A representative from the Blue Taxi Association was present to assist the applicant. The applicant submitted additional documentation on the day of the committee, which was read and considered.
The Licensing Officer introduced the report and drew attention to the following:
· AN applied for renewal of a Hackney Carriage Licence on 11 October 2021 and Private Hire Driver licence on November 2021. His current licence expired 25 January 2022. AN has held a licence since 2015.
· He previously appeared at PSP on 15 Nov 2016 due to convictions for criminal damage and common assault. There are no other offences or complaints on file.
· This case has been referred to committee due to a change in policy that violent offences should result in a refusal to grant a licence for a period of 10 years.
The appellant gave the following evidence:
· The titles of the criminal convictions in question make them sound much worse than the facts of the case.
· This was an incident from 2015, where AN was taking a haircut and was advised by the barber to park his vehicle in the car park of a neighbouring business.
· Another man parked behind AN, blocking his vehicle and refusing to move. AN touched the man’s shoulder during the discussion about moving his vehicle. AN attempted to move his own car around the blocking vehicle, at which point the other man accused him of damaging his vehicle and racially abused AN.
· AN made a statement about the incident to the police as he feared for his safety. He then went on a three-week trip to Egypt to visit his mother and when he returned to the UK found he had been summoned to court.
· On taking legal advice, he was told that it would cost around £5k in legal fees to defend the case in court. He was not in a financial position to afford that and was also told that a defence would be difficult as he had already admitted touching the other man during the argument in the police statement.
After questioning from the sub-committee, the following information was confirmed
· It was confirmed that AN has no other offences or complaints on file. He has held a hackney licence since 2015 and private hire since 2019.
· In 2015 the PSP committee decided that this was an isolated incident and granted a licence. This has been referred to committee today due to the change in policy.
· AN has taken steps to prevent this kind of incident in future by installing cameras in his car to record evidence and does not make physical contact with others any more.
The applicant was given the opportunity to sum up, then parties left the room while the sub-committee deliberated.
That AN’s applications for the renewal of his Hackney Carriage Driver (HCD) and Private Hire Driver (PHD) licence be granted in that he had satisfied the Committee he was a fit and proper person to hold both licences.
The convictions in question and the circumstances concerning the offending conduct were considered by committee on 15 November 2016 and AN satisfied the Council on that occasion that he should be treated as an exception to the previous Council policy which recommended a period of 5-8 years free of conviction. On that occasion the committee accepted there were strong mitigating circumstances, AN had pleaded Guilty, he had been racially abused and had not re-offended since the incident in question. He was also given a conditional discharge which demonstrates that the offending conduct was at the less serious end of the scale.
AN had an unblemished record as a HC and PHD and nothing had changed since the previous committee decision where AN had satisfied the Members that he should be treated as an exception to Council policy and was a fit and proper person to hold a licence. Given the background history to AN’s case, he should similarly be treated as an exception to the new policy. Both applications to renew his licences will therefore be granted.