Cotswold District Council has successfully prosecuted two individuals for operating a vehicle without a private hire licence and not fulfilling private hire operator requirements thanks to reports from a member of the public.
Cllr Andrew Doherty, Cabinet Member for Licensing at Cotswold District Council, said: “I would like to extend my thanks to the member of the public who raised concerns with us around this issue. As a Council, we take fraud of any kind very seriously and our Counter Fraud Officers will investigate all allegations of fraud and abuse to ensure we protect the public.
“Taxi and Private Hire Operators have had a difficult time over the last year due to the pandemic and the important work of our Licensing team and Counter Fraud team helps to ensure that only safe, licensed vehicles are operating in our district.
“I would encourage anyone with concerns around fraud and abuse to report any incidents to our Counter Fraud Unit.”
The successful prosecution was made possible thanks to a complaint raised by a member of the public to the Council’s Licensing team. The complaint was investigated by the Council’s Counter Fraud Unit Officers who made a booking with Mr Harry Eva’s company, Cotswold & Burford Private Hire, in December 2019. The booking was undertaken by Mr Andrew Whitehead, without a driver licence and in an unlicensed vehicle.
To carry out any private hire bookings, journeys must be booked through a licensed operator and carried out by a licensed vehicle and driver to make sure the service is safe for residents to use. Cotswold District Council ensures that licence holders undergo a rigorous application process to ensure that public safety is not jeopardised.
Appearing at Cirencester Magistrates Court on 10 May 2021, Mr. Eva and Mr. Whitehead were found guilty of the offences and have each been fined £120 and ordered to pay costs to the Council of £400 with a £32 victim surcharge.
The prosecution was undertaken by Officers in the Council’s Counter Fraud Unit, assisted by the Council’s Licensing and Enforcement team and Legal team.