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Gloucestershire Business News

Drivers admit illegally plying for hire in Cheltenham

Cheltenham Borough Council has successfully prosecuted two drivers at the town's magistrates court for illegally picking up passengers.

The first driver, Mohammed Heckbarally, is licensed with Tewkesbury Borough Council.

At around 8pm on Friday 17 March 2017, two Gloucester City Council licensing officers were walking along Royal Well Road in Cheltenham, when the Tewkesbury licensed private hire vehicle stopped after seeing one of the officers raise his arm as if to flag down a vehicle. The vehicle was not pre-booked through an operator.

Mr Heckbarally agreed to take the officers on a journey of their choosing, suggesting a price of £30. The officers got into the vehicle and the vehicle continued on its journey until officers requested that the driver pulled over.

Mr Heckbarally was cautioned and reported for the offence of illegally plying for hire.

On Monday 21 August 2017 Mr Heckbarally entered a guilty plea by post on the charges of plying for hire (without the licence for doing so) and no insurance. He was fined £100 for plying for hire, £300 for no insurance and received six penalty points. He was also ordered to pay £30 victim surcharge and £250 costs.

The second driver, Mr Mansour Khozani, is a Cheltenham Borough Council private hire licensed driver.

On Wednesday 15 March 2017 at around 9pm, two licensing officers from Gloucester City Council were walking along Albion Street, Cheltenham, when a non-pre-booked Cheltenham licensed private hire vehicle stopped.

Mr Khozani agreed to take the officers on a journey of their choosing, suggesting a price of £35. The officers got into the vehicle and the vehicle continued on its journey until officers requested that the driver pulled over. Mr Khozani was cautioned and reported for the offence of illegally plying for hire.

On Monday 21 August 2017 Mr Khozani entered a guilty plea by post on the charges of plying for hire (without the licence for doing so) and no insurance. He was fined £200 for plying for hire, £700 for no insurance and given 6 penalty points. He was also ordered to pay £70 victim surcharge and £250 costs.

Councillor Andrew McKinlay, cabinet member for development and safety, said: "During big meetings such as the festival, Cheltenham faces challenges including unlicensed drivers coming to Cheltenham to unlawfully work. This presents real public safety issues for people who get into unlicensed vehicles driven by drivers who are no properly licensed and checked.

"During significantly busy periods such as the festival in March, the council relies of support from its partners to ensure that such events remain safe and well managed. These two prosecutions are evidence that this partnership is effective in keeping residents and visitors to Cheltenham safe. I would like to extend my thanks to Gloucester City Council for their support."

Sarah Hughes, licensing enforcement officer at Cheltenham Borough Council, said: "These prosecutions highlight the success of partnership working with our colleagues from other local authorities.

"It also gives a warning to drivers who wish to capitalise on the additional footfall to Cheltenham during Gold Cup week that we will take action should they operate unlawfully.

"We ask that the public, when visiting Cheltenham, to either pre-book a private hire vehicle in advance through an operator or take a journey with a Cheltenham licensed hackney carriage vehicle."

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