To regulate or not to regulate? EU to launch study on Uber

The European Commission will launch a study in September of the ride-hailing app Uber in an effort to settle legal disputes that have pitched the U.S. start-up against conventional taxis across Europe, three people familiar with the matter said on Friday.

Since opening in Paris in 2011, San Francisco-based Uber has run into vehement opposition from taxi drivers, who complain it competes unfairly by bypassing local laws on licensing and safety.

Uber has responded by submitting complaints to the European Commission against German and Spanish court bans, as well as a new French law on taxis.

The study will attempt to determine the legal instruments Brussels might use to decide whether Uber is a transport service or just a digital service, an EU official said.

Uber argues it is a digital platform that connects willing drivers with customers. Being considered a transport service might make it subject to stricter rules on licensing, insurance and safety.

The study will review the regulatory regimes for taxi services in all member states and assess if an EU-wide framework is needed. Currently, taxis and vehicle-with-chauffeur services are regulated at a national level.

“This investigation appears to indicate that the European Commission believes that the manner in which the taxi and private hire sectors are currently regulated in some member states is dysfunctional and is no longer fit for purpose, not to mention new barriers to entry for innovative, technology-based services such as ridesharing,” an Uber spokeswoman said.

The study will run in parallel with a case at the European Union’s top court that could set a precedent for legal battles across the continent. However, it is likely the European Court of Justice will rule before the completion of the study, expected around June next year.

In the meantime, the Commission will also continue assessing the complaints against France, Germany and Spain. In May, the Commission asked France for more information on its new taxi law, which Uber says favours regular taxis at its expense.

The Commission has previously said it welcomes innovative services such as Uber as part of the so-called sharing economy – where individuals are put in touch with others offering services, such as travel or accommodation.

However, businesses such as Uber should not circumvent national laws on taxation, safety and social aspects, EU Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc said in a letter to a member of the European Parliament in February.

The sharing economy has flummoxed policymakers, torn between promoting innovative services and ensuring that incumbent industries can still compete on fair grounds. “There needs to be a middle way”, said an EU official.

(Reporting by Julia Fioretti; Editing by Dan Grebler)

source: http://uk.reuters.com/

Taxi driver’s licence revoked following sexual assault allegation

Warrington Crown Court

A COURT has upheld the council’s decision to revoke a taxi driver’s licence after he was accused of sexually assaulting a passenger.

Recorder David Williams ruled in favour of the council following an appeal at Warrington Crown Court on Friday.

The court heard how members of the Taxi Licensing Sub-Committee made the decision to suspend the licence of Shafiq Nadeem, of Jefferson Drive, Chapelford.

This was after two separate allegations of inappropriate behaviour came to light.

But Mr Nadeem denied both incidents and accused the passengers of being upset over the taxi fare.

The dad-of-four was accused of acting inappropriately towards a teenager while he drove her home on December 18, 2011, in the early hours of the morning.

Mr Nadeem allegedly told the complainant, who was aged 18 or 19 at the time, that she was beautiful, asked her if she had a boyfriend and asked her to get into the front seat of the car – making her feel uncomfortable.

No further action was taken by the council following the first complaint four years ago due to a lack of evidence.

A second incident was investigated in February 2014 after a woman accused the taxi driver of grabbing her breast.

While the Crown Prosecution Service ruled there was in sufficient evidence to take the matter to the criminal courts, the Taxi Licensing Sub-Committee made the decision to revoke his licence.

This decision was successfully appealed at Halton Magistrates’ Court by Mr Nadeem in October 2014.

But the council decided to appeal against the magistrates’ ruling as it was argued that the ‘wrong tests’ were applied.

Malcolm Hope, who was acting on behalf of the council, said that Mr Nadeem could no longer work as a taxi driver as he was not a ‘fit and proper person’ to hold the licence.

He said: “In both of these cases there were young ladies in your cab and you fancied them and fancied your chances.

“There was no consequence for the first complainant and no further action from the local authority and police so you tried again with another.”

Mr Hope also denied that there was a dispute over the fare as the money was paid in full by both complainants, who are not known to each other.

But Maria Muller, who was acting on behalf of Mr Nadeem, argued that on both occasions the women had been drinking and that the incidents did not happen.

She said: “Mr Nadeem has had his licence for a long time. Even since his licence has been reinstated, he has been driving for over a year with no complaints.

“He has no previous convictions and is a man of good character.”

But Recorder Williams ruled that Mr Nadeem was not a fit and proper person to hold a taxi licence.

