A HALBERTON man pleaded guilty to the offence of operating a minibus without an operator’s licence in front of Exeter Magistrates.

The prosecution followed a test purchase that was carried out by Licensing Officers from Mid Devon District Council’s Public Health team following reports of an unlicensed Minibus operating in the Mid Devon Area.

The test purchase was carried out in June 2019 and it revealed that not only was the vehicle carrying passengers for hire or reward without the required licence, but that the driver of the vehicle did not have the correct entitlement on his driving licence to drive the vehicle. Furthermore, the minibus was not insured to carry passengers for the purpose of hire and reward.

Mr Davies, (59) was prosecuted for all three offences following the test purchase. He received eight penalty points and a £140 fine following the separate police prosecution and a two year conditional discharge for the Mid Devon District Council prosecution which was heard at Exeter Magistrates court on February 20, 2020. He was also ordered to make a contribution towards the costs of the prosecution.

Councillor Jim Cairney, Chair of the Licensing Regulatory Committee, said: “Licensed Vehicle Operators and Drivers undergo a thorough process of vetting to ensure that they are ’Fit and Proper’ to transport members of the public. They also need to demonstrate that their vehicles are maintained to a high standard. All of this comes at a cost and it is right that those operating illegally have action taken against them.

"Our Licensing Team is dedicated to protecting the public and the message is simple, unlicensed vehicles and drivers put the public at serious risk. Drivers are unchecked, the vehicles may not be roadworthy and they do not have the relevant insurance to carry passengers.

"At the time of this test purchase the Licensing Officers were very concerned that some of the seat belts in the minibus were not working and had the vehicle been involved in an accident, then passengers may have sustained serious injuries.”

Mid Devon District Council Licensing Officers regularly work with partnership agencies such as the Police and the DVSA to ensure that complaints relating to unlicensed vehicles are investigated.

Action will be taken to prevent them from operating illegally within the District to ensure that the public are protected and the livelihoods of legitimate operators is not undermined.

If anyone has concerns about whether or not a driver, vehicle or minibus is correctly licensed, they are encouraged to contact Mid Devon District Council via 01884 255255. The licence details can then be checked and if they are operating illegally, appropriate action can be taken.