A private hire vehicle (PHV) driver has had his licence revoked by the South Cambridgeshire District Council for failing to display the required signage.
Ahmed Al Ansar, 35, found himself in hot water after failing to display the necessary PHV plate and door signs, resulting in the invalidation of his insurance.
The issue came to light when the council received a complaint from a concerned member of the public who had been picked up by Mr Ansar's vehicle that lacked a plate displayed on the rear and council-issued or operator door signs.
During the journey, the passenger questioned this omission, but Mr Ansar claimed that his vehicle was exempt from displaying such signage. However, he was unable to produce any exemption certificate as proof.
To the surprise of Mr Ansar, the complainant revealed that he too was a licensed taxi driver with the South Cambridgeshire District Council and was well aware of the legislation and licence conditions for private hire vehicles. The passenger promptly reported the incident to the council, supported by a photo of the vehicle and driver's badge.
Upon investigation, it was discovered that Mr Ansar had submitted an online application for the vehicle's licence on the same day as the incident, as evidenced by the date and time stamp. However, since the vehicle did not have a licence, this rendered any insurance he held invalid.
Despite being given two opportunities to attend an interview under caution, Mr Ansar cancelled on both occasions. Based on the evidence gathered, the Principal Licensing Officer of the council deemed it necessary to revoke Mr Ansar's licence in the interest of public safety.
In response to the revocation, Mr Ansar decided to appeal the decision to the Council's Taxi Licensing Appeals Panel. However, his appeal was dismissed. Undeterred, he made another attempt to appeal at Cambridge Magistrates' Court on 8 November. This was the second court hearing, as he had previously failed to attend a July hearing due to illness, where he also requested an adjournment but did not attend.
District Judge Sheraton, presiding over the case, made it clear that he would not grant the desired adjournment, and subsequently dismissed Mr Ansar's appeal. A further hearing to address costs has been scheduled for December.
Cllr Henry Batchelor, Lead Cabinet Member for Licensing for South Cambridgeshire District Council, said: “Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles are vital to our communities. Elderly and disabled users, in particular, rely heavily on the service they provide, and often it is the only way for residents to access local services or get around our rural district. Drivers must therefore command the highest level of confidence before they can be entrusted with this responsibility.
“It’s essential we take seriously our responsibility to determine whether someone is a ‘fit and proper’ person to hold a licence. All licensed drivers must ensure that any vehicle they wish to use to transport members of the public is licensed correctly, holds the relevant insurance, and complies with legislation, policy, and conditions.”