Agenda and minutes

Public Safety and Protection Sub-Committee B - Tuesday, 21st September, 2021 10.00 am

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

Contact: Jeremy Livitt 

Items
No. Item

11.

Welcome and Safety Information pdf icon PDF 400 KB

Minutes:

The Chair welcomed everyone to the meeting and drew attention to the emergency evacuation procedure.

 

12.

Apologies for Absence

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillor Guy Poultney (Councillor Tessa Fitzjohn substituting).

13.

Declarations of Interest

Minutes:

There were no Declarations of Interest.

14.

Minutes of the Previous Meeting held on 27th July 2021 pdf icon PDF 452 KB

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

Minutes:

RESOLVED – that the minutes of the meeting held on 27th July 2021 be approved as a correct record and signed by the Chair.

15.

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 5pm on Wednesday 15th September 2021.

 

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 Noon on Monday 20th September 2021.

 

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 items.

16.

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 Committee Procedure Rules CMR 10 and CMR 11 be suspended for the remainder of the meeting.

17.

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 the public be excluded from the remainder of the meeting to allow consideration of items containing exempt information under Paragraph 1 of Part 1 of Schedule 12(A) of the Local Government Act 1972.

18.

Report to Determine Whether Action Should Be Taken Against The Holder of a Hackney Carriage Driver and a Hackney Carriage Vehicle Licence - MSA

Minutes:

Saif Hussain , Chair of Bristol Blue Licensed Taxi Association (BBLTA), accompanied MSA for this hearing. The complainant was also in attendance.

 

Prior to the commencement of this hearing, the Chair Councillor Barry Parsons indicated that he knew MSA prior to the hearing but confirmed that he retained an open mind in considering this issue. Following a request from the Chair, MSA confirmed that he was happy to proceed with Councillor Parsons as a Sub-Committee member for the hearing.

 

Alison Wright, Neighbourhood Enforcement Team, introduced the exempt report and outlined the key issues concerning the complaint. These were as follows:

 

·       On 23rd June 2021, the complainant had asked his guide dog to get into the boot of the hackney carriage vehicle but it has refused three times.

·       MSA had refused permission for the complainant to take the dog into the car with him as other passengers did not like the smell.

·        In the time it took to resolve this matter the guide dog ran off and MSA would not run to find him and bring him back to the complainant.

·       The complainant indicated that, as a guide dog, his dog was well behaved, obedient and friendly.The Equalities Act 2010 imposes a duty on taxi drivers to carry a guide dog where required and to allow a guide dog to remain with that person.T

·       he complainant had submitted a complaint to the Neighbourhood Enforcement team about this incident in September 2021

·       On 5th September 2021, MSA had received a separate complaint against him about another incident. However, the person who submitted the complaint did not wish to pursue this

 

In response to questions from the Committee, Alison Wright made the following points:

 

·       It was not usual for a guide dog to be placed in the boot of a car but this was an open vehicle.

·       MSA had not taken the gold standard which covers guide dogs and wheelchairs.

 

MSA then outlined his case to the Sub-Committee. He made the following key points and also responded to questions from members of the Committee as follows.

 

·       I have previously picked up many wheelchair users, disabled people and guide dog users before so I knew what is required. My father was disabled and I also helped him as required.

·       As I knew the passenger had a guide dog, I moved down the road to pick hm up from a suitable place.

·       The separate complaint was in relation to a lady that he had picked up from the side of the road with an electric chair and had taken to Cribbs Causeway.

·       When the battery in the chair ran out, she asked me to help her get it recharged. I had to explain that this was not my responsibility to do and that  it rested with her to deal with this matter. There had also been a further delay because she did not have cash and I needed to use a machine to take payment. In all this fare took 45 minutes. This type  ...  view the full minutes text for item 18.

19.

Application for the Grant of a Private Hire Driver Licence - MJ

Minutes:

MJ was accompanied by a friend to this hearing.

 

Dakota Ferrara, Senior Licensing Officer, introduced this exempt report setting out  an application for the grant of a Private Hire Driver (PHD) licence seeking departure from Council policy. She made the following key points in relation to this case and  also responded to questions from Sub-Committee members :

 

·       MJ had previously held a licence from 20th July 2005 to 12th February 2008

·       This licence had been revoked on 12th February 2008 following a number of offences of illegally plying for hire and without insurance, an altercation with two female passengers resulting in police intervention and use of mobile phone whilst driving

·       MJ is applying for a Private Hire Drivers Licence and had requested a departure from policy so he is not required to take the gold standard and knowledge tests

·       An example of exceptional circumstances to avoid the requirement for a gold standard and knowledge test might be previous experience as a driver with the required knowledge or disability awareness training

 

MJ made the following comments to the Sub-Committee:

