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PUBLIC PROTECTION LICENSING COMMITTEE

 

Minutes of a meeting held on 16th January, 2017.

 

Present:  Councillor H.C. Hamilton (Vice-Chairman in the Chair); Councillors G.A. Cox, Mrs. P. Drake, K. Hatton, Mrs. A. Moore, N. Moore, Mrs. A.J. Preston, Ms. R.F. Probert and R.P. Thomas and C.J. Williams.

 

 

Prior to the commencement of the meeting, the Vice-Chairman took the Chair for the duration of the meeting.

 

 

667     APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE –

 

These were received from Councillor A.G. Powell (Chairman); Councillors E. Hacker, Mrs. V.M. Hartrey and Mrs. M.R. Wilkinson

 

 

668     MINUTES – 

 

RESOLVED – T H A T, the minutes of the meeting held on 6th December, 2016 be approved as a correct record.

 

 

669     DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST –

 

No declarations were received.

 

 

670     REQUEST FOR AN EXEMPTION IN RELATION TO THE DISPLAY OF PRIVATE HIRE VEHICLE LICENCE PLATES AND DOOR STICKERS (DEH) –

 

Committee received a report to consider a request by Mr. Terrence Gape to be exempt from the requirement to display a licence plate and door stickers on his Private Hire Vehicle.

 

On 9th November, 2016, Mr. Gape made an application for a Private Hire Vehicle Licence in respect of his vehicle, a Mercedes Benz S350 registration CE62 DVL, first registered on 1st September, 2012. 

 

Having previously made enquiries regarding the requirement for door stickers and plates to be attached to his vehicle, Mr. Gape accompanied his application with a written request to have an exemption from these conditions considered by the Licensing Committee.  A copy of the request was attached at Appendix A to the report.

 

Mr. Gape advised officers that his business model was to offer an executive hire operation, rather than the traditional private hire business where the public expect a liveried vehicle.

 

On 5th December, 2016 the Licensing Section received a letter in support of Mr. Gape's request.  A copy of the letter was attached at Appendix B to the report.

 

The Committee was advised that current private hire legislation did not distinguish between the different types of business model and standard conditions relating to displaying a plate and door stickers apply to all vehicle licences.  This was in order to ensure public safety.

 

While awaiting the determination of this matter, Mr. Gape had not had the vehicle tested for compliance.  However, should his request be approved, he would be required to produce a satisfactory test certificate from the Alps Depot prior to the issue of the Private Hire Vehicle Licence.

 

Section 48(6) of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 requires that a plate be issued in relation to, and displayed on, all licensed Private Hire Vehicles.

 

Section 75(3) of the Act provides the Council with the power to issue a notice to a proprietor of a vehicle licensed under Section 48 to exempt them from the requirement to display a licence plate on the vehicle.

 

Section 75 also dis-applies the provisions of the Act in certain circumstances, as follows:

 

  • While the vehicle is being used in connection with a wedding or funeral
  • When the vehicle is being used under a contract for a period of 24 hours or more.

 

Condition number 8 of the Vale of Glamorgan Conditions for Private Hire Vehicles requires that the licence plate is permanently affixed to the outer rear of the vehicle’s bodywork or to the rear bumper with the fixing kit supplied.

 

Condition number 9 of the Vale of Glamorgan Conditions for Private Hire Vehicles states that identification door stickers should be fixed to each of the vehicle's front doors by their adhesive backing.

 

The Licensing Team Leader informed the Committee that Mr. Gape had been advised that he should not take out the Private Hire Vehicle Licence, until he had been issued with a satisfactory test certificate. 

 

Mr. Gape was given the opportunity to make his representations to Committee.  He introduced his friend, Mr. Davies, who he requested speak on his behalf. 

 

Mr. Davies advised that Mr. Gape had not yet applied for the licence, but had paid the licence fee in advance.  He further advised that Mr. Gape wanted to run a chauffeur service. He drew the Committee’s attention to a previous exemption application, granted by the Committee in 2015.  Mr. Davies was of the view that all of these types of applications should be treated in the same way. 

