Agenda and draft minutes

Public Safety and Protection Sub-Committee A - Tuesday, 26th October, 2021 10.00 am

Venue: The Council Chamber - City Hall, College Green, Bristol, BS1 5TR. View directions

Contact: Oliver Harrison 

Items
No. Item

1.

Welcome and Safety Information pdf icon PDF 411 KB

Minutes:

The Chair welcomed everyone to the meeting and issued the safety information.

2.

Apologies for Absence

Minutes:

As this was an ad-hoc meeting of the sub-committee, no apologies for absence were required.

 

3.

Declarations of Interest

Minutes:

Cllr Eddy declared an interest as he knows the Counsel for applicant “RB”, but this would not prejudice the hearing.  

4.

Minutes of the Previous Meeting

To Follow

Minutes:

As this was an ad-hoc meeting, there has not been enough time to finalise the minutes from the previous meeting on the 19th October. Those minutes will be submitted to the next meeting on 14th December.

5.

Public Forum

Up to 30 minutes is allowed for this item.

 

Any member of the public or Councillor may participate in Public Forum.  The detailed arrangements for so doing are set out in the Public Information Sheet at the back of this agenda.  Public Forum items should be emailed to democratic.services@bristol.gov.uk and please note that the following deadlines will apply in relation to this meeting:-

 

Questions - Written questions must be received 3 clear working days prior to the meeting.  For this meeting, this means that your question(s) must be received in this office at the latest by 5 pm on Wednesday 20 October.

 

Petitions and Statements - Petitions and statements must be received on the working day prior to the meeting.  For this meeting this means that your submission must be received in this office at the latest by 12.00 noon on Monday 25 October.

 

Please note, your time allocated to speak may have to be strictly limited if there are a lot of submissions. This may be as short as one minute.

Minutes:

None received.

6.

Suspension of Committee Procedure Rules CMR10 and CMR11 Relating to the Moving of Motions and Rules of Debate

Recommended – that having regard to the quasi-judicial nature of the business on the Agenda, those Committee Procedure Rules relating to the moving of

motions and the rules of debate (CMR10 and 11) be suspended for the duration

of the meeting.

 

Minutes:

RESOLVED – that having regard to the quasi-judicial nature of the business on the Agenda, those Committee Procedure Rules relating to the moving of motions and the rules of debate (CMR10 and 11) be suspended for the duration of the meeting.

7.

Exclusion of Press and Public

Recommended – that under Section 11A(4) of the Local Government Act 1972

the public be excluded from the meeting for the following items of business on the ground that involve the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in Part 1of Schedule 12A to the Act, as amended.

 

Minutes:

RESOLVED – that under Section 11A(4) of the Local Government Act 1972 the public be excluded from the meeting for the following items of business on the ground that involve the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in Part 1 of Schedule 12A to the Act, as amended.

8.

PB - APPLICATION FOR THE RENEWAL OF A HACKNEY CARRIAGE DRIVER LICENCE

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The applicant and counsel were present.

 

The Licensing Officer introduced the report and drew attention to the following:

·       This is an application for the renewal of a Hackney Carriage Driver (HCD) licence. PB applied on 21 September 2021, the previous license expired on the 14 October 2021. PB has been licensed since at least July 2006 and has no complaints on file.

·       PB previously appeared at sub-committee after a conviction of assault in Spain, where his application was granted.

·       The Council’s Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Licensing Policy was updated on 27 July 2021 to incorporate new national standards. This policy states that for convictions of violence against the person, a licence should not be granted until 10 years has elapsed.

·       The sub-committee has received translated versions of the court documents.

 

The appellant gave the following evidence:

·       The applicant and his legal representative consider the Spanish court conviction to be unsound. The translated documentation shows doubts about procedure and judgement.  The process timelines on British and Spanish courts are largely the same, but PB was tried within 3 days of the offence.

·       PB gave his account of the incident. They (him and his partner) took a taxi in Spain on a route they were familiar with including the expected charge. The driver tried to charge PB double the usual price. PB’s wife refused to pay, at which point the driver swore at her and spat in her face. They both got out of the vehicle and she pushed him with her walking stick. PB stepped in between the two to separate them. At no point did PB punch him as the charge says.

·       PB and his wife attended the police station voluntarily day after the event. They were then taken to court and were told they would have a translator and lawyer. There was no lawyer supplied and the translator was very poor quality and did not inform PB what was going on in the hearing. PB told the translator he intended to appeal but could not do this due to time constraints.

·       The sub-committee paperwork states an offence of actual bodily harm. The translated court documents say the offence was common assault. That is a big difference in severity. This would be a minor issue in England and Wales that can be tried in the Magistrate’s Court. PB has visited Spain repeatedly since this incident, so it seems the Spanish government do not consider this a serious conviction.

