Agenda and draft minutes

Public Safety and Protection Sub-Committee A - Tuesday, 15th June, 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

Minutes:

The Chair welcomed everyone to the meeting and drew attention to the safety information.

2.

Apologies for Absence

Minutes:

Apologies were received from Cllr Tessa Fitzjohn.

3.

Declarations of Interest

Minutes:

None received.

4.

Minutes of the Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 424 KB

To confirm as a correct record for signing by the Chair.

Minutes:

The minutes of the previous meeting 20 April were agreed as a correct record.

5.

Public Forum

Up to 10 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 9 June.

 

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 14 June.

 

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 1of Schedule 12A to the Act, as amended.

8.

SM NET REPORT APPLICATION FOR THE RENEWAL OF A PRIVATE HIRE DRIVER LICENCE

Minutes:

The driver and his representative were present. The representative and Cllr Eddy know each other, but not to the extent that would present a conflict of interest. PC Patrick Quinton was present.

 

It was confirmed by the clerk that additional references had been submitted and circulated to the committee on the day.

 

The Neighbourhood Enforcement Officer introduced the report and drew attention to the following:

·       This is an application for the renewal of a Private Hire Driver licence. On 14 October 2020 the enforcement team received an email from a safeguarding officer at BCC regarding an overcharging complaint from a member of the public. This is a potential criminal offence under taxi regulations.

·       On 10 October 2020, SM is alleged to have overcharged a customer £2.50, then supplied a personal number for future bookings. The customer complained to the operator.

·       PC Quinton earmarked the vehicle for a test purchase. PCQ stopped the vehicle, whereupon SM said he was not working. The passenger confirmed it was a taxi journey and that he did not book through an operator. SM said he was giving a friend a lift home and was not working. PCQ asked SM if he was plying for hire, but he maintained he was giving a lift.

·       PCQ issued a fixed penalty for driving without insurance and referred the matter to PSP. A Background check has revealed historical complaints about tailgating and speeding.

 

The appellant gave the following evidence:

·       There was a complaint about alleged tailgating two years ago. This was resolved by SM speaking to licensing officers. This was a historical event, and he was reissued a license regardless of this in May 2020.

·       SM has been a licensed driver since 2008 and up to 2019 he has no complaints on record. SM was not contacted about historical events prior to PSP referral so was unable to put his side of the story forward.

·       There is a fine line between the overcharging and asking for a tip, i.e. rounding up costs by a small amount.  The person making the complaint was not the passenger and did not see the transaction of this alleged overcharging.

·       The committee has received references that paint SM as a reliable and trustworthy driver. We understand that earlier complaints are of lesser interest compared to the incident in May.

·       SM did accept a pre-booking not through an operator. The BCC policy is clear, but we would ask you to consider his very good record. 2 more recent complaints did not need action and this incident in May is out of character.

·       These are very hard times for the taxi trade, and this was not plying for hire in the traditional sense. We would ask the committee to give a formal warning rather than action.

·       SM has taken this matter seriously at all stages and has contacted the NET and PCQ on several occasions on his own initiative.

 

After questioning from the committee, the following information was confirmed

·       That SM’s insurance would have been  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.

9.

MH - APPLICATION FOR THE GRANT OF A HACKNEY CARRIAGE DRIVER LICENCE SEEKING DEPARTURE FROM BRISTOL CITY COUNCIL POLICY

Minutes:

The driver was present.

 

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

·       MH has held a licence since 2004 (which is when electronic records begin) and possibly has earlier licences on paper records.

·       His previous licence expired in 2019 and his renewal application was considered by PSP in January 2020 due to a conviction for battery.

·       For violent offences such as battery the policy is not to licence until between 5 to 10 years has passed. The Magistrate has suggested a period of 2 years due to the offence being on the lower end of the scale, but it is 5 years as per the policy.

 

The appellant gave the following evidence:

·       MH said that he has a previous good record over 20 years and the conviction was a minor one.

·       He expressed remorse for his actions, which were very out of character. This is the only offence on his record, and he will not offend again.

·       MH said the offence occurred during a very stressful time and that he has financial and health issues.

 

After questioning from the committee, the following information was confirmed

·       It was confirmed that the committee cannot go behind criminal convictions, they stand and are not a matter for debate.

·       The magistrate’s recommendation of a two-year period without licence is not binding on the committee. The committee is led by the policy standard of 5-8 years for assault.

 

Decision

The Committee, having heard from the Licensing Officer and the Applicant, determined to refuse to grant MH’s Hackney Carriage Driver Licence under section 59(1)(a)(i) of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions Act) 1976 and have applied the Council’s guidance on the relevance of criminal behaviour – General Policy (referred to hereafter as “the Policy”).  The Committee considered the comments made by the Magistrates’ Court for an application to be considered favourably after two years from the conviction as the Court considered the offence to be at the lower end of the guidelines however the Committee re-iterate that those comments on are not binding on this Committee.