He said: “Incidents of this nature automatically disqualify Mr Nadeem from driving a public vehicle.

“If he was to go before a taxi licensing authority he would not be issued with a licence.”

Note: The council refused to release details of Mr Nadeem’s age.

source: http://www.warringtonguardian.co.uk/

Judge makes an example of fake cabbie… with jail term

A judge made an example of a fake taxi driver by jailing him for 21 months.

He also banned Waseem Akhtar, 32, from sitting in the front seat of a taxi by imposing a criminal behaviour order, successor to the old-style Asbo.

Akhtar pleaded guilty to six counts of fraud relating to taxi licensing.

He passed off a car as a taxi on classified advertising website Gumtree and sold it for more than £2,000 with false documents.

He also posed as a taxi driver and used an Audi which had a false Gedling Borough Council plate.

And he defrauded a cab company into renting him a Skoda, because he claimed his taxi was damaged and in for repair.

He repeated the offence days later, Nottingham Crown Court heard yesterday.

Recorder Paul Manntold Akhtar: “You were posing as a taxi driver to innocent members of the public, who were not to know if you had an accident you were not insured, nor were there safety checks to your vehicle.

“I’m afraid it’s time to pay the price. This is a case where the court has to make an example of you, so legitimate taxi drivers can see why it is so important, so they stay on the right side of the law.”

Akhtar, of Dovedale Road, Bakersfield, had never been a taxi driver for Gedling Borough Council. But he sold his vehicle, claiming it was licensed with the council.

He tampered with the licence plate to change the date and produced a fake paper licence in order to make a profit.

Although the plates may have appeared convincing to the public, an alert member of staff from the borough council’s licensing department spotted something was wrong.

Akhtar was a repeat fraud offender. He had been jailed in 2013 for six months for falsely claiming he held a taxi licence, following previous convictions for the same offence.

Councillor John Clarke, leader of Gedling Borough Council, said: “Our staff spotted the fake plate immediately and this sentence will act as a deterrent to anyone thinking about doing something similar.

“When we get into a taxi, we trust them to be properly licensed, so we want to assure residents that we will continue to be vigilant against this. If anyone sees anything irregular, we ask them to report it to us.”

Read more: http://www.nottinghampost.com/

Taxi driver jailed for drugs offences

Anthony Patrick Davis of Rordin Heights, Brackenhall, who was jailed for 21 months at Leeds Crown Court for drugs offences.

60-year-old was desperately short of money

A taxi driver caught transporting drugs in his car has been jailed for 21 months.

Leeds Crown Court heard Anthony Patrick Davis was short of money before Christmas last year and would have received some cash for acting as a courier.

Louise Pryke, prosecuting, said police officers were in the Birkby area when they passed Davis who was returning to his taxi parked on the side of the road.

Because he looked shocked to see the officers they decided to go back to investigate but by the time they turned round he had driven off.

However, details of the vehicle were circulated and when it was spotted Davis and the vehicle were searched and a black pepper pot containing 48 individual drug wraps was found.

They were found to be 17 of heroin with a street value of £90 and 31 of crack cocaine worth around £390. He said he had been struggling for money for Christmas.

Simon Hustler, representing Davis, told the court he realised he had made a poor decision to act as a temporary courier for someone else when he was having financial difficulties.

He had consulted the Citizen’s Advice Bureau and discussed bankruptcy but there was a charge for doing that which he could not afford.

References showed he was a valued member of his community, that his actions were completely out of character and a jail sentence would impact greatly on his daughter.

Davis, 60, of Rordin Heights, Brackenhall, admitted possession with intent to supply heroin and crack cocaine.

Recorder Paul Miller told him there had to be an immediate jail term.

“It is clear from various testimonials you are highly regarded by many in your community but the inescapable fact is late last year you chose to involve yourself the carriage of Class A drugs for financial gain,” he said.

“You will realise the fact you were in financial difficulties at home is no excuse at all. I bear in mind your age and the likely impact of the loss of liberty on your family but there has to be a significant deterrent element.

“Addiction to class A drugs is the scourge of our time and a tragedy for thousands of mainly young people.”

source: http://www.examiner.co.uk/

Black cab passenger who broke driver’s jaw after refusing to pay £31 fare faces jail

Guilty: Antony Patsalos faces jail for the attack on the taxi driver

Ayanie Nageye told jurors he was left in tears and had to drive himself to hospital with a broken jaw after Antony Patsalos launched the assault

A drunk black cab passenger who got in a fight with his driver after refusing to pay a £31 fare punched him so hard he broke his door.

