A TAXI driver who overcharged passengers after failing to switch on his cab’s meter has been hit with fines and costs totalling nearly £900.
Junedhai Motorwala was working in Rugby town centre on New Year’s Day when he picked up a couple near The Squirrel pub in Church Street.
The couple wanted to be be taken to The Crown pub in Newbold, but a dispute over the fare started.
The passengers’ account of the dispute differed to Mr Motorwala’s, but both parties accepted the cab’s meter was switched off for the duration of the journey and Motorwala took a fare of £10.
On making a complaint to the council about the incident, one of the passengers said Motorwala had insisted the fare was a fixed rate of £15 before starting the journey and refused to switch on the meter.
The passenger said Motorwala then took the cab’s tariff card – which should have been on display – from behind the sun visor, waved it at the couple and said: “I don’t need the meter on. It’s a fixed price all night.”
On arriving in Newbold, the passenger said Motorwala again asked for £15 but, after being challenged over the meter being switched off, said: “Give me a tenner.”
When interviewed by a licensing officer, Motorwala said when he was first asked about the cost of the journey, he had told the passengers the fare was approximately £11, to which one of the passengers offered to pay £10.
During the journey, Motorwala said one of the passengers started arguing about the fare but, on arrival in Newbold, reluctantly paid the £10.
However, Motorwala accepted he had failed to switch the meter on and had overcharged the passengers – an offence under the terms of his taxi licence.
He insisted he had never switched off the meter while carrying passengers before, but also accepted the cab’s tariff card should have been on display for passengers – another condition of the licence.
Motorwala, of Lowther Street, Coventry, pleaded guilty at Nuneaton’s Warwickshire Justice Centre on Tuesday July 31 to breaching the conditions of his taxi licence, an offence under section 58 of the Town Police Clauses Act 1847.
Magistrates fined the 31-year-old £100 and ordered him to pay the council’s costs, £758, and a £30 victim surcharge.
Speaking after the hearing, Rugby Borough Council’s environment and public realm spokeswoman Coun Lisa Parker said she hoped the prosecution of Mr Motorwala served as a warning to the town’s taxi drivers to abide by the licence conditions.
She said: “The majority of our taxi drivers deliver a high quality service, but we need the public’s help to stop the minority who breach the taxi licence conditions.
“The conditions protect both drivers and passengers, ensuring fair competition between drivers and offering passengers set standards of service.
“We often receive reports of taxi drivers breaching conditions, but rarely with sufficient information to compile satisfactory evidence for prosecution.
“In this case, the passengers made a note of the driver’s taxi plate number, which allowed us to identify and, ultimately, prosecute him.
“I’d encourage any passengers who feel a taxi driver has breached the conditions of the taxi licence to make a note of the plate number, vehicle registration or details of the make and model of the vehicle so we can take appropriate action.”
Email email@example.com or call (01788) 533599 to make a complaint about the conduct of a taxi driver.