Updated: Jul 22, 2022
A private hire driver licensed in Newcastle, but working in Sunderland, was convicted of illegally plying-for-hire and driving without any valid insurance.
The driver, Mahsum Sultan, was contacted by Sunderland City Council licensing officers after a complaint was made from a passenger who claimed they were charged more than the expected price for a ride that had not been pre-booked.
Though not defined in the legislation, ‘plying-for-hire’ describes the activity reserved to licensed taxis. Most people might define ‘plying-for-hire’ as a taxi looking to be hailed or waiting for passengers at a taxi rank.
Sultan was licensed as a private hire vehicle driver and is licensed to only pick up people who have pre-booked a journey via an operator. Committing the offence of plying-for-hire also meant the driver committed the offence of driving without insurance as the policy in place only covers pre-booked work.
Sultan admitted guilt to both offences when he appeared at South Tyneside Magistrates' Court on 5 July after originally denying the allegations.
The driver was handed eight penalty points on his licence and was ordered to pay total fines and costs of £404. Sultan’s licensing authority, Newcastle City Council, have since revoked his private hire driver’s licence.
According to Sunderland Echo, Councillor Jill Fletcher, chair of Sunderland City Council’s Licensing and Regulatory Committee, said: "I am glad that our officers were able to take action against a driver flouting the law.
"We will take action against all taxi drivers who put the people of Sunderland at risk by driving without valid insurance, regardless of which local authority they hold a licence with.
"The details of the complaint were raised with Newcastle City Council who licensed Mr Sultan at the time and we are pleased to hear that Mr Sultan has had his licence revoked. This demonstrates the benefits of having strong working partnerships with our neighbouring councils and the desire and determination we share to ensure rogue drivers are quickly dealt with.
"Residents are reminded that, unless taking a taxi from a rank, they should only get into a vehicle if they have pre-booked the journey."