 

·       Due to his past behaviour, I lost my house and family in 2008 but have changed significantly since then

·       I need your support to help me continue with this

·       I am still paying for my car

·       I am now learning the necessary knowledge including navigation that I will need to be a Private Hire Driver without taking the knowledge test

·       When I got advice from the licensing team in December 2020, I was advised that my application for a taxi badge was likely to be ok as I already had a badge

 

In response to members’ questions, MJ gave the following responses:

 

·       In my existing I am a driver who travels to places such as schools and have obtained the knowledge, writing and reading that I need to understand the customer

·       I now understand what is required to make a vulnerable person fell safe in my taxi and what is required when dealing with someone who is drunk or difficult

·       I have already paid a price for my past mistakes and have not breached the requirements of being a driver since my licence was last revoked.

 

All parties then withdrew to enable the Sub-Committee to make their decision. Upon their return, MJ was advised of the decision as set out below.

 

RESOLVED (unanimously) – that members have not been persuaded that there are any exceptional circumstances to depart from the Council’s policy in respect of the requirements of completing the knowledge test and Gold standard and therefore the application is refused.

 

The Sub-Committee also advised MJ that this decision was not a bar to him reapplying for a Private Hire Drivers Licence without the exemptions.

20.

Application for the Grant of a Hackney Carriage Driver Licence - MAEA

Minutes:

Saif Hussain, Chair of the BBLTA, attended in support of MAEA for this hearing.

 

Dakota Ferrara, Senior Licensing Officer, introduced this exempt report setting out an application for the grant of a Hackney Carriage Driver (HCD) licence departing

from council policy. She made the following comments:

 

·       MAEA’s previous application for a replacement licence had been refused on 3rd March 2020 following a complaint from a member of the public that he had refused a fare from a passenger in a wheelchair

·       MAEA had applied for a licence with exemption from the gold standard and knowledge test but would just require the latter as he had provided proof that he had met the gold standard

·       If the licence was granted with the knowledge test exemption, MAEA would still need to submit to an enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service Check, together with a medical examination report and a DVLA mandate and check code

 

Members noted that a new policy was in place from July 2021 by the Department for Transport which required a prohibition for 7 years. They were also reminded that they could not re-consider the circumstances surrounding MAEA’s previous disqualification from being a Hackney Carriage Driver.

 

MAEA made the following points:

 

·       He indicated that he was struggling financially and needed to be granted the licence so he could support his family.

·       His previous car was rented and had a broken lock which meant it had been difficult to take customers in wheelchairs

·       He drew members attention to the experience he had gained from the additional 4 month customer service course to help him obtain the gold standard.

 

In response to a members’ question, he confirmed that he would in future ensure any broken lock was repaired on any car he rented or owned.

 

All parties then withdrew to allow the Sub-Committee to make a decision. Upon their return, their decision was announced and is set out below

 

RESOLVED (unanimously) – that members are not able to go behind the facts that previous committees have established and  have not been persuaded that there are any exceptional circumstances to depart from the Council’s policy in respect of breaches of the equality Act. Therefore, the application is refused

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

21.

Application for the Grant of a Private Hire Driver Licence - CF

Minutes:

This hearing took place in the absence of CF.

 

Dakota Ferarra, Senior Licensing officer, introduced this report. She explained that CF was requesting an exemption from the Council’s private hire knowledge and gold standard test and had provided supporting information in respect of this.

 

Following the withdrawal of the Senior Licensing Officer, the Sub-Committee made its decision and upon her return, stated their decision as set out below and with reasons indicated:

 

RESOLVED: (unanimously) – that the Committee were not prepared to exempt CF from taking the knowledge and Gold Standard tests and treat CF as an exception to Council policy.  Authority was delegated to officers to grant CF a PHD licence subject to him passing these tests.

 

Reasons:

The Committee considered CF’s documentation/CV in support of his application but notwithstanding he appeared to have a very good knowledge of driving in the city and possessed good customer care skills, this was not sufficient reason to treat him as an exception to Council policy without undermining it or the reasons that underlie it.

 

CF had not previously been licensed by the Council and the tests were part of the fit and proper person test to ensure that all drivers attain a high standard of driving & customer care and become ambassadors for the City.

 

 The knowledge test goes further than simply demonstrating a good knowledge of landmarks and how to get around the city.

 

The Gold Standard scheme aims to deliver a high quality bespoke training programme for hackney carriage and private hire drivers with the ultimate goal of maximising the customer experience and making taxi drivers ambassadors for the city. The scheme was developed by the Gold Standard Board which is attended by the Council’s Licensing and Equalities teams (in conjunction with BPAC), Unite, Destination Bristol and People 1st (Go Skills) the sector skills council for transport. In order to receive the Gold Standard Award candidates are required to complete the BTEC Introduction to the Role of the Professional Taxi and Private Hire Driver (L2) and World Host training course with a training provider accredited by People 1st.

