On 4 October licensed vehicles were stopped and checked during a safety operation which targeted Hackney Carriage and Private Hire vehicles with suspected safety defects and licensing breaches. The aim of the operation was to proactively tackle vehicle defects found among licensed vehicles.
As a result, 15 licensed vehicles were stopped by police and visual checks were conducted by officers at the roadside. Eight of these vehicles were then identified as having defects that required further examination by the Council’s testing station – 1 MKC, 1 SNC, 6 AVDC.
All eight vehicles were then thoroughly inspected by examiners who discovered a number of safety breaches, including defective lights, tyre damage, bumper/wing damage and insecure battery. A number of licensing breaches were also found including no licence plate, missing door sign, no first aid kit, no fire extinguisher and damaged seat cover. In addition, one driver was caught smoking in his vehicle and one driver refused to allow his vehicle to be tested. Subsequently both drivers were reported to their respective Councils.
In a further operation, a private hire driver has been successfully prosecuted after being caught twice in the one night illegally picking up passengers - known as ‘blagging - in Milton Keynes.
MK Magistrates heard the case last Friday (4 October 2019) which followed a joint enforcement operation carried out by Milton Keynes and South Northamptonshire Councils in March 2019.
Zulqarnain Khan of Runley Road, Luton attended court and pleaded guilty to plying for hire and driving without valid motor insurance on two separate occasions in March 2019. He was found guilty and fined £120 for each plying for hire offence and £50 for each invalid motor insurance offence. He was given 12 DVLA points and also has to pay costs of £280, with a victim surcharge of £30. The Court did not disqualify Mr Khan from driving.
At the time of the offences his vehicle was operated by Speedline. Mr Khan is no longer licensed with South Northants Council.
The court heard that on 31 March 2019 Taxi Licensing Officers from Milton Keynes and South Northants Councils, acting as members of the public, engaged Mr Khan on two separate journeys, which had not been pre-booked, from one location to another in Milton Keynes.
Council officers did not alert any driver during the evening, including Mr Khan, that they were conducting test purchase checks which would explain why Mr Khan caught twice in the one night. Further investigation showed that Mr Khan’s vehicle was not insured for these journeys.
Cllr Mick Legg, Chair of the MKC’s Regulatory (Taxi) Licensing Committee, said: “Once again this is another case that further illustrates the problem of illegal plying for hire or ‘blagging’ that is going on in Milton Keynes.
“The offences of illegally plying for hire and no insurance are serious and put passenger safety at risk if an accident occurs. Private hire vehicles must be pre-booked through an operator before they can take a passenger.
“Our ongoing test purchase programme will therefore continue and I would like to thank South Northants Council for their support with these joint operations and for their swift action in dealing with this driver’s private hire licence.”