A Newton Aycliffe man has been ordered to pay over £300 after operating an unlicensed hackney carriage and driving without insurance.
Durham County Council took legal action against John Armstrong, of Mellanby Crescent in Aycliffe, after he was found operating a school taxi service despite his car failing to meet the criteria for a hackney carriage license.
Peterlee Magistrates’ Court heard that the council’s licensing enforcement team was notified that Armstrong was using his vehicle as a hackney carriage even though it had recently been suspended for failing a council fitness test.
Investigations showed Armstrong had a home-to-school contract and was using his vehicle to transport a child to and from school.
Checks were then made on Armstrong’s vehicle, which showed it did not have a valid MOT certificate.
An MOT is not needed when a vehicle is licensed as a hackney carriage and has a council Certificate of Compliance (CoC), as the fitness test needed to obtain a CoC includes checks that would be carried out in an MOT.
However, if this license is revoked, the vehicle can no longer operate as a hackney carriage and an MOT certificate is then required as with any other vehicle.
Without a valid MOT or CoC, the council received confirmation from the vehicle’s insurance company that Armstrong’s vehicle was not covered by its policy and therefore not insured.
Armstrong, 67, pleaded guilty by post to driving a hackney carriage without a hackney carriage vehicle licence and driving without insurance.
He was ordered to pay a £180 fine, £34 victim surcharge and £100 costs. He also received six penalty points on his driving license.
Joanne Waller, Durham County Council’s head of community protection, said: “To use a vehicle for commercial purposes such as a hackney carriage, is it vitally important you make sure you have the correct licensing and meet the correct requirements. Failure to do so could mean that you end up facing penalties or legal action.
“This case shows that we will investigate and take action where we believe a person is using a vehicle that is unfit for use and without the appropriate license.”