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Taxi driver guilty of illegally plying for hire

Following a successful prosecution by the Council, a private hire taxi driver licensed by Woking Borough Council has been found guilty of illegally plying for hire in Guildford town centre.

In the early hours of 20 November 2016 the taxi driver took a 'mystery shopper', conducting an independent assessment of the Guildford taxi and private hire trade on behalf of the Council, on a journey which was not pre-booked.

The driver denied the offence and was found guilty following a trial at Guildford Magistrates Court on 27 November. He was fined £300 and must pay a £30 victim surcharge. Guildford Borough Council was awarded £1,000 costs.

Lead Councillor for Licensing and Community Safety, Cllr Graham Ellwood, said: "We are pleased with the success of this prosecution and our effective 'mystery shopper' exercise. This is the fourth such successful action we have taken this year which has come about from the hard work carried out by our licensing officers.

"It sends a clear message that we will not tolerate illegal activity, and if taxi drivers break the rules in Guildford they will be caught and they risk losing their livelihood. It also demonstrates we are committed to protecting the public by making sure that only taxis licensed by Guildford Borough Council ply for hire in the borough - as a private hire driver's insurance may be void when they take passengers without a booking.

"In the run up to the busy festive season, we want all members of the public to enjoy their celebrations and get home safely. We would remind people celebrating in Guildford to take one of our licensed liveried taxis home, or book a private hire vehicle through one of our licensed operators so as to ensure a safe journey home," added Cllr Ellwood.

The driver is a private hire driver licensed with Woking Borough Council and the owner of a private hire vehicle also licensed with Woking. At the time of the offence, he was driving this vehicle. As private hire vehicles licensed by Woking Borough Council can only accept pre-booked work from an operator licensed by Woking, plying for hire in Guildford is an offence under the Town Police Clauses Act 1847.

The driver also holds a separate private hire driver's licence with Guildford Borough Council. We will now be taking further action under his licence with us.

Published on Monday 4 December.