FESTIVAL-goers are being urged to be on the guard against unlicensed rogue private hire drivers combing Capital streets for fares.
The warning comes as city council enforcement officers and police busted a bogus driver on the Mound at the weekend as part of a crackdown.
Witnesses told the Evening News how four teenage girls were told to get out of the silver BMW 7 Series on Saturday night as the driver was unlicensed.
Private hire drivers without licences will have invalid insurance and will have avoided vetting by police.
Tory transport spokesman, Councillor Nick Cook, said: “It’s positive that the police and council are investing time uncovering bogus private hire drivers, particularly during the busy festival season.”
“These unvetted rogue drivers could present a big public safety risk to unwitting passengers.”
“Genuine private hire drivers are subject to a stringent vetting process and the associated costs. They should not be subject to competition from unlicensed counterparts operating illegally.”
Tourists and festival goers watched as four police officers and a council official pulled over the bogus private hire at about 8.30pm on Saturday.
“They pulled over this one guy and I heard him say to his fare ‘you’ll have to get out and continue your journey on foot because your driver is not licensed’,” said a passer-by.
“He had Edinburgh City Council plates on so I don’t know whether they were fake or whether he just wasn’t the licensed driver.
“He also had stickers on the side of his car but the inspector said he could’ve just printed those off the internet.
“There were four teenage girls in the car and they were pretty miffed but at least it wasn’t raining. They got out and one said they might as well walk from there as it wasn’t far.”
Edinburgh Private Hire Drivers Association vice-chairman, Kevin Rafferty, welcomed the crackdown and advised the public to check driver IDs.
“Enforcement action on a Saturday night, when it’s a very busy night for police, is absolutely fantastic,” said Mr Rafferty.
“They’re keeping people safe and it’s reassuring to private hire drivers as well that the rogues out there are being caught.
“My advice is to look at the driver’s identity certificate and make sure the person driving the car is the same as the one on the card. If it’s not, call the police because that’s a bogus driver.”
Police confirmed 31 cars were stopped on Saturday – with 11 drivers issued with Vehicle Defect Forms for minor breaches of their licensing conditions.
A further two drivers were stopped from operating until other “non-mechanical related issues” were resolved.
Inspector Euan Smith said: “These operations will continue for the foreseeable future.”
Licensing Sub-Committee Convener, Cllr Catherine Fullerton said such checks are regular and added: “While the vast majority of drivers adhere to licensing conditions, we take breaches seriously and will take the appropriate action, as was the case on Saturday.”