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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 part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Act.
Review of Private 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 which requested that members determine a review of the applicant’s Private Hire Operator’s Licence.
The Chair confirmed that the Panel had been in receipt of the 74-page document bundle, submitted by the operator, but indicated that they were both surprised and disappointed by the late receipt, given much of the information provided is not recent. The solicitor for the operator explained that, due to working from home conditions, they were unable to send it sooner.
The solicitor then addressed the Panel on the operator’s behalf. He emphasised that the operator had been licensed by Uttlesford District Council for over 8 years, had never previously been under investigation or sanction and that today’s Panel hearing wasin respect of an isolated incident.
He then summarised the operator’s account of the events which subsequently led up to the Licensing Panel hearing, explaining that a driver had experienced a slight cough and had decided to take a Covid-19 test as a precaution, but was advised by a member of office staff to continue with their school pick-ups as they did not display any specific symptoms of the disease.
When the driver later received a positive Covid-19 test result, the operator contacted families of the passengers and the school by email. The solicitor explained that the operator had not reported anything to UDC Licensing Officers as they had not been informed of the complaint from the Head Teacher of the Middleton School to the contracting Education Authority, until a meeting with UDC.
The solicitor said that the operator was fully aware of its obligation to inform Uttlesford of any complaints and they presented several examples of where this had been done previously. Furthermore, since the meeting with Licensing Officers, the operator had introduced a range of mitigation measures to ensure that a similar incident does not occur again.
These included employing a senior contract manager to liaise on school contracts, performing spot checks for Covid compliancy and employing a full-time Compliance Officer to deal with complaints. The operator has also changed their processes for identifying possible complaints, and the member of staff who did not recognise the original complaint has now been moved to another department.
In response to members questions, the solicitor clarified the following:
· The contracting Local Authority had provided the operator with a process flow-chart for dealing with Covid-19. Staff had followed this flowchart, and as the driver did not have the 3 symptoms outlined in the document, they advised them that they could continue working.
· The member of staff who advised the driver to continue to work was still an employee of the operator but has been moved to a different department.
· The incoming Compliance Officer will report to a director of the company and will be responsible for dealing with complaints, as well as updating the company’s complaints policies. An additional new member of staff will be training staff to understand the operator’s policies.
· The operator acknowledged that ... view the full minutes text for item 3.