Antony Patsalos, 25, wept as he heard he could be jailed for the assault on experienced cabbie Ayanie Nageye.

Mr Nageye, who has held a Hackney Carriage licence for eight years, had picked up Patsalos and his pals from a boozy night out in Clapham, southwest London.

The passenger had run up £31 on the meter, but instead of paying he insulted his driver, saying: “You taxi drivers are d*** heads.”

He then barked: “F*** off, I’m not going to pay you anything,” before launching the assault, the Old Bailey heard.

Mr Nageye told jurors he was left in tears and had to drive himself to hospital with a broken jaw.

Patsalos claimed it was the taxi driver who was the aggressor during the scuffle in Balham, south London, in the early hours of 8 June last year.

But the jury found him guilty of inflicting grievous bodily harm by unanimous verdict.

Mr Recorder Lawrence Cohen QC adjourned sentencing until 2 October.

The judge asked the prosecution to obtain a medical report on the victim’s injury before he decided whether to send Patsalos to prison.

Mr Recorder Cohen said: “If it is a category two [greater harm] case I don’t have a lot of choice but if it is a category three case [lesser harm] then I do.”

The court heard Mr Nageye picked up Patsalos and two friends after they flagged him down on Clapham High Street at around 1am.

He dropped off a male passenger before driving on with Patsalos and a woman, Eva Shields, to Old Bridge Road, in Balham, south London.

Mr Nageye said he was offered just £20 of the £31 fare by Ms Shields before he let them both out of the cab.

He told the court an argument erupted as all three stood on the street before Patsalos punched him in the face as he tried to get back into his taxi.

“I started to go back to my cab to leave,” said the driver.

“He went to the back of my taxi and I never thought he was going to do anything. I was not expecting anything.

“Then I found out that he was preparing to hit me deliberately while I was opening the door looking down.

“I was trying to get in my taxi and he hit me on my jaw on the left so that shows I was opening the door.”

“I was crying. Immediately I called 999, I drove by myself to the hospital and they told me I had a fractured jaw.”

But Patsalos, who admitted he was drunk at the time of the fight, insisted he had done nothing wrong.

He claimed there was due to be a third drop-off in Clapham and the £20 had been Ms Shields’ contribution to the full fare.

“As I was getting out of the cab I was aware the taxi man then got out of his cab and he was being slightly aggressive in the way he was talking,” said Patsalos.

“I said to him I’m not going to not pay you, I just want to say goodbye to my friend.”

The defendant continued: “I did see that he took off his shoes, sandal type shoes, and placed them neatly underneath the taxi.

“I felt threatened at that point, I felt completely threatened when he took his sandals off.

“It was all very strange to me at that time. Then he said: ‘Are you ready to do this?’
‘I was scared at that point. I was scared.”

Patsalos told how a scuffle started when Mr Nageye stepped forward and grabbed him around the throat.

“It was a choke, it was if I couldn’t breathe. All of a sudden my defence mechanisms came out in my body and I grabbed out as well.

“It was more like a wrestling match at that point.”

The defendant said the tussle ended up on the ground before a resident came out of his house and split up the fight.

“Maybe there were punches thrown by both of us, but I didn’t throw the first punch,” he added.

Patsalos, of Macaulay Road, Clapham, in south London denied a single count of inflicting grievous bodily harm but was convicted after a three-day trial.

source: http://www.mirror.co.uk/

Jul 27

NTA Annual General Meeting & Conference 2015

The Annual General Meeting and Conference in 2015 will take place at the Brittannia Country House Hotel, Palatine Road, Didsbury, Manchester.

Conference Partners

The format will be as follows;

Monday 26th October 2015

09:00 to 12:30; NTA Directors Meeting

14:00 to 17:00; Annual General Meeting

19:30hrs; NTA Chairman’s Dinner

Tuesday 27th October 2015

10:00 to 15:30 Conference

 

Booking form: Nta-2015-Conf-booking-form

Sep 02

To regulate or not to regulate? EU to launch study on Uber

The European Commission will launch a study in September of the ride-hailing app Uber in an effort to settle legal disputes that have pitched the U.S. start-up against conventional taxis across Europe, three people familiar with the matter said on Friday.

Since opening in Paris in 2011, San Francisco-based Uber has run into vehement opposition from taxi drivers, who complain it competes unfairly by bypassing local laws on licensing and safety.

Uber has responded by submitting complaints to the European Commission against German and Spanish court bans, as well as a new French law on taxis.

The study will attempt to determine the legal instruments Brussels might use to decide whether Uber is a transport service or just a digital service, an EU official said.

