Agenda item

Consideration of whether a Private Hire Driver is a fit and proper person IR

Minutes:

The License Holder and two witnesses were in attendance for the item.

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

 

·         The Neighbourhood Enforcement Team had brought this to the Committee to consider if the Licence Holder could be considered a fit and proper person after an investigation into 3 separate complaints about his conduct;

·         Between 18 January 2019 and 4 February 2019, 3 separate complaints had been received 1) Road Rage; 2) Double Parking; 3) Driving without care and attention;

·         The complaints had been investigated and witness statements taken;

·         The Licence Holder had been interviewed under caution on 18 March where he had responded to the allegations as follows:

o   1 Road Rage: he could not initially recall the incident until reminded but denied aggression, getting out of his vehicle or swearing;

o   2 Double Parking: he had double parked, which was common place in this section of the road and had fallen asleep in his house and was not aware that someone needed to move their vehicle until he received a call from his company.   He had apologised to the person concerned;

o   3 Driving without due care and attention: He denied using a mobile phone while driving but said he had a sandwich in his hand and that the cyclist appeared out of nowhere and he swerved to avoid him. 

·         Following the investigation, there had been a further 3 complaints about his conduct, which had not yet been investigated but the complainants had been spoken to by the Neighbourhood Enforcement Team;

o   1 Plying for hire/overcharging/smoking during an incident from Prince Street Bristol to Bristol Airport;

o   2 Parking in an area of road closure and abuse of a traffic management worker who challenged him;

o   3 Allegation of dangerous driving in Hartcliffe.

 

Two Witnesses were in attendance and gave evidence as follows:

Witness One:

·         He was travelling in North Street behind the Licence Holder who stopped at a zebra crossing to talk to someone;

·         After a minute and a half he tooted the Licence Holder at which point the Licence Holder swore at the witness;

·         Following the incident the Licence Holder started driving slowly and braking erratically;

·         The Licence Holder pulled over and got out of his car and approached the witness swearing at him and saying that he would “chop him up.”

Witness 2:

·         He was cycling on the roundabout approaching Bristol Bridge and was aware that the Licence Holder had not seen him;

·         The Licence Holder had started accelerating and the Witness buffered to the right and slowed down;

·         He thought the Licence Holder was holding a mobile phone and that he was speeding and distracted and did not see the Witness until he approached him further in the journey and told him to get off his phone.

 

The License Holder responded as follows:

·         Road Rage Incident: He denied getting out of his car and saying that he would “chop him up” to the complainant;

·         Driving without due care and attention incident: He denied speeding and said he was “eco mode” and denied that he was on his phone, but said he had a sandwich in his hand;

·         Double Parking incident: he moved his car when he got a phone call asking him to do so and apologised to the woman concerned;

·         Plying for hire/overcharging/smoking during an incident: he denied smoking as he didn’t smoke and said he gave the passenger a free lift to the airport as he was going that way;

·         Parking in Road Closure: he admitted parking but denied swearing and being abusive to the complainant and said he had a witness to confirm this.

·         Dangerous driving: he said he could not recall the incident.

 

At this point in the meeting the Witnesses and Neighbourhood Enforcement Officer left the meeting.

 

The Licensing Manager reported further information as a result of a police disclosure that the Licence Holder was being investigated in relation to an allegation of sexual assault and this was relevant to the Committee in determining if the Licence Holder was a fit and proper person. 

 

The Licence Holder confirmed that he was aware of the allegation but denied the incident and was awaiting an update from the police.

 

At this point in the meeting, the Neighbourhood Enforcement Officer and Licence Holder withdrew from the meeting while the Committee considered the evidence. 

 

Everyone returned to the meeting to hear the decision.

 

RESOLVED that the Licence be revoked with immediate effect in the interests of public safety 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 considered the 6 complaints about different issues which had been received from different members of the public in a short time, together with information regarding an ongoing police investigation. These demonstrated aggressive language and threatening behaviour, poor driving standards and an alleged sexual assault. The Committee was therefore not satisfied that the Licence Holder was a fit and proper person to hold a licence.

 

Supporting documents: