Local Democracy Reporter
When the issue was raised at a meeting of Scottish Borders Council on Thursday, October 25, Councillor Gordon Edgar, executive member for roads and infrastructure, revealed that over the past five years, 20 taxi or private licence holders have been convicted of criminal offences while employed as drivers in the Borders; 14 had their licences removed.
Councillor Harry Scott said: “I’m really not satisfied that we’re being as tight as we could be when we’re vetting these people.
“Previous convictions are a matter of public record, so there’s no reason that these applications should not be heard in an open session of the licensing board. It’s not acceptable that these are heard in private, and the announcement that the protection of the personal data of applicants outweighs the public interest in whether a licence holder has a previous conviction, is also unacceptable.”
A council spokesperson confirmed that the authority feels the need to protect the personal data of applicants outweighs the public interest of knowing if taxi licence holders have previous convictions.
Councillor Gordon Edgar, explained: “When an applicant has prior convictions, has criminal prosecutions pending, or the police object to the granting or renewal of a licence, then the application is referred to the civic government licensing committee to determine.
“It will then be for the committee to decide, based on all information available, whether the applicant is a fit and proper person to hold such a licence.
“Police officers will also be present, and address the committee. The applicant will also be invited to speak to the committee, and be subject to questioning. “If the committee considers the applicant to be a danger to the public, or if for any other reason decide that the applicant is not a fit and proper person, then the application will be refused.”