The driver was in attendance, his friend AZ was also in attendance and spoke on the driver’s behalf.
The Licensing Officer introduced the report and drew attention to the following:
· This is an application for a new licence. KH’s previously held licence was revoked on 25 September after he made inappropriate comments to a female passenger.
· The committee found the witness credible and was supported by the operator. KH was deemed not fit and proper to hold a licence, which was revoked with immediate effect.
· KH appealed this decision to the Magistrates’ Court in 2019, where it was dismissed. There are no witnesses appearing today, as the committee cannot reconsider or overturn the previous decision.
· KH has no other previous complaints on record. He is seeking exemption from the knowledge test, as he has passed this previously, but on a date before electronic records.
· The committee need to decide whether KH is fit and proper to hold a licence, and he should evidence how he has changed since this incident. Would members be happy for a female relative to be alone in his vehicle? Officers recommend refusal.
AZ gave the following evidence on behalf of the applicant:
· KH has held a licence since 2004, a period of 14 years with no other offences. He has been a taxi driver for 25 years. This long period of service should be considered.
· Regarding the 2018 offense to female passenger, he accepts that has been ruled on, but he was not represented properly so believes this was a miscarriage of justice.
· The test of whether KH is a fit and proper person can be supported by the large number of character references which have been submitted to the committee. This includes many women who have used his taxi alone and in evenings.
· KH is also known for his charitable activities in the community, supported with a reference from the chair of the Fishponds mosque, where KH was elected secretary.
· KH is in financial hardship, which puts substantial pressure on his family. His only marketable skill is driving.
· KH recently held a licence with South Gloucestershire, but this was also revoked.
After questioning from the committee, the following information was confirmed:
· The character references submitted to the committee are largely before the offence.
· KH’s South Gloucestershire licence was revoked because he did not declare this offence on his application. KH said that because of his poor English, a friend filled out the application for him and did not declare the offence. He was licensed by South Gloucestershire for 18 months before the revocation in October 2020.
· This was after KH made this application to Bristol, so his South Gloucestershire licence was live at the time.
· There are no English language requirements for a licence, though the gold standard course requires a good level of spoken and written English.
· Since the incident, KH has been working for community charities, making and delivering food, looking after the elderly during lockdown. Because of his limited language skills, he would struggle to take an official course.
· KH would be happy to accept a conditional or probational licence for a period of 6 months. While the committee could attach conditions to a licence, issuing a licence of any kind means the committee considers the holder a fit and proper person.
The Committee withdrew to deliberate on their decision.
RESOLVED (unanimous decision)
Members were concerned that KH did not accept that he had done anything wrong despite two PSP Committees and a Magistrates’ Court having found that the very serious complaint was made out. Although he had a previously unblemished record, they were not satisfied that he was now a fit and proper person to hold a licence and his application to renew was refused