Ipswich taxi drivers plead guilty to driving without relevant licences

The taxi operator and drivers appeared before Ipswich Magistrates' Court on May 30. Picture: SARAH L

The taxi operator and drivers appeared before Ipswich Magistrates' Court on May 30. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Sarah Lucy brown

A Taxi Operator and two drivers from Ipswich have been prosecuted by Babergh District Council for private hire vehicle offences committed in September 2016.

On Tuesday May 30, representatives from J R Travel Ltd, based at Little Copdock House, Old London Road, Copdock, appeared before Ipswich Magistrates and pleaded guilty to two offences of employing drivers without the relevant licences.

Magistrates ordered them to pay a total penalty of £1,140.48, including £300 of fines, a £30 victim surcharge and £810.48 legal and investigation costs.

The two drivers, Christopher Bates of Lower Street, Sproughton and Murugaiyah Gnanauthayan of Siloam Place, Ipswich, previously pleaded guilty to the offences of driving private hire vehicles without the relevant licences during a hearing in April.

Mr Gnanauthayan received an absolute discharge by the court due to mitigating circumstances, while Mr Bates was ordered to pay £330.

These offences came to light as a result of an investigation by Babergh, when it was discovered that Mr Bates had been driving without a valid private hire vehicle driver’s licence for all the journeys he undertook for J D Travel during September 2016.

The company had failed to realise that his licence had expired, and Mr Bates claimed he had also been unaware of this following a change of address, which he had not advised the Licensing Authority of. This meant that he had not receive his reminder.

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During the course of the investigation, it was also revealed that Mr Gnanauthayan had undertaken work for the company using one of their cars, despite not holding a driver’s licence with Babergh District Council.

James Buckingham, Corporate Manager at Sustainable Environment, said: “We are pleased that both the Magistrates and the company recognised the seriousness of this offence.

“Private hire drivers hold a position of responsibility and, when booking a private hire vehicle, residents place their trust in the operator and assume that the driver is a fit and proper person.

“By not ensuring that licences were up to date, JR Travel failed to safeguard their customers.

“I am pleased to hear that their systems have been changed and I hope this case will serve as a warning to other operators”.