PUBLIC PROTECTION LICENSING COMMITTEE
Minutes of a meeting held on 7th March, 2017.
Present: Councillor A.G. Powell (Chairman); Councillors G.A. Cox, Mrs. P. Drake, E. Hacker, K. Hatton, N. Moore, J.W. Thomas, R.P. Thomas, Mrs. M.R. Wilkinson and C.J. Williams.
883 APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE -
These were received from Councillors H.C. Hamilton (Vice-Chairman), Mrs. V.M. Hartrey, Mrs. A. Moore and Mrs. A.J. Preston.
884 MINUTES -
RESOLVED - T H A T the minutes of the meeting held on 7th February, 2017 be approved as a correct record.
885 DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST -
No declarations were received.
886 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.
887 APPLICATION TO GRANT HACKNEY CARRIAGE AND PRIVATE HIRE VEHICLE DRIVER LICENCE - A (EXEMPT INFORMATION - PARAGRAPHS 12, 13 AND 14) (DEH) -
The Senior Licensing Officer presented the report, the purpose of which was for the Committee to determine whether A was a fit and proper person to hold a Vale of Glamorgan Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licences.
The applicant submitted an application for the grant of Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Vehicle Drivers Licences on 22nd January, 2016. They produced a certificate to show that they had completed a Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Test Assessment.
On 1st April, 2016, A sat the Vale of Glamorgan Council Driver Knowledge Test for the first time. In order to pass the test, applicants must obtain a minimum of 8 marks out of 10 in each of the sections. A passed their test on the 9th attempt on 1st February, 2017. A sat the test 9 times between 1st April, 2016 to 1st February, 2017.
On 6th October, 2016, whilst taking the Vale of Glamorgan Council Driver Knowledge Test, the officer acting as invigilator noticed A referring to a piece of paper hidden under the test paper. The paper was confiscated and a copy was attached at Appendix A of the officers report. As a result, this test was deemed invalid and not marked.
A was interviewed by Licensing Officers on 17th October, 2016 and was advised that they could continue with their application if they wished, but that the application would ultimately be determined by the Licensing Committee. A did not offer an explanation or request advice on the licensing process at this time.
Officers were concerned that A attempted to gain advantage to obtain their licences and that this called into question their fitness and propriety to hold the licences they had applied for.
The Licensing Authority must be satisfied that a person is fit and proper to hold Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Vehicle Driver Licences under the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provision) Act 1976. Licensing Officers were not satisfied in relation to this application because of the applicant’s attempt to use a document that contained Highway Code information together with street names to assist in completion of the Knowledge Test.
Following the presentation of the report, the Chairman asked A if they had received and read the report and A advised that they had. A was subsequently afforded the opportunity to make representations to the Committee.
A stated that it was not their intention to cheat during the test. They were writing the test questions that they did not know the answers to onto the document for future study. Following a Member’s question, A confirmed that they were aware that they could not take documentation into the test and only wrote on the document after the test was completed. A further explained that to help their understanding they needed to translate the test questions into their first language. The Chairman asked A to clarify whether they had taken a blank piece of paper into the test room and written on it during the test or whether A had completed it prior to bringing it into the test room. A advised that the document was partially completed prior to the test on 6th October, 2016 and had subsequently added to it during the test; questions that they didn’t understand.
A Member queried why the issue of A’s conduct on 6th October, had not been brought to the Committee’s attention at that time, and was of the view that this highlighted a weakness in the Council’s Policy.
The Licensing Officer advised that it had not come to the committee soon after the 6th October, as A had not passed the test therefore, there was no matter for the Committee to consider at that stage.
The Chairman asked if A was satisfied that the Committee had given them enough opportunity to state their case and A stated that they were.
There being no further questions from Members, the Committee then debated the matter in private.
On return, the Chairman advised those present of the Committee’s decision as below and advised the applicant of their right to appeal the decision within 21 days to the Magistrate’s Court and to seek independent legal advice if they were in any doubt as to their legal rights.
(1) T H A T A’s application for Vale of Glamorgan Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Vehicle Drivers Licences not be granted.
(2) T H A T a report be brought to a future meeting of the Committee in regard to the Licensing Authority’s Policy, in respect of the point at which taxi licence test concerns are brought to the Committee’s attention and the report to include research from other Licensing Authorities that had experienced the same issue.
Reasons for decision
(1) The Committee were not satisfied that A was a fit and proper person to hold Vale of Glamorgan Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Vehicle Drivers Licences.
The Committee were satisfied that, on balance, A had deliberately concealed a document in order to obtain an advantage during the test taken on 6th October, 2016.
A had offered no credible explanation at the time of the said test and had not satisfied the Committee that A’s actions had a legitimate reason.
(2) To inform a review of the Licence Authority’s Policy in respect of the grant of Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Vehicle Drivers Licenses in these circumstances.