Minicab driver hit with costs of £3,000 becomes NINTH driver found plying-for-hire at race meet

Updated: Feb 14

A Wolverhampton City Council licensed driver was successfully prosecuted for unlawfully plying for hire during Cheltenham Festival 2019.

The driver stopped his vehicle for Cheltenham Borough Council enforcement officers during an undercover taxi operation during the busy race festival.

Mr Sohail Rehman, 22, attended an initial plea hearing at Cheltenham Magistrates' Court where he entered a not guilty plea for the charges of plying for hire and having no insurance on Friday 15 March 2019.

On Monday 3 February 2020 Mr Rehman did not attend the trial and the matter was heard in his absence. Following evidence being given to the court from council officers, Mr Rehman was found guilty of both charges and was fined £1,000 and received 8 penalty points on his licence. He was also ordered to pay £1,963 in costs and a £100 victim surcharge.

Wolverhampton City Council has been informed of the prosecution.

Five of the previous drivers that were successfully prosecuted in November for unlawfully plying for hire in Cheltenham during Cheltenham Festival 2019.

Councillor Andrew McKinlay, Member for Development and Safety, said: “So far Cheltenham Borough Council has prosecuted nine drivers for illegally plying for hire during Cheltenham Festival in March 2019 and there are additional court cases pending. We are hopeful that these prosecutions give a warning to drivers who wish to capitalise on the additional footfall to Cheltenham during Gold Cup week that we will take action should they operate unlawfully.”

Sarah Hughes, Licensing Enforcement Officer, continued: “Where drivers prosecuted are taxi or private hire drivers, the local authority in which they are licensed will be informed of any prosecutions and these authorities may then refer the matter to their licensing committee to review the drivers licence. Regulations are there to ensure the safety and welfare of the taxi travelling public and ultimately a driver found guilty of these offences may end up with a fine, points on their DVLA driving licence and their professional licence being revoked.

“If a member of the public gets into a vehicle not operating lawfully, they will not be covered by insurance in the event of an accident. We’d like to remind everyone to check that the vehicle that they get into is properly licensed, either by pre-booking a private hire vehicle in advance through an operator or by taking a journey with a Cheltenham licensed hackney carriage vehicle.”

Cheltenham Borough Council enforcement officers will continue to carry out spot checks and monitor activity during major race meets.

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