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Private hire driver latest to face penalties for illegally plying for hire at Henley Regatta


A private hire driver becomes the latest driver to be prosecuted for illegally plying for hire at Henley Regatta.


Umar Ali, a 36-year-old private hire vehicle (PHV) driver from Reading, has been fined nearly £1,000 and received a six-point penalty on his DVLA licence for operating illegally during the Henley Regatta on 1 July 2023.

Found without the appropriate licence and insurance, and failing to display his private hire driver’s badge, Ali's actions have led to significant consequences.


During a hearing at Oxford Magistrates’ Court on 12 January, it was revealed that although Ali held a licence with Reading Borough Council, he was not authorised by South Oxfordshire District Council to offer his services in their jurisdiction. Moreover, his insurance did not cover public hire activities, and at the time of his interception by South Oxfordshire licensing officers, he was not wearing his mandatory private hire badge.


Ali defended himself by stating he had just completed a fare drop-off in the area and had agreed to transport an undercover officer back to Reading.


The court recognised Ali's previous good character and considered the potential impact of losing his licence with Reading Borough Council on his livelihood.

Despite this, his early admission of guilt and expressed remorse led to a fine of £420, an additional £168 victim surcharge, £400 in legal costs, and the imposition of six points on his driving licence.


This case highlights the regulations surrounding taxi and private hire operations across different districts.


Cllr David Rouane, Leader of South Oxfordshire District Council, said: “Unlawfully plying for hire undermines public safety as we are not able to check that the driver and vehicle are safe and suitable to transport passengers.


“It puts other motorists at risk because without valid insurance, damage or injury to other road users would not be covered. It also takes business away from our licensed drivers who do follow the rules. Our officers work tirelessly to stop unlicenced taxis from operating in our district and if we find anyone breaking the rules, we will not hesitate to take the necessary action against them.”

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