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COUNCIL TAXI LICENCING ROW

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Darlington Borough Council Taxi licencing row...
Darlington Borough Council Taxi licencing row

Darlington BC are battling for a taxi driver who refuses to tell them if he has a criminal record to be suspended from holding a Hackney Carriage licence until he does.

Under statute, all taxi drivers must take a Driving Standards Agency test and show they have not been convicted of any offences by getting a reference from the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB).

George Jenkinson, of Honeywood Gardens, Darlington, has so far refused to comply with the scheme - and his case has wound up in front of the Bishop Auckland Magistrates Court, sitting in its civil capacity.

At the High Court yesterday, barrister Joan Smith told Judge Andrew Nicol QC that, in November last year, the Magistrates Court adjourned Mr Jenkinson's appeal against an August ruling by the council that his licence should be suspended.

Miss Smith said the adjournment was granted because Mr Jenkinson had failed to produce his CRB reference - despite previous promises to do so.

Attacking the Magistrates Court's decision as 'unreasonable', the barrister said instead of adjourning the case, Mr Jenkinson should have had his licence suspended there and then.

She added that, while the case is still being heard at the Magistrates Court, Mr Jenkinson is free to drive and the public could be in danger if the council has no idea of whether he has previous convictions.

It was not suggested today that Mr Jenkinson has ever been in trouble with the police in the past, but Miss Smith told the judge a dangerous future precedent could be set if the Magistrates' decision went unchallenged.

Arguing that other taxi drivers could continue to work with the public while previous convictions remained undiscovered, she said it was vitally important to establish exactly what their status was.

Recognising the importance of the case, Judge Nicol reserved his decision until next week.

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