To determine a private hire/hackney carriage drivers licence.
The Chair brought Item 6 forward in proceedings.
The Licensing and Compliance Officer gave a summary of the report. The driver had notified the Council that she had been convicted for an offence of: Dishonestly failing to notify change of circumstances affecting entitlement to social security benefit/advantage/payment. The driver had been fined £175 and given a Community order to carry out 60 hours unpaid work within the next 12 months. The driver’s licence now came before members for them to determine whether she remained a ‘fit and proper’ person as she no longer met the Council’s licensing standards.
The driver said that she had made a genuine mistake and that she had not been aware that she had been committing fraud. She indicated that there had been a number of personal problems in her private life that contributed to her overlooking any declaration of a change of circumstances.
In response to Members’ questions she explained that she had failed to notify the authorities that she had been earning more than previously declared. She said that her job was very important to her and that she had been driving school contract taxis for almost seven years. She said that she had paid the court fine and had started to pay back the overpayment. She had also undertaken more than 18 hours community service to date.
At 10.15, the Committee retired to make its decision.
At 10.25, the Committee returned.
The decision was read to those present.
DECISION NOTICE –
The application before the Panel today is for the suspension or revocation of the driver’s private hire licence number PH/HC0798 under S61 (1) (b) Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976.- any other reasonable cause. The licence is due to expire on 30th June 2022 and the driver was first licenced by this authority on 15th July 2013. She works for A2B Cars on school contract work.
We have had the opportunity of reading the officer’s report in this case, a copy of which has been served on the driver, and we have also seen, as has she, the background documents annexed thereto including email correspondence between her and the Licensing Dept.
On 21 January this year the driver contacted UDC to advise that she had attended Court on 6 January, and provided documents from Barkingside Magistrates Court showing a conviction for an offence of dishonestly failing to notify change of circumstances affecting entitlement to social security benefit/advantage/payment under the Social Security legislation. The driver was fined £175 and ordered to carry out 60 hours unpaid work within the next 12 months.
The driver no longer meets the requirements of the Council’s suitability policy on 2 points. Paragraph 2.18 states “Where an applicant has a conviction for any offence of dishonesty, or any offence where dishonesty is an element of the offence, a licence will not be granted until at least 7 years have elapsed since the completion of any sentence imposed”. Paragraph 2.41 of the policy states “As public trust and confidence in the overall safety and integrity of the system of taxi licensing is vital, where a licence holder has received a conviction for any category of offences detailed above, their licence(s) will be revoked”.
The driver was asked to provide a statement explaining the conviction. In an email dated 26 January a copy of which is before us, she explained that she had overlooked declaring a change of circumstances due to issues in her personal life including marital problems and the deterioration in health of a family friend who she cares for in her home.
We have heard from the driver and the Licensing Officer tells us that she has completed a third of her community sentence, that the costs have been paid in full and that she is well along the road of repayment of the overpaid benefits. She self-reported the matter and in short has done everything correctly. We have taken note of her obvious distress and accept everyone makes mistakes: she has a glowing reference from her manager and returned early from holiday to appear before us today.
Finally, we note that the driver has been licensed by UDC for seven years and we also observe that she has never been before this Committee. We note what she has told us, do not believe it will ever happen again and are therefore going to allow her to retain her licence: we wish her well.