·       PB has been a driver for over 20 years and there are no complaints against him. PB knows that his career will wind down due to his age, but he wants to be able to make that decision on his own terms.

·       This hearing is pulling up an incident from a long time ago. We understand why the sub-committee must hear this due to the change in policy, but the licensing authority can and should exercise its discretion in this case.

·       PB has been out of work for two weeks, is  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.

9.

RB - APPLICATION FOR THE RENEWAL OF A PRIVATE HIRE DRIVER LICENCE

Minutes:

 The applicant and his representative were present.

 

The Licensing Officer introduced the report and drew attention to the following:

·       On 16 August 2021 RB applied to renew his Private Hire Driver’s licence. The previous licence expired on 12 September 2021.

·       A DVLA search revealed two speeding offences in 2019. RB did not declare these endorsements in the required period as per his licence conditions, namely the following working day after being convicted of any criminal offence. 

·       The Council’s latest Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Licensing Policy came into force in July 2021 which incorporates national standards; it states that although a single minor traffic offence would not prohibit the granting of a licence, multiple traffic offences need to be considered.

·       The sub-committee is asked to determine the appropriate action in this case.

 

The appellant gave the following evidence:

·       RB was travelling to and from the mosque and was caught by a speed camera travelling at around 27/28mph in a 20mph limit area.

·       This was a difficult time as RBs father had just died in Algeria.

·       RB was not carrying passengers at the time of the offence. The sub-committee was supplied with a printout of the booking system proving this.

·       There have been no other endorsements on his record since 2006. Online reviews show that he is a top-rated driver for the region.

·       He admits that he did not report the offence immediately. He was informed by another driver this was necessary around six months after the offence. As soon as RB was made aware of the policy, he reported himself.

·       RB is the sole earner for his wife and 3 children and has been out of work for 6 weeks.

 

After questioning from the sub-committee, the following information was confirmed

 

·       The two speeding offences were incurred on the same day travelling to and from mosque.

·       The recent death of his father had caused RB a lapse in concentration and is a mitigating factor.

·       The offences were 2 ½ years ago and isolated. RB has an otherwise clean record over 16 years.

·       Although RB was late reporting the offences, he did self-report and was not ‘caught out’ by officers. 

·       The latest Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Licensing Policy requires the licensing authority to bring matters before the sub-committee that fall within the latest policy. The applicant’s representative requested that licensing reports make this clearer to the applicant that the new policy is the trigger for these hearings. 

 

The applicant was given the opportunity to sum up, then parties left the room while the sub-committee deliberated.

 

DECISION

Members determined to the grant the application. Having heard the circumstances on the day, including that the applicant wasn’t working, the death of his father two months prior and his otherwise unblemished record, Members considered this to be an isolated incident which justifies departure from the new policy. Members considered the applicant to be a fit and proper person but take this opportunity to remind him of the requirement and importance of reporting any convictions.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 9.

10.

EY - APPLICATION FOR THE RENEWAL OF A PRIVATE HIRE DRIVER LICENCE

Minutes:

The Licensing Officer introduced the report and drew attention to the following:

·       On 13 September 2021 EY applied to renew his Private Hire Driver’s licence. The previous licence expired on 23 September 2021.

·       A DVLA search revealed two speeding offences from 2018 and 2020. Both offences were declared late by EY. A further search showed two more speeding offences from 2015 and 2016.

·       EY has held a license since 2004. A previous PSP has refused renewal.

·       The Council’s latest Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Licensing Policy came into force in July 2021, which incorporates national standards, states that applicants with multiple motoring convictions may indicate than an applicant does not exhibit the behaviours of a safe road user and one that is suitable to drive professionally. 

·       The sub-committee is asked to determine this case.

 

The appellant gave the following evidence:

·       EY admitted and apologised for the offences and the delay in reporting them. He cannot remember the exact circumstances but was sure he was not carrying a passenger at the time.

·       He said that he enjoys a good reputation and does most work via Uber, where he has a good rating and customer reviews.

·       He has been a licensed taxi driver since 1988, so he believes this is a low number of offences for a 32-year period.

·       EY said he reported one offence in time and got a receipt email from the council but could not find it for the sub-committee. A delay in reporting the other offence was caused because EY leases his car. The notification went to the vehicle owner, but he did not inform EY until months later.

·       He has not been able to work since 23 September, which is causing hardship for him and his family.

 

After questioning from the sub-committee, the following information was confirmed

·       There are no further offences registered on the paper file.

·       The two more recent speeding offences have caused the referral to sub-committee under the Council’s latest policy which incorporates national standards. Even if the offences were declared on time, EY would still have been referred to the sub-committee.

·       EY was unable to confirm his speed or location for these offences. Speeding offence penalties run from 3 to 9 points based on severity. These are both 3-point endorsements, so relatively minor.

 

The applicant was given the opportunity to sum up, then parties left the room while the sub-committee deliberated.

