September 27th, 2016

Private hire driver found guilty after Coventry council sting

Coventry City Council has prosecuted a Nuneaton and Bedworth private hire driver for illegally plying for hire and having no insurance – after a night-time sting.

The council says its is determined to clamp down on private hire drivers from other areas coming in to Coventry against the law.

Such private hire vehicles are not allowed to pick up passengers without a prior booking.

Council bosses say it affects the ability to trade of licenced taxi and private hire drivers in Coventry.

Peter Kumar Sidhu, 47, of Doebank Lane, Coundon was found guilty at Leamington Magistrates’ Court on August 14.

He was fined £400 for the plying for hire and given seven penalty points on his licence for having no insurance.

He was also ordered to pay the council’s costs of £2000 with a £40 victim surcharge.

The prosecution arose out of a joint night-time operation in January involving plain clothes and uniform police and officers from the Coventry City Council taxi licensing office.

Just after 11pm, the undercover police officers were standing on the corner of Croft Road, Coventry, when they noticed a Mercedes Vito pull up displaying signage for Edwards Taxi’s – a Nuneaton and Bedworth operator.

The officers approached the vehicle and Sidhu agreed to take them to Beake Avenue for £7.

Whilst en-route to his destination, Sidhu’s vehicle was intercepted by uniformed officers and directed to a site where council taxi licencing officers were waiting.

Sidhu admitted to picking up the passengers and stated he was doing it as a favour because of poor weather conditions and because he was going back that way.

Councillor Rachel Lancaster, cabinet member for public services said: “We are determined to clamp down on private hire drivers blatantly ignoring and breaking the law by coming into Coventry and picking up passengers with no prior booking.

“One of our top priorities is the health and wellbeing of our residents and this joint operation with West Midlands Police and our own taxi licensing team aims to protect the public as they are at risk, because these vehicles will not be insured if they are picking up passengers in this way.

“This sort of illegal plying for trade also has an effect on our own licensed taxi drivers who ensure they are fully compliant with our licencing conditions.”

Sidhu’s defence successfully argued there would be exceptional hardship if he lost his licence, so he was not disqualified by the court.

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