Tueday 5.15pm: A Peterborough private hire driver has been fined and banned from driving after being found guilty of illegally picking up passengers in the street and having no insurance.
Zabi Ullah (27) was convicted in his absence at Peterborough Magistrates’ Court on Friday, January 9.
Unlike London-style Hackney cabs, private hire cars must be pre-booked through an operator and not ply for business on the streets.
Investigating a complaint in April 2014, council officers found he was doing exactly that in Peterborough.
The court was told that during the early hours of Sunday April 13 last year a group of young females had been enjoying a night out in the city centre and approached Ullah’s private hire vehicle, asking if he could take them to Sawtry. He agreed, quoting them £20. They had not booked the journey through his operator.
Witnesses reported that members of the group challenged Ullah after his driving became erratic. On reaching the final destination, with just one of the group left in the vehicle, Ullah was alleged to have refused to let her out, demanded more money, and attempted to drive away from her address whilst she was still in the vehicle. Being distressed, the 18-year-old woman shouted to try and get assistance. A neighbour, recognising the passenger, went to her aid.
Following complaints to the council, its licensing team launched an investigation and Ullah was summonsed to court.
Ullah, of Cobden Avenue, Peterborough, was fined £600, ordered to pay prosecution costs of £250 and a victim surcharge of £60.
The court disqualified Ullah from driving for 12 months as he had knowingly taken passengers, despite being aware it would invalidate his insurance.
After the hearing, Peterborough City Council public protection manager, Donna Hall, said: “We issue taxi licenses, check the condition of vehicles and investigate complaints to help keep passengers safe. Cases such as these demonstrate the dangers of getting into a private hire car without a booking.
“Private hire vehicle journeys made without a booking mean insurances may not be valid, which in the event of an accident could leave passengers without protection.
“In addition, as no booking was made, there is no record of who picked them up, when their journey started and where they were going.
“It is important people understand the difference between private hire cars and Hackney cabs. We will continue to crack down on any drivers who flout the law.”