Warning to illegal drivers

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LICENSING chiefs have warned illegal drivers they are risking prosecution after an unauthorised cabbie was left with almost £400 to pay in court penalties.

Taxi driver Henry George Dickman, 57, was seen picking up passengers from outside Alcote House, in Shotton Colliery, despite his vehicle not having a hackney carriage licence or being a private hire vehicle.

Dickman, of the village’s William Morris Terrace, who was not insured for private hire purposes, was fined £180 and ordered to pay £215 costs as well as having his licence endorsed with seven penalty points.

On September 20 last year, a transport monitoring officer from Durham County Council was observing the service provided by a private hire firm from Peterlee while they were carrying out a contract issued by the local authority.

The court heard the officer saw Dickman picking up passengers as part of the contract issued by the council’s transport services section.

Dickman, who pleaded guilty by post, said in mitigation that he had used his own car because the step on the licensed vehicle normally used was jammed and he had been unable to contact the owner of the firm.

Laura Cloney, the council’s licensing enforcement team leader, said: “The safety and protection of the public is of paramount importance to the licensing authority.

“The council will not hesitate to prosecute those who carry out taxi or private hire work without holding the required vehicle licence and insurance, potentially endangering members of the public. It is hoped that this case serves as a warning to others.”