A Durham County man who was not licensed to pick up fares has been fined more than £700 after being caught by undercover consumer protection officers.
Colin Eltringham, of Fishburn, was charged with driving a taxi without a hackney carriage licence following an investigation by our licensing team.
The 53-year-old failed a test purchase exercise in August last year when he picked up consumer protection officers posing as members of the public from outside of a pub in Sedgefield.
The officers had made the booking with Sedgefield Taxis, who cater for hackney carriage and private hire drivers, after receiving information that an unlicensed driver was driving one of the company's vehicles.
Newton Aycliffe Magistrates Court heard Eltringham was the owner of the vehicle and had previously held a hackney carriage licence. However, he failed to renew the licence after it was suspended in 2015.
Eltringham did not attend the hearing but pleaded guilty to the offence by letter. He also admitted a further charge of driving a vehicle without insurance.
Eltringham was ordered to pay a total of £737.75 in fines and costs and his driving licence was endorsed with six penalty points.
Owen Cleugh, our consumer protection manager, said: "Taxi and private hire licensing is in place to protect the public and it's our job to ensure these laws are followed. This prosecution proves we will take action against those who flout the law and that the consequences of doing so can be serious, both financially and reputationally."
Image remixed: Source; Pixabay & Durham County Council