News release from 13/06/2019

Private hire driver loses licence for picking up passenger who wasn't pre-booked

Private hire driver loses licence for picking up passenger who wasn't pre-booked

A driver has lost his private hire licence for picking up a passenger who wasn’t pre-booked – and South Cambridgeshire District Council is warning against others repeating his mistake.

During an interview with the Council’s Licensing team last year, 45-year-old Hussain Iqbal from Duncombe Street in Bedford said he’d picked up a fare without it being pre-booked with a licensed private hire operator. He admitted charging £8 for the journey.

The Council was initially made aware of this case via the driver’s operator. The passenger had made a complaint to the operator, but they had no record of the booking.

Because private hire drivers aren’t allowed to pick up passengers without a booking, his licence was revoked by the Council. Mr Iqbal appealed the decision. Due to timescales at Huntingdon Magistrates’ Court, this appeal hearing was not heard until last Wednesday (5 June).

During the hearing, Mr Iqbal stated that he had not asked his passengers for a fare but could not explain why he had confirmed this in his interview with the Council’s licensing officer. A further explanation from Mr Iqbal was that he was only confirming what the fare would be.

However, the judge said that Mr Iqbal was not a fit and proper person to hold a private hire licence and dismissed his appeal. Mr Iqbal was also ordered to pay a contribution of £300 towards the Council’s legal costs.

South Cambridgeshire District Council’s Lead Cabinet Member for Environmental Services and Licensing, Cllr Bill Handley, said: “It’s vital that taxi drivers stick to the conditions of their licence. Only licensed hackney carriages are allowed to pick up passengers by being hailed. Private hire drivers are not allowed to pick up passengers who haven’t pre-booked a journey; if they do, it’s likely that their insurance will be invalidated. There’s also no record of the journey being made, which is a safety concern for both drivers and passengers. Private hire vehicles licensed by South Cambridgeshire District Council have big signs on them that state ‘must be pre-booked with operator’ and it’s so important for passengers to remember this. Mr Iqbal is certainly not the first person to end up in this position – but this is a real warning to all licensed drivers to make sure they’re complying with their licence conditions. Not doing so could cost them their livelihood.”