 

Mr. Davies advised that Mr. Gape was of sound and honest character, and had been self-employed all his life.  He wanted to provide an executive chauffeur service for clients travelling between South Wales and London.  Mr. Davies informed the Committee that the business would not operate solely in the Vale of Glamorgan, but that Mr. Gape had applied for the licence in the Vale of Glamorgan.  Mr. Gape had bought a Mercedes S Class, which had been thoroughly serviced by Mercedes Benz.  Mr. Gape had gone through a private medical, passed his Hackney Carriage assessment, was in receipt of an enhanced DBS check and had set the company up as a limited company.  Mr. Davies referred the Committee to a letter of support attached to the report at Appendix B, and advised the Committee that the letter explained why clients would use Mr. Gape’s chauffeur service.

 

Mr. Davies also informed the Committee that Mr. Gape had applied for membership of the British Chauffeur Guild, and if he was granted an exemption he would work strictly within the parameters of the exemption.  Mr. Davies referred to an example of the service provided by Mr. Gape to a private client and stated that he offered a very safe and structured service for his clients.  Mr. Davies made reference to a decision of the Committee in 2015, that a report be brought to a future meeting of the Committee, which proposed standard conditions for the granting of private hire vehicle licences for executive hire cars.  In his opinion this would be a good idea as there may be similar requests received in the future. 

 

In summing up, Mr. Davies advised that Mr. Gape’s would be no danger to public safety and requested that Committee grant the application.

 

Mr. Thomas, Chairman of the Vale of Glamorgan Taxi Association, was provided with the opportunity to address the Committee.  He advised that he had asked that the Committee treat all of these applications the same; and that something should be put in place in order to ensure this happened in the future.   

 

Mr. Davies advised that he had looked at other Local Authorities in relation to Section 75 of the Act and felt Wrexham and Bedford Councils to be particularly helpful. 

 

The Vice-Chairman asked Mr. Gape whether he felt he had been given the opportunity to say all he wanted in support of his application, and he confirmed that he felt that he had. 

 

A Member asked for clarification that Mr. Gape would only be providing a chauffeur service, and no other type of taxi service.  Mr. Gape confirmed that he would only be providing a chauffeur service. 

 

Following consideration of the report, the attached letter, representations made at the meeting and discussion of the application, it was

 

RESOLVED –

 

(1)       T H A T Mr. Gape’s request for exemption from Conditions 8 and 9 of the Vale of Glamorgan Conditions for Private Hire Vehicle Licences in respect of Mercedes Benz S350, registration CE62 DVL be granted.

 

(2)       T H A T a report be brought to a future meeting of the Committee proposing standard conditions for the granting of Private Hire Vehicle Licences for Executive Hire Cars.

 

Reasons for decisions

 

(1)       Having regard to the merits of the application.

 

(2)       In the event of similar requests being received.

 

 

671     EXCLUSION OF PRESS AND PUBLIC –

 

RESOLVED – T H A T under Section 100A(4) of the Local Government Act 1972, the press and public be excluded from the meeting for the following items of business on the grounds that they involve the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in Part 4 of Schedule 12A (as amended) of the Act, the relevant paragraphs of the Schedule being referred to in brackets after the minute heading.

 

 

672     DISCIPLINARY MATTER – W. (DEH) (EXEMPT INFORMATION – PARAGRAPHS 12, 13 AND 14) –

 

The Committee considered a report to determine whether or not W. remained a fit and proper person to hold Vale of Glamorgan Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licences. 

 

W. was present at the meeting and was accompanied by a representative, T.

 

Prior to consideration of the report, W. and their representative T., were asked to identify themselves.  W. confirmed that they had received the report and read the contents.  The Legal Officer advised as to the procedure to be followed during the meeting. 

