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Durham taxi boss fined over £2,000 for wheelchair user's unlicensed journeys

Updated: Mar 31



A taxi operator from County Durham was handed a substantial fine and penalty points on his driving licence for breaching licensing and insurance regulations.


Andrew Michael Bird, a 53-year-old taxi boss, was ordered to pay £2,183 and received eight penalty points on his driving licence. This came as a result of his guilty plea to three charges, relating to employing an unlicensed driver for the transportation of a wheelchair user.

The case came to light following an operation conducted by officers on the 18 July 2023. During this operation, officials observed a minibus, branded under Birds Taxis and registered as a private hire vehicle, delivering a wheelchair user to the Pathways Centre in Pity Me, Durham.


Upon inspection, it was discovered that the vehicle's driver and the passenger assistant were operating without the necessary badges and authorisations.


Further investigations revealed that Bird, who has been a private hire operator since approximately 2001 and holds several contracts for transporting children and vulnerable adults, failed to maintain the requisite booking records. Most critically, the court was informed that Bird had knowingly allowed the wheelchair user to be transported by an unlicensed driver for over six months, without the driver having passed necessary tests, background checks, or securing insurance for the vehicle.


Bird faced a fine of £1,320, was mandated to pay a victim surcharge of £528, cover costs of £335, and had eight points added to his driving licence for these violations.

Ian Harrison, County Durham Business Compliance Manager, said: "Mr Bird allowed a highly vulnerable person to be transported on an almost daily basis for over six months, by a driver who was not licensed or insured, and had not undergone the relevant tests and checks. He had no way of knowing if the driver was a fit and proper person to carry out this kind of work, potentially putting the passenger at risk.


"We know that most taxi companies in County Durham comply with licensing law but we hope this prosecution will serve as a reminder to any that might be to tempted to take shortcuts, that we will take action where legislation is not followed."

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