The driver was in attendance. Cllr Shah was also in attendance as the ward councillor for support.
The Licensing Officer introduced the report and drew attention to the following:
· AA has held a licence since 2004, when electronic records began. His licence expired 13 October 2020 and he did not renew so this is considered a new application.
· DVLA check revealed 2 offences, which he declared on his application. 2019 driving without due care and attention and 2017 failure to identify.
· AA has some minor previous historical offences. Officers recommend refusal.
The applicant gave the following evidence:
· AA described his 2019 offence. He was driving on a cobbled street parallel to Baldwin Street, the vibrations from the cobbles shook his phone from its holder on the dashboard. AA bent down to retrieve the phone from the floor without stopping his vehicle. This was observed by the police and he received 3 penalty points.
· AA views this as a harsh decision as he was driving slowly and there were no pedestrians present. He considered taking the matter to court, but was warned if he lost, the penalty could be increased to 6 points.
· The 2017 offence was when another driver was borrowing AA’s car and committed an offence. AA was found guilty in absence of failing to identify to the court, but he maintains that he did send the necessary paperwork to the court. The driver who borrowed the car refused to admit the offence.
After questioning from the committee, the following information was confirmed:
· While AA is disputing the 2017 offence, he has not appealed to court, so the offence still stands.
· AA’s licence ran out on 13 October, he applied for a licence on 15 October.
· AA has been a taxi driver for 30 years and these are the only offences on his record. He believes his general good conduct over a long career should be considered.
· AA was asked why he thought he was prosecuted for undue care and attention and what he could have done differently. AA said that most people would do the same thing and his phone only took a few seconds to retrieve. AA was told that over a few seconds a car can travel a considerable distance. AA then said he should have stopped the vehicle before retrieving his phone.
· CS spoke on behalf of AA to say that he was apologetic and accepts that his retrieval of the phone was wrong. AA has 3 dependents and times are particularly tough for drivers now. AA has a good record and one of his regular jobs is to transport a disabled child to school, which shows a good deal of trust. AA understands driver standards are high, distractions are dangerous even when short and he is responsible for passenger safety.
The Committee withdrew to deliberate on their decision.
RESOLVED (unanimous decision)
Members were concerned that driving without due care and attention was a serious matter and AA had not satisfied them that he would behave differently should similar circumstances arise again. They saw no reason to depart from their policy and noted that the notification of offence had been given within the last 6 months. The application was therefore refused.