Uber argues it is a digital platform that connects willing drivers with customers. Being considered a transport service might make it subject to stricter rules on licensing, insurance and safety.

The study will review the regulatory regimes for taxi services in all member states and assess if an EU-wide framework is needed. Currently, taxis and vehicle-with-chauffeur services are regulated at a national level.

“This investigation appears to indicate that the European Commission believes that the manner in which the taxi and private hire sectors are currently regulated in some member states is dysfunctional and is no longer fit for purpose, not to mention new barriers to entry for innovative, technology-based services such as ridesharing,” an Uber spokeswoman said.

The study will run in parallel with a case at the European Union’s top court that could set a precedent for legal battles across the continent. However, it is likely the European Court of Justice will rule before the completion of the study, expected around June next year.

In the meantime, the Commission will also continue assessing the complaints against France, Germany and Spain. In May, the Commission asked France for more information on its new taxi law, which Uber says favours regular taxis at its expense.

The Commission has previously said it welcomes innovative services such as Uber as part of the so-called sharing economy – where individuals are put in touch with others offering services, such as travel or accommodation.

However, businesses such as Uber should not circumvent national laws on taxation, safety and social aspects, EU Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc said in a letter to a member of the European Parliament in February.

The sharing economy has flummoxed policymakers, torn between promoting innovative services and ensuring that incumbent industries can still compete on fair grounds. “There needs to be a middle way”, said an EU official.

(Reporting by Julia Fioretti; Editing by Dan Grebler)

source: http://uk.reuters.com/

Sep 02

Taxi driver’s licence revoked following sexual assault allegation

Warrington Crown Court

A COURT has upheld the council’s decision to revoke a taxi driver’s licence after he was accused of sexually assaulting a passenger.

Recorder David Williams ruled in favour of the council following an appeal at Warrington Crown Court on Friday.

The court heard how members of the Taxi Licensing Sub-Committee made the decision to suspend the licence of Shafiq Nadeem, of Jefferson Drive, Chapelford.

This was after two separate allegations of inappropriate behaviour came to light.

But Mr Nadeem denied both incidents and accused the passengers of being upset over the taxi fare.

The dad-of-four was accused of acting inappropriately towards a teenager while he drove her home on December 18, 2011, in the early hours of the morning.

Mr Nadeem allegedly told the complainant, who was aged 18 or 19 at the time, that she was beautiful, asked her if she had a boyfriend and asked her to get into the front seat of the car – making her feel uncomfortable.

No further action was taken by the council following the first complaint four years ago due to a lack of evidence.

A second incident was investigated in February 2014 after a woman accused the taxi driver of grabbing her breast.

While the Crown Prosecution Service ruled there was in sufficient evidence to take the matter to the criminal courts, the Taxi Licensing Sub-Committee made the decision to revoke his licence.

This decision was successfully appealed at Halton Magistrates’ Court by Mr Nadeem in October 2014.

But the council decided to appeal against the magistrates’ ruling as it was argued that the ‘wrong tests’ were applied.

Malcolm Hope, who was acting on behalf of the council, said that Mr Nadeem could no longer work as a taxi driver as he was not a ‘fit and proper person’ to hold the licence.

He said: “In both of these cases there were young ladies in your cab and you fancied them and fancied your chances.

“There was no consequence for the first complainant and no further action from the local authority and police so you tried again with another.”

Mr Hope also denied that there was a dispute over the fare as the money was paid in full by both complainants, who are not known to each other.

But Maria Muller, who was acting on behalf of Mr Nadeem, argued that on both occasions the women had been drinking and that the incidents did not happen.

She said: “Mr Nadeem has had his licence for a long time. Even since his licence has been reinstated, he has been driving for over a year with no complaints.

“He has no previous convictions and is a man of good character.”

But Recorder Williams ruled that Mr Nadeem was not a fit and proper person to hold a taxi licence.

He said: “Incidents of this nature automatically disqualify Mr Nadeem from driving a public vehicle.

“If he was to go before a taxi licensing authority he would not be issued with a licence.”

Note: The council refused to release details of Mr Nadeem’s age.

source: http://www.warringtonguardian.co.uk/

Aug 29

Judge makes an example of fake cabbie… with jail term

A judge made an example of a fake taxi driver by jailing him for 21 months.

He also banned Waseem Akhtar, 32, from sitting in the front seat of a taxi by imposing a criminal behaviour order, successor to the old-style Asbo.

Akhtar pleaded guilty to six counts of fraud relating to taxi licensing.

