Harrogate Borough Council is warning taxi drivers only to pick up legal fares or face the consequences of a significant fine – a clear message to drivers who may be tempted to act outside the law.
The warning comes after a private hire driver was recently convicted of plying for hire without a licence after accepting an unbooked fare on King’s Road in Harrogate in the early hours of the morning. The driver, whose actions were witnessed by an Enforcement Officer, was prosecuted and fined £380, and ordered to pay £328.50 in costs and a surcharge of £38 (totalling £746.50).
It is illegal for private hire drivers to ply for hire, tout for business, or accept passengers who have not pre-booked their journey, as the driver may not be insured. All bookings for private hire vehicles (which can be identified by red door plates) must be made through a licenced operator. Only hackney carriages (with blue door plates and roof signs) are able to pick up fares from the street and taxi ranks.
Hackney carriage drivers are also warned that the town is monitored by Enforcement Officers and they must not loiter touting for business in popular locations.
Councillor John Ennis, Harrogate Borough Council’s Licensing Committee Chairman said: We have received a growing number of complaints from licenced drivers that their pre-booked jobs were being taken by drivers who were picking up customers illegally, resulting in lost time and income. Harrogate Borough Council takes this matter very seriously and we hope that the recent conviction sends out a message to drivers, who may act outside the law.
All taxi drivers must ensure they are aware of the rules and regulations which they must abide by. The vast majority of taxi drivers operate within the law, but the council will continue to monitor and will take action against any private hire driver who picks up unbooked fares or any driver who does not comply with legal requirements.
Passengers should also be aware that illegal pick-ups can put themselves at risk by invalidating the vehicle’s insurance.
More information on taxi and hackney carriages can be found at: www.harrogate.gov.uk/pp/Pages/Taxis-and-hackney-carriages.aspx