To determine a private hire/hackney carriage driver’s licence.
The Chair returned to Item 3 in proceedings.
The Licensing Support Officer gave a summary of the report. The applicant had applied for a Private Hire/Hackney Carriage Driver’s Licence on 4 September 2019 to drive school contract vehicles for 24x7 Limited. Question 11 on the driver application form asks ‘Has your licence ever been endorsed for a fixed penalty offence within the last 4 years?’ The applicant had answered ‘No’ to this question. The DVLA Drivercheck had been carried out on 21 October 2019 and this showed three separate offences all of which were convictions that had resulted in three penalty points on each occasion. The applicant now came before members for them to determine whether he was a ‘fit and proper’ person to hold a licence as he had not met the Council’s licensing standards.
The applicant stated that he had made a mistake on the application form but had realised his mistake and had contacted 24x7 Limited shortly after his interview to ask them to correct his mistake. However, this mistake had not been corrected. He said that he had not worked for two years and had not driven a car for 18 months due to a back operation. He said he had previously worked for an Ambulance company and he was blue light trained. He said he had been the first medic on site at the London Bridge terror attack and that this experience had greatly affected him.
In response to Members’ questions he explained the circumstances surrounding each of the three penalty point offences. He said that he did not have medical evidence that he had been off sick for two years. He confirmed that there had been no other driving offences during his time spent driving ambulances
He said that he had been interviewed by 24x7 Limited in a Harvester Inn and that some of the application form had been prepared in advance. He re-iterated that he had contacted the company shortly after his interview to correct his error but despite being told that the application form would be amended this had not happened. He said that he had made mistakes but had a lot to offer.
At 10.45, the Committee retired to make its decision.
At 11.00, the Committee returned.
The decision was read to those present.
DECISION NOTICE –
The application before the Panel today is an applicant’s application for a joint hackney carriage/PHV driver’s licence. If successful, he has an offer of employment from 24 x 7 Ltd on the school contract side of the business. This hearing has been deferred to enable him to attend before us today.
Question 11 of the form (a copy of which we have before us) asks “Has your licence ever been endorsed for a fixed penalty notice within the last 4 years?”. The applicant replied “No” to this question. However, the routine DVLA Drivercheck carried out on 21st October 2019 as part of the Council’s due diligence revealed the following matters:-
All these matters carry with them three penalty points giving the applicant a total of nine at the date of his application. He therefore does not meet the requirements of the UDC suitability policy which states at section 2.28
‘Where an applicant has 7 or more points on their DVLA Licence for minor traffic or similar offences, a licence will not be granted until at least 5 years have elapsed since the completion of any sentence imposed or the date on which the number of points on the DVLA Licence dropped below 7.’
The applicant’s points will not fall to this level until the SP30 offence on 27th August 2016 dropped off, i.e. later this year and therefore he would not be eligible to apply until 5 years after that.
Furthermore, section 2.3 of the policy states ‘Any dishonesty by any applicant or other person on the applicant’s behalf which is discovered to have occurred in any part of any application process (e.g. failure to declare convictions, false names or addresses, falsified references) will result in a licence being refused, or if already granted, revoked and may result in prosecution.’
On 13th November 2019, the Licensing Department followed this up. He responded the following day and said that he had realised his error on the application form and had contacted 24x7 Ltd to ask them to add the points to his form, but unfortunately they didn’t. He has not explained why he did not contact the Council himself as the declaration on the form is signed by him and he is responsible for the accuracy of the information contained therein.
We have heard from the applicant. He has told us quite a lot. He has told us that he was previously a paramedic and had been the first medic on the scene after the London Bridge terror attack. He also said that he had been waiting 18 months for an operation on his back and that he had participated in a recruitment exercise carried out by 24 x 7 in a Harvester Inn. However, he has produced no documentary evidence as to any of these matters: no employment history, no testimonials, no medical evidence and nor can he recall the name of the person with whom he spoke at 24 x 7. None of these things would have been difficult for him to obtain and sadly the applicant presented before us as being too facile: we have real doubts as to his veracity. He is not mentioned in any of the extensive reportage surrounding London Bridge, and if what he said is true, he would have been.
We have taken into account para1.6 of the Council’s policy which states ‘each case will always be considered on its merits having regard to the policy, and the licensing authority can depart from the policy where it considers it appropriate to do so.’ However, the primary function of this Committee is the protection of the public and we cannot find the applicant to be a witness of truth: hence, nor do we consider him to be a safe and suitable person to hold an Uttlesford licence and we therefore refuse this application.
There is a right of appeal against this decision which must be exercised within a period of 21 days. The applicant will receive a letter from the Legal Department explaining this.