He passed off a car as a taxi on classified advertising website Gumtree and sold it for more than £2,000 with false documents.

He also posed as a taxi driver and used an Audi which had a false Gedling Borough Council plate.

And he defrauded a cab company into renting him a Skoda, because he claimed his taxi was damaged and in for repair.

He repeated the offence days later, Nottingham Crown Court heard yesterday.

Recorder Paul Manntold Akhtar: “You were posing as a taxi driver to innocent members of the public, who were not to know if you had an accident you were not insured, nor were there safety checks to your vehicle.

“I’m afraid it’s time to pay the price. This is a case where the court has to make an example of you, so legitimate taxi drivers can see why it is so important, so they stay on the right side of the law.”

Akhtar, of Dovedale Road, Bakersfield, had never been a taxi driver for Gedling Borough Council. But he sold his vehicle, claiming it was licensed with the council.

He tampered with the licence plate to change the date and produced a fake paper licence in order to make a profit.

Although the plates may have appeared convincing to the public, an alert member of staff from the borough council’s licensing department spotted something was wrong.

Akhtar was a repeat fraud offender. He had been jailed in 2013 for six months for falsely claiming he held a taxi licence, following previous convictions for the same offence.

Councillor John Clarke, leader of Gedling Borough Council, said: “Our staff spotted the fake plate immediately and this sentence will act as a deterrent to anyone thinking about doing something similar.

“When we get into a taxi, we trust them to be properly licensed, so we want to assure residents that we will continue to be vigilant against this. If anyone sees anything irregular, we ask them to report it to us.”

Read more: http://www.nottinghampost.com/

Aug 29

Taxi driver jailed for drugs offences

Anthony Patrick Davis of Rordin Heights, Brackenhall, who was jailed for 21 months at Leeds Crown Court for drugs offences.

60-year-old was desperately short of money

A taxi driver caught transporting drugs in his car has been jailed for 21 months.

Leeds Crown Court heard Anthony Patrick Davis was short of money before Christmas last year and would have received some cash for acting as a courier.

Louise Pryke, prosecuting, said police officers were in the Birkby area when they passed Davis who was returning to his taxi parked on the side of the road.

Because he looked shocked to see the officers they decided to go back to investigate but by the time they turned round he had driven off.

However, details of the vehicle were circulated and when it was spotted Davis and the vehicle were searched and a black pepper pot containing 48 individual drug wraps was found.

They were found to be 17 of heroin with a street value of £90 and 31 of crack cocaine worth around £390. He said he had been struggling for money for Christmas.

Simon Hustler, representing Davis, told the court he realised he had made a poor decision to act as a temporary courier for someone else when he was having financial difficulties.

He had consulted the Citizen’s Advice Bureau and discussed bankruptcy but there was a charge for doing that which he could not afford.

References showed he was a valued member of his community, that his actions were completely out of character and a jail sentence would impact greatly on his daughter.

Davis, 60, of Rordin Heights, Brackenhall, admitted possession with intent to supply heroin and crack cocaine.

Recorder Paul Miller told him there had to be an immediate jail term.

“It is clear from various testimonials you are highly regarded by many in your community but the inescapable fact is late last year you chose to involve yourself the carriage of Class A drugs for financial gain,” he said.

“You will realise the fact you were in financial difficulties at home is no excuse at all. I bear in mind your age and the likely impact of the loss of liberty on your family but there has to be a significant deterrent element.

“Addiction to class A drugs is the scourge of our time and a tragedy for thousands of mainly young people.”

source: http://www.examiner.co.uk/

Aug 29

Black cab passenger who broke driver’s jaw after refusing to pay £31 fare faces jail

Guilty: Antony Patsalos faces jail for the attack on the taxi driver

Ayanie Nageye told jurors he was left in tears and had to drive himself to hospital with a broken jaw after Antony Patsalos launched the assault

A drunk black cab passenger who got in a fight with his driver after refusing to pay a £31 fare punched him so hard he broke his door.

Antony Patsalos, 25, wept as he heard he could be jailed for the assault on experienced cabbie Ayanie Nageye.

Mr Nageye, who has held a Hackney Carriage licence for eight years, had picked up Patsalos and his pals from a boozy night out in Clapham, southwest London.

The passenger had run up £31 on the meter, but instead of paying he insulted his driver, saying: “You taxi drivers are d*** heads.”

He then barked: “F*** off, I’m not going to pay you anything,” before launching the assault, the Old Bailey heard.

