The applicant and his legal representative were present.
The Licensing Officer introduced the report and summarized it for everyone.
The representative made the following points:
· VS claims that he called BCC and emailed about attending the Magistrate’s Court on 30 November, but was advised by police and solicitors not to disclose the offence until convicted. He accepts non-disclosure based on this advice.
· VS pled guilty to the offence but maintains it was accidental. He denies the allegations in the witness statement.
· Regarding the speeding offence, the points are spent and this was 3 years ago. Note the offence was committed without passengers on board. VS disclosed this offence late as he misunderstood the policy requirements, but he understands what is needed now.
· The assault case is at the lesser end of the scale for violent offences, the policy states not to licence within 10 years but the representative asked the Committee to consider this case on own merits and depart from the policy.
· The witness statements were withdrawn and never proved in court, so the representative requested that the Committee view them as unreliable.
· VS denies abuse or control in the relationship. VS only had one drink on the night of the incident. His wife threw purse at him, he threw it out of the room and it hit their daughter. VS has since left the family home to help the relationship.
· VS has no complaints on record, customers view him as very positive. Uber feedback is 4.9 out of 5, with 4.5k trips ranked as 5 star.
The following points arose from questioning:
· VS said that he had called the police himself following the purse incident, but that his wife said that this was not necessary. His daughter then called his sister-in-law, who reported the incident to the police.
· The current policy guidelines state that for violent offences a licence should not be granted for a period of 10 years.
· The court disposal was a £750 fine and 60 hours of unpaid work, which is yet to be completed.
· A section.39 offence states that an assault can be intentional or reckless. VS conduct would come under reckless behaviour.
· The representative asked the Committee to consider VS good conduct while working and that this was unintentional and isolated incident.
The policy starting point in respect of offences involving violence, which is consistent with National Standards, is that a period of at least 10 years should elapse following the completion of any sentence imposed before an application should be entertained.
The conviction in this particular case is very recent and the sentence of 60 hours unpaid work has not yet been completed. Committee noted that the offence was considered serious enough by the Court for the community punishment threshold to have been met so the offending conduct was not at the minor end of the scale. Committee notes that VS pleaded Guilty to the offence on the basis of recklessness so cannot accept that what happened was accidental as the Committee is not entitled to “go behind” a conviction in the criminal courts. VS showed no remorse for what happened.
Committee notes the representations made by the legal representative concerning the admissibility of the evidence due to statements having been withdrawn, but the Committee is not a criminal court and is entitled to consider all information before it.
The Committee is also concerned at the failure to promptly disclose to the Council the details of the arrest and pending criminal case. The Committee has considered VS explanation with caution as it finds it very difficult to believe that the police and defence team would issue advice concerning what information should be disclosed to the Council.
The National Standards state that a failure by a licence holder to disclose an arrest that the issuing authority is subsequently advised of might be seen as behaviour that questions honesty and therefore the suitability of the licence holder regardless of the outcome of the initial allegation.
The decision is that the Committee cannot be satisfied VS is a fit and proper person to hold a Private Hire Driver’s licence or that they should be treated as an exception to Council policy without undermining it.
The application is therefore refused on the grounds contained in Section 61(1)(a)(i) of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 in that VS had been convicted of an offence involving violence and section 61(b) of the Act – any other reasonable cause.