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South Oxfordshire Council warns off taxi and PHV drivers looking to illegally ply-for-hire at Henley Regatta

Updated: Jun 22

South Oxfordshire District Council has issued a warning to visitors of this year’s Henley Royal Regatta: plan your taxi journey home to avoid illegal and potentially unsafe rides.

As the regatta draws thousands to Henley, the council is keen to ensure that all attendees travel safely.

Only hackney carriages licensed by South Oxfordshire District Council and pre-booked private hire vehicles are permitted to operate within Henley. Any attempt by drivers licensed outside the district to pick up passengers in the town will not only be illegal but will likely leave the vehicle uninsured, posing a serious risk to passenger safety.

To ensure a safe journey home, visitors are advised to:

  • Plan ahead and book with a reputable private hire company.

  • Use only vehicles displaying the official South Oxfordshire District Council roof sign and licence plate if flagging down a taxi or getting in without a pre-booking. Ideally, stick to official taxi ranks on Hart Street or at Henley Railway Station.

  • Request the driver’s official South Oxfordshire driver badge with their name and photo for verification.

  • Refrain from sharing personal details during the ride; consider getting dropped off nearby if you prefer not to disclose your address.

In the past three years, 16 taxi drivers have been prosecuted and lost their licences for illegally operating during the regatta. The council’s message is clear: private hire drivers from outside South Oxfordshire should only be in Henley for pre-arranged bookings. Those caught flouting the rules face prosecution, a fine of £1,000, and the potential loss of their licence.

Vivien Williams, Interim Head of Legal and Democratic at South Oxfordshire District Council, said: "With thousands of visitors expected in Henley, safety is our number one priority.  We want to make sure that people know where the taxi ranks are and that private hire vehicles must be booked in advance and cannot be hailed in the street.

“In recent years, we’ve prosecuted increasing number of drivers for operating illegally at the Regatta.  This year, we will again be carrying out checks throughout the event and will take a zero-tolerance approach, we won’t hesitate to prosecute anyone operating illegally.’’

Rob Abell, Consumer Protection Group Manager at Reading Borough Council, said: “I am delighted our Licensing Officers are once again working effectively in partnership with South Oxfordshire officers across borough boundaries to ensure consumers can safely and confidently use the legitimate taxis and pre-booked private hire vehicles that are checked, vetted and licensed to operate at this prestigious event, while keeping away those illegally plying for hire. 

“We will ensure the rigorous standards are upheld and take firm action against any illegal activity by Reading Licensed vehicles at Henley this year.”


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