The prosecution of four private hire and hackney drivers for contraventions over the last month has seen fines handed-out totalling almost £3,000 and the issuing of 12 penalty points.
The cases included private hire and hackney carriage (black cab) drivers – two of which were not licenced by Manchester City Council.
On the 16 February 2018 at Manchester Magistrates Court Nasir Ali, 33, of Oswald Street, Rochdale, pleaded guilty to ply for hire offences and driving without insurance.
Plying for hire is when a private hire driver picks up a passenger who has not made a booking – doing so may invalidate their insurance but also often means the driver overcharges the passenger as there is no proper record of the journey, or in some cases undercharges which - taking business away from drivers working legitimately.
Ali was fined £338, order to pay costs of £200 with a victim surcharge of £33 and handed six penalty points for driving without insurance.
During routine checks on Friday 18 April 2017, at approximately 9.30pm, council officers saw Ali, in a private hire vehicle licensed by Rochdale Council, drop off passengers in Manchester city centre. A council officer approached Ali, who agreed to take the officer to a destination and agreed a fare despite not having been booked.
On the 26 February 2018 at Manchester Magistrates Court Muslim Jan, 47, of Nevada Street, Longsight, Manchester, plead guilty to ply for hire offence and driving without insurance.
Jan was fined £450, ordered to pay costs of £1,403.46 with a victim surcharge of £30 and given six penalty points for driving without insurance – which resulted in a 6 month driving disqualification.
He has submitted an appeal to the Crown Court against his sentence and has also successfully obtained a suspension of his 6 months driving ban pending his appeal against sentence to the Crown Court
Jan was seen by Council officers in the early hours of Sunday 28 August 2017 outside the New Union Public House, near Canal Street – during Pride Weekend. Jan was spotted in a private hire vehicle talking to members of the public and two women got into the vehicle – at which point council officers approached and spoke to both Jan and one of the passengers. Both Jan and the passenger confirmed an advance booking had not been made.
On 28 February 2018 at Manchester Magistrates Court, Faisal Najam, 42, of Station Gardens, Stockport was fined for failure to pay a fixed penalty notice for smoking in a smoke free place (a private hire vehicle). The case was proved in Najam’s absence and he was ordered to pay £220 with costs of £145.07 and a victim sur charge of £30.
Finally, on 1 March 2018 a Rossendale licensed hackney carriage driver pleaded guilty to ply for hire offences and driving without insurance in Manchester.
Ayodeji Phillip Agunbiade, 37, of Watermans Close Moston, was fined £185 with costs of £350 and a victim surcharge of £30 – he also received 8 penalty points on his driving licence.
On Saturday 3 June 2017 council officers were carrying out inspections near the Etihad Stadium – that was hosting a Robbie Williams concert. Just after midnight Agunbiade offered to pick up a council officer on Ashton New Road, without a booking having been made. Agunbiade said he would drive the officer just over 5 miles for £30 – almost double the £17 a Manchester licensed hackney carriage would have charged. Agunbiade was driving a Rosendale licenced hackney carriage meaning he could only pick up passengers that had pre-booked their journey.
Councillor Nigel Murphy, Manchester City Council executive member for neighbourhoods, said: “We demand the very highest standards from all private hire and hackney carriage drivers in Manchester. When getting into a vehicle people put their trust in drivers, who have a duty to live up to that expectation by acting fairly, safely and responsibly.
"Illegally plying for hire in Manchester will not be tolerated. It carries a safety risk to passengers and takes legitimate trade away from those who work within the law. Let this be a warning to those coming into the city to operate illegally. We will pursue all those who break the rules in Manchester – even if they are licensed by another authority – and consequences can be both serious and costly to rogue drivers.”