Agenda item

Consideration of ‘Fit and Proper’ status - 21/02458/TAXI


The Public Protection Officer (Licensing) introduced the report to the Sub-Committee. He explained that they were being asked to determine whether a driver remains fit and proper to hold a combined Hackney Carriage/Private Hire Drivers licence.


He outlined the key points from the report.


The Chairman asked the driver to address them on why he believed he should remain considered as fit and proper to hold his licence.


The driver, in response to the safeguarding concern, explained that he was helping a disabled man that he knew to get to a doctor’s appointment. He acknowledged that he should not have done this while a child was in his vehicle on their way to school.


He added that during the journey he had been speaking to the man in Bengali as he did not speak any English. He said that he had not used any abusive or bad language in front of the child at any time.


Councillor Steve Hedges asked if the use of another language could sound like swearing to a child or cause them concern.


The driver replied that when talking in Bengali he does talk faster and admitted that it could sound a little aggressive if you did not know what was being said.


The Chairman asked why he had been reluctant to indicate who was driving his vehicle when a speeding penalty had been incurred.


The driver explained that this incident occurred in his private vehicle, not his licenced one and that his son, who had been driving the vehicle, had not informed him of it until a letter relating to a court appearance had arrived. He added that his son had previously tried to reply to initial correspondence to attend a speed awareness course without success.


The Chairman asked if he had been allowed to return to taking passengers as part of Home to School transport work.


The driver replied that he had.


The Chairman asked the driver if he felt he had given the Sub-Committee as much information as he could regarding his case.


The driver replied that he had and said he was truly sorry for what had happened regarding the matters that had been raised.


Decision and Reasons


Members have had to consider whether or not the Licensee is a fit and proper person to continue to hold his combined Hackney Carriage/Private Hire Driver’s licence in the light of a complaint concerning a home to school contract journey as well as the circumstances resulting in 6 penalty points having been imposed on his DVLA licence. In doing so Members took account of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976, Human Rights Act 1998, case law and the Council Policy.


Members heard from the Licensee in written and oral representations who indicated that he had undertaken the Blue Lamp Trust Safeguarding Course in October 2021 and he learnt from that course, amongst other things, to be aware of the safety of children who travel in licensed vehicles. He admitted that he had a disabled adult male friend in the front passenger seat of his licensed vehicle whilst a child was seated in the back passenger seat, for a home to school journey. The adult male was not fare-paying, he was just helping him to get to the doctor’s surgery on time for an appointment. He denied using inappropriate language in front of the child during that, or any journey. He explained that when he is speaking his first language it is fast paced and could sound aggressive to a child. He acknowledged his mistake in allowing the adult male to travel in the vehicle, apologised for this which he said had never happened before and would not happen again.


In relation to the 6 penalty points on his DVLA licence he explained that he received these points for failing to notify who the driver of his vehicle was, in relation to a speeding offence, within the required period. The Licensee indicated that it was his son driving his personal vehicle rather than his BANES licensed vehicle and his son had concealed the first two letters from him, as he was trying to deal with things himself. His son made him aware once he had received the summons to attend court. The Licensee had tried to explain this to the court, but he had received 6 penalty points and a fine; he had arranged for his son to pay the fine. He notified Licensing of this motoring conviction within the 7-day period prescribed by licensing condition.


Members had considered the correspondence from the Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO) for BANES who had indicated that the LADO threshold had not been crossed as there had not been clear harm to a child and that they would be closing the matter. They did indicate however that it was totally inappropriate for the driver to have acted in this way. 


Members noted that the Licensee had been licensed since 2012 and whilst there were previous matters on his record for failing to notify the licensing team of motoring convictions, he had understood and complied with those obligations now.


Members find the Licensee’s account to be credible and whilst his motives may have been altruistic in conveying the disabled male to his doctor’s appointment, he now understood why this must not happen again. Members noted that he had been allowed to resume home to school contract work in January of this year. In relation to the circumstances leading to his latest motoring conviction, they believe that his son concealed correspondence from him and it was in fact his son that was driving in relation to the speeding offence.


With all of that in mind, on balance, Members find that the Licensee is fit and proper to continue to hold the combined Hackney Carriage/Private Hire Driver’s Licence, but they issue a warning to the Licensee that:


  1. He must adhere to his safeguarding responsibilities and must not permit any other passengers into his BANES licensed vehicle when fulfilling home to school contracts unless permitted to do so by the contract or the Passenger Transport Team.


  1. He must continue to comply with the conditions on his licences as they are an important safeguard to ensure the safety of the travelling public.


  1. If he comes before the Licensing Sub-Committee again, against this background, there is a risk of revocation of his licence.


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