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Taxi driver worked illegally following licence refusal

A man has been convicted and ordered to pay more than £1,000 after unlawfully continuing to work as a taxi driver despite having been refused a new licence following a series of speeding offences.

On Friday 26 August 2022, Christopher Meads, 62, of Reynolds Way, East Challow, pleaded guilty at Oxford Magistrates’ Court to knowingly using his vehicle for private hire and acting as a private hire driver while not licensed to do so.

In court, the magistrates heard how in August 2020, following the speeding offences, Vale of White Horse District Council had deemed Mr Meads to no longer be a ‘fit and proper’ person to hold a joint Hackney carriage/private hire driver’s licence and had refused his licence renewal application.

In November 2021, the Vale’s Licensing Team then received complaints that a vehicle belonging to Mr Meads had been spotted picking up passengers in Market Place, Wantage. The incident, which was captured on CCTV, showed the vehicle still displaying its taxi roof sign and a council-issued licence plate, giving the impression to the public that it was a licensed vehicle.

Further searches revealed that the same vehicle had been caught on camera across Oxfordshire, Wycombe, Wokingham and Membury Services between August 2021 and December 2021.  Mr Meads was also offering his services as a taxi driver via an advert in a local newsletter, and this was confirmed when an investigating officer phoned the number.

In court, magistrates accepted Mr Meads’ early guilty plea and imposed a total fine of £500 and ordered him to pay £475 costs of and a victim surcharge of £50. Total £1,025.

Cllr Helen Pighills, Cabinet Member for Healthy Communities at Vale of White Horse District Council, said: “If someone operates a taxi unlicensed, they pose a serious risk to public safety as we will not have had the opportunity to check they are a suitable person to be carrying members of the public. This could result somebody being picked up and taken on a potentially dangerous unlicensed, uninsured and untraceable journey. It also takes work away from drivers who play by the rules.” 

Notes for editors

Vale of White Horse District Council prosecuted Mr Christopher Meads under sections 46 (1)(a) and sections 46 (1)(b) of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976. Section 46 1(a) covers a proprietor of a vehicle knowingly allowing it to be used as a private hire vehicle despite it not having a licence to be so used. Section 46 (1)(b) covers a person knowingly acting as a driver of a private hire vehicle without holding a licence under section 51 of the Act to do so.