Limo hire firm fined in court for having no licence

The boss of a west Cumbrian limousine firm has been left with a £500 bill after being found guilty of running the business illegally.

The proprietor of a limo hire firm based in Maryport, was found guilty at West Allerdale Magistrates’ Court, Workington, on Tuesday 10 June of driving a stretch limousine without a private hire driver or vehicle licence, having no operator licence and carrying alcohol on board for sale without a premises licence.

The prosecution was brought by Allerdale Borough Council in a joint operation with Cumbria Police and featured evidence gathered by a council officer who had posed as a customer booking Bell’s limousine service.

The court heard that on 31 January 2008 Bell had driven a white L-registration Lincoln town car at Derwent Howe, Workington, without possessing a private hire vehicle licence for the car or holding a private hire drivers’ licence for himself. He was also found to be carrying three bottles of sparkling wine in the limousine, intended for sale by retail, despite not having a premises licence to sell alcohol.

Outlining the case, Trevor Gear, Allerdale Borough Council’s Legal Executive, said: “Michael Bell is the proprietor of a white Lincoln stretch limousine which was not licensed as a private hire vehicle but was licensed as a restricted public service vehicle.

“The restrictions placed on the licence were that the vehicle must be used for carrying passengers at separate fares. He was not a licensed private hire driver or operator.

“On 28 January 2008, an officer of Allerdale Borough Council telephoned the limo firm and discussed hiring a vehicle. She was told that the price for four hours would be £280 or three hours for £220 and that this price would include two bottles of complimentary bubbly. She made a booking for Thursday 31 January at Workington Bowling Alley, Derwent Howe.

“On that date a police officer and the council’s enforcement officer were at Workington Bowling Alley when the white Lincoln town car 120″ stretched limousine drove into the car park. Mr Bell confirmed to the officer that he was at that location to fulfil the earlier booking. He was interviewed and three bottles of sparkling perry were seized.”

Magistrates heard this was the first offence of its kind for Bell, 41, of Peart Road, Grasslot. He was fined a total of £300 and ordered to pay £185 costs along with a £15 victim surcharge. The three bottles of sparkling wine were seized and destroyed under the Licensing Act 2003.

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