Two private hire drivers have been convicted at Milton Keynes Magistrates Court of picking up passengers illegally – known as ‘blagging’ – in the town.
Bi Trazie Alain Fegone, of Nelson Way, Rugby, attended court and pleaded guilty to plying for hire and driving without valid motor insurance.
Javen Hussain, of Grantham Road, Luton, did not attend court, but was found guilty in absence of plying for hire and driving without valid motor insurance.
The prosecutions were brought as a result of a joint enforcement operation carried out by Milton Keynes Council’s Taxi Enforcement team and Thames Valley Police.
Private hire vehicles can only pick up passengers by prior appointment only – if a driver stops to pick up passengers on the street without pre-booking, it invalidates their car insurance.
Fegone was fined £40 for plying for hire and £120 for invalid motor insurance. He was also given six penalty points and has to pay costs of £320, with a victim surcharge of £20.
Hussain was fined £220 for plying for hire and £660 for invalid motor insurance. He was also given 6 points on his licence and has to pay costs of £930 and a victim surcharge of £66.
The court heard that on the weekend of May 7/8, enforcement officers, acting as members of the public, engaged the drivers on journeys which had not been pre-booked from one location to another in Milton Keynes.
At the completion of these journeys, taxi enforcement officers from Milton Keynes Council and officers from Thames Valley Police were waiting. Investigations showed neither of the drivers were allocated legitimate collections from the locations they were caught plying from.
The vehicles involved were displaying private hire door signs for Private Hire Operator Speedline and were licensed by South Northants Council.
Cllr Mick Legg, the Cabinet Member responsible for taxi licensing policy, said: “Licensed drivers are in a position of trust and members of the public expect that anyone driving a licensed vehicle has the correct licence and insurance to do so.
“These taxi drivers must take personal responsibility for the safety of everyone they carry in their private hire vehicles. Illegally plying for hire and driving without appropriate insurance cover means that passengers have little or no legal protection whilst travelling in these vehicles.”
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