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PostPosted: Fri Aug 17, 2018 4:21 am 
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The Cornwall taxi drivers granted licences despite horrendous convictions

https://www.cornwalllive.com/news/cornw ... ll-1906574

Local Democracy Reporter Richard Whitehouse looked at the minutes of behind-closed-doors meetings and found this list of cases in the last two months alone.

Taxi drivers are being granted licences despite having an array of convictions for crimes ranging from causing death by dangerous driving to speeding.

One taxi driver has a string of offences dating back to 1986 including causing the death of a friend by reckless driving, no insurance, theft and common assault. The committee still judged him a 'fit and proper' person to drive a taxi.

Cornwall Council's miscellaneous licensing committee regularly meets to decide applications from drivers who want to operate Hackney carriages and private hire taxis.

Under regulations the council has to determine whether drivers are 'fit and proper' persons to hold a licence as a cabbie. They are bound by strict regulations.

However the meetings are held in private with the press and public unable to attend due to the personal nature of the applications.

But minutes of the meetings are provided and while they do not identify the drivers they do detail why their applications have gone before the committee.

Cornwall Live looked at the minutes of meetings held in the last two months to see why some of these drivers were having to have their cases considered by local councillors.

Case One: Parish councillor who was caught drink driving

At a meeting of the committee on July 27 the case of driver W1D144 from the Penwith area came up.

Councillors heard that the driver had been convicted of driving with excess alcohol in 2011.

But they were told by the driver that "it was a one off", "he regretted it and would never do it again" and "he was a parish councillor and did a lot of work in his local community".

Councillors also heard a statement from the applicant's friend who provided support.

The committee resolved to grant their licence as they felt the driver was a fit and proper person to hold a licence.

Case Two: Armed forces driver caught speeding three times on the A303

At the same meeting the committee considered an application from Penwith driver W1D145 who had been given nine points on their licence for speeding on three separate occasions.

The applicant explained that the offences occurred when he was driving on the A303 and caught speeding at 74, 76 and 78 mph.

He explained that he was in the armed forces and was a driver by trade. He told councillors that he had been sent on a number of driver awareness courses and reprimanded by the military following the most recent offence.

Councillors were told that "he had learnt his lesson and wouldn't do it again" and appreciated that one more speeding offence would result in him losing his driving licence.

The minutes of the meeting state: "The committee noted their overriding consideration to the public and the importance of protecting the public and public safety but felt that W1D145 was a fit and proper person to hold a licence."

Case Three: Aggressive Kerrier taxi driver

As well as granting licences the committee also sometimes has to revoke them.

The meeting on July 27 had to do this for one driver W2D104 from Kerrier who failed to attend two meetings where his licence was being discussed.

His licence was revoked "in the interests of public safety due to the conduct of Driver W2D104".

The committee heard that there had been complaints about the driver's behaviour and he had also been given a formal written warning about his behaviour at a meeting in January.

The minutes state: "Members also noted the evidence that W2D104’s previous employer had stated that he had felt it necessary to inform W2D104 that he could no longer work for him due to receiving complaints regarding W2D104 relating to his manner of driving and aggressive manner and language used in the presence of customers.

"Members felt that the behaviour of W2D104 was unprofessional and inappropriate for a professional licensed driver and that he was not a fit and proper person to be licensed."

Case Four: Driver 'haunted' by string of serious convictions

Driver W2D109 from Kerrier was granted his licence despite having 12 convictions and one caution between 2006 and 2015.

The committee heard that the offences included dishonesty, driving offences, criminal damage, burglary and theft.

At the meeting the applicant was given the opportunity to explain and said that his father had died and this had affected him badly.

He told councillors that he had worked as a courier driver for 12 months with no issues and said he was now "a family man and had changed and grown up".

The committee also heard that: "He was ashamed of what he had done and it followed him around and haunted him whenever he tried to get a new job."

The minutes state: "Members applied the test of whether they would be happy for their husband, wife, son, daughter, grandson, granddaughter or person they cared about, or a vulnerable person, to travel alone in a vehicle with the applicant. Members concluded that they would."

Case Five: Caradon taxi driver with excess alcohol conviction

Councillors on the miscellaneous licensing committee considered one driver's conviction for driving with excess alcohol to be "serious".

But after considering reports and hearing a statement from the driver they granted his licence.

Driver CD152 from Caradon explained to the committee that the conviction "was the biggest mistake he had ever made and he regretted it".

