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Private hire vehicle driver fined nearly £2,000 for plying for hire in undercover council operation

A private hire taxi driver has been ordered to pay nearly £2,000 in fines and costs after admitting to plying for hire as a result of an undercover safety operation led by Telford & Wrekin Council.

During an evening enforcement exercise earlier this year, council officers approached Muhammad Qasim in High Street, Newport. Despite being aware of the regulations, Qasim agreed to provide them with a ride to the Clock Tower in Donnington, an act prohibited for private hire drivers who are not pre-booked.

The court was informed that council officers promptly identified Qasim’s vehicle as being licensed by Shropshire Council, raising concerns about his breach of regulations. On Monday 23 October, the defendant appeared at Telford Magistrates' Court, and pleaded guilty to both plying for hire and driving without valid insurance.

As a result of his actions, Qasim was fined £500 by the court. In addition to the fine, he was also ordered to pay £1,250 in costs and a £200 victim surcharge. Furthermore, Qasim received six penalty points on his driving licence.

Councillor Richard Overton (Labour), Deputy Leader of Telford & Wrekin Council and Cabinet Member for Homes and Enforcement, said: “This is another successful prosecution of a taxi driver who chose to break the law and put the safety of passengers at risk.

“Illegally plying for hire and driving without insurance are serious offences because we cannot check if the driver and their vehicle are safe to transport passengers.

“We will continue to work in partnership with West Mercia Police and neighbouring local authorities to clamp down on taxi drivers who show disregard for the rules and undermine the vast majority of drivers who do stick to them.”

Chris Schofield, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet Member for Planning and Regulatory Services, said: “Shropshire Council provided evidence to support Telford & Wrekin Council’s investigation into this matter and we are very pleased with the outcome. In addition to the prosecution, the council will now take appropriate action in line with its Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Licensing Policy. We consider plying for hire offences to be of a very serious nature as they fundamentally pose a serious risk to public safety and undermine the licensed taxi regime.

“We fully support the work that Telford & Wrekin Council undertakes to identify licensed private hire drivers who illegally ply for hire in their area and are committed to reinforcing the message that it is totally unacceptable for any Shropshire Council licensed private hire driver to ply for hire.”

PC Sharon Major from West Mercia Police said: “I welcome the penalties that have been given to Qasim. Plying for hire is not acceptable and we will continue to work with partners including Telford & Wrekin Council to seek out the small minority of taxi drivers who break the law.”


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