A taxi firm was caught using unlicensed drivers waiting to pick children up while out on a school run.
Fieldston Limited of Machen, and its company director Richard Graham Collins, also of Machen, were prosecuted following an investigation by Caerphilly County Borough Council’s Trading Standards.
The investigation was prompted by spot checks carried out at St Cenydd School by council officials.
During the visit, two private hire minibuses owned and operated by Fieldston Limited were found to be driven by individuals who were not licensed to drive Private Hire vehicles by Caerphilly County Borough Council.
Both vehicles also failed to display the plates signifying they were licensed vehicles. Further investigations also revealed that Fieldston Limited had also failed to record the details of contracts in their records.
Collins, individually, and the company each separately admitted eight charges under the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 when they appeared at Cwmbran Magistrates’ Court earlier this month.
One of the drivers involved, Raymond Charles Bartlett, of Newport, also pleaded guilty to one offence of driving a Private Hire vehicle without having a taxi driver’s licence.
The court fined Fieldston Limited £4,000 and ordered them to pay costs to Trading Standards of £900 and a surcharge of £40. Richard Collins was ordered to pay a fine of £3,200, together with costs to Trading Standards of £900 and a surcharge of £50. The unlicensed taxi driver, Raymond Bartlett was fined £330, and ordered to pay costs to Trading Standards of £120 and a surcharge of £33.
Cllr Eluned Stenner, Cabinet Member for Public Protection and the Environment said: “Drivers of vehicles licensed by councils to carry fare paying passengers undergo enhanced checks on their suitability to carry members of the public. Similarly, taxis are required to display signage confirming they are licensed, to give assurance to members of the public that they are travelling in safe, licensed vehicles driven by licensed drivers.
“Quite clearly, these requirements were not adhered to in the case of this company, and could potentially have caused serious harm to members of the public. I am pleased the court has emphasised the seriousness of the offences in the level of fine it imposed.
“Our Trading Standards team work tirelessly to ensure our residents are able to go about their lives in a safe environment; we simply will not allow the small minority of people who flout their legal responsibilities in the way this company and its director did to get away with it.”