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Agenda Item No

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Licensing Committee 8th July 2014

 

Report of the Director of Development Services

 

Disciplinary Matter - Michael Conibear

 

Purpose of the Report

1.         To determine whether or not Mr Conibear remains a fit and proper person to hold Vale of Glamorgan Private Hire and Hackney Carriage Driver's Licences.

Recommendations

1.         After careful consideration of the facts of this Report and after hearing from Mr Conibear, Members instructions are requested in respect of this matter.  Members may wish to consider the following options:-

  • That Mr Conibear remains a fit and proper person to hold Vale of Glamorgan Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Vehicle Driver's licences, and the Committee recommend no further action; Or
  • That Mr Conibear remains a fit and proper person to hold Vale of Glamorgan Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Vehicle Driver's licences and a warning letter be issued in relation to his future conduct; Or
  • That Mr Conibear does not remain a fit and proper person to hold Vale of Glamorgan Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Vehicle Driver's Licences and consider revocation of the said licences giving full reasons for this decision.

2.         The Officer recommendation is that Mr Conibear remains a fit and proper person to hold Vale of Glamorgan Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Vehicle Driver's licences and that a written warning be issued in relation to his future conduct and in particular regarding compliance with the Council's Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Vehicle Conditions and the safety of the public.

Reason for the Recommendation

To take stepped enforcement to encourage  Mr Conibear to comply with the requirements of the Vale of Glamorgan's Licence Conditions in the interest of public safety. 

 

Background

2.         Section 47 of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 allows the Licensing Authority to attach to the grant of a Hackney Carriage Licence any conditions that are deemed necessary.

3.         The Vale of Glamorgan Conditions for Hackney Carriage Vehicles include the following;

Condition 5

The vehicle shall be kept in good repair and condition at all times to the satisfaction of the Licensing Authority.

Condition 6

The interior and exterior of the vehicle (including the windows, signs, advertisements and fittings) shall be kept clean and maintained fit for public service at all times.

4.         In these conditions the following definition as defined in section 80 of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976, apply:

(d)  the "proprietor" includes a part-proprietor and in relation to a vehicle which is the subject of a hiring agreement or hire-purchase agreement, means the person in possession of the vehicle under that agreement.

5.         The proprietor and owner of Hackney Carriage, 136 an Audi A6 registration number DG55 CVP, is Mr Shahid Ahmed.

6.         Mr Conibear has an arrangement with Shahid Ahmed and drives the Hackney Carriage for financial reward.

7.         Vehicle inspections are carried out at the Alps Depot prior to the Grant or Renewal of a Hackney Carriage Licence by qualified examiners and as part of routine enforcement by Licensing Officers.

8.         On 14th May 2014 Hackney Carriage 136, was inspected by Licensing Officers and found to be in an unsatisfactory condition.

Relevant Issues and Options

9.         On Wednesday 14th May 2014 HC136 was presented for a vehicle condition compliance inspection by Licensing Officers at the Civic Offices, Barry.

10.      On inspection of the vehicle the Licensing Officers found it to be in a poor and dangerous condition and a Section 68 Suspension Notice was issued detailing the defects found. A copy of this Notice is attached at Appendix A to this report.  The following were the areas of concern.

        a)     No vehicle number on roof signage

        b)     Damage to the nearside and offside front bumper ends

        c)     No wheel brace

        d)     Nearside brake light and number plate light not working

        e)     Drivers door catching on offside front wing

11.      The nature of some of the faults described in the Suspension Notice would suggest that the vehicle was subject to deterioration and in a sub standard condition for some time. This means that HC136 was being used in an unsatisfactory condition in the period prior to the inspection.

12.      Officers were concerned about the condition of Hackney Carriage 136  and obtained that the daily vehicle records from 1st Line Taxis Ltd. The records indicate that the vehicle was used daily from Wednesday 7th May 2014 until Wednesday 14th May 2014 and that the driver of the vehicle on those dates was Michael Conibear.

