Penalty points scheme and code of conduct proposal for taxi drivers

Taxi drivers who commit minor offences could receive penalty points under a new proposal.

Crawley Borough Council wants to introduce a penalty points scheme and a code of good conduct to help secure compliance with licensing requirements as well as responsible and ethical behaviour from hackney carriage and private hire licence holders.

The scheme would give points to taxi drivers who commit minor offences or acts of non-compliance instead of taking more formal action.

The council wants to identify drivers who persistently commit minor offences or fail to comply with requirements placed upon them as licence holders.

A licence holder that reaches a certain number of points would then be referred to the council which would consider whether to suspend or revoke the licence.

The penalty points scheme is not intended to be used to deal with more serious offences or acts of non-compliance and in deciding what action to take, each case will continue to be considered on its own individual merits.

Councillor Mike Pickett, chair of the council’s Licensing Committee, said: “We want to find out what the public and taxi drivers think about these proposals before making a final decision.

“I’d urge everyone to give us their views so we can ensure that any final policy works for both taxi users and taxi drivers.”

A short survey along with the draft penalty points scheme and code of good conduct can be viewed and completed at www.crawley.gov.uk/consultation

Read more: http://www.crawleyobserver.co.uk/

Corrupt minicab driver lied in bid to save licence

A corrupt minicab driver lied in a bid to avoid two speeding tickets and save his private hire licence.

But 31-year-old Zahoor Rehman paid a far higher price after the plot was discovered.

The father of three had only held the licence for three months when first caught travelling over the limit along Sandwell Road, Handsworth on September 2, Wolverhampton Crown Court heard.

His Vauxhall Vectra was pictured by a speed camera doing 37mph in the 30mph zone.

When the notice of prosecution arrived he denied being behind the wheel, claiming to have sold the vehicle on July 31.

Rehman had done this but almost immediately bought back the car without notifying the authorities of the further change in ownership, revealed Mr Howard Searle, prosecuting.

Three months later, on December 2, the Vectra was pictured speeding once more on the same stretch of road and so he repeated the lie when the paperwork arrived.

But police inquiries revealed that Rehman was still working as a cabbie driving the vehicle he claimed to have sold.

He already had three penalty points when the first offence occurred and had been warned that a second speeding conviction could lead to his licence being suspended.

Rehman from Greenfield Road, Smethwick admitted two offences of attempting to pervert the course of justice.

He was given a four month sentence suspended for a year with 100 hours unpaid work and £400 costs. He was also fined £100 with three penalty points for the second speeding offence.

Read more at http://www.expressandstar.com/

Tunbridge Wells taxi drivers could be banned from smoking e-cigs

The decision on whether or not to ban Tunbridge Wells taxi drivers from vaping in their vehicles have decided to put their decision on ice.

Council chiefs have decided to hold off until they can ask the public for their views.

The licensing committee at Tunbridge Wells Borough Council unanimously voted to consult people on the matter of e-cigarettes and vaping in hackney carriage and private hire vehicles

It will be part of an already planned Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Policy review scheduled for later this year or next.

Licensing committee chairman Bob Backhouse told the Courier: “Further to complaints from members of the public concerning taxi drivers who have vaped while driving, I was asked ‘is this illegal?’ ‘Is this against taxi regulations?’ We discovered we only had a policy that stops smoking in taxis and obviously in the light of the widespread growth of vaping this needs to be amended.”

He added: “Owing to the fact that we were about to make a public consultation with taxi drivers and members of the public, the licensing committee thought it best to incorporate this issue in that consultation. At the meeting councillors agreed that for people with asthma or other breathing difficulties it was considered anti-social for anyone to vape in a taxi, drivers or passengers.”

Electronic cigarettes or e-cigarettes, also known as vaporisers, are battery-powered devices that deliver nicotine by heating a solution of nicotine, flavouring, additives and propylene glycol and/or vegetable glycerine (glycerol).

The devices typically consist of a mouthpiece, battery and cartridge or tank containing the nicotine solution.

When a user sucks on the device, a sensor detects air flow which activates a heating element, the atomiser, which heats the liquid in the cartridge so that it evaporates. The vapour delivers the nicotine to the user.

Read more: http://www.courier.co.uk/

Taxi Driver Loses Appeal Case Relating to New Livery

Magistrates have dismissed a taxi driver’s appeal claiming that the Guildford Borough Council’s taxi livery policy amounted to a condition and should be removed from his licence.

