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Following a case brought by Wealden District Council, a Wealden man who was operating an un-licensed taxi service has been fined £4,700 and disqualified from driving for 18 months.

Mr Ashley Hussey (48) of Parklands, Maresfield (trading as Village Cars), was found guilty by Hastings Magistrates’ Court on 1 December, in absence. His case was adjourned until 22 December for sentencing. As a result of his actions, Mr Hussey now has a criminal record.

Mr Hussey failed to attend both hearings and the court heard that he had his taxi driver’s licence revoked by Wealden District Council’s Licensing Sub-Committee in May 2017 for using an un-licensed vehicle. Also, there had been numerous customer complaints regarding the poor level of service provided to them by the taxi driver, with many left stranded and out of pocket following his failure to arrive and take them to pre-booked arrangements, including hospital appointments and airport runs.

Despite having his taxi licence revoked and receiving further warnings from the Council, Mr Hussey continued to trade as Village Cars and drive his unlicensed taxi, and his vehicle was logged in the vicinity of Gatwick airport on more than 80 separate occasions between August and December 2017. As a consequence the Council made an application to the court to utilise their powers to disqualify Mr Hussey from driving to prevent his continued disregard for the legislation.

“It is clear that Mr Hussey had a blatant disregard for the licensing regime and the service he provided to the public,” said Councillor Nigel Coltman, Chairman of the Licensing Committee. “Despite being given every opportunity to comply, and repeated warnings to cease his unlawful activities, he continued to trade and to let down members of the public. I would encourage people to check before getting into a taxi that it bears the correct identification markings showing it is operating legally and that the driver carries their official identity badge”.

All licensed taxis are subject to annual insurance checks and a full twice-yearly mechanical inspection, while drivers must pass regular medical and criminal record checks.

If you have any doubt then don’t ride and tell the Council’s licensing officers of your concerns.