‘Worn and illegible’ licence cost me my business claims Fenland taxi driver

A FENLAND taxi driver claims his business was destroyed after Fenland District Council refused to renew his licence because it was worn and illegible - but the council insists that it has done everything possible to enable him to continue.

Keith Sturgess, 55, says he spent a decade building up his company Keith’s Taxis. But when he applied to renew his Hackney Carriage driving licence in 2007 he was refused because he produced an “old-style, green driving licence which was very worn and had broken into six parts, meaning that key parts of his licence were illegible.”

Mr Sturgess claims that although his licence was a “bit tatty” he visited the police station and the DVLA who confirmed it was his.

A council spokesman said: “We are not suggesting Mr Sturgess had points or any restrictions on his driving licence but we have to ensure that the licence document provided is current, up to date and gives the correct information. Given the illegibility of his licence, we were unable to make those checks.

“Within days of his application Mr Sturgess met representatives from FDC and was asked to apply for a new driving licence. Had he done this at the time, we would have been able to process the application.

“However, Mr Sturgess failed to submit the necessary licence in time. Consequently, we wrote to him advising that he would now have to reapply as a new driver because his old Hackney Carriage Licence had expired.”

Mr Sturgess, whose cab sits idle and rotting in the driveway of his Welney home, said: “I’ve lost everything. I can’t even afford to heat my house. I’ve worked all my life and now I haven’t got anything to show for it, all because of this.

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“I had a damn good business. I didn’t do it just for the money. I did it because I enjoyed being with people. I used to make sure people would get home at night even if they couldn’t pay me.

“I loved it. Taxi driving was a big part of my life and I lost that.”

In 2008, more than a year after his renewal application was refused, Mr Sturgess launched an appeal in the Magistrates’ Court but this was withdrawn because it had not been made within the 21-day limit.

The council spokesman said officers had met with Mr Sturgess to discuss his complaints and that no new application had been received from him since the refusal in September 2007.

He said: “Mr Sturgess could have applied at any time and his application would have been dealt with, as many others are on a daily basis. We have repeatedly invited Mr Sturgess to make such an application; it may well be that had he done so he could have returned to the trade several years ago.

“Over the past three years we have sent application packs to Mr Sturgess several times; recently we also delivered the application pack to his home address by hand to enable him to apply for the Hackney Carriage Licence.

“To date no completed application from Mr Sturgess has been received.”

Mr Sturgess, who now works part-time in a fish and chip shop, added: “It’s too late for me to start the business again. After all these years I still get some calls asking me for a lift. I have to tell them I’m not operating.”

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