Venue: By Skype
Contact: Fiona McCallum Tel. No. 01546 604392
APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE
Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Mary-Jean Devon, Audrey Forrest, Donald MacMillan and Sandy Taylor.
DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST
There were no declarations of interest.
CIVIC GOVERNMENT (SCOTLAND) ACT 1982: APPLICATION FOR RENEWAL OF TAXI DRIVER'S LICENCE (NO. 5011) (M MUNRO, DUNBEG)
Report by Head of Legal and Regulatory Support
The Chair welcomed everyone to the meeting. In line with recent legislation for Civic Government Hearings, the parties (and any representatives) were given the options for participating in the meeting today. The options available were by Video Call, by Audio Call or by written submission. For this hearing the Applicant and Police Scotland opted to proceed for way of Audio Call and both joined the meeting by telephone.
It was noted that the Applicant’s Taxi Driver Licence was suspended for the unexpired portion following a hearing held by the PPSL Committee on 19 August 2020.
At a meeting of the PPSL Committee held on 23 September 2020, the application for renewal of this licence was before the Committee for consideration. The Committee agreed not to proceed with the hearing at that time and continued consideration until the outcome of criminal proceedings, as per the objection lodged by Police Scotland, were known. The Council’s Solicitor, Mr McMillan, confirmed that the Committee at that time dealt with a continuation request and arguments from both parties were not explored. In view of that, and in view of the fact that a supplementary letter has now been submitted by Police Scotland confirming the outcome of these criminal proceedings, he recommended that the Committee run the hearing afresh with the Members in attendance today.
The Chair outlined the procedure that would be followed and invited the Applicant to speak in support of her application.
Ms Munro said she had not been informed about the hearing today until yesterday, so she did not have any notes. She said she did not know where to start. She said she would like her licence renewed but did not know about the objections as she had no notes. She said she would have to hear what was being objected to in order to defend herself. She said she wanted to continue as a taxi driver and that she loved and needed her job. She said there had been no complaints from customers. She referred to the complaint by Police Scotland and confirmed that there was a court case. She said she was appealing one conviction of assault. She said that as far as she knew there were a further two cases against her which she had pled not guilty to. She advised that as far as she knew the court still worked on the presumption of innocence until proven guilty. She said she has been put in the position of defending herself when she was not sure what the accusations were.
Sgt McGinnis referred to a letter dated 24 March 2021 which provided an update on the matters outlined in a previous letter dated 25 May 2020. The case in respect of the incident which took place on 31 August 2019 when Ms Munro had been reported to the Procurator Fiscal for three contraventions of Section 52(1) & (3) of the Criminal Law (Consolidation) (Scotland) Act 1995 and a contravention of Section 38(1) of the Criminal Justice & Licensing (Scotland) Act 2010 was currently pending with the Procurator Fiscal. As a result of the incident which took place on 4 March 2020 when Ms Munro was reported to the Procurator Fiscal for a contravention of Section 1 of the Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2018, Ms Munro was found guilty at Oban Sheriff Court on 20 October 2020 and received a Community Payback Order of 100 hours to be completed within 12 months. The letter also referred to incidents that occurred on 14 July 2020, 18 July 2020, 8 January 2021 and 17 January 2021. As a result of the incident which took place on 14 July 2020, the Procurator Fiscal issued Ms Munro with a Compensation Order for Contravention of the Section 38(1) of the Criminal Justice & Licensing (Scotland) Act 2010. In respect of the incidents which took place on 18 July 2020, 8 January 2021 and 17 January 2021, the Procurator Fiscal was proceeding with 15 charges – Five contraventions of Section 38(1) of the Criminal Justice & Licensing (Scotland) Act 2010, three charges of Assault, six contraventions of Section 90(1)(a) of the Police & Fire Reform (Scotland) Act 2012 and contravention of Section 27(1)(b) of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995. A hearing took place on 11 January 2021 and Ms Munro was released on bail with conditions. As these matters were sub judice, Sgt McGinnis advised she was constrained with regard to the nature of any further information she could provide at this time.
Councillor Trail sought and received confirmation from Mr McMillan that the paperwork for this meeting was sent out within the statutory timeframe to Ms Munro to the address the Licensing Team had on file for her. It was sent recorded delivery and delivered on 1 April 2021. When chasing Ms Munro up yesterday to find out if she would be attending the hearing, it was established that Ms Munro had moved address. Mr McMillan said that it was a condition of the licence that taxi drivers must inform the Council within 7 days of a change of circumstances and this included a change of address.
Councillor Freeman asked Mr McMillan to confirm what options were open to the Committee today if they found Ms Munro to not be a fit and proper person. Mr McMillan advised that if the Committee were of the view, based on the information before them, that the Applicant was not a fit and proper person to hold a licence then, in terms of paragraph 5 of Schedule 1 of the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982, the Committee would be obliged to refuse the application for renewal.
Councillor Freeman sought and received confirmation from Mr McMillan that if the Committee were satisfied on the balance of the information before them, they could come to a view regardless of the fact that some of the charges against Ms Munro were still pending.
Councillor Green referred to the letter from Police Scotland and the lengthy statement given by Sgt ... view the full minutes text for item 3.