Officers at East Cambridgeshire District Council are warning residents hiring a stretched limousine for a prom night, a day at the races or a birthday party to beware of unlicensed and unscrupulous companies.
The warning comes after a successful court action against the limousine company Skooters and it’s owner Mr Sooty Edwards from Haddenham who were fined £2,700 and made to pay costs of £3,493 for:
• Operating a stretch limousine company without a private hire operator’s licence
• Driving a stretched limousine without a private hire driver’s licence
• Using a private hire limousine vehicle without a current private hire vehicle licence
The company was caught following a number of complaints and an undercover operation involving officers from the local authority, Cambridgeshire Police and the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA).
Private hire vehicles operating without the correct licences or insurance are illegal and carry significant risks for passengers who would have not be able to claim any compensation should they be involved or hurt in a collision.
Unlicensed drivers will not have been subject to the required safety checks, which include a driving standards test and importantly a Criminal Record Bureau Check (CRB). Unlicensed vehicles will not have been through the required mechanical inspections and tests to ensure they are mechanically safe to use on the road and to carry fare paying passengers.
Elizabeth Bailey, Principal Environmental Health Officer said: “The last thing anyone wants to do when they are arranging an event or a special day out is worry about the safety of the driver or vehicle. In our recent case against the company Skooters, the vehicle, driver and company were all unlicensed, and despite repeated requests to become licensed, the owner failed to act on our advice, and carried on operating.
“Safe, reliable and licensed operators are not difficult to find. Anyone who wants to hire a stretched limo and has any concerns should contact their local authority licensing team to confirm whether the company they intend to use is licensed. Alternatively, the National Limousine Association advise on legitimate operators to book through. We hope this recent case is a warning to any operator who thinks they can cut corners and not licence themselves and their vehicles, and reminds local residents to ask the right questions of their private hire company.”