 

The training includes a bespoke training module around disability equality which has been incorporated into the programme and it is therefore important that applicants attain this qualification before being licensed.

22.

Application for the Grant of a Private Hire Driver Licence - JM

Minutes:

Graham Lange, Licensing Officer, introduced this exempt report from JM applying for a Private Hire Driver Licence and made the following points:

 

·       JM had committed 8 separate archived motoring offences of various kinds between 1979 and 1997, 4 separate offences between 2006 and 2009, a further 4 separate offences between July 2018 and May 2020, as well as an additional totting up offence in January 2021 due to the number of penalties received

·       He had received a driving ban for these for 6 months from 22nd January 2021 and had therefore been required to surrender his licence on 25th February 2021

·       Whilst a single offence might be explained as a result of a particular set of circumstances, multiple offences suggested a pattern of behaviour

·       Under existing rules, the licence will not be granted until at least 5 years from conviction or ban whichever is the later. Since the date of the last (non-totting up) offence was 8th May 2020, this would not be until 2025.

·       Where someone is disqualified from driving, it would be at least a year following the restoration of the licence until it is approved

·       The burden of proof lies with the applicant to show why the Sub-Committee should depart from policy

 

JM made the following points concerning his application:

 

·       I am guilty of the offences given

·       My brother in law was in hospital for two months intensive care and on the day of the offence in May 2020 my sister in law was rushed into hospital with a lung problem and subsequently died.

·       I tried to pick up the phone to a call from my daughter but saw the Police behind me and realised I shouldn’t have answered it. I have been been paying the price for this mistake over the last 2 years

·       I do not currently hold my driving licence as there is backlog and the DVLA haven’t yet returned it to me

 

The Sub-Committee was advised that they could not consider an application until a DVLA licence was formally approved and would therefore need to defer this hearing and reconsider it once the licence had been granted.

 

RESOLVED (unanimously) – Given the applicant does not possess a current DVLA licence the committee cannot grant an application for a PHD Licence in accordance with section 51 of the Local government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 (“the Act”).

 

Reasons: The holding of a DVLA licence is a pre-requisite to being granted a licence under section 51 of the Act.  The committee heard that since JM’s disqualification had come to an end, he had applied to the DVLA for restoration of his driving licence but to date, he was still waiting to hear back from them.  In the circumstances the Committee were not able to determine whether or not JM was a fit and proper person to hold a PHD licence as the absence of a DVLA licence debarred the Council from granting him a PHD licence.  Once JM’s DVLA licence has been restored  ...  view the full minutes text for item 22.

23.

Application for the Grant of a Private Hire Vehicle Licence Seeking Departure From Bristol City Council Policy - AF

Minutes:

Graham Lange, Licensing Officer, introduced this report setting out an application for a Private Hire Vehicle Licence which requested a departure from Council policy. He made the following comments:

 

·       The application was incorrectly signed under the previous owner following its transfer to the current owner AF

·       This is an application for a new Private Hire Vehicle licence as it is being granted to a different owner to that previously held. However, the application is for a renewal. Regardless, the test is the same in terms of Bristol City Council policy.

·       The vehicle is a diesel engine and in contravention of current private hire licensing rules

 

AF explained that it had taken some time to be able to properly explain the situation concerning the new ownership of the vehicle . The application had been made two months earlier in March 2021.

 

The Legal Adviser to the Sub-Committee confirmed that the Applicant was the proprietor of the vehicle and that the relevant act says it is the proprietor who can make the application. Therefore, AF complies with the policy in submitting this application.

 

The Sub-Committee then requested all parties to withdraw while they made their decision and upon their return gave the decision set out below.

 

RESOLVED (unanimously) - that the application to renew the PHV licence in respect of vehicle registration SF64 VLL be granted in accordance with section 48 of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976.

 

Reasons:  On 16 March 2021 the PHV licence had expired but the Council’s policy allows a period of 3 months grace in which to renew the licence otherwise the application would have to be treated as an application for the grant of a new licence.  In this particular case there had been a fairly unusual set of circumstances whereby on 7 April 2021 the vehicle had been sold to AF which was followed by notification of the sale and an application to transfer the licence to AF on 2 June 2021, the applicant.  An application to renew the licence was then made on 8 June 2021.  Although the timings were unfortunate, the Committee noted that the application to renew was made within the 3 months grace allowed by the Council’s policy and that AF was the proprietor of the vehicle at the time the application was made.  The Committee therefore determined that the application could be granted on the proviso of a satisfactory inspection check being carried out

 

 

24.

