To determine a private hire/hackney carriage driver’s licence.
The Chair brought forward Item 7 in proceedings.
The Licensing Support Officer gave a summary of the report. The applicant had applied for a Combined Driver licence to drive for Airport Lynx on 20 January 2020. The applicant had declared on the application form that he had received 6 points in August 2017 for an IN10 (driving with no insurance). The DVLA Drivercheck had confirmed that he had received 6 points on 8 August 2017. 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 explained the circumstances surrounding the 6 point penalty. He stated that his wife had owned one vehicle in her name but that he was the main named driver with his wife as the second driver. He had then purchased a vehicle in his name but the insurance was in his wife’s name. He had not realised that he was not covered by insurance on his vehicle. The main reason that he had applied for a licence was in order to be able to see his son regularly.
In response to Members’ questions the applicant provided details of a previous offence when he was 15 years old. He explained that his wife had purchased her vehicle in 2015 and he had purchased his vehicle about 8 months later. He said that he thought he was covered by insurance to drive his vehicle but realised the serious consequences of not being insured. He stated that he had previously worked as a senior supervisor in the Metal industry but re-iterated his intention to be able to see more of his son.
At 11.20, the Committee retired to make its decision.
At 11.45, the Committee returned.
The decision was read to the applicant.
DECISION NOTICE –
The application before the Panel today is the applicant’s application for a joint hackney carriage/PHV driver’s licence. If successful, he has an offer of employment from Airport Lynx.
In his application the applicant declared six penalty points received in August 2017 for an IN10 driving with no insurance offence. This was confirmed by his DVLA Drivercheck dated 20th January 2020 which stated that the date of the award of the points was 8th August 2017. His form also contained a handwritten reference to a juvenile Court conviction in respect of possession of a knife. He freely admits to having been young and stupid at the time and we say no more about it. That lesson has been learned.
This therefore means that he does not meet the requirements of the Council’s driver suitability policy. Insurance offences are regarded by this Committee as being very serious matters. Paragraph 2.29 thereof states ‘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’
He would therefore not meet this standard until 2024.
The Licensing Department followed this up by email. The applicant replied, explaining that at the time of the offence he had been driving in the belief that his existing policy of insurance covered him to drive vehicles other than the one specifically mentioned therein. This belief was mistaken. A copy of his explanatory email is before us.
In accordance with our policy a report was sent to the Environmental Health Manager (Commercial) on 4th February 2020 for him to consider the application in conjunction with the Chair of the Environmental Health and Licensing Committee. As a result, the applicant appears before us this morning.
We have heard from the applicant and he has explained to us what he honestly believed to be the case. He is an educated man and at the time of the offence he held a supervisory role having line management responsibility for 15 people, but had to resign this role when it ceased to be a permanent night shift, see post. No blame can attach to him for this.
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 regard insurance matters as being very serious. There can be no excuse: Insurance companies run 24/7 helplines and if the applicant could not understand his paperwork he could have made a telephone call.
Drivers are required to have insurance for good reason and though there are provisions in place to ensure that victims of uninsured drivers are compensated, it does mean there are additional procedural steps that such people have to take if there is an accident, and the compensation scheme relates to personal injury only. Mercifully there was no accident. We have listened to the mitigation advanced by the applicant and understand that this career change is prompted by the hours he chooses to work. He wishes to continue to share care of his child following the breakdown of his marriage and can only do so if he secures work on a night shift.
However, this was an insurance offence and this is crucial. He has other “side gigs” and skills so is not restricted to driving work and in Cambridge he could probably secure permanent late or night shifts. However, the point remains that our role is the protection of the public and we cannot accept the risk of an uninsured driver. We cannot countenance another “mistake” and therefore do not find him a fit and proper person to hold a licence. We therefore refuse his application and suggest he comes back in 2024.
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.