The Chairman outlined the procedure to be followed. All those present were introduced. The applicant agreed that Councillors R Brunton, Mrs R Cheswright and P Ruffles could remain in the room as observers. The applicant also agreed that two Officers from Legal and Democratic Services could remain in the meeting.
The Senior Specialist Licensing Officer summarised why the matter had been reported to the Licensing Sub-Committee. He stated that it was for the Sub-Committee to decide whether the applicant was a “fit and proper” person to hold a Private Hire Drivers Licence.
The applicant explained the background in relation to the caution he had received and commented that the person he was with at the time had committed the offence. He stated that he had failed to admit to the caution when he was applying to renew his taxi licence with another Council on the advice of a friend who had helped him with the application process. The Magistrates Court had subsequently upheld a decision to refuse the renewal of his licence.
In response to a query from Councillor N Symonds, he confirmed that he was still reading the East Herts Taxi Licensing Policy on the Council’s website. Councillor B Deering referred to the Sub-Committee’s task in terms of considering the suitability of the applicant as a “fit and proper” person in the context of the safety of the public and the incident for which he had been cautioned. The applicant conceded that from a safety viewpoint, he would not allow his family to travel with such a taxi driver knowing the background of the incident.
At the conclusion of the representations, the Sub-Committee withdrew with the Legal Adviser and Democratic Services Officer to consider the evidence.
Following this, they returned and the Chairman announced that the Sub-Committee had listened carefully to the evidence detailed in the report and the oral submissions provided by the applicant. The Sub-Committee was of the view that the applicant had not demonstrated that he was a “fit and proper” person in the light of the incident for which he had received a caution and then failed to mention on a subsequent application with another Council.
After considering the evidence put forward, the Sub-Committee was unanimous in agreement that the application for a taxi drivers’ licence be refused for the reasons now detailed.
The Legal Adviser explained that he had not taken any part in the decision making process and was there to advise Members on points of law and what they could and could not do within the law. The applicant was advised of his right to appeal to the magistrates’ court within 21 days.
RESOLVED – that the application for a taxi drivers’ licence be refused for the reasons now detailed.
1. Given his caution for theft after a shoplifting incident in August 2014, the Sub-Committee considered that such behaviour was not consistent with someone who was a fit and proper person to hold a licence.
2. The Sub-Committee, having posed themselves the question of whether they would “allow their son or daughter, spouse or partner, mother or father, grandson or grand-daughter or any other person for whom they care, to get into a vehicle with this person alone?” concluded that they would not. Further, the applicant himself conceded that, given the circumstances, he himself would not allow his family to get into the vehicle
3. The Sub-Committee found the applicant’s attempt to play down the incident as disingenuous and gave no weight to his insistence that he had not been involved in the offence for which he had accepted a caution.