At the appeal, held at Redhill Magistrates Court on 5 July, Magistrates found that the reasons for imposing the livery were sound and reasonable, and there was no reason to remove the condition. They also awarded the majority of the council’s costs in defending the appeal, to the amount of £4,500.

Cllr Graham Ellwood, Lead Councillor for Licensing and Community Safety, said: “This case was not a challenge to our overall livery policy and its requirements remain in place for all taxi drivers in our borough. However, I am delighted with the outcome, as the Magistrates have agreed that the reasons for the livery, such as protecting public safety, are sound and reasonable.

“We are now keen to move on from dealing with challenges to the policy and continue with implementing its measures such as the livery and a professional BTEC qualification for all drivers to raise standards and protect the travelling public. I am now looking forward to a liveried fleet of Guildford taxis in the near future.

“I would like to remind drivers that the council will only contribute towards the cost of livery until the 9 July, so drivers should not delay in booking their vehicle in to be liveried.

“We are very keen to engage in discussing practical issues around implementing the policy and I would encourage all members of the taxi and private hire trade to come along to the next Taxi Advisory Group meeting on 20 July at 7pm.”

Mark Rostron speaking on behalf of the Guildford Hackney Association said: “It’s a very disappointing result from the magistrates. They apparently believe that it was necessary for the security of the travelling public that Guildford taxis have to be teal green, and that no other solution would be reasonable.

“Obviously Guildford Hackney Association continue to disagree and we are awaiting the barristers report before we decide on whether to appeal the decision in the Crown Court.

“Additionally, Guildford Borough Council hired a Queen’s Counsel barrister at tremendous cost and persuaded the magistrates that they should charge the taxi driver £6,000 in costs, even though the Magistrates Association and the Justices’ Clerks Society have advised that awarding costs for a licensing appeal should be an exception, not a rule, and that any resident with reasonable grounds for appeal should not be penalised.

“I hope the Guildford public take note of this behavior by the council who seek to enforce a licence livery condition that was not asked for by a single person in their consultation but was instead dropped into the policy at the last minute by a small group of misguided councillors.

source: http://www.guildford-dragon.com/

Derby councillors could be stripped of power over taxi licences

Derby councillors could be stripped of powers over who gets taxi licences, following a damning report hitting out at how they have been operating.

Council officers would make the decision instead, using a points-based system that, among other things, ranks the seriousness of crimes by giving them a numerical value.

The proposal has been raised after auditors found councillors on the city’s Taxi Licensing Sub Committee had been, as recently as last year, awarding taxi licences to criminals who were not “fit and proper” to hold them.

Licences were given to people who had committed offences including “hate crime, harassment, intimidation and making improper comments to young women”. The proposed new points system has been drawn up in detail by the council and has forced the authority to go through the extraordinary process of ranking seriousness of crimes. If the proposals came to fruition, any applicant or existing driver who gets above 12 points would be in trouble. New applicants would not be able to get a licence and existing taxi drivers would have their licence revoked.

Several crimes would simply mean the licence being refused or revoked under any circumstances, including sex with an animal or corpse and sexual activity in a public lavatory.

Other crimes would mean instant refusal if committed recently but not if they had happened some time ago. Assault of a police officer for example, would mean instant refusal if it happened less than four years ago. But it would be worth six points if committed five years in the past.

And you could still be a taxi driver if you committed some crimes at any stage. They include being drunk and disorderly in public. If an applicant had done that within 12 months of the application, they would get three points, but it would be just one if it happened three years before and would not accrue any points over three years. Points would also be accrued through traffic offences, and non-criminal acts like carrying more passengers than licensed for.

A report drawn up by council officers ahead of Thursday’s licensing committee says: “The points system takes account of all possible driving and criminal convictions and/or conduct/behavioural transgressions. It will be made available on the council website for all current and prospective licence holders to consult.”

The auditors at Grant Thornton had said that the council had already been “proactive” in dealing with taxi licensing issues. Work has included getting officers to recommend to councillors what decision should be made on each licence applicant and expanding the size of the Taxi Licensing Sub Committee from three to five members in a bid to add “additional robustness to decision making”. This makes it more difficult for a driver to avoid certain councillors being on their panel.

But the auditors added that it may be necessary to consider the “radical option” of having officers deciding applications instead of councillors.

A twelve-week consultation on the proposals with taxi drivers and the public is set to start this month. If the changes go-ahead, the council is aiming to bring them in on November 28, following a final decision at full council on November 23.