13.      The fact that Mr Conibear was prepared to use the vehicle in such condition to carry out fares gives cause for concern as it demonstrates a disregard for not only the Vale of Glamorgan Conditions for Hackney Carriages, but also for the law and safety of the public.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

14.      Resources directed to the administration and determination of Taxi Licences may be recovered through Taxi Licensing Fees and Charges.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

15.      None

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

16.      Section 47 of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 states: -

(1) A district council may attach to the grant of a licence of a hackney carriage under the Act of 1847 such conditions as the district council may consider reasonably necessary.

(2) Without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing subsection, a district council may require any hackney carriage licensed by them under the Act of 1847 to be of such design or appearance or bear such distinguishing marks as shall clearly identify it as a hackney carriage.

(3) Any person aggrieved by any conditions attached to such a licence may appeal to a magistrates' court.

17.      Section 60 of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 states: -

(1)Notwithstanding anything in the Act of 1847 or in this part of this Act, a district council may suspend or revoke or (on application therefore under section 40 of the act of 1847 or section 48 of this Act, as the case may be) refuse to renew a vehicle licence on the following grounds:-

(a) that the hackney carriage or private hire vehicle is unfit for use as a hackney carriage or private hire vehicle;

(b) any offence under, or non-compliance with the provisions of the Act of 1847 or of this part of this Act by the operator or driver; or

(c) any other reasonable cause.

18.      Section 60 of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 states: -

Any authorised officer of the council in question or any constable shall have power at all reasonable times to inspect and test, for the purpose of ascertaining its fitness, any hackney carriage or private hire vehicle licensed by a district council, or any taximeter affixed to such a vehicle, and if he is not satisfied as to the fitness of the hackney carriage or private hire vehicle or as to the accuracy of its taximeter he may by notice in writing require the proprietor of the hackney carriage or private hire vehicle to make it or its taximeter available for further inspection and testing at such reasonable time and place as may be specified in the notice and suspend the vehicle licence until such time as such authorised officer or constable is so satisfied.

Provided that, if the authorised officer or constable is not so satisfied before the expiration of a period of two months, the said licence shall, by virtue of this section, been deemed to have been revoked and subsections (2) and (3) of section 60 of this Act shall apply and any necessary modifications.

19.      Section 61 of The Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 states;

Notwithstanding anything in the Act of 1847 or in this Part of this Act, a district council may suspend or revoke or (on application therefore under section 46 of the Act of 1847 or section 51 of this Act, as the case may be) refuse to renew the licence of a driver of a hackney carriage or private hire vehicle on any of the following grounds

(a)  that he has since the grant of the licence-

(i) been convicted of an offence involving dishonesty, indecency or violence; or

(ii) been convicted of an offence under or has failed to comply with the provisions of the Act of 1847 or this part of this Act; or

(b) any other reasonable cause.

Section 61 (3) of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 provides any driver aggrieved by a decision of a district council under this section may appeal to a magistrates' court.

Crime and Disorder Implications

20.      Under Section 17 of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 the Council has a statutory duty to consider crime, disorder and antisocial behaviour implications whilst regulating licensing activities.  The Licensing Authority is committed to reducing crime, disorder and anti social behaviour across the Vale of Glamorgan.  Reducing crime and the fear of crime is important to the community, especially vulnerable members of the community such as the very young and elderly.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

21.      The Council is obliged to apply its licensing conditions on an equitable basis in the case of all applications.

Corporate/Service Objectives

22.      To protect the health and safety of the community by ensuring businesses meet legislative requirements, controlling infectious disease, encouraging responsible dog ownership, controlling pests and regulating animal health and welfare. To maintain a fair and equitable trading environment.

Policy Framework and Budget

23.      This is a matter for decision by the Licensing Committee.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

24.      None

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

25.      Housing and Public Protection

Background Papers

None

 

Contact Officer

Alun Billinghurst, Head of Public Protection 01446 709105

 

Officers Consulted

Richard Price - Legal

 

Responsible Officer:

D R Thomas, Director of Development Services