The Licence Holder and a Witness and her partner were present.
The Neighbourhood Enforcement Officer outlined the background to the case as follows:
• A complaint had been received by a member of the public in relation to a licensed Private Hire Driver and this had been investigated by the Neighbourhood Enforcement Office and a witness statement had been taken;
• The Licence Holder had been granted a licence in December 2016 and this was due to expire in 2019;
• The Licence Holder had failed to attend interviews with the Neighbourhood Enforcement Team in January, due to illness, and in February, due to getting the date wrong.
The Witness confirmed that she had nothing to add to her written statement.
The Licence Holder outlined his case as follows:
• He did not believe that he had been driving the car at the time of the incident. He had no recollection of the incident and did not match the description of the man described by the witness as he did not have straight hair and always had a beard;
• He suggested that his brother may have been driving the vehicle as he often drove the vehicle and the description better suited him.
In response to questioning, he confirmed:
• He had not spoken to his brother about the incident;
• His brother did not have a taxi licence.
In response to questioning, the Witness confirmed that the man driving the taxi did look like the licence holder, but he was clean shaven and could have been his brother.
In response to questioning the Neighbourhood Enforcement Officer confirmed that the Licence Holder had been identified through the taxi plates.
At this point in the meeting, the Witness and her partner withdrew.
The Licensing Manager reported additional information relating to the Licence Holder following a police disclosure from Hertfordshire police that, on 14 February 2018, he had been arrested for the possession of crack cocaine; his vehicle had been seized and he had been released pending an investigation.
The Licence Holder responded that he had been working in Hertfordshire for UBER when he had been followed by the police and on stopping; his passenger had fled the vehicle. He said that the drugs belonged to the passenger who he had unknowingly picked up from the address of a known drug dealer.
The Licensing Manager questioned whether the Licence holder could have been working for UBER at that time, but it was agreed that the seized vehicle had been licensed by Bristol City Council and that the incident had not been reported to the Council’s Licensing Office.
At this point in the meeting the Neighbourhood Enforcement Officer and Licence Holder withdrew from the meeting while the Committee considered the application. Everyone returned to the meeting to hear the decision.
RESOLVED that the licence be revoked on the grounds contained in section 61(1)(b) of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976, namely “any other reasonable cause”, for the following reason:
The Committee found it more likely than not that the Licence Holder’s brother was driving his taxi at the time of the complaint but were concerned that he had allowed an unlicensed driver to drive his licensed vehicle. They were concerned that he had failed to notify the Council that he had been arrested on suspicion of being concerned in the supply of a controlled drug- class A- Crack Cocaine, and that his Bristol licenced vehicle had been impounded by the police in connection with this investigation. The Committee, therefore, could not be satisfied that the Licence Holder was a fit and proper person.