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Out-of-area taxi driver handed fines of over £1,400 for illegal operations during Reading Festival

A taxi driver from South Oxfordshire was handed substantial financial penalties and received penalty points on his driving licence after being caught by Reading Council Licensing officers during the 2023 Reading Festival.

Muhammed Shahzad, who is licensed by South Oxfordshire District Council, was found guilty of operating without a valid booking and proper insurance. Shahzad admitted to these charges at Reading Magistrates' Court on 19 April 2024.

During the festival on 27 August 2023, undercover Licensing Enforcement officers identified Shahzad on Addison Road in Reading, an area notorious for such illegal activities. He accepted £50 to transport the officers to Henley-on-Thames, despite not having a pre-arranged booking.

At the hearing, the court ordered Shahzad to pay a fine of £922 for plying for hire without insurance. He was also directed to cover prosecution costs of £200 and a victim surcharge of £369. These payments are to be made in instalments of £100 per month.

In addition to the financial penalties, the court endorsed Shahzad’s licence with eight penalty points for using a vehicle without insurance. The case highlights the ongoing efforts by local authorities to clamp down on unauthorised taxi operations, especially during high-profile events like the Reading Festival.

Cllr John Ennis, Lead Councillor for Climate Strategy and Transport, said: “Private Hire and Hackney Carriage customers are entitled to trust the person driving is properly vetted, authorised, checked, and licensed. Unlicensed drivers undermining that trust will be robustly dealt with to maintain public confidence and ensure safety in our nighttime economy. 

“The Reading Licensing Team worked tirelessly to bring this complex case to court, and I am pleased the Magistrates recognised the importance of it.”


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