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LICENSING COMMITTEE

 

Minutes of a meeting held on 20th January, 2015.

 

Present:  Councillor A.G. Powell (Chairman); Councillor H.C. Hamilton (Vice-Chairman); Councillors P.J. Clarke, G.A. Cox, Mrs. P. Drake, Mrs. A.J. Moore, N. Moore, Mrs. A.J. Preston, J.W. Thomas and Mrs. M.R. Wilkinson.

 

 

802     ANNOUNCEMENT -

 

Prior to the commencement of the meeting the Chairman paid tribute to Councillor Keith Geary, who had recently passed away, stating that he had been a very valued Member of the Licensing Committee.  Following the tribute, Members stood for a minute’s silence in remembrance of Councillor Geary.

 

 

803     APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE -

 

These were received from Councillors Mrs. V.M. Hartrey, K. Hatton, Ms. R.F. Probert and R.P. Thomas.

 

 

804     MINUTES -

 

RESOLVED - T H A T the minutes of the meeting held on 4th November, 2014 be approved as a correct record.

 

 

805     DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST -

 

No declarations were received.

 

 

806     REPORT OF A MEETING -

 

The Licensing Committee noted the minutes of the Licensing Sub-Committees held on 13th October, 2014 and 15th December, 2014.

 

 

807     APPLICATION TO WAIVE THE VALE OF GLAMORGAN AGE POLICY GUIDELINES FOR THE GRANT OF A HACKNEY CARRIAGE VEHICLE LICENCE, FORD GALAXY, CK04 ANV (DDS) -

 

A request had been received by Mr. Khalil Ahmed to waive the Vale of Glamorgan Council’s Age Policy Guidelines in respect of Hackney Carriage Vehicle Licence application for the above vehicle.

 

The Committee was advised by the Licensing Officer of the options available.

 

The Committee was informed that Class 1 vehicles must be under 5 years old to have a licence granted.  The date of first registration for the vehicle was 18th March 2004, therefore, the vehicle was now 10 years and 8 months old.

 

The vehicle was licensed as Hackney Carriage Vehicle number HC085, from 21st July 2011 to 20th July 2012, and from 4th September 2012 to 3rd January 2015.  During that time the vehicle had been owned by five proprietors, including Mr. Ahmed.

 

On 10th November 2014, a standard reminder letter in regard to the renewal of his Hackney Carriage Licence was sent to Mr. Ahmed.  A copy of the letter was attached to the report at Appendix A.

 

Proprietors of licensed vehicles in the Vale of Glamorgan are advised that appointments for inspection at the Alps Depot are limited and it was necessary to make an appointment in good time to ensure the renewal of licences.

 

On the afternoon of Friday 2nd January 2015, the very last day on which the vehicle could be tested for renewal of the licence, Mr. Ahmed attended the Civic Offices to make application to renew the licence for the vehicle.

 

Although an appointment was made for the vehicle to be tested the vehicle was not presented for inspection and the Licence HC085 expired.  The standard fee for failure to attend test appointment at the Alps Depot was £45.00.

 

On 5th January 2015 Mr. Ahmed submitted a letter requesting the Licensing Committee to consider waiving the Vale of Glamorgan's Age Policy Guidelines in respect of the grant of a Hackney Carriage Licence in respect of the vehicle concerned.  A copy of Mr. Ahmed's letter was attached at Appendix B.

 

If Committee was minded to approve the waiver of Age Policy Guidelines in respect of the vehicle, it would be presented for testing, and a licence would be issued from the date the vehicle received a satisfactory pass certificate.

 

In order to book a test appointment Mr. Ahmed would first be required to pay the £45.00 'non-attendance' fee.

 

At this juncture, the Chairman provided Mr. Ahmed an opportunity to address the Committee.

 

Mr. Ahmed informed the Committee that he had not received the renewal letter prior to the expiration of his licence.  He advised that as it was the Christmas and New Year period and he was unsure of the Council Office opening hours and, therefore, came into the Civic Offices on 2nd January, 2015 to renew his licence, at approximately 3.00 p.m.  He advised that he had booked a testing appointment at 3.30 p.m. at the Alps Depot on the same day and asked the Licensing Officer to phone ahead to the Alps Depot to advise that he may be 10 to 15 minutes late.  He advised that he went straight to the Alps Depot for the appointment and arrived 12 - 13 minutes late; however, on arrival he was advised that due to his late arrival, the car could not be tested.  He therefore returned to the Civic Offices to explain the situation and was informed that he should write a letter to be considered by the Licensing Committee.

