviour was not typical of him.

 

The driver said he hoped the situation could be used to educate people about what could be done better.

 

Copies of a reference from the Head Teacher at a school he drove for were circulated to the Panel.

 

At 12.40, the Committee retired to make its decision.

 

At 13.00, the Committee returned. The decision was read to those present.

 

RESOLVED to take no further action on the driver’s drivers licence.

 

 

DECISION NOTICE –

 

The application before the Panel today is for the suspension or revocation  of Mthe driver’s  private hire licence number PHD0452 under S61  (1) (b) Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976.- any other reasonable cause. The licence is due to expire on 31 August 2021 and the driver was first licenced by this authority on 24th September 2009. He works for 24 x 7 on school contract work.

 

We have had the opportunity of reading the officer’s report in this case, a copy of which has been served on the driver, and we have  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.

5.

Determination of a private hire vehicle licence

To determine a private hire vehicle licence.

 

Minutes:

The Enforcement Officer gave a summary of the report. The driver had previously been working for Happicabs but was no longer working for them and the authority had no knowledge that he was working for any other firm. The driver had been contacted by the authority as he had failed to renew his driver’s licence and had had his badge confiscated, before he drove off in his private hire vehicle. The driver had failed to attend two interviews with officers, and so his private hire vehicle licence had been brought to the panel for consideration by members.

 

                        RESOLVED to revoke the driver’s private hire vehicle licence.

 

 

DECISION NOTICE

 

The application before the Panel today is for the revocation of the driver’s private hire vehicle licence number 99 under S61  (1) (c) Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976.- any other reasonable cause. The vehicle was first licensed by UDC on 2nd January 2017. The driver’s joint PHV/hackney carriage driver’s licence no PH/HC3226 expired on 30th June 2019 and his last lawful driving role was with Happicabs. 

 

The driver’s drivers licence was issued for a period of six months only due to his immigration status. He was notified by email of 1st July 2019 of the steps he needed to take in order to renew this, and among other things, he was required to produce specific documentation evidencing his right to work. In response to this he arranged an appointment with the Licensing Officer for 4th July, which he failed to attend. Instead, he appeared at the Council Offices unannounced the following day, without the necessary documentation, and accordingly the member of the Licensing Dept staff he saw took his badge from him. However, he then drove off in the Zafira license plate no 99 and was seen by that staff member to do so.

 

Our attention has been drawn to the 1997 decision of the Divisional Court in Benson v Boyce [1997]RTR266; [1997] EWHC 35, per Mance J (as he then was)

“….There is no suggestion in the present case that the relevant vehicle was a hackney carriage anywhere, and the vehicle was being driven in the controlled district where it was both licensed and used characteristically as a private hire vehicle.

I consider that the correct interpretation of S46(1) (b) [of the 1976 Act] is that it applies to all driving in a controlled district of a vehicle characterised under S80(1) as a private hire vehicle, whatever the specific activity in connection with which the vehicle is in fact being driven”

 

We add that the S46(1)(b) referred to by his Lordship is S46(1)(b) of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976, which makes the driving of a licensed PHV vehicle without a PHV drivers’ licence an offence, for which the penalty is a fine of up to £1000 on conviction. We also understand that historically, there was a practice of granting PHV drivers’ spouses a limited licence so that the vehicle could be  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.

6.

Determination of a private hire/hackney carriage driver's licence

To determine a private hire/hackney carriage vehicle licence.

 

Minutes:

The Enforcement Officer gave a summary of the report. The Licensing Department carried out a Drivercheck on the driver’s DVLA records on 16 August 2019. This revealed that he was convicted of two offences on 12 February 2019 of IN10 (no insurance) and CU80 (using a mobile phone). It showed that he received 8 penalty points for these offences. The Enforcement Officer did make enquiries with HM Courts & Tribunals Service (HMCS) and they responded with details of the convictions. It showed that he was convicted in his absence of driving whilst using a mobile phone and driving without insurance only one day after obtaining a private hire/hackney carriage driver’s licence.

 

                        RESOLVED to revoke the driver’s drivers licence.

 

 

DECISION NOTICE –

 

The application before the Panel today is for the suspension or revocation  of the driver’s joint private hire/hackney carriage licence number PH/HC0062 under S61  (1) (b) Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976.- any other reasonable cause. The licence is due to expire on 31 January 2022 and the driver was first licenced by this authority on 11th February 2019. His last known driving role was with Happicabs who advised the Council that he had ceased to work for them some time in April.

 

We have had the opportunity of reading the officer’s report in this case, a copy of which has been served on the driver, and we have also seen, as has he, the background documents annexed thereto, including a DVLA DriverCheck dated 16th August  2019, the Council’s Licensing Standards, and some email correspondence with Happicabs and HMCTS.

 

The driver is before us today because the Drivercheck revealed two convictions dated 26th April 2019 for two offences committed on 12th February  - an IN10 offence in respect of no insurance and a CU80 offence of using a mobile phone while driving.  He was fined £660, ordered to pay costs of £90 and a victim surcharge of £66, and received a total of eight penalty points for these offences. We note that they were committed the day after he was granted a licence by this authority.

 

The Enforcement Officer wrote to and emailed the driver on 23 August 2019 to explain that his licence would be referred to the Licensing and Environmental Health Committee.   The Officer gave him seven days to contact him to arrange a meeting, but no response was received.

 

Our attention has been drawn to section 2.29 of the suitability policy which reads ‘a major traffic or vehicle related offence is one which is not covered above and also any offence which resulted in injury to any person or damage to any property (including vehicles).   It also includes driving without insurance or any offence connected with motor insurance.   Where an applicant has a conviction for a major traffic offence or similar offence, a licence will not be granted until at least 7 years have elapsed since the completion of any sentence imposed.’[Our italics]

We are also mindful of section 2.41 which reads  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.