 

DECISION

Members have determined to grant this application with a warning as to the offending behaviour of speeding. Members considered the circumstances for the current endorsements as well his is previous history and whilst the sub-committee had concerns that there could be a pattern of offending behaviour, it considers that the applicant has already had a period of time unlicensed pending the outcome of this application and consider that a warning will address the concerns. 

 

11.

SA - APPLICATION FOR THE RENEWAL OF A HACKNEY CARRIAGE DRIVER LICENCE

Minutes:

The applicant was present with a friend.

 

The Licensing Officer introduced the report and drew attention to the following:

·       SA applied for renewal in September 2021. The DBS check revealed a conviction for ABH in 2012. PSP sub-committee suspended his licence for a month in July 2012.

·       Under the Council’s latest Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Licensing Policy which came into force in July 2020 and incorporates national standards, a conviction for an offence involving violence means that a licence will not be granted in general, until at least 10 years have elapsed since the completion of any sentence imposed. 

·       The sub-committee will have to reconsider whether SA is fit and proper to hold a licence under this new policy.

 

The appellant gave the following evidence:

·       SA has not been involved in any other offences since the case in 2010/12. He now has a family with three children and views himself as a good role model. He is active in the community, including working as a football coach. This was an isolated incident from a long time ago. He was provoked in that incident but reacted very badly.

·       SA was surprised by the referral to sub-committee and believed that it was regarding an error on the application form rather than the previous conviction.

 

After questioning from the sub-committee, the following information was confirmed

·       SA started driving from June 2004 according to electronic records. There are no other offences or complaints registered against him.

·       The new national standards and the Council’s latest policy states not to license individuals with a conviction for a violent offence until 10 years has elapsed. Therefore, the matter has been brought before the sub-committee to consider.

·       The sub-committee said that it would be interested in how SA’s character had changed since the offence. SA said that should he find himself in an altercation he would do everything he could to escape as he does not want to be in a violent situation again and has too much to lose.

·       The large time difference between arrest and conviction was attributed to a backlog in the court system as the case was heard in Crown Court. 

 

The applicant was given the opportunity to sum up, then parties left the room while the sub-committee deliberated.

 

DECISION

The sub-committee is convinced that this was an isolated incident in 2010. It is aware that it cannot go behind a conviction and the latest policy states at least 10 years to elapse following the completion of any sentence.  The sub-committee considers the sentence imposed in the Crown Court to be at the lower end of the sentencing options available which reflects his previous good character and mitigating circumstances.  The offence was over 10 years ago and there has been no further offending behaviour since, and the sub-committee does not consider SA to present as a risk to public safety and protection. It is satisfied that he is remorseful and has since reflected on his actions, and that he is a fit and  ...  view the full minutes text for item 11.

12.

WH - APPLICATION FOR THE RENEWAL OF A PRIVATE HIRE DRIVER LICENCE

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Cllr Davies had to withdraw from the sub-committee due to ill health so was not present for this case. The applicant was present with his wife.

 

The Licensing Officer introduced the report and drew attention to the following:

·       WH applied to renew his licence on 6 September 2021. His previous license expired 11 September 2021.

·       A search on DVLA records showed two speeding offences (SP30) in September 2020 and July 2021. WH did not declare these convictions on his application.

·       The new licensing policy incorporating national standards states that while a single minor offence is not a barrier to grant a licence, multiple offences will need consideration.

·       There is also a complaint registered against WH in 2021, but officers determined this was a false allegation.

 

The appellant gave the following evidence:

·       WH said that he called the council to declare the September 2020 offence, but spoke to a member of the citizen advice team rather than licensing. The officer said that he would pass this on to the licensing team but failed to do so.

·       WH acknowledged that he should have notified the licensing team directly in writing.

·       WH declared his convictions in the covering email on his application but filled out the form itself incorrectly. 

·       He said that he has been licensed since 2010, enjoys his work and intends to continue. These are the only offences on his record. He is struggling financially as he is unable to work and support his family. He expressed remorse and said that he is now more careful and aware of his speed.

 

After questioning from the sub-committee, the following information was confirmed:

·       That WH has no previous offences.

·       In both cases, he was speeding within a 20mph limit area. In one instance he was being tailgated and felt intimidated into speeding.

·       The notification to declare offences within 24 hours is in the licensing conditions.

·       It was confirmed that WH did declare the offences in his covering email but not on the form itself.

 

The applicant was given the opportunity to sum up, then parties left the room while the sub-committee deliberated.

 

DECISION

Members consider the applicant to be a fit and proper person and grant this application. No weight was given to the complaint but if any further evidence comes to light then the matter may be brought back before a PSP sub-committee. In relation to the speeding convictions, the Members do not consider the applicant to be a risk to public safety and protection and are satisfied that they are isolated incidents on his otherwise clean record. Members take this opportunity to remind the applicant of the requirement and importance of reporting any convictions.