 

Following Mr. Ahmed’s representations, a Member queried whether there was a record of the telephone call to the Alps Depot and in response the Licensing Officer advised that the receipt for the test appointment showed a time of 2.42 p.m. and Mr. Ahmed had arrived at the Alps Depot between 4.00 p.m. and 4.05 p.m.

 

Mr. Ahmed apologised for allowing his licence to lapse, he thought it expired on 5th January, 2015 and assured Committee that this would not occur again in the future. 

 

In response to a query from a Member, the Licensing Officer confirmed that taxi drivers could take their vehicles for testing 10 days prior to the expiry date and that they allowed extra time at certain times of the year, such as Christmas, and would send reminder letters earlier at these times. 

 

The Chairman provided Mr. Thomas, Chairman of the Vale of Glamorgan Taxi Association, with an opportunity to address the Committee.  Mr. Thomas expressed the view that a financial penalty should be applied for those drivers who do not ensure that their vehicle licence is renewed in time.  The Chairman advised that this was an issue that could possibly be considered at a meeting between the taxi trade and Licensing Authority Officers. 

 

Following consideration of the report, Mr. Ahmed’s letter and the representations made by Mr. Ahmed to the Licensing Committee, it was

 

RESOLVED - T H A T the application to waive the Age Policy Guidelines in respect of this vehicle be granted, and the vehicle be presented for testing at the Alps Depot.

 

Reason for decision

 

To take account of the report, Mr. Ahmed’s letter and Mr. Ahmed’s representations at the meeting.

 

 

808     FOR INFORMATION - BRIDGEND HACKNEY CARRIAGE DRIVER PROSECUTIONS (DDS) -

 

Members were apprised of action taken by officers of the Licensing Section and the decision of Cardiff Magistrates Court in relation to Bridgend licensed vehicles and drivers plying for hire within the Vale of Glamorgan boundary.

 

On Friday 20th June 2014 and Saturday 21st June 2014 a joint exercise took place between Enforcement Officers from Vale of Glamorgan Council and Bridgend Council following complaints from Vale of Glamorgan licensed hackney carriage / private hire drivers of unlicensed drivers and vehicles plying for hire in Cowbridge.

 

During the exercise, three Bridgend licensed drivers accepted bookings from Cowbridge to Bridgend.  The passengers of these journeys were Enforcement Officers from Vale of Glamorgan Council.

 

All three drivers pleaded guilty and one attended Cardiff Magistrates Court on 11th December 2014.

 

The Magistrates Court imposed fines and costs to the first driver of £20 victim surcharge, £85 costs and £115 fine in relation to offence contrary to section 45 totalling £220.  The second was £20 victim surcharge, £100 costs and £70 fine in relation to offence contrary to section 45 totalling £190 and the third was £20 victim surcharge, £100 costs, £65 fine in relation to offence contrary to section 45 totalling £185.  No penalty points were imposed on any of the drivers’ licences.

 

The Committee was advised that Licensing Officers were still receiving complaints and would deal with these appropriately and the police were also monitoring the situation. 

 

Following a query from a Member, the Licensing Officer confirmed that the partnership with Bridgend Council’s Licensing Department had worked well for this exercise.  It was further confirmed that these prosecutions involved taxi fares that were taken off the street rather than pre-booked taxis. 

 

Following consideration of the report, the Licensing Committee

 

RESOLVED - T H A T the contents of the report be noted.

 

Reason for decision

 

To ensure that Members were aware of the action taken by officers under delegated authority and the Magistrates Court.

 

 

809     INFORMATION REPORT - LICENSING ACT 2003 PERSONAL LICENCES (DDS) -

 

Members were apprised of the amendments to current arrangements for the renewal of Personal Licences granted under the Licensing Act 2003. 

 

Personal Licences were granted under the Licensing Act 2003 for a ten year period.  The first Personal Licences were issued in 2005 and would be due to renewal in November 2015, however, these would now be renewed under the new arrangements.  Under transitional arrangements holders of Justices Licences were, upon application, granted Personal Licences as a grandfather right.

 

New applicants for Personal Licences were required to:

  • complete one of the accredited courses for Personal Licence Holders
  • provide a basic criminal record disclosure certificate or PNC disclosure
  • provide two passport photographs, one of which is endorsed as a true likeness
  • pay a fee of £37.00.

The Committee was informed that the Government was in the process of removing the requirement to renew Personal Licences by way of the Deregulation Bill 2013-14 to 2014-15 which was currently progressing through the House of Lords.  

