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Unlicensed Taxi driver fined after operating illegally in Reading Published Date: 18/04/2024

AN UNLICENSED taxi driver, who was found to be illegally plying for hire in Reading, has been hit with fines and costs of £2,900 and given eight penalty points on his licence.

Mr Saleem Raza, 63, of Cressingham Road, Reading, was found to be operating as a taxi driver without a licence and valid vehicle insurance in Reading Town Centre.

On 7 May 2023 in the early hours of the morning, Mr Raza parked on West Street outside a late-night food outlet, an area known to Council licensing officers for drivers illegally plying for hire. Mr Raza was approached by a licensing officer and agreed to take them to Tilehurst for £15 without the required prior booking.

At Reading Magistrates Court on 4 April 2024, Mr Raza was fined £1,000 for the offence of plying for hire. He was ordered to pay prosecution costs of £1,500 and a victim surcharge of £400.

The total of £2,900 is to be paid at a rate of £300 per month, the first payment to be made within 28 days. The court also endorsed Mr Raza’s driving licence with eight penalty points for the offence of using a motor vehicle without valid insurance.

Rob Abell, Consumer Protection Group Manager at Reading Borough Council, said:

“Public safety and confidence to use regulated and licensed taxis is of paramount importance.  Private Hire and Hackney Carriage customers are entitled to trust the person driving is properly vetted, authorised, checked, and licensed. 

“Unlicensed drivers who undermine that trust will be robustly dealt with to maintain public confidence and ensure safety in our nighttime economy.  The Council Licensing Team worked tirelessly to bring this complex case to court, and I am delighted the District Judge recognised the importance of it."

Licensing officers have again stressed the dangers of using unlicensed private hire vehicles. Residents are advised to only travel in a private hire vehicle that they have booked in advance or pick up a black cab, and to make sure the private hire or Hackney carriage licence plate is visible before beginning their journey.

They are also reminded not to be tempted by convenience, availability, or cheap fares, as unlicensed drivers have no safeguards in place, both for the individuals and for their journey.