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Apologies for Absence and Declarations of Interest
To receive any apologies for absence and declarations of interest.
There were no apologies for absence or declarations of interest.
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.
RESOLVED that under section 1001 of the Local Government Act 1972, the public be excluded for the following items of business on the grounds that it involved the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in paragraphs 1 and 2 part1 of Schedule 12A of the Act.
Review of Private Hire Operator's Licence
To determine a review of a Private Hire Operator’s Licence.
The Senior Licensing and Compliance Officer gave a summary of their report and the Licensing Manager made a statement to the panel.
In response to questions, the Senior Licensing and Compliance Officer confirmed that the operator was in receipt of paragraph 7 of the conditions of license which states that an operator shall notify the UDC Licensing Team of any complaints made against the operator or any driver used by the operator within two working days of receipt of the complaint. They highlighted that the Licensing Team had contacted the operator once they had contacted by another local authority, regarding complaints about the operator over 3 months previously, and the operator’s failure to respond prompted the review of the License.
Officers felt that the polite reminder about condition 7, which was emailed to the operator, was an adequate opportunity for the operator to raise their concerns and in-line with council policy.
The Solicitor, Director and Managing Director for the operator addressed the panel.
The Solicitor said that regarding the 3 incidents concerned, the contracting local authority had contacted the company, but offered them limited information, so the operator did not understand the concern.
The Director then addressed the Committee and summarised a timeline of the three complaints. They said that the contracting local authority had asked the operator to take the drivers off their route, which they agreed to do immediately. They also highlighted that the events had taken place during the Covid-19 pandemic, where the company had been heavily impacted due to factors such as shielding drivers, home-working, sourcing PPE, and passenger disruption, and the priority was to ensure that the routes continued. They said that since January, communication with Uttlesford District Council had been limited, and that they believed that the risk was minimal to the public, as the drivers could not be given any work by other operators within the company group, due to the location. In addition, since the incidents, they have been looking to employ a Compliance Officer for the group who will be responsible for contacting the Council, should any future complaints arise.
In response to Member questions, the operator’s Director confirmed that the contracting local authority had asked for the drivers to be removed but, due to data protection concerns, did not provide the operator with any details about the complaints which they had received. They acknowledged both that they were aware that one driver was involved in a police investigation and that there were complaints about their drivers, but had felt that they had dealt with any safeguarding issues by removing the drivers, as requested by the contracting local authority. Furthermore, they explained that it was initially difficult to establish whether the complaints were serious and the circumstances under which they received three complaints in quick succession was highly unusual.
The operator’s Managing Director addressed the Panel and said that they take safeguarding very seriously and have put additional measures in place to ensure that failures such as those complained of do ... view the full minutes text for item 31.