A taxi driver from East Northamptonshire has been fined £900 by magistrates, after operating a plated vehicle without the appropriate licence.
The court heard that Marcus Smith of Rushden had his licence suspended for 6 months from December 2014 by the Licensing Panel Committee at East Northamptonshire Council (ENC).
Following an altercation with a member of the public in February 2015, ENC was given proof that Mr Smith was still operating as a taxi driver with no licence.
On 16 March 2015, Mr Smith was seen driving his plated vehicle by ENC’s Licensing Officer and was subsequently cautioned, leading to the court case on 4 August 2015.
At the court hearing, Mr Smith was fined £400 for operating a taxi without a private hire driver’s licence, £200 for both occasions he was proven to be doing so. He was also ordered to pay £500 costs and a £20 victim surcharge. Mr Smith did not attend Northampton Magistrates Court for the hearing.
Cllr Glenvil Greenwood-Smith, Chairman of the Licensing Committee said:
“This was first-class work by the Licensing Officer. Unlicensed drivers who ply for hire are not insured and therefore pose a serious risk to public safety. Residents and visitors to our district need to be confident they're in a safe, licensed private hire vehicle or taxi.
"Most private hire companies and their drivers carry out their trade lawfully and condemn the few that bring the trade into disrepute. All legitimately licensed private hire vehicle drivers are required by law to wear their private hire vehicle badge and the vehicles display a council plate on the rear."
Residents in East Northamptonshire are urged to follow these simple steps to help ensure they stay safe whilst using taxis and private hired vehicles:
Check that the taxi that arrives is the one you ordered. Ask for a description of the car – colour, make, etc – and check this when it arrives.
If you gave your name when you booked, check that the driver can tell you it before you get in. When you get home, ask the driver to wait until you are inside.
There are many reputable mini-cab or private hire car companies, but these must be booked either at their office or by phone. In some cases, the driver will carry identification. Always keep the number of a reliable firm handy. Avoid mini-cabs or private hire cars that tout for business.
Check the vehicle has a council plate on the rear.
Always sit behind the driver.
If you feel uneasy, ask to be let out in a well-lit area where there are plenty of people
If in any doubt, don’t get in a taxi.