Caught red-handed operating an unlicensed ‘taxi’ ... A Wealden man has been fined a total of £1,650 by Hastings Magistrates, and received six penalty points, for operating his own unlicensed ‘taxi’ service.

Keith Martin Leigh of Belmont House, Durgates, Wadhurst, pleaded guilty at Hasting Magistrates Court to a number of offences connected with operating an unlicensed ‘taxi’ service. He was also ordered to pay costs to the Council of £513.90.

He was caught red-handed by licensing officers from Wealden District Council dropping off a paying passenger. The Council was acting on reports that an unlicensed driver had been operating in the Wadhurst area.

“Taxi services are licensed across the country to protect the paying customer,” said Councillor Nigel Coltman, chairman of Wealden’s Licensing Committee. “It requires drivers to pass regular medical and criminal checks, charge authorised fares and use vehicles which are fully insured and have been given a six monthly mechanical inspection.

“The law will not ignore people who flout these rules for their own selfish gain. Licenced taxis will always display the licensing plate of the local authority which supervises them, and the driver will have photo ID to show they are authorised to drive a licensed vehicle.

“If you have any doubts about the legitimacy of a minicab or taxi you have used, please contact your local authority. People’s safety may depend on it.”

The offences under the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976, which Mr Leigh pleaded guilty to were:

  • Failure to hold a current private hire operator’s licence.
  • Failure to have a current private hire driver’s licence.
  • Failure to have a current private hire vehicle licence. 

He was fined £500 for each offence. He was also fined £150 for a vehicle insurance offence and the Magistrates endorsed his DVLA driving licence with six points.