Taxi drivers fined £4,000 for illegally plying for hire during the 2016 Gold Cup

Four taxi drivers have been fined almost £4,000 for illegally plying for hire in Cheltenham during the 2016 Gold Cup.

Sarah Hughes, licensing enforcement officer for the borough council, said the prosecutions are a “warning to drivers who wish to capitalise on the additional footfall” during race week.

Duncan Holder, of Solway Road in Cheltenham, was ordered to pay £1,550 in fines and costs on Monday, October 17 after pleading guilty to the offence by post.

Manunur Rashid, a licensed Hackney Carriage driver with Malvern District Council, attended court and was represented.

He pleaded guilty to illegally plying for hire and was ordered to pay £753 in fines and costs while Ephraim Chimuka of Reservoir Road, Gloucester also pleaded guilty and was ordered to pay £848.

Aziz Ur Rehman of Pilgrove Way, Cheltenham, pleaded guilty by post and was ordered to pay a total of £820.

The four most recent convictions follow a successful prosecution of Steven Rising for the same offence.

A further four drivers pleaded not guilty and trial dates have been set for early 2017.

Councillor Andy McKinlay, cabinet member for development and safety said: “We are pleased that the work by officers to stamp out illegal taxi activity during the March races is bearing fruit and we are now seeing successful prosecutions.

“Such illegal activity can significantly compromise public safety and protection and the council will do whatever it can within its means to continue to focus resource and effort to bring those guilty to justice.”

What is plying for hire?

British transport union RMT says: “Under existing regulations, private hire vehicles (PHVs) may only pick up passengers when pre-booked, rather than from a rank or in response to being hailed.

“These regulations provide passengers with important safety protections against unregulated drivers who have not undergone extensive criminal record and medical checks, or had to pass a formal taxi driving assessment like licensed taxi drivers.

“However, Smartphone apps such as Über are circumventing the law governing the taxi and minicab industry.”