Agenda and minutes

Public Safety and Protection Sub-Committee B
Tuesday, 24th September, 2019 10.00 am

Venue: Room 1P05, 1st Floor - City Hall, College Green, Bristol, BS1 5TR. View directions

Contact: Corrina Haskins 

Items
Note No. Item

29.

Welcome and Safety Information

Minutes:

The Chair drew attention to the safety information.

 

30.

Apologies for Absence

Minutes:

There were no apologies for absence.

31.

Declarations of Interest

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

 

32.

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 18 September 2019.

 

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 on23 September 2019.

 

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:

There were no public forum statements.

 

To Follow

33.

Minutes of Previous Meeting - Public Safety and Protection Sub-Committee B: 17 September 2019

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

Minutes:

RESOLVED – that the minutes of the meeting of 17th September 2019 be confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chair.

 

34.

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.

 

35.

Exclusion of the 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.

 

36.

Application for the Renewal of a Private Hire Driver Licence and Renewal of a Private Hire Vehicle Licence: GA

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Applicant was in attendance with his Legal Representative and Interpreter.

 

The Licensing Officer outlined the background to the application as follows:

 

·                     The application was for the renewal of a Private Hire Driver licence and Private Hire Vehicle licence;

·                     An initial disclosure from police had been revealed, following checks as part of the application process, about an alleged sexual assault incident;

·                     On receipt of this information, Licensing Officers made a data protection request to the Police, but the Police had refused to provide the requested information even though the Complainant had agreed that her statement could be distributed;

·                     PC Quinton, the police officer who deals with taxi licensing matters, had also tried to obtain further disclosure but without success;

·                     The Applicant had not declared the incident to the Licensing Officer at the time it had happened or on his renewal application;

·                     In accordance with Council policy, in the case of offences involving decency and serious sexual offences, an application would only be considered if there had been a period of 15 years free of conviction;

·                     The Committee’s main concern was the safety of the public and Members needed to consider whether the applicant was a “fit and proper person”;

·                     The Officers were recommending refusal in accordance with Council policy.

 

The Council’s Legal Advisor confirmed that nothing has been proven in relation to the incident and so Members needed to make findings of fact on the complaint on the balance of probabilities and only if they found in favour of the Complainant should they consider taking any further action.  In response to a question about the difference between criminal proceedings and the function of the Committee, the Legal Advisor clarified that the criminal standard used in court was “beyond reasonable doubt” whereas as the civil standard of proof used by the Committee was “the balance of probabilities”, a lower standard of proof based on whose evidence the Committee believed to be the most credible.

 

The Applicant’s Legal Representative questioned the use of guidelines for criminal behaviour in considering the application when there had not been a Police conviction.  The Licensing Officer confirmed that, in relation to the policy, the Council could take into account any issues of concern raised by a disclosure regardless of whether a conviction had taken place.  The Policy stated that where offending behaviour was proved to the satisfaction of the Council, then any reference to conviction should be construed accordingly

 

The Applicant apologised for not informing the Licensing Office of the incident, and confirmed that this was not deliberate.

 

The Witness gave evidence via video link as follows:

·         On the day of the incident she had called a taxi to take her to the shop;

·         She had been drinking vodka before she got into the taxi so she was a bit merry;

·         When the taxi arrived at the shop, she could see that it was closed and so she asked the driver to take her home;

·         She asked the driver to open the window as she had  ...  view the full minutes text for item 36.

37.

Application for the Grant of a Private Hire Driver Licence: LS

Minutes:

The Applicant was in attendance.

 

The Licensing Officer outlined the background to the application as follows:

·         The Application was for a Private Hire Driver licence;

·         On applying for a licence, the Applicant had declared a caution for solicitation;

·         The Applicant had previously held a Hackney Carriage Licence and on applying for this to be renewed, this had been refused by Committee and on appealing to the Magistrate’s Court, the appeal was dismissed;

·         Subsequent applications had also been refused by the Committee;

·         The Applicant was also asking that, in the event of him being granted a licence, he be exempt from undertaking the Knowledge Test and Gold Standard training;

·         The Council’s Policy on serious sexual offences recommended a period of 5-15 years free of conviction before an application would be considered and in the case of the Applicant, the 5 year period would end in October 2019.

 

The Applicant presented his case as follows:

·       He had worked as a taxi driver since 1981 during which time he had undertaken school runs and transported passengers to and from elderly people’s homes and he used to run his own private hire company;

·       Taxi driving had been his only career and he loved it;

·       He was known to Licensing Officers and had no record of complaints from passengers;

·       During the time of the offences he was having a marital crisis, the result of which he lost his home;

·       He was sorry for the offences and after a period of not working he was ready to move on.

 

In response to questioning, the Applicant confirmed that the soliciting incidents were isolated during a time when he was having marital difficulties.  The Licensing Officer confirmed that there was no record of any other offences.

 

In response to questioning as to why he was seeking exemption from the Knowledge Test and Gold Standard, the Applicant confirmed that he knew the job and the city of Bristol well and so he did not think that he needed to undertake the training and test.  The Licensing Officer confirmed that it was standard for drivers who had not had a licence for more than a year to retake all the necessary checks and training, but the Committee could consider an exemption if this was considered appropriate.

 

In response to questioning, the Applicant confirmed that although he no longer lived in Bristol, he visited at least once a week to visit his daughters.  He also confirmed that he was confident of being able to find employment due to his contacts in the trade.

 

The Council’s Legal Adviser confirmed that the Council Policy stated that a driver should be free of conviction for a period of 5-15 years before an application was considered and if less than this time, the Committee would need to consider whether the Applicant could be treated as an exemption to the policy.  In relation to the Gold Standard training, this was a bespoke training course including the use of wheelchairs and customer relations.

 

In summing up, the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 37.