 

In making the decision, the Committee could not go behind a criminal conviction and applied the section of the Policy on violence, namely, that as hackney carriage and private hire drivers have close contact with the public, in general a period of 5 to 10 years free of conviction for offences involving violence (depending on the nature and seriousness of the offence) will be required before an application is likely to be considered favourably; an application will normally be refused where the Applicant has a conviction for an offence of common assault (and other offences not listed here) and the conviction is less than 5 years prior to the date of the application. Between 5 and 8 years after conviction more weight will be given to the circumstances of the offence and any evidence adduced to show good character since the date of conviction.

 

The Policy states that a person with a current conviction for a serious  ...  view the full minutes text for item 9.

10.

ZR - APPLICATION FOR THE RENEWAL OF A HACKNEY CARRIAGE VEHICLE LICENCE SEEKING DEPARTURE FROM BRISTOL CITY COUNCIL POLICY

Minutes:

The driver’s mother was in attendance as ZR is in hospital.

 

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

·       This is an application for a renewal of a Hackney Carriage Vehicle License. The vehicle in question was first registered in 2011. It is council policy not to renew licences for vehicles older that 10 years. This policy is in place to contribute to better air quality in the city so the applicant must give reasons for the committee to divert from this policy.

·       ZR has requested an extension of 6 months to earn enough money to secure a replacement vehicle.

 

The appellant gave the following evidence:

·       The family is in a difficult financial situation and needs an extension for this vehicle to secure funds for a replacement. The family has a fleet of vehicles but covid has made their maintenance and replacement difficult.

 

After questioning from the committee, the following information was confirmed

·       The vehicle is large and well suited to taxi work. It has no defects and has passed its MOT every time. All vehicles are checked weekly and receive regular servicing. They believe selling the vehicle now would be wasteful.

 

Decision

The Committee determined to refuse the application for the renewal of a Hackney Carriage Vehicle licence seeking departure from the Council’s Hackney Carriage Vehicle Policy (referred to hereafter as “the Policy”) on the ground contained in section 60(1)(a) and section 60(1)(c ) of the Local Government Miscellaneous Provisions Act 1976, namely, that the vehicle is unfit for use as a Hackney Carriage vehicle and any other reasonable cause.

 

The Policy states that any vehicle first registered between 1st January 2011 and 31st August 2015 can be relicensed until 10 years from date of first registration. ZR’s vehicle was first registered on 24th April 2011 and as it is over 10 years since first registration no longer complies with the Policy. The Committee is not satisfied that there are exceptional circumstances to justify departure from the Policy. Personal and financial circumstances are not a relevant consideration when making a decision.

11.

AH - APPLICATION FOR THE GRANT OF A PRIVATE HIRE DRIVER LICENCE

Minutes:

The driver was present.

 

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

·       AH suffers from angina and needs to take a fitness test to be able to drive. Taxi drivers in Bristol need to achieve level 2 on the test to be licensed.

·       AH is also seeking exemption from the knowledge and gold standard tests. 

 

The appellant gave the following evidence:

·       It has been one and half years since AH appeared at PSP and two and a half months since his last application.

·       AH provided a doctor’s note that said he was satisfied with his health level.

 

After questioning from the committee, the following information was confirmed

·       Members asked whether officers had discussed the medical evidence required with the appellant and when it can be secured. It is difficult in the current climate to get fitness tests, the quickest way to secure test is by going to a private healthcare provider.

·       AH is seeking exemption from the knowledge test. He has been a driver for 16 years, so his knowledge is already very good. AH said it is a financial burden to take these tests and he is currently unemployed.

·       AH has never taken the gold standard test as it is listed as optional on applications. He is prepared to take it if directed by the committee.  

·       AH experienced a stroke which led to his licence being withdrawn. He provided a medical reference, but this does not override the need for AH to complete the necessary fitness test for taxi drivers. This is something that AH will need to arrange. The licensing officer confirmed that he could write to AH’s GP about the requirements and ask for a referral.

 

Decision

The Committee determined to refuse the application for a Private Hire Driver Licence in accordance with section 51(1)(a)(i) of the Local Government Miscellaneous Provisions Act 1976. AH sought departure from the Council’s Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Fit and Proper Person Policy (referred to hereafter as “the Policy”), specifically, exemptions from the requirement to complete the Gold Standard Test and the Knowledge Test. The Policy states that “all applicants and licence holders shall satisfy the Council that they are a fit and proper person to hold such a licence. The Medical Fitness Policy and Training Policy shall form part of the fit and proper person test.”

 

AH’s previous licence was revoked in January 2020 due to medical reasons; therefore he is treated as a new applicant and is subject to the requirements of the Policy. AH has not previously been required to complete the Gold Standard test, which became a requirement in 2012. It has been over one year since AH was licensed and although he has had years of experience being a licenced driver in Bristol, this is not up to date and the Knowledge Test is a reasonable requirement, as is the Gold Standard test.  The Committee is not satisfied that there are exceptional reasons that justify departure from the Policy. Personal  ...  view the full minutes text for item 11.