Note: This agenda item was the last heard on the day the following Committee Members were present: Cllr Davis, Cllr Hance (Chair), Cllr Langley
Cllr Eddy, Cllr Johnson and Cllr Bowden-Jones had left the meeting at his point.
NS was in attendance and the Complainants KT & SP
The Chair, welcome those present and led introductions apologising for the delay in starting proceedings.
The Enforcement Officer presented the report and summarised the complaint received alleging that NS, hackney carriage driver, had refused or neglected to take a child wheel chair passenger in the company of her mother and her carer from outside the Hippodrome, City Centre, Bristol on the 29th November 2017.
Highlights from the officer report:
The Committee put questions for clarification to the Enforcement Officer.
The complainant KT & SP were invited to present their complaint to Committee
The Chair invited Committee to put questions for clarification to the complainants.
The Chair then invited NS to address the complaint that he had refused or neglected to take the fare without reasonable excuse.
The Chair invited all parties to withdraw to allow for Committee to consider the complaint and make a decision.
The Members considered very carefully all the written and verbal evidence presented.
They noted the policy and legislation relevant to the allegation made against NS.
Following a lengthy debate on whether NS actions constituted a breach of the section 53 TPCA 1847 it was concluded on balance of probabilities NS had neglected to take the fare and that he did not have a reasonable excuse to do so.
The Committee Resolved: that NS had refused or neglected to take the fare without reasonable excuse which was akin to an offence under section 53 TPCA 1847.
The parties returned to the room and the decision was shared.
i. That NS’s HC Driver’s licence be suspended for a period of 6 months on the grounds contained in section 61(1)(i)(a) of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 in that there had been failure to comply with the provisions of the Act of 1847 and section 61(1)(b) of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 namely “any other reasonable cause”
Reason for Decision
ii. That the Council was entitled to expect high standards from those whom it licenced and the conduct of NS fell well below those standards thereby bringing the Council into disrepute.
iii. The conduct was akin to an offence of neglect to take a fare contrary to section 53 TPCA 1847 and the starting point under the Council’s policy on offending behaviour was to impose a period of suspension of 6 months. NS had presented no evidence or mitigation to persuade the committee that he should be treated as an exception to Council policy
iv. The Council had regard to its’ public sector equality duties under section 149 of the Equality Act 2010 and therefore the neglect to transport a child in a wheelchair was an aggravating feature
v. All taxis bear the logo that they are fully accessible although NS vehicle was missing a vital component to secure a wheelchair passenger that was not viewed as a reasonable excuse. However, it is the responsibility of all licensees to ensure that their vehicles are suitably equipped and that they are fully aware as to how to load and secure a wheelchair. It is part of their Gold Standard training. NS was required to ensure that this equipment was in working order.
vi. It was recommended that NS undertake additional training on the Equalities Duty and how to deal with passengers with protected characteristics.