Glasgow City Council’s refusal of my client’s (Rosy and Pink Cars Ltd) application for a new booking office licence has been widely reported in the Scottish media.
The application has been refused on the basis that it would contravene a number of conditions applicable to driver’s licences issued by the council and over concerns to do with equality.
My client’s concept is a female only operation that will employ women to drive other women and children using a smart phone app to facilitate bookings.
The city council’s Licensing and Regulatory Committee refused the application on the basis that my client’s operation would be non-complaint with a number of conditions relevant to driver’s licences:
Conditions attached to a Private Hire Car Driver’s Licence
Condition 3: The driver of a private hire car shall be bound to fulfil, or cause to be fulfilled, at the time and location specified, a request to hire his private hire car, which he has accepted, unless there be sufficient cause for not fulfilling the request to hire.
Condition 9: Subject to condition 10 below the driver of a private hire car shall not refuse to drive a passenger to any place within the licensed area.
Condition10: The driver of a private hire car shall not be required to convey any hirer or passenger who is drunk or otherwise not in a fit and proper condition to be carried or whose condition or clothing is offensive or likely to cause damage to the interior of the private hire car, or who refuses to cease smoking in the private hire car when requested to do so by the driver, or is accompanied by any animal which is likely to damage or soil the interior of the private hire car, or for any other reasonable excuse.
The Councillors did raise concerns about the drivers breaching their conditions because Licensing Enforcement, quite properly and reasonably, expressed concerns about the operation of the app.
However, the concern that drivers’ conditions 3 and 10 would be breached is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of the app and the process. It is disputed entirely that the drivers’ conditions would be breached. Even if this were the case, which it is not, female passengers up and down the country call operators and ask for a female driver and those requests are fulfilled – that is not regarded as discriminatory or a breach.
The overall impression I got however was that the focus was not on the conditions or the specifics of the app but on a dislike of the concept itself and I did not feel they were interested in attempting to understand it or open to considering submissions at all. On more than one occasion statements were made to us rather than questions being asked and no opportunity was given to address them. On one occasion in particular an attempt to answer was treated defensively and entirely unprofessionally.
I accept that there may well be concerns about discrimination given it is female only app but felt the manner in which that was voiced and expressed was unprofessional and entirely inappropriate to say the least. They were not interested in the business plan, the wider documentation available or indeed the explanations provided concerning the conditions. They did not like the concept and their body language and talking over us, whispering to each other and laughing raised genuine concerns for me.
We will be pursuing the case and I look forward to the merits of it being considered properly by a qualified and independent tribunal.
Regulatory defence barrister specialising in taxi and private hire licensing law, appeals and defence.
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