The Licensing Unit Manager presented a report submitted by the Assistant Director (Localities) on the proposed suspension/revocation of a Private Hire Driver’s Licence.
Licence Holder 15/2016 attended the meeting and was represented by Mr Charles Oakes, Hackney Drivers’ Association Ltd. The Chair outlined the procedure to be followed and the Licensing Unit Manager read the report, which was accepted by the Licence Holder and Mr Oakes, explaining that on 18 March 2016, the Licensing Service had received a complaint via a Private Hire Operator. This complaint had originated from a member of staff at Greater Manchester West Mental Health Hospital, Prestwich, and related to the Licence Holder’s inappropriate conduct whilst transporting a service user and the member of staff in his Private Hire Vehicle on 16 March 2016.
A written statement had been presented to the Licensing and Safety Panel members prior to the meeting from the member of staff, explaining that on 16 March 2016 he had booked a Private Hire Vehicle to take him and a service user from Tesco, Prestwich to the Edenfield Unit at the hospital in Prestwich. During the journey, the Licence Holder made conversation about the weather and then stated that the sun brings all the girls out in their ‘naughty clothes’. The Licence Holder also stated that he got a lot of his sexual conquests in summer and records them on his phone in case they cry rape.
When they arrived at the Edenfield Unit, the complainant paid and obtained a receipt with the Licence Holder’s number on it. The Licence Holder offered to leave this blank so that a claim for more than the actual journey could be made, which the complainant declined.
When the member of staff subsequently reported the matter to the Private Hire Operator, the Licence Holder’s data head was immediately removed from his vehicle so he could no longer work for them.
Mr Oakes explained to the Panel that the Licence Holder had made these comments in jest and hadn’t meant what he said. He stated that the complainant had taken them out of proportion, in a man to man conversation and that the Licence holder has been very worried about this hearing as he needs to provide for his family. Mr Oakes went on to suggest that the scenario would be different if the conversation had been with a female passenger, the Licence Holder had received no complaints in the past and that his actions merited no more than a suspension.
The Licence Holder then addressed the Panel and stated he did not know why he had made these comments as it is not something he had said before and he would never make inappropriate comments again.
Mr Oakes requested that the Licensing Panel consider a suspension rather than a revocation as although he appreciated the comments were unacceptable they were made only in jest.
After carefully considering the written report, the oral statements from the Licence holder and his representative and taking into account the Council’s Convictions Policy and Guidelines, pursuant to the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976, the Panel resolved, on a majority decision, that the Licence Holder was not a fit and proper person to holder a Private Hire Driver’s and decided to suspend the Licensee for a period of 6 months.
The Panel noted the following;
· That Licence Holder admitted that inappropriate comments of a sexual nature had been made, albeit he denied offering to leave the receipt blank,
· That the Panel believed the complainant to be telling the truth regarding the Licence Holders behaviour,
· That the comments and behaviour of the Licence Holder was of a totally completely unacceptable nature,
· That the comments of a sexual nature had been made to two strangers one of whom could have been a vulnerable adult,
· That the seriousness of the complaint about the Licence Holder’s behaviour was further demonstrated by the action of the Private Hire Operator.
The Applicant was notified of their right to appeal to the Magistrates’ Court within 21 days.