The Applicant was in attendance, accompanied by the Chair of Bristol Blue Taxi Association.
The Licensing Officer outlined the background to the application as follows:
· There were three elements to the report,
i) To seek consideration of whether the Applicant was a ‘fit and proper person’ to hold a licence due to medical conditions.
ii) To seek consideration of whether an exemption should be granted from carrying wheelchair passengers
iii) To seek consideration of whether the Applicant should hold a Hackney Carriage Vehicle Licence.
· The Applicant had a history of back problems and an exemption for his Hackney Carriage Drivers Licence had been allowed from carrying wheelchair passengers between 2015-2018.
· The Applicant had a Private Hire Driver Licence from 2018 and had worked for Uber.
· The Applicant holds a Hackney Carriage Vehicle Licence valid until from 10 November 2018 to 5 September 2019.
· New accessibility policies and an exemption form now applied.
· The Applicant had been referred to Occupational Health and an examination took place in February 2019.
In response to questions the Licensing Officer clarified the following:
· Exemptions could be applied by the Committee to conditions governing private hire drivers (such as in this case, the lifting of heavy luggage and wheelchairs).
· The conditions governing Hackney Carriages were byelaws and the relevant elements were numbers two and six. These cannot be altered or exempted.
· Attention was drawn to section 60 of the Hackney Carriage Vehicle Licence which referred to the suspension and revocation of vehicle licences.
· There had not been any question of character or any incidents to report. The question of whether he was a ‘fit and proper person’ was of ‘physical fitness’ and whether the applicant could adhere to the conditions on the Private Hire Licence and the bylaws that applied to the Hackney Carriage Licence due to being unable to lift luggage and wheelchairs.
· If exempt, a driver should display a card/badge within the vehicle which can be discernible to the public. The card/badge outlines the legislation and the exemption from carrying wheelchair passengers.
· A medical was required every five years from the age of 45 years, and annually from the age of 65 years.
· It was not known how other Council’s treat cases of people who are unable to help with luggage.
The Applicant and the Chair of the Chair of Bristol Blue Taxi Association made the following points in support of his application:
· From 2015 he had displayed a letter which showed customers that he had back pain.
· He would like to return to Hackney Carriage driving and renew his licence following a period of solely Private Hire.
· In the last six months he had not been approached by a customer in a wheelchair.
· He would like to obtain an exemption for his Hackney Carriage Vehicle Licence and had bought a new car. He would not be able to change his car.
· Occupational Health had indicated that he should not lift over 10kg. Suitcases tended to be between 5kg and 10kg. If luggage was heavier than 10kg, drivers and passengers tended to work together to load it.
· Having back problems should not affect his right to earn a living.
· In Bristol with 100% wheelchair accessible taxis, there were many other taxis that could happily take wheelchair passengers. Other drivers help each other too.
· He had not had any complaints during the period he had held his exemption.
At this point in the meeting, the Applicant and the Licensing Officer withdrew while the Committee considered the application and subsequently returned to hear the decision.
Members considered very carefully all of the written and verbal evidence presented to them.
During the discussion (and in consultation with the parties withdrawn from the room), it was agreed to separate out the issues and deal with the wheelchair exemption only. It was agreed that the luggage exemption would be deferred to another Committee, to allow time for a further consultation with Occupational Health in order to explore the maximum weight allowance further.
i) That the applicant was considered a ‘fit and proper person’ and could continue to hold a Hackney Carriage Driver Licence and Private Hire Driver’s Licence.
ii) That an exemption was GRANTED from carrying wheelchair passengers for both his Hackney Carriage Vehicle and his Private Hire Vehicle (correct card/badge to be displayed as instructed)
iii) That the exemption from luggage over 10kg be DEFERRED to a future Committee to allow for further medical referral and advice.