EXAMPLES OF THE PROPOSED NEW POINTS SYSTEM

Possessing offensive weapon – committed within one to five years, licence refused; six years, eight points; seven years, seven points; eight years, six points; nine years, five points; ten years, two points.

Battery – committed within one to three years, licence refused; four years, five points; five years, four points; six years; three points; seven years, two points; eight years, one point; more, no points.

Administering poison – committee within one to seven years; licence refused; eight years, eight points; nine years, six points; 10 years, four points.

Read more: http://www.derbytelegraph.co.uk/

Littering private hire driver who was confronted in viral video handed fine

Eagle-eyed Bobby Michael confronted the driver after he threw a juice bottle out of his vehicle’s door on a Levenshulme street

A littering minicab driver who got a taste of his own medicine from an angry Levenshulme resident has now been handed a fine for the offence.

Eagle-eyed Bobby Michael confronted the driver after he threw a juice bottle out of his vehicle’s door.

In a brilliantly Mancunian manner, disgruntled resident Bobby, 46, hands the bottle back to the stunned driver, saying: “Excuse me brother, we live here mate. It would be nice if you wouldn’t do that, our kid.”

After the incident, which happened just by Bobby’s house on Mayford Drive, he posted the footage on Facebook, saying: “Saw this taxi driver throw his juice bottle out of the car. Not a care in the world. Drives me nuts.”

And now the careless cabbie has received an £80 fixed penalty notice, after the council’s enforcement officers acted on the footage and tracked him down, when he admitted the offence.

They acted after the video of the incident was widely shared on social media and featured on the M.E.N. website.

Councillor Nigel Murphy, Executive Member for Neighbourhoods, said: “We are very pleased to have been able to take up the evidence Bobby provided and issue a fine to the culprit in this case.

“We know that the vast majority of Manchester residents agree with us that littering and fly-tipping are totally unacceptable. By working together with residents, we can make sure that the selfish minority don’t get away with blighting our neighbourhoods.

“When residents report incidents of littering and fly-tipping to us, we will investigate and do everything in our power to ensure that those responsible are punished.”

After being contacted about the footage at the time Amber Qadeer, who runs Amber cars, said that it was an isolated incident and their employees were always told to respect the community they work in.

She said: “We would just like to say at Amber Cars we do not at all condone this behaviour. We would like to sincerely apologise to Bobby and the rest of the Levenshulme residence. We have discussed this with the driver, and the driver would also like to apologise to everyone.

“As residents and a company of Levenshulme, we are proud to be a part of the community. Amber Cars as a whole again apologises sincerely to all of Levenshulme. Moving forward we will make it clear to all of our drivers and staff that this behaviour is unacceptable.”

To report a fly-tipping or littering incident in your neighbourhood, visit www.manchester.gov.uk/flytipping .

source: http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/

Cambridge taxi driver who grabbed woman and tried to kiss her has licence revoked

A taxi driver who grabbed a woman round the waist and tried to kiss her after giving her a lift home in Cambridge has had his licence revoked.

Akbor Ali, 47, of Chelwood Road, Cambridge, had denied sexual assault but was found guilty after a trial at Cambridge Magistrates’ Court on June 15.

He was sentenced yesterday to 26 weeks in prison, suspended for 12 months, and given a three month curfew between 10pm and 8am.

Ali was also ordered to pay £500 compensation to his victim, £670 court costs and an £80 victim surcharge. He must also sign the sex offenders’ register.

Paul Brown, prosecuting, said at 3.30am on February 4 the woman had been out socialising in Cambridge and at the end of the evening, she shared a taxi with a friend.

The taxi driver took the friend back to a hotel and the victim was then left alone in the taxi with the defendant.

He said: “There had been some general chit chat and when they arrived at her house she picked up her bags but struggled to get out of the taxi.

“The defendant opened the door for her; she said thanks and that it was nice to talk with him but she was simply being polite.”

The woman said she was standing about one metre away from him outside the taxi when suddenly the defendant stepped forward and grabbed her round the waist with both hands, the court was told.

Mr Brown added: “The woman said he pulled her forward so she was standing in his personal space and her face was almost touching his.

“She said it was uncomfortably close and at this point the defendant came even closer to her, opening his mouth as if trying to kiss her.”

The woman was so shocked she turned her head and body to get away, and the defendant got back in his taxi and drove off without saying a word.

The woman saw the cab was a Panther Taxi cab and called the company, who told her to call the city council or NHS on 111.

At 4am the woman called the police and Ali, who has no previous convictions or cautions, was arrested. In a victim impact statement the woman said she had OCD and the incident left her feeling ‘sick and dirty’.