Case Six: Restormel driver caused death of friend by reckless driving

At the committee's meeting on June 21 they considered the case of driver CD150 from the Restormel area.

Councillors heard that the applicant had been convicted of offences dating back to 1986 including theft of a vehicle, driving with no insurance and causing death by reckless driving. He had also been cautioned for common assault in 2011.

The minutes state: "Members noted the guidelines in relation to the offences and in particular that the guidelines stated that a licence would not normally be granted if an applicant had a conviction which has resulted in the death of a person.

"Members felt that this was clearly a serious matter and the fact that the death was caused as a result of a driving offence was a relevant consideration for them in the context of the application."

The applicant explained to the committee that: "The driving offence resulted in the death of his friend and he lost his leg.

"That the caution was for something he did not feel he was responsible for. That he had been a taxi driver in London for more than 16 years. That he had a taxi job to go to if his application was successful."

Taking all the information into account the committee decided that the driver was a "fit and proper person" and granted the licence.


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 17, 2018 7:54 pm 
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Again we are being asked by the press to judge without having the full facts.

Yes councils and councilors make mistakes, but without the full facts it's hard point the finger.

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 19, 2018 6:20 am 
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Sussex wrote:
Again we are being asked by the press to judge without having the full facts.

Yes councils and councilors make mistakes, but without the full facts it's hard point the finger.


Well, yes, but the minutes will never convey the full facts and the discussion that took place, and the press can only ever provide a summary even if they have full access to the meetings. But unless there's evidence it isn't a fair summary, then in turn it's difficult to criticise the press in this regard, and it surely promotes justice and accountability blah, blah if they at least attempt to report these things.

But obviously one of the problems with regard to transparency and lack of the full facts is because the meetings are held behind closed doors and names are not disclosed.

So excuse my ignorance, but why are these things often held in secret and names not disclosed, while elsewhere the whole thing's splattered all over the press?


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 19, 2018 7:48 pm 
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StuartW wrote:
So excuse my ignorance, but why are these things often held in secret and names not disclosed, while elsewhere the whole thing's splattered all over the press?

I think it's because you are dealing with personal matters, akin to how a company deals with their staff.

Whereas if the driver was before the court then all details could be published if, a court reported bothered to turn up.

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 19, 2018 8:33 pm 
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Sussex wrote:
StuartW wrote:
So excuse my ignorance, but why are these things often held in secret and names not disclosed, while elsewhere the whole thing's splattered all over the press?

I think it's because you are dealing with personal matters, akin to how a company deals with their staff.

Whereas if the driver was before the court then all details could be published if, a court reported bothered to turn up.


But if that was the case then all of the licensing committee deliberations and decisions that we read about daily wouldn't name the applicant/license holder, but obviously that's not normally the case, or they'd all be reported as per those in Cornwall above.

So presumably this is simply yet another thing that depends on the approach taken by individual local authorities? [-(


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 20, 2018 9:17 am 
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I can certainly state that Plymouth have moved to "Part 2" (In Camera - or in secret if you prefer) hearings.

This is a backward step I think. The majority of Taxi Committee meetings should be open affairs, I would agree that the "In Camera" system does occasionally need to be used.

The Law Commission was all for "In the Open".

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 20, 2018 6:18 pm 
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I take a different view.

More times than not cases are bought before committee, and that committee, on the balance of probabilities, find for the driver.

I believe they should be able to carry on without the tar we all know our trade will brush them with. Although a case could be made if the driver was found to have breached his licensing conditions/bylaws.

Parliament gave councils the powers to hold these meetings in private, and I agree with them.

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 20, 2018 7:30 pm 
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Sussex wrote:
Parliament gave councils the powers to hold these meetings in private, and I agree with them.


There are two separate issues in play though.

1 Secret meetings;

2 Disclosing the driver's identity.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but people are tried or are witnesses in open court, but sometimes their identities are not disclosed?

The likes of this one reported at the weekend seems all just a bit to 'secret squirrel'-ish.


Powys driver loses licence

http://www.mywelshpool.co.uk/viewerhead ... leId/15371

A Powys taxi driver has had his Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Driver’s Licence revoked following allegations of “inappropriate behaviour” by a 16-year-old girl.

The decision has come to light in the minutes of the Taxi Licensing Sub-Committee held at Neaudd Maldwyn in Welshpool in May this year.

Details and the location of the taxi driver have not been revealed.

The minutes will be seen by the Planning, Taxi Licensing and Rights of Way Committee on Thursday.

