To determine a private hire/hackney carriage driver’s licence.
The Licensing and Compliance Officer gave a summary of the report. The applicant had held a combined private hire/hackney carriage driver’s licence from June 2016 to July 2018, when his licence was revoked following a complaint regarding his behaviour and he was no longer regarded a fit and proper person to hold a driver’s licence. The applicant had now reapplied to the authority.
The applicant said he was currently working as a taxi driver in London, but it was expensive to live down there. His daughter was autistic and required a great deal of care. She would have a good life here.
In response to a Member question, the applicant said it was important to have a nice manner around customers, to ask whether they wanted to go and whether they wanted to use the meter. He had had no complaints in the last three months and was very careful not to ask personal questions of his customers. He was a different man with different priorities.
At 13.05, the Committee retired to make its decision.
At 13.20, the Committee returned.
The decision was read to the applicant.
DECISION NOTICE –
The application before the Panel today is for the grant of a new joint hackney carriage/PHV driver’s licence to the applicant. The applicant previously held a licence from UDC but this was revoked with immediate effect by a panel of this Committee on 16th July 2018 after a full hearing at which oral evidence was heard from the complainant and from her aunt. We understand they were supported by a female Enforcement Officer, and that the applicant did not exercise his right of appeal against that decision.
Since then, the applicant unsuccessfully applied to Epping Forest DC for a licence but withdrew that application: he also applied, successfully to TfL in May 2019. We have no information regarding the work he is doing under that licence save for a suggestion he may be driving for an app based operator, but in the application before us today he indicated that he would be driving for Audley End Chauffeurs. This statement was followed up by the Licensing Department and an email from the proprietor of that firm indicated that at present they were not recruiting any new drivers. A copy of that email is before us, but since that date he has advised the Licensing Department that he would be willing to offer the applicant a job.
We have had the opportunity of reading the officer’s report in this case, a copy of which has been served on the applicant, and we have also seen, as has he, the background documents annexed thereto including the July 2018 decision notice, correspondence from Audley End Chauffeurs, and a lengthy letter written by a legal representative on the applicant’s behalf.
We have heard from the applicant and we have listened carefully to what he said in response to our questions. He did not answer those questions. All he spoke of was the high cost of living in London, the better perceived quality of life in Uttlesford and the fact that the Council applies “fewer conditions” to the grant of a licence than does TfL. However, the fact remains that the applicant’s previous licence was revoked less than two years ago and the panel then was very concerned about him. Nothing has changed. He has shown no insight and we consider the applicant to be just as much of a risk to the public as he was two years ago.
I repeat, we have listened very carefully to what we have been told and we have considered the Council’s policies and licensing standards. However, the fact remains that the applicant’s last UDC licence was revoked for cause only 18 months ago, and the matters complained of involved both dishonesty and indecency. He did not appeal and the fact that he could not afford legal representation is irrelevant: the Courts are generally supportive of unrepresented appellants in circumstances such as this. The fact remains, the applicant preyed upon a vulnerable passenger and he has produced no independent evidence as to reformation of character. The primary function of this Committee is the protection of the public and if we are in any doubt as to whether an applicant is a safe and suitable person to hold a licence then our duty is clear – we should refuse the application, and we do so.
We therefore refuse this application. The applicant has a right of appeal to the Magistrates Court against this decision and he will receive a letter from the Legal Department explaining this.