 

Since the Bill was unlikely to receive Royal Assent before the tenth anniversary of the date on which the first Personal Licences were granted, the Government had introduced arrangements to allow holders of these Personal Licences to make a simple renewal application.

 

The renewal application process would require that applicants must complete an application form and submit it to the Licensing Authority no later than one month before their licence expired.  Applicants would not have to pay a fee, or have to submit photographs, or any form of criminal records certification.  They would be required to provide a copy of their licence.

 

The Licensing Officer advised that it was an offence not to inform the Licensing Authority of any change in details such as name, address or change in circumstances.  The Licensing Officer expressed the view that this was of concern as under the new arrangements individuals would not be required to submit photographs, therefore, photographs on Personal Licences could be out of date.

 

Discussion ensued during which Members expressed concerns with regards to the new renewal arrangements, in particular, in relation to there being no requirement for individuals to submit a photograph or complete any form of criminal records disclosure. 

 

The Licensing Officer advised that during the consultation period for the Deregulation Bill, both the Institute of Licensing and Welsh Licensing Authorities had provided written representations in relation to the new arrangements.  The Licensing Officer further informed the Committee that there was no national database for Personal Licence holders. 

 

Views were expressed by Members that the Committee should write to the various organisations involved with the introduction of the Deregulation Bill in order to express the concerns of the Committee in relation to these new arrangements.  A Member also advised that questions should be asked in respect of what safeguards were in place in relation to the monitoring of Personal Licences.  In response, the Licensing Officer advised that safeguards were already in place, as it was an offence not to advise a Licensing Authority about any change in circumstances or personal details and a Licensing Authority could prosecute on this basis.  The Licensing Officer also advised that there could have been changes in individuals details in the 10 year period since 2005, and due to the new renewal arrangements, there would not be an opportunity for the Licensing Authority to determine any changes that had occurred.   

 

RESOLVED -

 

(1)       T H A T the contents of the report be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T the Licensing Authority write on behalf of the Licensing Committee to the organisations involved with the introduction of the Deregulation Bill, to express the concerns of the Committee in relation to the new arrangements for the renewal of Personal Licences.  These organisations included the Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA), MPs, the Police and Crime Commissioner for South Wales and the Home Office.

 

Reasons for decisions

 

(1)       To inform Members of the changes in the administration of the licensing function.

 

(2)       In order to make representations in relation to the amended arrangements for the renewal of Personal Licences granted under the Licensing Act 2003.

 

 

810     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 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.

 

 

811     DISCIPLINARY MATTER - I (DDS) (EXEMPT INFORMATION - PARAGRAPHS 12, 13 AND 14) -

 

Prior to the commencement of this item, an updated copy of I’s licence was provided to the Committee.

 

Members were apprised by the Licensing Officer and informed that in relation to the speeding convictions and the time period in which these had occurred, over approximately a four month period.  Consequently, I. had received 11 points on their driving licence. 

 

The Committee considered whether or not I. remained a fit and proper person to hold a Vale of Glamorgan Private Hire and Hackney Carriage Drivers Licences.  The Chairman provided I., who was in attendance, with an opportunity to make representations to the Committee. 

 

Following presentation of the report and I’s representations, the Committee deliberated the matter in private. 

 

Following consideration of the report and I’s representations, the Committee

 

RESOLVED - T H A T I’s Vale of Glamorgan Private Hire and Hackney Carriage Drivers Licences be revoked with immediate effect.

 

Reason for decision

 

The Chairman advised that in arriving at their decision, the Committee had taken into account the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 and the Council’s Taxi and Private Hire Policy on the fitness criteria for drivers and operators.

 

The Committee had considered the report presented and the representations made by I and was concerned about I’s fitness and propriety to continue being a taxi driver as it was felt that I posed a threat to the public.  The Committee was concerned in relation to the number of speeding offences and convictions in a short period of time and that I displayed no consideration or understanding of their behaviour.

 

The Committee noted that I stated that they would only speed when no passengers were in the car and between jobs and felt that this showed a total disregard for other road users. 

 

The Committee felt that they would be concerned about placing a member of their family or a loved one in a vehicle with I and felt that the warnings through convictions, had had no effect on I’s continued speeding.

 

The Committee felt that no reassurances had been offered by I that they would not continue to place other road users and passengers at risk. 

 

The Chairman advised that I had the right of appeal against the decision of the Committee to the Magistrates Court within 21 days of receipt of the decision notice.