The minutes state: "The Children’s Manager for north Powys attended the meeting and explained that the disclosure of inappropriate behaviour was made by a vulnerable 16-year-old to her casework support officers.

"The Licensing Officer explained that *** licence had been suspended based on allegations concerning the above matter and previous convictions.

"The Licensing Officer referred to the recommendations in a Safeguarding Report of a Professional Strategy Meeting held on the 13th April 2018. The Sub-Committee also considered written representations from *** and three references supplied by him."

It added: "The sub-committee withdrew to consider, in private, the review and the evidence they had heard, with the support of the Clerk.

"On their return the Chair announced their decision. In reaching the decision members took into account the relevant written and verbal representations."

The sub-committee's reason for its decision was: "That he is not a fit and proper person to hold a Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Driver’s Licence."


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 20, 2018 8:16 pm 
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Sussex wrote:
I take a different view.

So do you extend that to a view that Magistrates and more senior Courts should sit in Camera too?

There is much to be gained by hearings in the open. It certainly can be seen and used as a deterrent for others.

In Plymouth it is all held in Camera, the reports are redacted on the Council Website, nobody knows anything but paradoxically everybody knows everything by rumour (but usually they have it all wrong).

If a driver appeals to the Magistrates the appeal is open, sometimes the minutes of the Taxi Committee are read in the Court.

The norm should be "Open" on the grounds, as in Courts, Justice should be done and be seen to be done.

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 21, 2018 6:26 pm 
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StuartW wrote:
Correct me if I'm wrong, but people are tried or are witnesses in open court, but sometimes their identities are not disclosed?

Unless they are under 18, very very rarely.

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 21, 2018 6:29 pm 
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Chris the Fish wrote:
So do you extend that to a view that Magistrates and more senior Courts should sit in Camera too?

My view is the law is correct for both.

In the adult criminal court then everything should be open, although in the family and youth courts the reverse is the rule.

In the council court I take the view that drivers personal details should remain private.

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 23, 2018 6:14 pm 
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Well Sussex, apart from the Driver him or herself, who learns anything from this? (I have redacted the initials of the Driver concerned) I am particularly amused that there is a confidential part to the minute as noted at the end. I do know actually, but for everyone else, what did he or she do? He or she obviously did it because the Driver apologised. If they want the great unwashed to learn from this aberration why not lose the initials then minute the transgression properly so that others do not make the same mistakes?

One Driver learned one thing, it could have taught everyone.

Quote:

34. Review Status of Hackney Carriage Driver Licence - XXX

View the reasons why item 34. is restricted
The Director of Public Health will submit a report on the review status of a Hackney Carriage Driver Licence.

Minutes:
The Committee –

(a) considered and took into account the report from the Director of Public Health;

(b) heard from XXX;

(c) have taken into account that XXX had been a licensed driver for 30 years and had an unblemished record and that he apologised to Committee for his actions;

(d) took into account the above report and all that was said and also considered the Council’s Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Licensing Policy.

The Committee considered the review on its own merits and resolved to give XXX the benefit of the doubt on this occasion and in this instance has agreed to place a warning on XXX’s file that should he appear before Committee in the future for consideration of any matter whether offences, misdemeanours, complaints the issues considered today will be reconsidered. XXX is also required to undertake the following courses on the first available date:

(1) Safeguarding Course;

(2) Ambassadors Course.

(Please note: there is a confidential part to this minute)


End Quote.

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PostPosted: Sat Aug 25, 2018 8:52 pm 
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Was hoping for your take on the above Sussex.

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 26, 2018 8:01 pm 
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Chris the Fish wrote:
Was hoping for your take on the above Sussex.

Well it clearly goes down to exactly what the driver apologised for.

If it was a minor offence or breach of the licensing conditions, then following an apology those courses might be a good solution.

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 26, 2018 9:39 pm 
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Think you missed what I was asking your opinion on.

The minutes quoted originally gave the Drivers initials but the minutes don't say what the offence was. It was fairly minor as it happens.

Because the transgression is not stated, nobody learns anything.

I want to know if you think that a Taxi Committee "hearing" should be so clandestine as to preclude an educative outcome?

As an aside both the Courses awarded are in the policy against which I am in process of appealing. I have no problem with the safeguarding course as I will be at pains to say to the Court, indeed I would like to see primary legislation for it, the Ambassadors Course is just a waste of time for everyone except the Lecturer who will paid to conduct it.

If I fail to win the Appeal, the Driver will be forced to do the course anyway.

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