 

In presenting the report, the Senior Licensing Enforcement Officer advised that when W. made an application to renew their licence on 3rd October, 2014, they declared that their DVLA Driving Licence had been endorsed with three penalty points for speeding in January 2014.  There was no record of W. informing the Licensing Authority of the conviction within the required period, and as a result W. was issued with a written warning regarding the breach of condition.  A copy of the letter was attached at Appendix A to the report.  This letter referred to a previous warning in regard to W. failing to inform the Licensing Authority of a change of address in 2011. 

 

When W. made an application to renew their licences on 7th October, 2015, they declared that they had two speeding convictions, and their DVLA Driving Licence had been endorsed with a further three penalty points in April 2015.  Again, there was no record of W. informing the Licensing Authority of the conviction within the required period, and as a result W. was issued with another written warning regarding the breach of condition.  A copy of this letter was attached at Appendix B to the report.

 

When W. made application to renew their Licences on 7th October, 2016, at Section 8b on the application form, where applicants were asked to declare any cautions or convictions, W. simply wrote “2015 Speeding”.  The online record of W.’s DVLA Driving Licence showed that W. received a further three penalty points in January 2016, bringing the total number of points on their licence to nine.  All the points were for SP30 offences.  Again, there was no record of W. informing the Licensing Authority of the conviction within the required period. 

 

The Vice-Chairman provided W. with an opportunity to make representations to the Committee.  In making their representations, W. advised that they took responsibility for not reporting the speeding convictions, and advised that they had genuinely forgotten to report them to the Licensing Authority.

 

W.’s representative, T., advised the Committee that he had advised W. to inform the Licensing Authority on three occasions, however W. had forgotten.  W. was not a bad person and was well thought of as a taxi driver.  T. informed the Committee that one of the speeding offences was coming off W.’s licence the next day, and they were surprised that W. had so many speeding offences as, in his opinion, W. was not that type of driver.  W. was a nice person, polite to customers and customers appreciated his manner.  T. advised the Committee that W. had bought a new car five months ago, with three year’s finance, and if W. lost their badge it would be a real financial hardship for them.  T. advised that W. knew it was their fault and asked that they be given one last chance with the sternest warning. 

 

A Member asked that it be confirmed that three of the penalty points were to be removed from W.’s licence the next day, and T. confirmed this was the case, therefore there would be six points left on W.’s licence. 

 

The Vice-Chairman asked W. to confirm that they had been given the opportunity to say all they wanted to the Committee and W. confirmed that they had. 

 

W., their representative T., and the Senior Licensing Enforcement Officer vacated the room, in order that the Committee could deliberate in private.

 

Following discussion on the matter, all parties were invited back into the room for the decision.

 

The Vice-Chairman informed W. that having fully considered the report, all representations made at the hearing and the questions from the Committee, the Committee

 

RESOLVED – T H A T W. be issued with a final written warning letter which would advised W. that it was their responsibility to report to the Licensing Authority any fines or offences. 

 

The Vice-Chairman made it clear that this was a final chance for W. to demonstrate that they took their responsibilities seriously and to take heed of what would be in the letter as this was their final warning.

 

Reason for decision

 

The Committee had considered the report and representations made at the hearing and had raised concerns in regard to W. not reporting the speeding offences.  The Committee felt that a final written warning was sufficient, and that the letter must make it clear to W. the importance of reporting any fines or offences to the Licensing Authority. 

 

 

673     DISCIPLINARY MATTER – M. (DEH) (EXEMPT INFORMATION – PARAGRAPHS 12, 13 AND 14) –

 

The Committee received a report to determine whether or not M. remained a fit and proper person to hold Vale of Glamorgan Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licences. 

 

M. was present at the meeting and was accompanied by their employer.

 

Prior to consideration of the report, M. and their employer, were asked to identify themselves.  M. confirmed that they had received the report and read the contents.  The Legal Officer advised as to the procedure to be followed during the meeting. 

