Agenda and minutes

Taxi Licensing Sub Committee
Monday, 19th July, 2021 7.00 pm

Venue: Council Chamber, Civic Offices, Gloucester Square, Woking, Surrey GU21 6YL

Contact: Doug Davern  on 01483 743018 or email  doug.davern@woking.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

1.

Election of Chairman

To elect a Chairman of the Sub-Committee for the remainder of the Municipal Year.

Minutes:

RESOLVED

 

Councillor Rob Leach was elected Chairman of the Sub-Committee for the remainder of the Municipal Year.

2.

Election of Vice-Chairman

To elect a Vice-Chairman of the Sub-Committee for the remainder of the Municipal Year.

Minutes:

RESOLVED

 

Councillor Debbie Harlow was appointed Vice-Chairman of the Sub-Committee for the remainder of the Municipal Year.

3.

Minutes

To approve the minutes of the meeting of the Taxi Licensing Sub-Committee held on 26 September 2016 as published.

Minutes:

RESOLVED

 

That the minutes of the Sub-Committee held on 26 September 2016 be approved and signed as a true and correct record.

4.

Declarations of Interest

To receive declarations of disclosable pecuniary and other interests from Members in respect of any item to be considered at the meeting.

Minutes:

No Declarations of Interest were received.

5.

Urgent Business

To consider any business that the Chairman rules may be dealt with under Section 100B(4) of the Local Government Act 1972.

Minutes:

There were no items of Urgent Business.

6.

Exclusion of the Press and Public

The Chairman will move and the Vice-Chair will second:-

 

"That the press and public be excluded from the meeting during consideration of items 7-8 in view of the nature of the proceedings that, if members of the press and public were present during these items, there would be disclosure to them of exempt information as defined in paragraph 4 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A, to the Local Government Act 1972.”

Minutes:

RESOLVED

That the press and public be excluded from the meeting during consideration of minutes 7 to 9 in view of the nature of the proceedings that, if members of the press and public were present during these items, there would be disclosure to them of exempt information as defined in paragraph 4 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A, to the Local Government Act 1972.

7.

Report by Officers

Reporting Person – Matthew Cobb

Minutes:

The Sub-Committee received a report which requested that a decision be made as to whether Mr Z should continue to be permitted to hold a Hackney Carriage Licence, under the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976, following an incident whereupon Mr Z was discovered by Surrey Police with cannabis in his licenced vehicle. 

 

Mr Z attended the meeting together with his wife, Mrs Z.  Also attending was Lesley Sumners from Surrey Police, alongside the Borough Council Senior Licensing Officer and the Solicitor.

 

All parties present had a copy of the Licensing Committee’s agreed procedure to be followed at Taxi Licensing Sub-Committee hearings.  The Chairman introduced the Sub-Committee to those present and explained the procedure and order of speaking that would be followed during the hearing.

 

The Licensing Authority’s representative outlined the report before the Sub-Committee.  In December 2020, the Council was contacted by Surrey Police and advised that in November 2018 Mr Z had been found in possession of cannabis in his vehicle and had been issues with a formal drugs warning.  The Council’s Criminal Convictions Policy covered the use of illegal drugs and warranted the matter being brought to the Sub-Committee.  There had been a couple of previous incidents which were included in the report, including operating the vehicle without operator door signs in January 2020.

 

The Chairman gave Mr and Mrs Z the opportunity to ask questions of Mr Cobb and Ms Sumners.  Mrs Z asked for clarification based on the assertions that Mr Z had been standing outside the vehicle; no cannabis had been found in the vehicle; and no written warning had been issued by the Police.  Ms Sumners stated that she was unable to clarify those points.  Mr Cobb referred the Sub-Committee to Appendix 1 of the report which set out the information received by Surrey Police.

 

The Chairman gave Members of the Sub-Committee the opportunity to ask questions of Mr Cobb.  Following a question by Cllr Harlow, it was noted that a vehicle was licenced on a 24/7 basis and could only be driven by someone who held insurance, permission and a Hackney Carriage or Private Hire driver’s badge.  It was noted that if Mr Z had been taking illegal drugs that evening, it would raise the question over who would be driving the vehicle back to the property.  The Criminal Convictions Policy was checked and it was stated that a conviction for illegal drug taking would not be condoned, and that the word ‘conviction’ included cautions, warnings and reprimands.

 

The Chairman gave Mr and Mrs Z the opportunity to address the Sub-Committee.  Mrs Z advised that her husband had been outside the vehicle when stopped by Police Officers walking past and that he had not intended to be driving the vehicle that evening as he was meeting friends, with the subsequent two days free of work.  She stated that no cannabis had been found in the car and, if it had, the Council would have been notified by the Police straight away.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.

8.

Adjournment

Minutes:

The Chairman adjourned the meeting at 8.15pm and reconvened the meeting at 8.20pm.

9.

Report by Officers

Reporting Person – Matthew Cobb

Minutes:

The Sub-Committee received a report which requested that a decision be made as to whether Mr D should continue to be permitted to hold a Hackney Carriage Licence, under the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976, following the accrual of in excess of 12 Penalty Points under the Council’s Penalty Points Scheme.  Mr D attended the meeting. 

 

All parties present had a copy of the Licensing Committee’s agreed procedure to be followed at Taxi Licensing Sub-Committee hearings.  The Chairman introduced the Sub-Committee to those present and explained the procedure and order of speaking that would be followed during the hearing.

 

The Licensing Authority’s representative outlined the report before the Sub-Committee.  Mr D had held a Driver’s Badge since at least 2002 (the earliest date for which records were held).  In March 2021, it had come to light that Mr D was residing at an address in Birmingham whilst the registered address for his Driver’s Badge was in Woking, as confirmed by Mr D to the Licensing Authority in January 2021.  Mr D had stated that he owned a property in Birmingham, however he would stay with his mother whilst working as a taxi driver in the Borough.  Between 2016 and 2020 there were thirty documents which had stated that his address was in Woking. 

 

Following liaison with the Council’s Revenues and Benefits team it was established that the property in Woking was in receipt of the 25% Single Person’s discount.  On 4 March 2020, Mr D advised the Licensing Authority that he resided in Woking and rented out the property in Birmingham.  Following the removal of the Single Person’s discount by Revenues and Benefits, the backdating of which to 2015 had caused hardship for his mother, further communication was received from Mr D on 28 April 2021 which stated that he was living in Birmingham and staying with his mother in Woking when working within the Borough.  As a result, the Licensing Authority felt that there was no option other than referring the matter to the Taxi Licensing Sub-Committee for consideration of revocation.  It was added that there had been no other issues of concern regarding Mr D’s suitability to be a taxi driver.

 

Mr D stated that he had no questions for the Licensing Authority’s representative.

 

Following questions by Members of the Sub-Committee, it was noted that the change of address notification had now been received; taxi drivers had a responsibility to be aware of Council policy; Appendix 3 to the report contained operator logs between January and March 2020 to show that Mr D had been driving during that period; and that previous licence applicants have had their licences refused or revoked when false or fraudulent information had been provided.

 

The Chairman gave Mr D the opportunity to address the Sub-Committee.  Mr D stated that he had been a taxi driver for 27 years and had received no complaints during that time.  He stated that he only undertook special needs and school trips, and had not collected a  ...  view the full minutes text for item 9.