Application for the Grant of a Private Hire Vehicle Licence Seeking Departure From Bristol City Council Policy - RWD

Minutes:

Dakota Ferrara, Senior Licensing Officer, introduced this exempt report setting out an application for the grant of a Private Hire Vehicle (PHV) licence seeking a departure from Council policy. She made the following comments:

 

·       RWD’s vehicle was licensed from 5th April 2016 to 5th April 2020 but was not requested for re-licence until 6th August 2021 (more than 16 months after the expiry date)

·       The vehicle is fitted with a diesel engine contrary to Bristol City Council policy

·       The application was treated as a new application due to the time since the expiry of the original licence

 

RWD made the following comments to the Sub-Committee:

 

·       I was intending to obtain an electric car and plan to buy a hybrid vehicle in about a year or so when my financial circumstances allow it

·       I had COVID for about two months just before my previous licence expired and did not  want to drive after that. I should have got in touch with Bristol City council but did not and was wary of catching COVID again so did not want to go out driving for a while

 

All parties withdrew from the room to allow the Sub-Committee to deliberate and when they returned, the decision set out below was provided.

 

RESOLVED - that the application for the grant of a PHV licence in respect of vehicle plate No 3927 be refused in accordance with section 48 of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 in that the Committee could not be satisfied that it was suitable in type, size and design for use as a PHV because it did not conform to Council policy in two respects

 

Reasons

Given that 16 months had elapsed since the expiry of the previous licence, the application had to be treated as though the vehicle was a new vehicle presented for licensing for the first time.  The purpose of policy is to remove diesels from the fleet and that any new vehicle presented for licensing for the first time is less than 3 years old.  The vehicle did not therefore comply with Council policy in two respects and the burden of proving that an exception to policy should be made lies on the individual applicant.

 

The Trade were kept in contact with during the  pandemic and options were given to them regarding licensing of their vehicles.  Although the committee had sympathy with RWD regarding him falling ill during the pandemic, 16 months was a considerable period of time to wait until renewing the licence.  The Committee did not therefore consider that there were exceptional reasons to depart from Council policy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

25.

Application for the Renewal of A Hackney Carriage Driver Licence - JWB

Minutes:

Dakota Ferrara, Senior Licensing Officer, introduced this report setting out an application from JWB for consideration of an application for the renewal of a Hackney Carriage Driver Licence in view of new Bristol City Council policy.

 

She made the following points:

 

·       JWB applied to renew his licence on 24th August 2021 which expired on 5th October 2021

·       He has two speeding offences on his licence

·       Bristol City Council has adopted a new policy on 21st July 2021 in line with national standards which states that more than one offence on a licence is referred to the Sub-Committee

·       The Sub-Committee was requested to consider this application and to determine whether or not it is in line with this new policy

 

JWB made the following points:

 

·       Penalty points are a hazard of the job

·       In these two cases I was only driving at 36mph in a 30mph zone

·       Given the number of hours I drive, this is occasionally bound to happen

·       It seems unfair that thew new policy should be applied retrospectively. Last year I had 6 points on my licence and was not faced with this situation. I have only had one other offence over the last 12 years

·       Sometimes I am distracted when driving and do not notice the speed limit, for example if I have to take someone urgently to the train station

·       I am a solid upstanding person with only two recent offences and would like to retain my licence

 

The Legal Adviser to the Panel Stated that the policy falls between minor single isolated and multiple offences. With two small offences committed unintentionally, the Sub-Committee could take into account a driver’s good record. Since the applicant was granted a licence last year and not committed any further offences, members needed to consider whether the policy should take effect in this instance.

 

The Sub-Committee asked all parties to withdraw to deliberate on this case and when they returned, they advised JWB of the decision below.

 

RESOLVED – that the application to renew the HCD Licence of JWB be granted in accordance with section 59 of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976

 

Reasons:

The Committee considered that the policy applied in this particular case.  It was noted that JWB was granted a licence last year notwithstanding his two motoring convictions but the new policy which is in line with National Standards guides local authorities that any applications for new licences can take retrospective convictions into account.

 

However, the Committee considered that on this occasion, JWB could be treated as an exception to the policy because of his good driving record over the past 12 years, he had not committed any further motoring offences since his last licence was granted and the Committee accepted his explanation that these offences were committed unintentionally.  The Committee therefore determined to grant JWB’s application for a HCD licence.

 

However, the Committee were somewhat concerned about JWB’s attitude towards speeding by his comment that it is an “occupational hazard” because exceeding  ...  view the full minutes text for item 25.

26.

Date of Next Meeting

The next meeting is scheduled for 10am on Tuesday 16th November 2021.

Minutes:

It was noted that the next meeting was scheduled to be held at 10am on Tuesday 16th November 2021.