Thurrock Council determined to crack down on "licence cheats"

ON Thursday (28 January) the council’s Licensing Committee discussed its policy and guidelines “relating to the relevance of convictions, formal/simple cautions, complaints and/or other matters” especially in relation to taxi licensing.

Committee chair, Cllr Mike Stone, said: “This committee makes decisions that keep people safe and one of the things that involves is the honesty of those we licence.

“It has become clear that not everybody is as up front and honest as they should be and too often we don’t find out about things like hackney carriage and private hire drivers’ offences until they have to seek a renewal.

“At that point they’ll know we will find out because we always carry out checks.”

He added: “I believe we should be asking our officers to write to all hackney carriage and private hire firms explaining the situation and saying they have to ensure all drivers are aware of the rules.

“I want there to be no doubt that claiming a lack of understanding is not an excuse and once that letter has gone out we will make it very clear we will come down hard on those trying to manipulate the system.

“Keeping people safe and ensuring only those fit to hold a licence actually do so is why we are here on this committee.

“Failure to tell us about any convictions, cautions or other relevant matters is a very serious matter and we are looking to change our policy to make it plain that any deception of this kind could lead to the revocation of the licence.”

A report to the committee stated: “Licences for drivers of hackney carriages and private hire vehicles may only be granted where the council is satisfied the individual is a fit and proper person to hold such a licence.”

It added that since March 2002 they had been exempt from the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 meaning all convictions, if relevant, irrespective of age, sentence imposed or offence committed, are live for consideration when their licences were being looked at.

Members agreed that they would recommend the full council adopts the changes.

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