Simon Rice, mitigating, said: “This was extraordinarily out of character for my client and he does appreciate the seriousness of the offence.

“He has been in the UK for 25 years without issue, and has been a taxi driver in Cambridge for seven years.

“The council has entirely revoked his licence and have no intention to reinstate it.

“As a result of this, he is now unemployed and his family are at risk of losing their home.”

Read more: http://www.cambridge-news.co.uk/

Torquay taxi driver suspended and ordered to take anger management course

A TORQUAY taxi driver has had his licence suspended for three months and been ordered to go on an anger management course following an ‘unprecedented’ five complaints in four months about his conduct.

The complaints about Rodney Woolacott’s behaviour while on duty were made between December 2 last year and April 3, and related to him losing his temper or being rude, and on occasions becoming aggressive.

Torbay Council’s licensing sub-committee met on Thursday to determine whether the 68-year-old remained a ‘fit and proper person’ to hold a council licence.

Environmental health manager Steve Cox said: “It’s not appropriate for a taxi driver who’s licensed by the council and therefore represents the council to be losing his temper with the frequency the allegations would suggest.

“To have five complaints against a taxi driver in such a short period of time is unprecedented. There’s a pattern forming and it’s not acceptable. They are allegations – but there are five of them.”

One of the incidents was partially captured on CCTV and some footage was shown at the meeting.

Mr Woolacott’s counsel Scott Horner told the meeting: “While Mr Woolacott denies many of the things that were alleged, he accepts these altercations shouldn’t be happening and are regrettable.

“Clearly he isn’t going to receive any customer service prizes this year from the council. He realises he can be somewhat abrupt in his manner. He enjoys banter with his customers and sometimes jokes can be taken in the wrong way.

“I suggest it comes down to Mr Woolacott standing his ground and being firm and not accepting the behaviour that taxi drivers are sometimes subjected to.”

Mr Horner also said that Mr Woolacott’s step-daughter had been seriously unwell and this might have affected his behaviour as he ‘had things on his mind’.

He added: “He has been professionally driving all his life. He has some health difficulties but passes his health test every year to drive his taxi. He’s not the sort of man who takes this lightly and has been co-operative throughout this process. He very much wants to work. He doesn’t want to rely on state handouts which would be the consequence of a loss of licence.”

Mr Woolacott told the committee that he had been driving taxis in Torbay for three and a half years, and prior to that he had last driven a taxi 20 years ago. He had also driven buses in Devon, fire engines in London and lorries and coaches all over Europe.

The committee decided to suspend his licence for three months and ordered him to complete an anger management course. Mr Woolacott was told that if he proved he had completed an appropriate course within two months, the suspension would be reduced to two months.

Speaking after the meeting, Mr Woolacott told the Herald Express: “I’m not pleased because I think it’s been exaggerated. But I’ll have to do the course as I’m out of work now.”

Read more: http://www.torquayheraldexpress.co.uk/

Uber driver drove 200 miles to stab popular Glasgow shopkeeper Asad Shah to death in argument over religion

Tanveer Ahmed

Even after the knife was wrestled from Tanveer Ahmed’s grip he began punching, kicking and stamping on his victim – despite repeated pleas to stop by those around him

Tanveer Ahmed has confessed to the killing of Glasgow shopkeeper Asad Shah

An Uber driver drove 200miles to stab popular Glasgow shopkeeper Asad Shah to death in a heated argument over religion.

Even after the knife was wrestled from his grip he began punching, kicking and stamping on his victim, a court heard – despite repeated pleas to stop by those around him.

And when his vicious, murderous attack was over he calmly walked to a nearby bus shelter and sat “in prayer” waiting for the police to arrive, the court heard.

Uber taxi driver Tanveer Ahmed, 32, admits murdering Mr Shah, a 40-year-old Ahmadi Muslim, who ran a convenience store in the city.

The High Court in Glasgow heard today that Ahmed claimed Mr Shah had “disrespected the prophet of Islam, the messenger of Allah, Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him.”

Horrific CCTV footage shown to court today showed Ahmed, from Bradford, arriving at the shop at about 9pm in the evening.

The judge was told Mr Shah’s family wanted the video shown – but they were not in court because of fears for their own security and they did not want to see his killer.

The footage shows how shortly after arriving Ahmed swiftly got involved in a fierce row with Mr Shah – who had been serving customers – said to be “intense” and in Urdu.

The court heard that Ahmed – a Muslim – believed Mr Shah claimed to be a prophet.

