Minute of the Meeting of the Ross, Skye and Lochaber Licensing Committee held in the Council Offices, Lochaber House, Fort William on Tuesday 21st July 2009 at 11.00 am.
Mr Richard Greene, Mr Allan Henderson, Mr A Millar, Mr Brian Murphy, Mrs Margaret Paterson.
Mr Alaisdair H Mackenzie, Area Solicitor
Mrs Carol Nicolson, Administrative Assistant
Mrs Julie Traynor, Administrative Assistant
Chief Inspector John Chisholm, Northern Constabulary
Mr John Hutton (Item 3)
Mr Keith Falconer, Solicitor (Item 3)
Mr Roderick A MacDonald (Item 4)
(Mrs Margaret Paterson in the Chair)
Declarations of Interest - None
1. Apologies for Absence
Apologies for absence were intimated on behalf of Mr David Alston, Mr Craig Fraser, Mr Bren Gormley, Mr Allan Henderson, Mr John Laing and Mrs Angela MacLean.
2. Confirmation of Minutes
There had been circulated for confirmation the Minute of the Meeting of the Ross, Skye and Lochaber Licensing Committee held on 16th June 2009.
The Minute was held as read and approved subject to Item 9 Application for a Public Entertainment Licence – Muir of Ord Village Hall being amended to clarify that the kitchen was not to be used until the renovation works were completed.
3. Hearing - Notification of Conviction
There had been circulated Report No LCR-035-09 by the Area Solicitor relating to a Notification of Conviction. The Committee was invited to determine the application in accordance with the Hearings Procedure.
There was further circulated to the meeting a letter of representation by Chief Inspector Chisholm in relation to the suitability of Mr Hutton to retain his Licence.
Mr Falconer, Solicitor for Mr Hutton, addressed the Committee on a preliminary matter and asked the meeting to agree that the Hearing was only in relation to his client’s suitability to continue to hold his Taxi Driver’s Licence as the conviction had no bearing on his client’s ability to run his Operators Licence.
Chief Inspector Chisholm agreed that his letter was in relation to Mr Hutton’s Taxi Drivers Licence.
The Committee agreed with Mr Falconer’s submission.
The Committee heard from Mr Falconer who made the following points:
- His client was not trying to hide his conviction but had volunteered the information unlike the majority of Licence Holders;
- Careless Driving was the least serious of convictions in relation to “bad” driving;
- The old road was bad in sections with lots of bends and chevrons but the newer section of the road was substantially complete although his client had no recollection of seeing speed limit signs;
- His client accepted that he had crossed white lines but refuted that he had driven carelessly as approaching headlights could be seen for some distance ahead. In addition he had to cross white lines to avoid deer straying onto the road;
The Procurator Fiscal in Court accepted that his client’s maximum speed had been no greater than 85 mph;
The police car was unmarked and was “tailgating” his client’s car. He had twice slowed to let the chasing car past but it did not. As a consequence he felt he was being goaded and chased and as a result felt apprehensive;
His client disputed the speeds cited in Chief Inspector Henderson’s letter when he was passing through Glenfinnan although he couldn’t recall his exact speed. The police car was still close behind him and his client considered that it was simply not possible to drive at the speeds alleged in Glenfinnan;
The Sheriff could have disqualified his client but chose not to do so which was indicative of the scale of the offence;
A statement from his front seat passenger on the night, a Mr M Whelan, was submitted, which inter alia stated that although he was unaware of the speed he felt comfortable throughout the journey and did not consider Mr Hutton’s driving to be dangerous;
Mr Hutton had collected his passengers at Arisaig at 1140 hrs and was stopped at 1207 hrs which meant that he covered 19 miles in 27 minutes, an average speed of 42 mph;
The Committee then heard from Chief Inspector Chisholm who, in addition, to referring to the matters made in his letter made the following points:
- It was accepted that the incident had taken place at night with road conditions being good and dry with not a great deal of roadworks;
- He would contend that sections of the road in question were hazardous;
- He accepted that over some sections of the road you could see ahead as claimed but over other sections you could not;
- The speeds cited were recorded on a calibrated speedometer;
- The police car had not been “tailgating” Mr Hutton;
- Mr Hutton had been charged with Dangerous Driving but the Procurator Fiscal had only proceeded with a charge of Careless Driving;
- The substantial fine and penalty points imposed illustrated how seriously the Court considered the matter;
- The incident had been aggravated by the fact that Mr Hutton had been carrying fare paying passengers.
Following questions and summing up from both parties, the Committee retired to consider its decision.
Upon returning to the Chamber, Mr A Henderson, seconded by Mr B Murphy moved that Mr Hutton’s Taxi Driver’s Licence be suspended for one year but that the suspension would only take effect if Mr Hutton came to the Committee’s attention within a year.
As an amendment, Mr R Greene, seconded by Mr A Millar, moved that Mr Hutton’s Taxi Driver’s Licence be suspended for one month.
In both cases the reason was that Mr Hutton was no longer a fit and proper person to be the holder of a Taxi Driver’s Licence given his conviction under section 3 of the Road traffic Act 1988 for careless driving.
Votes were cast as follows:
For the motion (2) – Mr A Henderson and Mr B Murphy;
For the amendment (3) – Mr Richard Greene, Mr A Millar and Mrs M Paterson;
The amendment therefore became the finding of the meeting.
4. Hearing - Taxi Driver’s Licence – Roderick Angus MacDonald
There had been circulated Report No LCR-036-09 by the Area Solicitor relating to an application for a Taxi Driver’s Licence. The Committee was invited to determine the application in accordance with the Hearings Procedure.
Although present, Mr MacDonald chose not to address the Committee.
The Committee agreed to grant the Application subject to conditions.
5. Licences Granted under Delegated Powers under the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982, and Marriage (Approval of places) (Scotland) Regualtions 2002
There had been circulated and noted Report No LCR-037-09 by the Area Solicitor relating to the Licences granted under delegated powers under the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982, and Marriage (Approval of Places) (Scotland) Regulations 2002 granted in the period 5th June 2009 to 9th July 2009.
There being no further business, the meeting concluded at 11.50 am.