A TAXI firm accused of using cars of an 'unacceptably poor' standard has vowed to fight on — after being told to shut down its operation.

UK Cars, based at Leeds Road, Nelson, has been told by Pendle Council that its licence has expired.

The firm's operating licence was revoked by the council last December but the firm continued trading after it appealed against that decision.

But at a hearing at Burnley magistrates' court this week, the council's decision was upheld, leaving the firm to pay the council more than £3,500 in court costs.

Business owner Mohammed Arif Chaudhry has pledged to take the fight against the decision to Burnley Crown Court.

The council acted in December over a 'persistent pattern' of taxis failing the authority's mechanical checks.

After spot checks in November, the council’s taxi licensing committee insisted that every vehicle in UK Cars’ fleet be tested again.

It said that if any vehicles failed the test, UK Cars operator’s licence would be revoked. The council said all the vehicles tested failed.

Neil Watson, Pendle's licensing manager, said: "The standard of UK Cars' vehicles has been unacceptably poor.

"They didn't make any improvements despite our very clear warning that they needed to.

"They took this appeal to court instead of accepting responsibility and making sure all their cars are always safe and roadworthy."

Mr Watson added: "We have written to UK Cars as a matter of urgency today to inform them they must cease operating immediately.

"Their licence has expired for the four vehicles they have been using as taxis and we will not be renewing it while they wait for this appeal."

No date has yet been set for the hearing on the second appeal, although formal notice of appeal will be lodged on Monday.

A statement for UK Cars said: "The magistrate's decision ignored private hire licensing law and Pendle Council's own conditions of use for private hire operators and the lawfulness of the decision-making process carried out by the taxi licensing committee.

"We consider this to be a grossly unfair action by the council as they know the magistrates' decision is being appealed.

"The council let our client operate while their decision was under appeal to the magistrates' court. We consider the decision to shut them down knowing there is a further ongoing appeal to be unreasonable and irrational in the circumstance.

"All vehicles operated under our client's radio system and his operator’s licence, as the council well knows, had current certificates of compliance and are licensed by Pendle Council."

Cllr David Clegg, who chairs Pendle's taxi licensing appeal, said: "We have to put the safety of our passengers first and we take a tough stance on this.

"We revoked their licence because there was a persistent pattern of their cars failing our mechanical checks.

"I'm pleased that Burnley magistrates' court has upheld our decision.

"As a council we have a zero tolerance attitude to operators whose cars are unsafe.

"Taxi firms must make sure their taxis are safe every day."

Judith Mason, the presiding magistrate at the Burnley hearing, said business owner Mohammed Arif Chaudhry had ultimate responsibility for the roadworthiness of the firm's vehicles.

Mrs Mason said: "There is no evidence that he fulfilled his responsibility, rather that he addressed it only following the council's intervention.

"It can be reasonably expected that the holder of an operator's licence should have more careful regard to safety and routinely carry out comprehensive checks.

"It is not sufficient to wait for the MoT testing of the vehicle. This falls short of the requirements of a fit and proper person acting as an operator.

"The legislation is there to protect the public and the council rightly protects the public."