Mr Nageye told jurors he was left in tears and had to drive himself to hospital with a broken jaw.

Patsalos claimed it was the taxi driver who was the aggressor during the scuffle in Balham, south London, in the early hours of 8 June last year.

But the jury found him guilty of inflicting grievous bodily harm by unanimous verdict.

Mr Recorder Lawrence Cohen QC adjourned sentencing until 2 October.

The judge asked the prosecution to obtain a medical report on the victim’s injury before he decided whether to send Patsalos to prison.

Mr Recorder Cohen said: “If it is a category two [greater harm] case I don’t have a lot of choice but if it is a category three case [lesser harm] then I do.”

The court heard Mr Nageye picked up Patsalos and two friends after they flagged him down on Clapham High Street at around 1am.

He dropped off a male passenger before driving on with Patsalos and a woman, Eva Shields, to Old Bridge Road, in Balham, south London.

Mr Nageye said he was offered just £20 of the £31 fare by Ms Shields before he let them both out of the cab.

He told the court an argument erupted as all three stood on the street before Patsalos punched him in the face as he tried to get back into his taxi.

“I started to go back to my cab to leave,” said the driver.

“He went to the back of my taxi and I never thought he was going to do anything. I was not expecting anything.

“Then I found out that he was preparing to hit me deliberately while I was opening the door looking down.

“I was trying to get in my taxi and he hit me on my jaw on the left so that shows I was opening the door.”

“I was crying. Immediately I called 999, I drove by myself to the hospital and they told me I had a fractured jaw.”

But Patsalos, who admitted he was drunk at the time of the fight, insisted he had done nothing wrong.

He claimed there was due to be a third drop-off in Clapham and the £20 had been Ms Shields’ contribution to the full fare.

“As I was getting out of the cab I was aware the taxi man then got out of his cab and he was being slightly aggressive in the way he was talking,” said Patsalos.

“I said to him I’m not going to not pay you, I just want to say goodbye to my friend.”

The defendant continued: “I did see that he took off his shoes, sandal type shoes, and placed them neatly underneath the taxi.

“I felt threatened at that point, I felt completely threatened when he took his sandals off.

“It was all very strange to me at that time. Then he said: ‘Are you ready to do this?’
‘I was scared at that point. I was scared.”

Patsalos told how a scuffle started when Mr Nageye stepped forward and grabbed him around the throat.

“It was a choke, it was if I couldn’t breathe. All of a sudden my defence mechanisms came out in my body and I grabbed out as well.

“It was more like a wrestling match at that point.”

The defendant said the tussle ended up on the ground before a resident came out of his house and split up the fight.

“Maybe there were punches thrown by both of us, but I didn’t throw the first punch,” he added.

Patsalos, of Macaulay Road, Clapham, in south London denied a single count of inflicting grievous bodily harm but was convicted after a three-day trial.

source: http://www.mirror.co.uk/

Aug 27

Job fear as Blackburn taxi drivers to be hit by new costs

BRACED: Taxi drivers fear the changes to the licence fee and points system could put them out of business

ANGRY Blackburn taxi drivers representatives will meet council bosses twice in the next few weeks to oppose plans to raise the costs of a Hackney licence and bring in a new penalty points system for mechanical vehicle safety.

The fear the combination of the two could put some of the 60 cab drivers out of business.

Blackburn Taxi Association chairman Mohammed Younis will lead a delegation to meet borough environment boss Jim Smith over the points system today.

On September 17, he and his team will be back in town hall to oppose plans to raise the annual licence fee for a taxi driver’s ‘badge’ from £64 to £84.

Following new government legislation, Blackburn with Darwen Brough Council will move to three-year licences costing £192 .

Mr Younis said many could only afford to pay yearly while similar towns charged less.

Preston charges £110 for a new three-year licence and £75 to renew an existing one.

Cab drivers who totalled 20 points in 12 months for offences such as not wearing his badge, or displaying door signs, could be banned from taking fares.

Mr Younis said: “Drivers are very concerned and very angry.

“The new three-year charge seems OK, but many drivers can only afford to pay it annually. They will have to pay £20 a year surcharge they cannot afford.

“Neighbouring towns like Preston are cheaper.

“The whole fees system is complex and confusing with hidden increases in charges.

“Taken with the new points penalty system, it is too much from many drives.

“I will be meeting to make the case for a reconsideration.

“After those meetings, we will hold a meeting to decide what to do next.”

Council taxi boss Jim Smith, said: “This new points scheme does not penalise the drivers financially, it is just a more formal way of making sure the taxis in the borough are in the best condition for customers.

