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Taxi driver prosecuted for overcharging

Published Tuesday, 18 November 2014

A Wellingborough cab driver has been prosecuted after overcharging a customer. Shafique Miah was ordered to pay £220 after pleading guilty to failing to use the taxi-meter in his car, meaning he charged more than the maximum fare allowed for the journey.

The borough council’s licensing team received a complaint about Miah, a Hackney Carriage driver, back in May. It was claimed that he had picked up a customer at the town’s train station and taken him to the council offices in Tithe Barn Road, without switching on the meter. At the end of the short journey, Miah told the passenger the fare was £5.

When challenged about not using the meter, Miah replied that £5 was the minimum fare from the station.

Licensing officers from Wellingborough Council investigated the complaint and determined that the fare was in excess of the maximum allowed under the set tariff prescribed by the council, and that not using the meter for the journey was contrary to the council’s byelaws for Hackney Carriages. The council prosecuted Miah for one offence under the byelaws for not using the taxi-meter in his vehicle.

On 17 November, Shafique Miah, of Alexandra Road, Wellingborough, pleaded guilty to the offence at Northampton Magistrates Court. He was fined £100, with £100 costs and a £20 victim surcharge. He will now be referred to the council’s licensing sub-committee.

Amanda Wilcox, Wellingborough Council’s Health Protection Manager, said: “This seems like a small amount, but overcharging is a serious offence no matter how much it involves. It is essential that the public can trust a taxi driver.

“Our health protection and licensing officers will not hesitate to take enforcement action against any licensed driver found to be taking advantage of members of the public, or not complying with the conditions attached to their licence.

“We would particularly advise anyone using a Hackney Carriage to ensure the driver sets the meter running at the start of any journey. The tariff of maximum fares must be displayed in every Hackney Carriage and drivers should not charge more than this amount for journeys within the borough.

“Anyone who thinks they’ve been overcharged should request a receipt from the driver, make a note of the driver and vehicle details, and contact the licensing team on 01933 231 966.”

The council is also offering advice on the differences between Hackney Carriages and private hire vehicles, and what people can expect from both.

Amanda Wilcox continued: “Hackney Carriages are yellow saloons or black cabs, and will have white licence plates on the rear of the car and inside. A Hackney Carriage can be flagged down on the street, picked up from a rank or be pre-booked. They will have a meter fitted and this must be used for every journey.

“A private hire taxi can only be pre-booked through a licensed operator and can’t pick people up without a prior booking. They don’t have meters in the cars and can charge any fare, which is why we’d recommend passengers agree a price in advance of the journey. Private hire cabs will have a yellow licence plate on the back and inside the car.

“Whether Hackney Carriage or private hire, people should expect a clean and tidy, smoke-free vehicle, in good repair, with a polite, courteous driver who wears their badge prominently and drives safely, plus reasonable assistance if required, for example with any luggage.”