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Reading councillor warns ‘such illegal activity will not be tolerated’ as PHV driver fined £2000



A Reading councillor warned ‘such illegal activity will not be tolerated’ after a private hire vehicle (PHV) driver has been hit with a fine of more than £2,000 and given six penalty points on his licence, following offences committed during Henley Regatta last year.


Sakhawat Mushtaq, 35, who holds a PHV licence with Fareham Borough Council, was found guilty of illegally plying for hire, driving without insurance, failing to wear his council issued badge, and failing to display the council issued vehicle plate, following a joint operation between Reading Borough Council and South Oxfordshire District Council licensing officers in July 2022.

Officers from the two councils were conducting patrols on foot in Thameside, Henley during last year’s Regatta where they witnessed a Blue Toyota Prius belonging to Mr Mushtaq parked illegally outside the Relais Hotel on double yellow lines.


An officer approached Mr Mushtaq and asked if he could take them to Reading Railway Station. Mr Mushtaq replied saying he was available and could do the journey immediately for £40.


Upon further investigation, it was found Mr Mushtaq was licensed with Fareham Borough Council, was only insured to carry out pre-booked work through a licensed private hire operator and was not permitted to pick up passengers off the street without a booking being in place.

At a hearing at Reading Magistrates' Court on 12 May 2023, Mr Mushtaq pleaded not guilty to three offences of illegally plying for hire, driving without insurance and failing to wear his council issued badge.


Mr Mushtaq was convicted by magistrates on four counts, and was hit with financial penalties of £3,744, including fines totalling £1,960. Six penalty points were also added to Mr Mushtaq’s licence, and he was ordered to pay a £784 victim surcharge.


Cllr John Ennis, Lead Member for Climate Strategy and Transport at Reading Borough Council, said: “This is great result thanks to the diligent work of the Reading licensing team, in partnership with officers from South Oxfordshire, ensuring regulations are in force to protect the travelling public.


“Unfortunately, we do come across some private hire drivers who think they are above the rules and keen to make a quick profit, I sincerely hope the outcome of this case will serve to further deter any drivers from contravening the law. Such illegal activity will not be tolerated and our team of licensing officers will continue to maintain their vigilant enforcement activities.”

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