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MOBILE USAGE: Bristol Council rejects renewal of PHV Driver's licence but okays his licensed vehicle

The Bristol City Council's Public Safety and Protection Sub-committee convened recently to discuss an application for the renewal of a Private Hire Vehicle (PHV) driver licence and the grant of a Private Hire Vehicle licence.

The meeting examined a case involving an applicant who was present, accompanied by an interpreter and the chair of the taxi association. The committee, led by Cllr Eddy as chair, provided an overview of the proceedings.

The licensing officer introduced the report, summarising the key details for the committee. The applicant had admitted to an offence of using a mobile phone while driving, but this offence was not declared at the time it occurred, which was against licensing conditions. As per policy, the council typically denies issuing a licence for a period of 5 years when an applicant has a conviction for using a mobile phone while driving. Consequently, the officers recommended rejecting the current application. It was highlighted that apart from this offence, the applicant had no previous convictions or complaints.

During the meeting, the driver apologised for the offence and stated that he was unaware of the requirement to inform the authority at the time. Furthermore, he explained that he hadn't been driving for the past 1 1/2 years due to medical reasons, as advised by a doctor regarding his asthma and the risk of contracting Covid. Additionally, the driver had to care for his wife, who had serious health conditions, and look after their children while at home.

The committee was informed that the driver's lack of awareness regarding the need to notify the authority about offences committed within one working day was clearly stated in the licence conditions issued to drivers. The licensing officers had also conducted marketing campaigns to raise drivers' awareness of this requirement, emphasising that it had been in effect for a very long time, not just during the period when the driver was out of work. They further noted that the offence would still be relevant to the policy even if it occurred in a personal vehicle.

Ultimately, the council rejected the application to renew the driver's private hire licence. However, they granted approval to licence his vehicle as a PHV.

The committee's decision was based on the driver's failure to declare the conviction within the required time frame, which was in breach of his licence conditions and contrary to council policy. While acknowledging the driver's apology and lack of dishonesty, the committee believed that someone with 13 years of experience should take full responsibility for understanding the conditions pertaining to their trade. The members also considered the distracting nature of the offense, even though the driver claimed he was merely fixing the phone back into its holder. As a result, they deemed a five-year period "off the road" in line with national standards to reflect the seriousness of the offense.

Despite acknowledging the driver's previous good driving record and character references, the committee found these factors insufficient to deviate from council and national policy, as doing so would undermine the policy's objectives. Therefore, the committee concluded that, at present, the former driver was not considered a fit and proper person to hold a PHD licence. However, this decision did not prevent the committee from granting the application for a PHV licence, provided it complied with all council policies. This would enable the driver to rent the vehicle to a licensed driver.


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