TWO taxi drivers faced questioning over claims they had driven passengers after drinking, while allegations an alleged unlicensed driver was advertising on social media have also been investigated.
Torfaen Borough Council licensing officers said they had “fully investigated” reports that drivers licensed by the council had been carrying passengers while under the influence of alcohol. The drivers, who denied driving while under the influence of alcohol, were both spoken to by licensing officers.
The investigations were reported to the council’s licensing committee in an update on the licensing team’s work between October last year and March this year, and councillors were told there has been no evidence to substantiate the allegations.
In December licensing officers were alerted to social media posts by an unlicensed driver offering lifts to members of the public with their contact details advertised.
A licensing officer made “several” attempts to contact the number to provide advice and left messages on both the answerphone and with the person sharing the posts on social media.
The committee was told as yet no contact has been established and the council hasn’t had any information to suggest the person has continued to advertise.
Six licences were also suspended, during the period October to March, for drivers failing to comply with the policy they complete six monthly DBS criminal records checks. All the licenses were supended until the drivers had complied. Two drivers also had their licenses suspended with immediate effect “in the interests of public safety” due to declared medical conditions.
In total the council received a total of 13 complaints about licensed drivers with the others related to alleged overcharging, vehicles turning up late or not turning up at all, and general poor service provision.
During the same period it also received 32 complaints about taxi or private hire licensing issues with 10 relating to vehicles such as private hire vehicles not displaying details of the operator, as required by the council’s policy and vehicles being dirty.
Complaints were also received about licensed vehicles not having MOTs. but the report said. while some drivers do opt to have a standard MOT. they aren’t required. Licensed vehicles older than a year are instead subject to a stricter test required for the council’s certificate of compliance to be issued.
The council has also worked with Gwent Police to check the conditions of vehicles being used to carry passengers.
In October licensing, police, and the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) held two joint operations, during which a total of 12 licensed vehicles were subjected to inspections.
Six delayed prohibition notices were issued for defects and one immediate prohibition notice was issued, while one driver was requested to remove window tint from his vehicle at the roadside.
An evening operation with the police in December saw five vehicles inspected and no major defects identified.
The council’s strategic director Rachel Jowitt also considered five late renewal applications and 11 applications in relation to vehicles outside of the policy in relation to hackney carriage and private hire licences. All but one application was granted under delegated authority. One application was referred to the licensing panel for decision, which was refused.
Other work by the licensing team during the period includes three open investigations into complaints about unlicensed scrap metal collectors operating in the borough.
They have been advertising on Facebook and the council has contacted them over the social media app but hasn’t received any responses.
Claire Howells, the team manager for licensing and trading standards told the committee: “Without specific vehicle details, it is very difficult for enforcement action to be taken as details of the vehicle owners cannot be obtained. Appropriate action will be taken if details can be found.”
Ms Howells also said she couldn’t provide details of a complaint about an alleged illegal street trader as an investigation is ongoing.