The killer was said to have attempted and failed to “persuade Mr Shah to his point of view”.

Ahmed can then be seen – on CCTV shown to the jury and members of the public sat in the gallery – reaching into his robes, pulling out a knife and moving round the counter to attack Mr Shah.

Mr Shah’s colleague Stephen McFadyen rushed from the back of the shop where he had been working and tried to intervene but Mr Shah was repeatedly stabbed in the head and body, with the blows continuing as he fled into the street.

Mr Shah’s brother Athar, a personal trainer who had been in the basement, rushed upstairs and dragged his injured brother away before trying to fend off the killer with the only weapon available – an advertising sign in the street outside the shop.

Mr McFadyen meanwhile bravely grabbed the knife from Ahmed and hid it in nearby bushes.

Their pleas for Ahmed to stop were ignored as he continued to punch, kick and stamp Mr Shah “with full force”.

Ahmed then walked calmly to a nearby bus shelter where he sat with his head bowed “as if in prayer”.

Advocate depute Iain McSporran told the court the pair conversed “intensely” in Urdu.

“His demeanour and gestures are at least consistent with his account that he was attempting to persuade the shopkeeper to his point of view,” he said.

“From what we can see of Mr Shah, he is responding but not apparently agreeing with the accused.

“The accused, having apparently not received the response he was looking for, reaches into the robes he is wearing and removes a knife with which he attacks Asad Shah, moving behind the counter to do so.

“Stephen McFadyen, who was working nearby in the shop, approaches and attempts to assist but the incident is fast moving and he is unable to prevent the attack, involving repeated stab wounds aimed at the head and upper body, continuing.”

He then moved to when the attack spilled outside.

“Athar Shah makes a valiant but vain attempt to fend off the attacker, wielding an advertising sign as the only available weapon but without effect,” Mr McSporran continued.

“Whilst the attack continued, with the accused kneeling on the victim, pinning him to the ground, Stephen McFadyen bravely reached for the knife and grabbed it from the accused, running across the road and placing it in bushes out of harm’s way.

“The accused then began punching, kicking and stamping with full force on the prone body of Asad Shah, who was long past being in any position to defend himself.

“Many blows were delivered to his head and face, despite Athar’s repeated pleas for him to stop.

“The attack ceased suddenly and the accused walked calmly to a bus shelter nearby where he sat, head bowed as if in prayer.”

The chain of events leading up to the killing at Shah’s Newsagents and Convenience Store on Minard Road on March 24 appeared to begin two days before. At that time Ahmed had been staying with a mutual friend of Mr Shah in Glasgow.

He seemed to already have an interest in his victim, asking his host whether he knew “Shah from Glasgow”.

It was at that point that Ahmed was shown for the first time Facebook posts made by Mr Shah suggesting that he was a prophet.

The killer returned to Bradford on March 23, leaving his friend with no reason to think that anything would come of the incident.

But the following day he was again driving north and during the journey used his mobile to watch a video of Mr Shah claiming to be a prophet.

The funeral of Mr Shah was held at the The Bait Ur Rahman Mosque in the West End of Glasgow

“Listen to this guy, something needs to be done, it needs nipped in the bud,” he said in a phone message at the time.

After the attack a passing GP and nurse stopped to help and Mr Shah was rushed to the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital but pronounced dead on arrival – less than an hour after the killer first entered his shop.

When police found Ahmed in the nearby bus shelter, he said: “I respect what you do and I have nothing against you and so I am not going to hurt you. I have broken the law and appreciate how you are treating me.”

In court, prosecutor Iain McSporran highlighted the “brave” and “valiant” efforts of Mr McFadyen and Athar Shah, who suffered a knife wound to the neck as he defended his brother.

He said: “In particular Athar Shah, who witnessed his brother being murdered and who bears a terrible sense of guilt at what he sees, quite wrongly, as his failure to help him, has suffered greatly both mentally and physically.”

Ahmed, from Bradford in West Yorkshire, pleaded guilty to murdering the respected businessman, who was described by his family as a “brilliant” man.

At an earlier hearing Ahmed declared that he killed Mr Shah in order to protect the honour of Islam.

He told his lawyer to release the unprecedented statement after appearing in court for the second time in relation to the death of Mr Shah.

In a move that left legal experts baffled, he had his lawyer read out a statement which accused Asad of showing disrespect to his religion .

It said: “Asad Shah disrespected the messenger of Islam the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him. Mr Shah claimed to be a Prophet.”

