A taxi driver in Charnwood has been fined £660 in court for operating an unlicensed vehicle and failing to use a meter in his taxi.
Charnwood Borough Council prosecuted Noel Bertram, 71, of Milton Street Loughborough, after a police officer spotted him using his vehicle as a taxi. The officer knew the taxi was not licensed at that time.
At Leicester Magistrates Court, Mr Bertram was found guilty in his absence of taking a fare when the vehicle was not licensed and two offences for not activating the meter.
The court heard that on 13 September 2018, Mr Bertram was seen driving in Shepshed by a police officer who was aware the vehicle’s licence had expired.
The officer followed the vehicle to the Shepshed Town Council and Community Centre where he saw the driver lower the vehicle’s ramp and pick up a customer. The vehicle then drove off towards Loughborough.
Subsequent enquiries revealed that the passenger had paid a fee of £30 for the return journey.
Mr Bertram was interviewed under caution and admitted that he was not licensed at the relevant time and that he had undertaken a fare for an elderly disabled passenger. He had secured a licence for the vehicle, but it was not valid until September 14 2018.
Bertram said he did not use the taxi meter because it would not include the time spent loading and unloading a wheelchair from the vehicle. A Council enforcement officer calculated the return journey should have cost £21.70.
As well as being fined, Bertram was ordered to pay costs of £85 and a £30 victim surcharge.
After the hearing, Cllr Margaret Smidowicz, the Council’s lead member for regulatory services, said: “I hope this case demonstrates to other taxi drivers that you can’t ignore the regulations and that we won’t hesitate to prosecute drivers who are not complying with them.
“People put their trust in taxi drivers and as a local authority we need to ensure the taxis in the borough are licensed and operating correctly. I’d like to also take this opportunity to remind members of the public to ensure the taxi they use is a licensed vehicle driven by a licensed driver.”
Mr Bertram is no longer a licensed driver with Charnwood Borough Council.
The Council is reminding passengers to check if a vehicle is licensed by observing the door sign.
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