A limousine firm which takes youngsters to school proms across the region has received a £1,000 court bill after being caught in a sting operation without a private hire licence or valid insurance.
Council officers swooped after a father who wanted to book a vehicle for his daughter’s school prom asked if Dudley-based Splash Limousines was licensed.
When licensing officials then made a booking they found the firm did not have a licence to operate private hire vehicles, Dudley Magistrates Court heard.
The insurance policies, which stated they covered private hire cars, therefore became invalid, said Mr Tim Holder, prosecuting. The firm is run by Lee Jeavons and Rachel Marson, who said they could end up going out of business as a result of the court hearing.
Marson and Jeavons, who drove the limousine, told magistrates they believed they were covered by the insurance and said council officials told them the auth-ority did not license limousines, so they thought they could continue operating.
Mr Shabir Qureshi, defending, said: “Five years ago there was a lot of talk among other limo companies that a private hire licence may be required, but Miss Marson was given the clear impression that there was no need for this in Dudley.”
But enforcement officer Trevor Parkes said the council had started licensing limousines three years ago due to a change in the law. He said they should have been aware of this and needed to apply for a new licence. But the couple claimed all they had been sent was information relating to taxis and Hackney carriages.
Jeavons, 32, of Pensnett Road, Dudley, admitted using a vehicle without third party insurance and driving and operating a private hire vehicle without a licence. Marson, 28, of Greenfield Road, Kingswinford, admitted permitting the use of a vehicle with no insurance, and operating a private hire vehicle without a licence.
They were each fined £300, ordered to pay £200 costs and a £15 victim surcharge. Six points were put on their driving licences.