 

In presenting the report, the Senior Licensing Enforcement Officer informed the Committee that M. had been a licensed Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Vehicle driver since 4th November, 2014.  M. had submitted an application to renew their licences on 31st October, 2016, and a copy of this application was attached at Appendix A to the report. 

 

At section 8 of the application form M. was asked to disclose all previous convictions, cautions, fixed penalty notices, warnings and / or other penalty notices, regardless of whether they were deemed spent or not and regardless of the age of the conviction.  M. recorded “no” as their answer on the form. 

 

Committee was advised that the Licensing Committee had resolved on 2nd October, 2012, that assistance was to be given to the understanding of the declaration of convictions on the application form.  An officer now reads out the declaration to the applicant before they sign the application form.  The statement reads “I declare to the best of my knowledge and belief that I have disclosed all previous Convictions, Cautions, Fixed Penalty Notices, Warnings and / or any other Penalty Notices, regardless of the age of conviction.  I declare to the best of my knowledge and belief the above information is correct.  I understand that if I knowingly or recklessly make a false statement or omission I render myself liable to prosecution and my licence may be suspended or revoked.”  M. had signed their application form to confirm that this declaration was read out to them by an Officer of the Council.

 

On 14th November, 2016, the Licensing Section received information suggesting that M. had received a Police Caution.

 

On 14th November, 2016 South Wales Police confirmed that M. had received a caution for common assault.  On 13th December, 2016 South Wales Police confirmed that the caution was given on 18th May, 2016. 

 

On 29th November, 2016 M. attended the Civic Offices for an informal interview regarding their failure to declare the caution.  M. agreed to submit an application for a new DBS certificate, as the Licensing Section could not be satisfied with the validity of the current DBS certificate due to M.’s failure to declare their caution. 

 

At the Committee meeting M. confirmed that they had submitted a new DBS to the Licensing Section.  The Licensing Team Leader confirmed that this had been received, and read from the DBS disclosure, which stated that M. had received a caution for battery on 18th May, 2016.

 

M. was required to bring evidence of their identity and address in order to submit an application for a DBS certificate.  M. submitted a letter from HMCTS Wales Fixed Penalty Office.  This letter was in relation to a “failure to comply with a red traffic signal / lane closure light signals – automatic equipment” on 18th September, 2016. M. had not informed the Licensing Section of this penalty. 

 

The Vice-Chairman provided M. with the opportunity to make their representations to the Committee. 

 

M. made reference to the incident that resulted in the conviction listed on their DBS disclosure and explained that they had been experiencing longstanding personal issues involving their daughter.  M. provided the Committee with the background to the incident.  They had looked after their grandson for six years since the age of 4.  M. expressed concern that if their licence was revoked, they would be unable to provide for their grandson, which was their main concern.  M. advised that they were not a violent person, they were hard working and had never been in trouble with the Police prior to this incident.  M. was accompanied by their employer, who was provided with the opportunity to address the Committee; and they advised that M. was a good, honest person and what M. had advised the Committee was true. 

 

A Member asked when the DBS certificate was returned to the Licensing Authority and it was confirmed that it had been received on 22nd December, 2016.  Another Member asked about the issue of the caution for the red light.  M. advised the Committee that they did not realise that they had to report this to the Licensing Authority and if they had been aware of this, they would have done so. 

 

The Vice-Chairman asked M. whether they had been given the opportunity to make all the representations that they wished to make and M. responded by reiterating that if their badge was taken off them they were too old to find other employment and would not be able to support their grandson.

 

M., their employer and the Senior Licensing Enforcement Officer vacated the room in order that the Committee could deliberate in private.

 

Following consideration of the matter, all parties were invited back into the room to be given the decision of the Committee. 

