PUBLIC PROTECTION LICENSING COMMITTEE
Minutes of a meeting held on 9th January, 2018.
Present: Councillor A.D. Hampton (Chairman); Councillor M.J.G. Morgan (Vice-Chairman); Councillors Mrs. J.E. Charles, G.A. Cox, R. Crowley, Mrs. P. Drake, B.T. Gray, O. Griffiths, Dr. I.J. Johnson, K.P. Mahoney, Mrs. J.M. Norman, J.W. Thomas, Mrs. M.R. Wilkinson and Mrs. M. Wright.
573 APOLOGY FOR ABSENCE –
This was received from Councillor Mrs. A. Moore.
574 MINUTES –
RESOLVED – T H A T the minutes of the meeting held on 5th December, 2017 be approved as a correct record.
575 DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST –
No declarations were received.
576 EQUALITY ACT 2010 (DEH) –
The Team Manager Licensing presented the report, the purpose of which was to provide information in relation to Sections 165 and 167 of the Equality Act 2010 and to determine whether to maintain a list of designated vehicles which were wheelchair accessible.
Although it was not compulsory for licensing authorities to maintain a list in accordance with Section 167, the Secretary of State’s Guidance strongly recommended for Local Authorities to do so.
Section 165 of the Act placed a legal requirement on drivers of all licensed hackney carriage and private hire vehicles, which were wheelchair accessible, to carry passengers in wheelchairs, provide assistance to those passengers, and prohibits them from charging extra for the fare.
On 6th April, 2017, Sections 165 and 167 of the Equality Act 2010 were commenced.
Section 165 of the Equality Act 2010 placed the following duties on drivers of designated vehicles:
- To carry the passenger while in the wheelchair;
- Not to make any additional charge for doing so;
- If the passenger chose to sit in a passenger seat, to carry the wheelchair;
- To take such steps as were necessary to ensure that the passenger was carried in safety and in reasonable comfort; and
- To give the passenger such mobility assistance as was reasonably required: to enable the passenger to get into or out of the vehicle; if the passenger wished to remain in the wheelchair, to enable the passenger to get into and out of the vehicle while in the wheelchair; to load the passenger’s luggage into or out of the vehicle; if the passenger did not wish to remain in the wheelchair, to load the wheelchair into or out of the vehicle.
Section 167 of the Act provided the Council with the powers to make lists of wheelchair accessible vehicles, i.e. designated vehicles. Whilst Local Authorities were under no specific legal obligation to maintain a list under the Act, there was a strong Government recommendation to do so. The Council currently had in place conditions and byelaws which required drivers to assist passengers with reasonable amounts of luggage, to give reasonable assistance and to take a disabled person with a guide, hearing or other assistance dog unless they had a medical exemption.
Some drivers may have a medical condition or a disability or physical condition which made it impossible or unreasonably difficult for them to provide the sort of physical assistance which these duties required. That was why the Act allowed the Council to grant exemptions from the duties to individual drivers. Drivers who had been granted an exemption would be issued with a notice, which must be displayed in the vehicle.
A draft list of designated vehicles had been produced and it was proposed that any hackney carriage or private hire vehicle that was capable of carrying a wheelchair (with the user in situ), be included on the list. There were currently three hackney carriages and twelve private hire vehicles that had this ability (numbers correct at the time of writing the report).
The designated vehicles list would be maintained and it was proposed that an updated list be published on the Council’s website on a monthly basis. The Committee was requested to delegate the function to notify vehicle owners and maintain and publish the list to the Head of Shared Regulatory Services. There was a right of appeal against a decision to include a vehicle on the designated list to the Magistrates’ Court.
It was proposed that the first list of designated vehicles would be published on 1st March, 2018. This would allow sufficient time for drivers who needed to apply for an exemption to arrange for a medical assessment to be undertaken by their own GP.
The published list would detail the vehicle licence number, registration, make and model, and whether the vehicle was a hackney carriage or for private hire use only.
Once the list was published, it would be an offence for the driver (unless exempt) of a hackney carriage or private hire vehicle which was on the designated list to fail to comply with the duties listed above.
In querying how the new measures would be enforced, the Committee was advised that information on enforcement action, fines and penalties would be circulated to Members via e-mail. The Team Manager stated that it was hoped that breaches would not occur as a lot of what was being proposed was already available. Any issues would be handled through the complaints procedure for which the Licensing Section would undertake an investigation.
