West Norfolk Council may have broken law claims trade body

New Taxi Rank within Sainsbury's Town Centre Car Park King's Lynn
LtoR, Clare Ward (Silena Automotive), John Stevens (Taxi Driver), Simon Nash (Silena Automotive), Jason Smith (Taxi Driver) ANL-150731-151846009
New Taxi Rank within Sainsbury's Town Centre Car Park King's Lynn LtoR, Clare Ward (Silena Automotive), John Stevens (Taxi Driver), Simon Nash (Silena Automotive), Jason Smith (Taxi Driver) ANL-150731-151846009

Council officials may have acted illegally by delisting a West Norfolk taxi testing station, an industry body has claimed.

The warning from the National Private Hire Association (NPHA) is the latest phase of the row over Silena Automotive in Setch.

But West Norfolk Council chiefs have rejected the suggestion, claiming the association has not been given a full picture of the dispute.

Silena Automotive was removed from the council’s accredited list of taxi testing centres last month in the latest phase of a long-running dispute between the authority and the proprietor, Simon Nash.

But, in letters seen by the Lynn News, the NPHA has urged the council to reinstate the site’s accreditation, arguing its decision to withdraw it may be unlawful.

It also claimed the authority was in breach of competition law, by abusing a dominant position, in delisting Silena and criticised the decision to issue penalty points to a taxi driver for allowing a mechanic to drive his licensed vehicle.

Secretary Donna Short said the move to strike off the garage would be illegal if it was connected to the movement of the vehicle in question.

She said: “Mr Nash is doing nothing wrong in law in this regard.

“It would constitute a commercial nonsense if every mechanic and vehicle tester connected with garages – or indeed personnel collecting vehicles from these facilities – had to hold a taxi licence.”

But the council’s chief executive, Ray Harding, replied: “I do not believe that we are at odds in our interpretation of the legislation.”

He also claimed the NPHA had not been made aware of the full facts of the matter, alleging that the person who drove the taxi at the centre of the points row was neither approved to undertake taxi tests nor employed by an approved business.

Mr Harding also claimed the decision to remove Silena Automotive from its list of test centres was not related to the licensing issue but to Mr Nash’s conduct towards council officers.

He said that had made it “impossible for the council to continue Silena Autos’ relationship with us as an approved testing station.”

Mr Nash claims the council has failed to comply with its own codes of practice.