 

The Vice-Chairman informed M. that having fully considered the report, the representations made at the hearing and questions from the Committee, the Committee

 

RESOLVED – T H A T M. be issued with a warning letter which was to state that M. had a responsibility to fill out any forms correctly, and ensure that any declarations made on these forms were made correctly.  Furthermore, it was M.’s responsibility to keep the Licensing Authority fully up to date in terms of any offences. 

 

Reason for decision

 

The Committee took into account the report and representations made by M. at the Committee and wanted to ensure that M. was fully aware of their responsibility to complete forms correctly and inform the Licensing Authority of any offences as necessary.

 

 

674     DISCIPLINARY MATTER – B. (DEH) (EXEMPT INFORMATION – PARAGRAPHS 12, 13 AND 14) –

 

The Committee received a report to determine whether or not B was a fit and proper person to hold Vale of Glamorgan Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Vehicle Licences.

 

Prior to consideration of the report, the Vice-Chairman asked B. and their representative, T., to identify themselves.  The Legal Officer advised as to the procedure to be followed during the meeting, and asked B. to confirm that they had received and read the report.  B. advised that they had not seen the report, and the Licensing Team Leader confirmed it had been sent to B. on 11th January 2017.  After checking their paperwork, B. confirmed that they had received and read the report. 

 

In presenting the report, the Senior Licensing Enforcement Officer clarified that the application was for a grant of licence, not in relation to the possible revocation of a licence. 

 

B. had submitted an application for the grant of Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licences on 27th October, 2016.  A copy of the application form was attached at Appendix A to the report.

 

At section 8 of the application form, B. was asked to disclose all previous convictions, cautions, fixed penalty notices, warnings and / or other penalty notices regardless of whether they were deemed spent or not and regardless of the age of the conviction.  B. recorded 'None' as their answer.

 

It was resolved at the Licensing Committee hearing of 2nd October, 2012 that assistance be given to the understanding of the declaration of convictions on the application form.  An officer now reads out the declaration to the applicant before they sign the application form.  The statement reads “I declare to the best of my knowledge and belief that I have disclosed all previous Convictions, Cautions, Fixed Penalty Notices, Warnings and/or any other Penalty Notices, regardless of the age of conviction.  I declare to the best of my knowledge and belief the above information is correct. I understand that if I knowingly or recklessly make a false statement or omission I render myself liable to prosecution and my licence may be suspended or revoked.”  B. had signed their application form to confirm that this declaration was read out to them by an Officer of the Council.

 

On 21st November, 2016, B. produced their DBS certificate. The disclosure certificate contained matters not disclosed by B. on their application form.  A Licensing Officer read out the DBS disclosure for Members' attention.  There were three convictions dating from 2001 on the DBS disclosure, one in February 2001 and two in May 2005. The conviction in 2001 related to damage to and destruction of property and the two convictions in 2005 related to theft and obtaining property by deception.

 

B. advised that they could not recall the two convictions from 2005 on their DBS disclosure.  The Senior Licensing Enforcement Officer asked whether B. had contacted the DBS in relation to this matter, and B. advised that they had not, the Licensing Team Leader asked B. whether they had read the DBS disclosure when they received it and B. advised that they had, however, they thought that the Licensing Authority would have more information in relation to these matters.   

 

The Senior Licensing Enforcement Officer advised that the Licensing Authority could contact South Wales Police in regard to the two offences to get more information providing that B. gave their permission to do this, or B. could contact the DBS and ask for further information and clarification.

 

The Legal Officer advised that the Committee would be unable to determine the application in terms of the fitness and propriety test as clarification was required on this matter. 

 

The Vice-Chairman reiterated that the Committee was unable to determine the application due to this issue and that B. would need to contact the DBS to get more information; furthermore, it was imperative that B. kept the Licensing Authority informed in relation to this issue. 

 

Following consideration of this matter, the Committee

 

RESOLVED – T H A T the matter be deferred to a future meeting of the Committee.

 

Reason for decision

 

In order that B. could contact the DBS to obtain more information in relation to the convictions on their DBS disclosure.

 

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