Company prosecuted for illegal private hire vehicles

Published on: Friday, 09-May-2014

A private hire operator from Knowsley has been prosecuted for using vehicles which were not legally licensed.

William Sweeney, trading as Acorn Cars, was found guilty of three offences of operating private hire vehicles in Knowsley which were not licensed by Knowsley Council.

Licensing officers in Knowsley carried out a number of operations after concerns were raised that Acorn Cars were using vehicles illegally.
Officers booked private hire vehicles, either by telephone or in person at Acorn Cars’ business premises, and on all three occasions, the vehicle which completed the booking was licensed outside of the borough.

By operating in this manner, Mr Sweeney – who operated from Park Brow Drive and St Chad’s Parade in Kirkby - committed offences contrary to the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976.

Mr Sweeney claimed that the journeys were not private hire bookings, but part of a flexibus service, for which he was licensed by the Traffic Commissioner. However, the District Judge stated that Acorn Cars had done nothing to identify the bookings as a bus service and was using the guise of a bus service to operate a taxi service.

At Liverpool and Knowsley Magistrates’ Court, Mr Sweeney was fined £500 for each of the three offences and ordered to pay prosecution costs of £8,120.

A spokesperson for Knowsley Council said: “Knowsley Council will always take action where we find that businesses are operating outside the terms of their licence and the law.

“In this case, it was clear that Acorn Cars was deliberately undermining private hire legislation. As well as being illegal, this was having a detrimental impact on other legitimate private hire and taxi operators in the area.

“We will not stand back and allow any business to gain an unfair advantage over its competitors, particularly those who obtain the correct licenses from Knowsley Council and conduct their business in a responsible and lawful manner.”