Illegal Taxi Driver Prosecuted
A Llwynypia man who used his own private car to ferry people between the pubs of the Rhondda, charging them as if he was a taxi when he didn’t have the licenses and insurance to do so has been prosecuted.
Hywel Jones, 36, of Salem Terrace, was using his own three-door red Ford Fiesta to undertake the journeys, charging customers as if he was a licensed private hire vehicle operator.
The risks to consumers and other road users from unlicensed taxi drivers is one which has been well-publicised, in terms of risks to personal safety from those posing as a person in a position of trust, the roadworthiness of the vehicle you are travelling and the damage if there was an accident while the vehicle was being used as a taxi.
As a result of this, and to reassure the public that all efforts are taken to ensure their safety and deal with the concern of rogue taxi drivers, Licensing officers stepped in immediately following complaints about unlicensed taxis in the Ton Pentre area.
On June 20, 2015, they witnessed Mr Jones use an unlicensed Ford Fiesta in the areas of the New Inn and Fagins in Ton Pentre.
Posing as customers, they asked him to take them to Treorchy and he agreed. They climbed into the back of the vehicle via the driver and front passenger seats and were charged £3 for the journey.
They also witnessed him using the same vehicle in the Ton Pentre area to locations such as the Banc public house.
MrJones was approached by officers on the evening who told him they had concerns he was operating as a taxi driver illegally.
He was later interviewed by officers and admitted using the Ford Fiesta on the evening in question. He also recalled being sent a letter by Licensing Officers in January 2015 warning him of his activities following reports of the unlicensed vehicle being used in Pontypridd.
He admitted taking the officers to Treorchy and admitted transporting other passengers to the Banc and Greenfield Pubs.
Mr Jones was reported for a total of 4 offences under the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 and Road Traffic Act 1988 for use of unlicensed vehicle, no private hire vehicle driver licence, no private hire Operator licence and no insurance (for the purpose of hire and reward .
Mr Jones appeared at Pontypridd Magistrates Court on 8th February 2016 where he pleaded guilty to all four offences. Magistrates imposed a fines of £365, together with costs and victim surcharge amounting to £350.22. Total fines and costs of £737.00. Magistrates also imposed a total of 6 Penalty points on his driving licence. Mr Jones paid the same in full on the day of the court hearing.
Paul Mee, Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Director of Public Health and Protection, said: “Rogue taxi drivers are a serious concern for our residents and we work hard to reassure them and keep them safe by ensuring the vehicles and drivers used by taxi customers are licensed, legal and of the highest possible standard.
“We have recently undertaken consultation with taxi customers to secure feedback on how the service can further be improved and work with partners such as South Wales Police to ensure consumers are aware of the risks of getting into a vehicle without checking it is a legitimate taxi with a legitimate driver.
“Here we have a case of someone who literally used his own car and personal insurance to drive a vehicle in the Rhondda and Pontypridd areas, operating as a taxi to earn money when he didn’t have the licenses or insurance needed to do so.
“As well as putting consumers at risk, Mr Jones’ activity also damaged the livelihoods and reputations of the many taxi drivers we have providing an excellent, safe and legal service to the communities of Rhondda Cynon Taf.”
If you have concerns regarding rogue taxis or the standards of a service being operated, contact Licensing via email@example.com or 01443 425001
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