As explained by prosecutors, Ahmadis differ from other Muslims in their belief that the Prophet Muhammad was not the final Prophet.

The majority of Muslims believe this view is inconsistent with Islamic belief and many consider it heretical or blasphemous.

Ahmed said he murdered Mr Shah – who was granted asylum when he moved to Glasgow from Pakistan to escape violence in 1998 – not because he was an Ahmadi Muslim however, but because of specific comments he made on social media.

Evidence gathered showed Mr Shah had posted videos on Facebook and YouTube which could be seen as him claiming that he was a Prophet.

The court heard Ahmed was not motivated by malice towards Ahmadi Muslims as a group, but by his offence at Mr Shah’s comments.

The shopkeeper regularly posted messages and video clips online which the Crown said gave “little doubt that he was claiming to be a messenger of God and a prophet”.

Hours before the attack, Mr Shah had posted a Facebook message wishing all Christians a “Happy Easter”.

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon attended a vigil for Mr Shah

Mr Shah’s family said a person’s religion, ethnicity or race never mattered to the shopkeeper, who treated everyone with kindness and respect.

They said: “Our love for all mankind and hope for a better world in which we can all live in peace and harmony, as so emphatically embodied by Asad, will endure and prevail.

“Asad left us a tremendous gift and we must continue to honour that gift by loving and taking care of one another.”

The parents of Mr Shah said they moved to Scotland from Pakistan because “we never thought that we could be in danger here”.

As Ahmadi Muslims they said they faced religious hatred and discrimination in their homeland and sought refuge in Glasgow.

Many people enjoyed visiting Mr Shah in his store and chatting to him daily

His parents said: “We brought our children to this country to seek refuge from Pakistan in 1991 fleeing persecution, religious hatred, discrimination and a danger to our lives because we were Ahmadis.

“We never thought that we could be in danger here.

“We feel imprisoned by our pain and suffering and we have little hope of ever having a normal life again.

“Most of the family, unable to live with this turmoil, pain and fear, has taken a decision to leave Scotland forever.”

Two decades on, they said the faith-motivated stabbing of their son as he served behind the counter of the family store has brought “an immense sense of guilt” and a renewed sense of fear for their safety.

But Ahmed said his actions had nothing to do with Christianity, claiming to “love and respect” Jesus Christ.

Asad was described as a pillar of the community. A silent vigil held outside his shop 24 hours after his death was attended by hundreds of people, including First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

source: http://www.mirror.co.uk/

PH driver facing ban after illegally picking up undercover council workers

A private-hire driver could be stripped of his licence after admitting illegally accepting a fare from enforcement officers masquerading as potential clients.

As a licensed minicab driver, Kulwant Cheema was authorised to take pre-booked passengers but prohibited from accepting anyone flagging him down from the side of the road.

But he admitted to magistrates he did pick up the pair from Cleveland Street, in Wolverhampton city centre, in November last year and agreed to take them to The Mount Hotel, Tettenhall.

Appearing at Wolverhampton Magistrates Court on Tuesday, Cheema, said: “I saw them waving frantically. It was a bitterly cold night.

“I did say to them they should have booked before we pulled off. I thought that is what they were doing because one of them was on their phone and you can do it through a text.”

The enforcement officers from Wolverhampton council were in fact sending a text message to their colleagues who were at the roadside to greet Cheema when the taxi arrived at its destination.

An interview was arranged at which Cheema, an experienced taxi driver of eight years standing, said he picked up the pair because he ‘felt sorry for them’ as they looked cold and ‘in desperate need’ of a taxi.

He added: “During the journey I actually received a job on the system. I pressed it thinking it was the one the passengers had booked but the screen went blank.

“I thought once I was at the hotel I would check the screen.”

At court Cheema admitted one count of plying for hire when the carriage was not licensed as a public hackney carriage and also to one count of driving without insurance.

He was fined a total of £460 for the two offences, told to pay £629 towards prosecution costs and a £35 victim surcharge. Six penalty points were also put on his driving licence.

The chair of the magistrate’s bench, who refused to give his name to the Express & Star, told Cheema: “You know as well I do for passengers to use a private hire taxi they must have booked in advance. You cannot get into the cab and then book it.

“You also know that you were driving without insurance. This will be a hard lesson to learn for you but it is done to protect the public and other taxi drivers.

“Undoubtedly the council will want to talk to you about your taxi licence. It is a silly thing to do and you will have to suffer the consequences for it.”

Read more at http://www.expressandstar.com/