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Undercover sting catches man who ran an illegal private hire car service for a number of years 

A man has pleaded guilty to running an illegal private hire car service after picking up an undercover officer during a planned operation.

Kelvin Rumsey of The Orchards, Elham, advertised the rogue venture in a village newsletter and a local pub - as well as online - over a number of years.

Having attracted the interest of police officers and concerned members of the public, Folkestone & Hythe District Council (F&HDC) wrote to Mr Rumsey reminding him of his legal responsibilities.

But he ignored the letter and continued to promote and operate the service. An undercover officer was driven from Elham to Ashford International railway station during an investigation into the matter.

Mr Rumsey pleaded guilty to three driving offences (not having a valid private hire driver licence, vehicle licence or an operator's licence) at Folkestone Magistrates' Court on 4 November.

He was fined £1,500 and ordered to pay costs of £605.80 and a £50 victim surcharge - bringing the total bill for his dishonest actions to £2,155.80.

Cllr David Monk, F&HDC Leader, said: "This council will not tolerate such selfish behaviour from people running a business that puts our residents at risk. Unlicensed drivers do not have the correct insurance policy to operate a taxi service, meaning customers would not be covered if they were involved in a collision.

"Passenger safety is of paramount importance to the council, and this rogue business showed a complete disregard to the welfare of unsuspecting customers."

The vehicle Mr Rumsey drove was 15 years old - despite the council requiring taxis to be no more than three years old when they are first licenced and no more than seven years on their final renewal, unless they are wheelchair accessible.

The council are reminding members of the public to ensure that they only ever get into a licenced private hire (pre-booked) or Hackney carriage (from a rank or hailed) vehicle. They can be identified by a purple (PH) or orange (H) rectangular plate on the rear of the vehicle, showing the F&HDC logo and a valid date.

Licensed drivers should be wearing a badge showing their licence number and a valid expiry date. Any concerns regarding licensed or unlicensed vehicles or drivers should be reported to the licensing team at the council.

Image credit: Pixabay


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