“The council has a duty to make sure their drivers are fit and proper to hold licencess.”

source: http://www.lancashiretelegraph.co.uk/

Aug 27

Knutsford taxi drivers raise concerns about outside firms poaching fares

TAXI drivers from Knutsford have raised their growing concerns about firms from other boroughs who are taking their customers and threatening their livelihoods.

The problem, which has been apparently increasing for the last five years, involves taxi companies from Wilmslow, Wythenshawe and even as far as Rossendale coming to the town and poaching customers.

According to some local companies, the drivers are parking illegally all along King Street and approaching punters to offer them a lower fare than the one they have already booked.

A spokesperson for Abacus said: “There’s been a massive change in Knutsford for quite a while because of the way that taxis are coming in from outside, which they are entitled to do, but they are parking where they shouldn’t so when you go to pick up a fare the only place you can go is bottom car park.

“By the time you get there the customer has walked off, they have got in another taxi and gone.

“Our business is getting absolutely hammered because of it.”

Knutsford drivers believe that part of the problem is that drivers from other areas are accustomed to different rules and are not willing to respect the way taxi firms work together in the town.

The Abacus spokesperson said: “They do not park on the rank, that’s the law and they know that. But they won’t abide by our rules. They live in a different community, there are taxis from boroughs and it’s different there.”

According to the taxi drivers, cars which are only licensed to take pre-booked calls are pulling up and trying to poach their customers.

“These people seem to have no morals. They see people standing there and take it,” said Abacus.

The taxi drivers are now calling for more stringent rules and license policing in the area, to ensure that only licensed taxis are trading in the area and to ensure that they park in legal designated ranks.

One taxi driver, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “Loads of these taxis are parking up on King Street where there is no rank. Someone will go up to their car and say ‘are you my taxi to Manchester’ and they will take them.

“Then they have taken an hour booking at least! It’s a complete waste of time.

“I’m worried we are going to go out of work, there’s been a clear dip in business. It’s ridiculous.

“There’s cars that are unlicensed and working in our area.”

A spokesperson for Cheshire East Council said: “The licensing enforcement team is keen to identify individuals who flout the taxi licensing laws and, when provided with specific details, will investigate as part of programmed enforcement events and take appropriate action.

“There are occasions however where incidents involve drivers of vehicles who are licensed by other local authority areas and, in these instances, information is passed to the relevant authority for further action.”

source: http://www.knutsfordguardian.co.uk/

Aug 25

Private hire driver fined after trying to pick up customers off the street illegally in Coventry city centre

6938705977_0d226702c4_oCoventry City Council has prosecuted a Nuneaton and Bedworth private hire driver for illegally plying for hire and having no insurance – after a night-time sting.

The council says its is determined to clamp down on private hire drivers from other areas coming in to Coventry against the law.

Such private hire vehicles are not allowed to pick up passengers without a prior booking.

Council bosses say it affects the ability to trade of licenced taxi and private hire drivers in Coventry.

Peter Kumar Sidhu, 47, of Doebank Lane, Coundon was found guilty at Leamington Magistrates’ Court on August 14.

He was fined £400 for the plying for hire and given seven penalty points on his licence for having no insurance.

He was also ordered to pay the council’s costs of £2000 with a £40 victim surcharge.

The prosecution arose out of a joint night-time operation in January involving plain clothes and uniform police and officers from the Coventry City Council taxi licensing office.

Just after 11pm, the undercover police officers were standing on the corner of Croft Road, Coventry, when they noticed a Mercedes Vito pull up displaying signage for Edwards Taxi’s – a Nuneaton and Bedworth operator.

The officers approached the vehicle and Sidhu agreed to take them to Beake Avenue for £7.

Whilst en-route to his destination, Sidhu’s vehicle was intercepted by uniformed officers and directed to a site where council taxi licencing officers were waiting.

Sidhu admitted to picking up the passengers and stated he was doing it as a favour because of poor weather conditions and because he was going back that way.

Councillor Rachel Lancaster, cabinet member for public services said: “We are determined to clamp down on private hire drivers blatantly ignoring and breaking the law by coming into Coventry and picking up passengers with no prior booking.

“One of our top priorities is the health and wellbeing of our residents and this joint operation with West Midlands Police and our own taxi licensing team aims to protect the public as they are at risk, because these vehicles will not be insured if they are picking up passengers in this way.

“This sort of illegal plying for trade also has an effect on our own licensed taxi drivers who ensure they are fully compliant with our licencing conditions.”

