Illegal taxi trade has been a major problem in Reading and as a result, the council has said that 21 prosecutions are being pursued. Nearly 240 warning letters have been issued to drivers by taxi and private enforcement officers, for breaching their licence conditions in the last year.
A report by the Reading Borough Council’s licensing enforcement team has documented the standard of the town’s taxi and private hire services.
Safety checks were made on the drivers and vehicles. 47 out of the 225 vehicles that were looked at, failed three major checks due to faults ranging from leaking brakes, bald tyres and defective lights. Some drivers did not having taxi insurance and additionally, a driver was suspended for having an out of date licence and now faces legal proceedings as this is his second time being caught without a valid driving licence.
Since the penalty point system in which drivers receive points if they breach their license and have their right to trade suspended if they accumulate 12 points in a year, fourteen private hire licenses were suspended for reaching maximum points.
Breaches this year has included 21 cases of illegal parking, 61 failures to display the required roof sign, 12 failures to notify the authority of a new criminal conviction and 67 cases of illegal plying for hire.
A senior licensing enforcement officer, Clyde Masson said “Even though illegal plying for hire has significantly decreased from the levels occurring prior to April 2008, it still remains a major problem in Reading”.
Masson explained that to catch private hire drivers, regular covert operations were carried out by the team to catch who were illegally picking up fares which had not been pre-booked. Drivers who were from other areas outside the Reading borough were prose