A CARMARTHEN man was caught providing an illegal taxi service to a group of men returning from a golfing trip to Portugal.
Jason Vaughan, of Rydal Mount, Johnstown, was pulled over on the A48 between Pont Abraham and Cross Hands in October 2018, as part of a joint operation between Carmarthenshire County Council licensing officers and Dyfed-Powys Police.
Vaughan was driving a black Peugeot Eurobus emblazoned with taxi markings as a Hackney Carriage, including door stickers, taxi plate and taxi roof sign.
However, known to the licensing officers, it was quickly established that he did not hold a taxi badge authorising him to drive a licensed Hackney Carriage or private hire vehicle – an offence he had been warned about just a few months before.
When questioned by officers about why he had picked up the seven fare-paying passengers from Bristol Airport that evening, he said: “needs must, needed to pick up the boys”.
In interview under caution, Vaughan admitted the offence, saying he thought he would be covered by his insurance.
Carmarthenshire County Council, as a licensing authority, instigated a prosecution against Vaughan as an individual, and against his business JRV Cars Ltd.
The case was heard at Llanelli Magistrates Court on Friday, March 29, where he was convicted in his absence.
For driving a private hire vehicle without a licence he received a £750 fine, with £444.27 costs and £75 victim surcharge.
His company, JRV Cars Ltd, was also fined £750, with £444.27 costs and £75 victim surcharge, for allowing an unlicensed driver to drive a private hire vehicle.
Both offences were committed under section 146 of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976.
Cllr Philip Hughes, Executive Board Member for enforcement, said: “As fare-paying passengers, members of the public should have complete confidence in taxi and private hire services.
“Proper licensing ensures that drivers are fully checked, and vehicles are roadworthy – it is not acceptable for someone to take money from people, and potentially put them at risk, just to avoid going through the proper licensing process.”
West Wales protesters join Extinction Rebellion
MANY people from west Wales made the journey to London over the past week to take part in the Extinction Rebellion climate change protests.
Some had set off weeks earlier to walk their way to London, distributing leaflets as they went. A woman from Narberth was the last to be arrested at Oxford Circus, while another protester from Eglwyswrw was among those held the longest in custody. She had locked herself onto the pink boat that had become a symbol of the protests, and an angle grinder had to be used to remove her.
A woman who walked 140 miles from Ceredigion said: “We met so much warmth and support, I wondered, where were the opponents? Everyone seems to get it, it was like I was doing it for them.”
The Extinction Rebellion movement is demanding the UK Government acknowledge the planet’s ecological emergency, have 0% net CO2 emissions by 2025, reverse policies inconsistent with addressing climate change and create a Citizens’ Assembly to oversee the changes required. The group started its protest on April 15, stopping traffic at Oxford Circus, Marble Arch, Waterloo Bridge and the area around Parliament Square.
The Metropolitan Police said that as of Monday (Apr 22), 1,065 arrests had been made and 53 people charged in relation to the protests. Organisers have described the protests as the biggest civil disobedience event in recent British history.
Late on Sunday, police had moved the last of the protesters from Waterloo Bridge after activists at Parliament Square and Oxford Street had been moved on earlier in the day. Another protest was held at the Natural History Museum, as activists lay down underneath the blue whale skeleton to raise awareness of the mass extinction of species.
Extinction Rebellion is holding a public meeting to decide its next course of action.
Police and Crime Panel to put focus on drugs and cyber crime
DYFED Powys Police Commissioner Dafydd Llywelyn will be pressed on what he is doing to tackle drug related crime at the next meeting of the Dyfed Powys Police and Crime Panel.
Panel members, representing the four local authorities in the force area, are keen to hear from the Commissioner following growing concern about County Lines and drug abuse in many of the area’s main towns.
The Panel, which has a duty to hold the Commissioner to account, will also be asking for assurances about fraud and cyber crime.
Members have significant concerns about these issues and are keen to explore the Commissioner’s response to them on behalf of residents in the Dyfed Powys area.
The meeting will be held at Pembrokeshire’s County Hall from 10.30am on Friday, April 26, and is open to members of the public and press. Proceedings will also be webcast, with an archive of the meeting available online.
Later in the meeting, the Panel will present its annual report.
Cllr Alun Lloyd Jones, who chairs the Panel, said: “Drug related crime, as well as fraud and cyber crime, are two main areas of concern for the Panel and we will be pleased of the opportunity to question the Commissioner about the plans he has in place to deal with such issues.
“We have heard so much through the media in recent weeks about the rise of so-called County Lines activity, and we know this is a worry to many people who we represent.
“We want a full and frank discussion about the matter and reassurance that we have the resources to deal robustly with those who are driving this awful trade.”
For more information about the Dyfed Powys Police and Crime Panel, including its membership, forthcoming meeting dates, agendas and webcasting links, visit www.dppoliceandcrimepanel.wales
Ultrafast broadband for communities through voucher scheme
COMMUNITIES in Carmarthenshire and across Wales can come together to make a bid for the Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme which can provide ultrafast broadband for homes and businesses.
The scheme, which is managed by the UK Government, has been given the boost of a top-up in Wales with the Welsh Government providing more funding to take into account the particular challenges caused by the country’s topography.
Ministers from both governments are now urging Welsh businesses and communities to apply as a group for the funding to get gigabit capable broadband.
The group must include at least one business along with surrounding premises. Two or more businesses can get together, or businesses with residents, to combine their vouchers towards the cost of building the infrastructure. Up to ten residents can get together with one business to create a group or community project.
Under the arrangements for Wales, the Welsh Government will provide an additional £3,000 for businesses up to a certain size and an additional £300 per residential property. This means that for group projects in Wales up to £5,500 is available per business, compared with £2,500 elsewhere in the UK. Up to £800 will now be available per residential property in Wales, compared with £500 elsewhere.
Deputy Minister for Economy Lee Waters said: “While the vast majority of premises in Wales can access superfast broadband, we know we must reach the final five per cent. There is no one size fits all solution to do this, and the Gigabit Voucher Scheme is an important part of our efforts to do this.
“I would urge communities without access to look at this option and see if it’s suitable for them. The vouchers would potentially give them access to some of the fastest broadband speeds in the UK.”
UK Government Minister for Wales Kevin Foster said: “Improved digital connections for homes and businesses is a central part of our modern Industrial Strategy which invests in skills, industries and infrastructure to build a Britain that’s fit for the future.
“Together with the Welsh Government we are working to ensure more people in Wales have access to reliable broadband speeds, supporting communities, enhancing access to online services and strengthening our rapidly expanding digital sector.”
The Welsh and UK Government funded £200m Superfast Cymru programme has already taken superfast broadband speeds to more than 733,000 Welsh homes and businesses commercial companies had no plans to cover.
Residents and businesses can check whether they’re eligible for the voucher and look up their postcode to find a registered supplier in their area. Further information on how to apply for the Gigabit Voucher scheme is available on: www.gov.wales/broadband
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