Sidhu’s defence successfully argued there would be exceptional hardship if he lost his licence, so he was not disqualified by the court.

source: http://coventryobserver.co.uk/

Aug 25

Private hire driver ‘had shotgun and suitcase of drugs’ in car

6938705977_0d226702c4_oA GLASGOW private hire driver was allegedly found with a shotgun and suitcase full of drugs, the Evening Times can reveal.

The man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, has been banned from the road after the allegations were made.

He had his licence withdrawn by Glasgow City Council licensing chiefs after a complaint from Police Scotland.

It is alleged police found the firearm in the vehicle during a search on March 6.

More than four months later, it is claimed by the police that £25,000 worth of cannabis was discovered in suitcase and holdall, within the car in a Glasgow street.

Police Scotland had requested the immediate suspension of his licence in July, with yesterday’s meeting to decide how long this should be extended, if at all.

At the hearing, it was revealed his private hire licence was suspended.

The committee heard: “The private hire car driver’s licence was suspended on August 4 2015, with immediate effect for a period of six weeks, since it was deemed that his continued private hire car driving would be likely to cause a serious threat to public safety.”

He was one of three private hire drivers who had their licence suspended at the request of Police Scotland.

Another man was arrested last month in connection with a range of offences, including stalking and “indecent communication”.

Police said the allegations relate to two women – another private hire driver and a petrol station worker.

He is accused of “loitering in a way that caused fear and alarm ” between April 1 and July 8.

It is alleged he also showed pornographic images to the women.

He was reported to police. No trial date has yet been set.

Police Scotland had requested the immediate suspension of his licence last month and yesterday he “voluntarily agreed” for the ban to continue.

The third driver has also been banned from the road after allegations about his conduct.

It is claimed by the police that in July, the man picked up a female passenger at around 12.15am on July 23 before driving her home.

It is alleged he asked her “How much for sex?”

The passenger is said to have answered “no” and made a complaint to the private hire company, which is based on the South Side of Glasgow.

She later reported the incident to Police Scotland.

As part of his bail conditions he is now prevented from approaching the woman.

He has since been reported to the procurator fiscal and a trial will take place at Paisley Sheriff Court on Wednesday November 5.

source: http://www.eveningtimes.co.uk/

Aug 24

Cab firm fined by Derby City Council … for driving in taxi lane

Fred Richardson, owner of Albany Taxis

A cab firm boss has criticised the city council after one of his drivers received fines for driving in taxi and bus lanes.

Fred Richardson, 72, owns Albany Taxis, in Ilkeston, and his drivers have had two fines and a warning from the council after they were caught driving in the lanes in Uttoxeter New Road.

Mr Richardson said: “I first received a warning on June 24 and was a bit confused because it said that one of my cabs was in a bus, taxi and bike lane.

“My cars are hackney carriages with lights on the roof and are clearly taxis.”

Following the written warning, Mr Richardson received two fixed-penalty notices for his drivers being in the taxi and bus lane again, when dropping off and picking up a patient from the Royal Derby Hospital.

Mr Richardson said: “On August 7, I received two penalty notices, of £60 each, when one of my drivers went to the hospital to drop off a client then went to pick them up later on.”

After telephoning the council to complain, he said: “It took me a long time to get through to somebody because of the number of options I had to go through.

“When I did get to speak to somebody, they told me I’d received the fines because my taxis weren’t Derby city taxis and therefore weren’t allowed in the lanes.”

Albany Taxis are licensed by Erewash Borough Council.

Mr Richardson said: “I was really angry because my taxis are clearly hackney carriages. To get a fine because they’re not Derby taxis is just ridiculous.”

He later received two letters in the post – one for each fine – saying that the charges had been cancelled.

“The same thing happened to a friend of mine who owns a taxi company,” added Mr Richardson.

“There will be some people out there paying fines when they shouldn’t be. It’s a disgrace.”

A council spokesman said: “Some bus lanes have an exemption for taxis. However, this exemption only applies to licensed hackney carriages, not private hire vehicles.

“Where a hackney carriage is licensed by an authority other than Derby, such as Erewash Borough Council, those vehicles may only act as a licensed hackney carriage when their customer’s journey either begins or ends in the area where their vehicle is licensed.

“If that journey does not begin or end in their licensing area, they cannot behave as a hackney carriage in Derby, and so they may not drive in the bus lane.

“Penalty charge notices will be cancelled once the drivers give satisfactory evidence that they were legitimately using the bus lane as a licensed hackney carriage.”

Read more: http://www.derbytelegraph.co.uk/

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