The Committee queried the wording of the right to appeal as shown in paragraph 12 of the report, which conflicted with paragraph 19. The Team Manager confirmed that paragraph 19 contained the correct wording, with driver’s having the right of appeal to the Magistrates’’ Court against a decision to include a vehicle on the designated list.
The Committee subsequently
(1) T H A T the proposal to publish and maintain a list of designated vehicles in accordance with the Equality Act 2010 be approved.
(2) T H A T it be approved that the power to exercise the function of maintaining and publishing the list, and the issue of exemption certificates, be delegated to the Head of Shared Regulatory Services.
Reason for decisions
(1&2) Having regard to the report and the Equality Act 2010 and duties to maintain a list of designated vehicles that were wheelchair accessible.
577 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 item of business on the ground that it involves 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.
578 APPLICATION TO GRANT HACKNEY CARRIAGE AND PRIVATE HIRE VEHICLE DRIVER LICENCES – S (EXEMPT INFORMATION – PARAGRAPHS 12, 13 AND 14) (DEH) –
The Committee was required to determine whether or not S was a fit and proper person to hold Vale of Glamorgan Council’s Hackney Carriage and Private Vehicle Driver Licences.
S and their representative were present in support of the application.
S submitted an application for the grant of her Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licences on 3rd November, 2017. A copy of the relevant page of the application was attached at Appendix A to the report.
At Section 8 of the application form, S was asked to disclose all previous convictions, cautions, fixed penalty notices, warnings and / or other penalty notices regardless of whether these were deemed spent or not and regardless of the age of the conviction. S declared one conviction.
On 7th December, 2017, S produced their DBS certificate. The Disclosure certificate contained a matter not disclosed by S on her application forms.
Following the presentation of the report, S was afforded the opportunity to make representations to the Committee. S confirmed that the representative would be making representations on their behalf.
S’s representative informed the Committee that during the morning when S had been asked to sign the application form to confirm the declaration of convictions, S’s father had taken a fall. On that day, S was therefore in turmoil. S’s representative stated that S had previously worked for him as a driver and he had always found S trustworthy and a good driver. S’s representative also advised that back in 2010, S had other personal issues to deal with as a result of the relationship with S’s partner breaking down.
Having heard the representations, Members of the Committee questioned S in relation to the contents of the report and sought clarity on a number of matters. Following this, the Committee then deliberated the matter in private.
On returning, the Chairman advised those present of the Committee’s decision as below.
RESOLVED – T H A T it was the Committee’s determination that S was not a fit and proper person to hold Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licences, and that the Driver Licences application be refused.
Reasons for decision
The Licensing Committee had considered S’s request for a Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Vehicle Drivers Licence. In doing so the Committee had regard to facts presented by the officer contained within the report for the Committee, together with the Council’s Policy on fitness criteria for drivers and operators.
The Committee had also taken into account representations made today in respect of S’s application.
The Committee had resolved to refuse the application for a drivers licence as there appeared no reason on the facts of the application to depart from the Council’s policy on fitness criteria.
S was convicted on 6th January, 2016 for an offence of dishonesty and in accordance with Section 8.2 of the policy an application would normally be refused where the applicant had a conviction involving theft that was less than three years old. S’s conviction was less than three years old and in addition this was the second time that S had admitted to committing such an offence, having received a caution less than two years earlier for the same offence. It was notable that S omitted to include the previous caution for the same offence on their application when specifically required to do so. The Committee noted that S had indicated that S was in turmoil as a result of S’s father having had a fall that morning.
In determining the fitness of an applicant for a drivers licence, the safety of the travelling public was of paramount importance. The passenger in a private hire and / or hackney carriage may have precisely chosen that mode of transport because they were either too young or elderly, had a physical or mental disability or special need, they may have consumed alcohol, or perhaps a person was in an unfamiliar place for example a visitor from another country who did not speak our language, did not understand the home currency and in turn had no idea of the cost of the journey. For all these reasons, the trustworthiness of a driver was of crucial importance. In light of S’s continued and recent offending, the Committee was not satisfied that S was a fit and proper person to hold a Vale of Glamorgan Council Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Drivers Vehicle Licence.