38.

Application for the Renewal of a Private Hire Vehicle Licence Seeking Exemption from Council Policy: MD

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Licensing Officer reported that he had received confirmation from the Director of Platinum Executive Travel to confirm that the Applicant would be working for him carrying out Executive work and in the light of that, he recommended that the application be granted.  He confirmed that the other outstanding issues had been dealt with by Neighbourhood Enforcement Team.

 

RESOLVED – that the application for the renewal of a Private Hire Vehicle Licence seeking exemption from Council Policy be granted on the grounds that the Applicant would be undertaking work that was ‘executive’ in nature.

 

39.

Consideration of whether the Driver is ‘Fit and Proper’ following an investigation by the Neighbourhood Enforcement Team: RI

Minutes:

The Applicant was in attendance with his Legal Representative.

 

PC Quinton, Taxi Compliance Officer, was also in attendance

 

The two Complainants were also in attendance.


The Neighbourhood Enforcement Officer outlined the background to the application as follows:

·                     The Committee was asked to consider whether the Applicant was a fit and proper person following an investigation by the Neighbourhood Enforcement Team arising from a complaint from two members of the public;

·                     The Driver held a licence which was due to expire in 2021;

·                     In July 2019, a complaint had been received that the driver had parked on double yellows in no waiting zone which had caused an obstruction and difficulty for other drivers, and on being challenged by the Complainant, the Driver verbally abused the Complainant and his wife;

·                     Neighbourhood Enforcement Officers had taken statements and visited the site to take photographs;

·                     As the Driver’s solicitor had questioned whether the Driver was parked dangerously, further photographs had been taken and these  were circulated to the Committee, Driver and his Legal Representative;

·                     It was the opinion of the Neighbourhood Enforcement Team that the Driver was causing an obstruction;

·                     A letter was written to the Driver and he was asked to attend the offices where he was interviewed under caution;

·                     At the interview, the Driver’s Legal Representative was not present, but the Driver agreed to continue with the interview where he said that although it was not the best place to park, he was not causing an obstruction and denied being abusive.  He claimed that he was a victim of racial abuse by a black van driver who was at the scene;

·                     The passenger could not be contacted as he had since returned to his native country;

·                     Officers spoke to the Manager of Shaw’s Drapery who confirmed that she was aware that something had happened but she wasn’t clear about what it was and so didn’t want to give a statement;

·                     The Driver had previous history of complaints against him.

 

The first Complainant gave his account of the incident as follows:

·         He was taking his dogs for a walk with his wife when he saw the taxi park and the Driver get out of his vehicle;

·         He could see a bus struggling to get past the taxi and he witnessed an altercation between the bus driver and taxi driver but he was not close enough to hear what was said;

·         He challenged the Taxi Driver saying he was an idiot to park where he had and the Driver had become verbally abusive and replied that he could park anywhere to pick up passengers;

·         There was a queue of traffic as a result of the taxi driver parking where he had and the complainant took photos of the vehicle which he sent to the Neighbourhood Enforcement Team;

·         He and his wife carried on walking and heard a further altercation between the Driver and a driver of a black van although he could not hear what  was being said;

·         He then heard a number of  ...  view the full minutes text for item 39.

40.

Consideration of the Ability of a Licensed Hackney Carriage Driver to be considered a "fit and proper person": TK

Minutes:

The Hackney Carriage Driver was in attendance with his Legal Representatives.

 

P C Quinton was also in attendance.

 

PC Quinton outlined the background to the case as follows:

·         He had stopped the Driver and had established that he was not using his meter;

·         The Driver confirmed he usually used a meter but the passenger had offered a price of £20 for the journey and he had agreed;

·         The Driver had been polite and cooperative;

·         There was also an issue with the plates, the front plate had expired and the Driver had explained this was due to the Council sending him the wrong plate;

·         He had body camera evidence available, but did not think this was essential for the Committee to see as the Driver did not dispute what had happened.

 

The Neighbourhood Enforcement Officer reported:

·           The Driver’s Licence was due to expires in 2020;

·           The Driver had held a licence since 2005 which had been revoked in September 2008 following an incident involving theft and the receipt of stolen goods;

·           The Driver was re-licenced in 2013.

 

The Driver’s Legal Representative outlined his case as follows:

·           The Driver accepted the facts of the case and that his plates were not as they should have been;

·           He knew he should have used his meter, but the passenger had requested the fixed fee of £20 and said this was the usual price and so he wasn’t trying to overcharge her or be dishonest;

·           He accepted he should not have done it, but he wanted to please the customer and not defraud her;

·           He accepted the rules and knew they were there to protect vulnerable passengers;

·           In relation to the display of plates, he was aware that there was a problem in his local area with thieves stealing taxi plates at night and so he was in the habit of removing his front plate at night.  Unfortunately, on this occasion he forgot to put it back on;

·           The plate had the wrong date on it and he said the Council had sent him the wrong one but he rectified the situation by asking the Council to send him the correct plate;

·           He had made an error, but it was not intentional and the correct plate was displayed at the back of the vehicle;

·           He was a good and safe driver with no points on his licence and was not a threat to the public;

·           He was courteous and had a personal reference to say he worked hard and was a family man with two young children.

 

In summing up, the Driver’s Legal Representative asked the Committee to consider him a fit and proper person to hold a licence and to issue him with a warning on this occasion rather than taking any further action.

 

The Driver confirmed that he knew it was a requirement of Bristol City Council to use the meter; he was sorry and had learnt from the experience.

 

At this point in the meeting the Licence Holder, his representatives and the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 40.

41.

Application for the Grant of a Private Hire Driver Licence: JL

Minutes:

 

The Licensing Officer advised that the Applicant had requested an adjournment due to ill health. 

 

RESOLVED – that the application be adjourned.