Black Country taxi drivers call to keep cars longer

Taxi drivers say they are struggling to make ends meet due to rules stating they must replace their vehicles every 10 years.

They are asking to be allowed to keep their cars for 15 years to cut costs – and insist it will have no impact on safety.

The issue has gone before a Walsall Council taxi committee, but no decision was made as members wanted to get more information.

Drivers say it has been rumbling on for five years and needs to be resolved.

Walsall Private Hire Association chairman Zulfqar Ali said: “This could go on for months yet and it has already been dragging on for years.

“There would be financial benefits for the drivers as this is a difficult time for us and things like this make it even harder.

“There would be no compromise in safety for the people of Walsall,” he added.

“The cars have to be checked twice a year to see if they are roadworthy and it isn’t fair to stop us using a car when it is still in good condition.

“There are different standards for black cabs and it is very frustrating.”

Licensing committee chairman Councillor Keith Sears said: “We have asked officers to draw up a report and it will come back before the next committee.

The extension could be pursued, but my own personal view is that if we are not careful we will have a fleet of private hire vehicles that are old and out of date.

“If we do extend the lifetime of the vehicles there could be a need for an extra test to be carried out on them, so they would be checked three times a year.

“As a vehicle gets older parts get worn and things start to go wrong. But we will look at the report and take it from there.”

The association has put forward a series of proposals for the council to consider and Mr Ali says he hopes they will come to an agreement soon. It comes after a string of long-running disputes between taxi drivers and council bosses in Wolverhampton over licensing of older vehicles.

Drivers there were opposed to new council rules allowing older cars – saying there are already too many taxis in the city.

New Hackney Carriage drivers could buy taxis up to four years old – with that increasing to six years in 2015.

But Parminder Sekhon, chairman of Wolverhampton Taxi Owners’ Association, said any such move would lessen the quality of taxis in the city.

Figures released last summer showed 1,000 fewer taxi drivers are on the streets of the West Midlands and Staffordshire since the recession – the first drop in eight years.

It comes despite repeated calls by cabbies for a cap on the number of licences issued as they complain there is not enough work to go around.

The figures were similar all over the country as the Department For Transport said the recession had resulted in a drop in the number of Hackney carriages and private hire licences since 2011.

In the West Midlands the overall number of licences of all types dropped from 15,866 to 15,076. However, there were increases in Walsall from 1,388 in 2011 to 1,445 in 2013.

source: http://www.expressandstar.com/

Would you pay a random person to taxi you around? I did and this is what happened

On Tuesday night a woman who usually delivers fast food to Sydney homes drove me from the Opera House to my apartment in Surry Hills for a measly $7.10. I didn’t know this woman prior to her driving me home in the Suzuki Swift she owns – rather I used a new feature in the taxi and private hire car app Uber – due to be rolled out to others soon – to request she pick me up.

“Keo”, as she is known in the app, has been picking up dozens of people over the past five days while driving on Sydney’s inner-city roads after responding to a job ad from Uber on Seek. Similar ads appear on Facebook, Gumtree and other sites for drivers in Sydney and other cities.

Keo is not a licensed taxi driver, nor is her car a limousine with licensed hire car number plates. Instead she is a regular licence holder who has been vetted by Uber employees to ferry me around at “low cost” rates – rates far lower than what a traditional Sydney taxi charges.

Normally it costs me $10 to $15 to go to or from the Opera House from home, depending on traffic. Only paying $7.10 seems crazy, but there are a number of incentives for drivers. One of the main ones is that they can use the service whenever they want. Another is that they don’t have to pay the excessive fees many taxi drivers do to lease a taxi if they don’t own one.

Called “low cost” in Australia and “UberX” overseas, the new option has “infuriated” the local taxi industry, according to one taxi driver Fairfax Media spoke to, who said Sydney taxi drivers were questioning the legality of it and the fact it is was largely unregulated by government.

Already some US states have banned or are attempting to ban similar offerings, which have been dubbed “ridesharing” services. In Minneapolis, such services have been outright banned and drivers have been fined if found to be using them to pick up passengers; in Seattle they have been given the go ahead – but only 150 drivers are allowed to be available at any one time per app. Meanwhile, new laws introduced in California last year allow their use, but require companies behind them to have at least $US1 million in public liability insurance. Since this insurance was imposed, the apps have been adding $US1 “safety” fees on top of all fares.

It’s unclear from Uber’s legal terms how much a passenger would receive if they were hurt while riding in a low cost Uber in Australia.

Uber Sydney general manager David Rohrsheim said every low cost Uber ride was “backed by third party liability insurance up to $US5 million per incident”.

“With more options, consumers win, drivers win and Australia’s cities win.”

Until now, Uber – which has $US250 million in backing from Google – has only let Australian users ride in taxis and private hire cars in Sydney and Melbourne. Only recently did it begin quietly branching out into the ridesharing market to let anyone ferry users around who is 24-years-old, has their own car that has at least four doors and is a 2005 model or newer, has comprehensive insurance, no criminal record, and a licence.

Drivers wanting to use low cost must also be “fun” and “outgoing”, with “strong communication skills and great city knowledge” and “be willing to participate in a police background check”.

In an email to some Uber users last Wednesday, Uber said the cars that pick you up will generally be “an economical vehicle such as a Toyota Prius, Honda Civic or Holden Cruze”.

“Rides from North Bondi to the CBD could cost as little as $15, which is cheaper than a 333 bus ticket if you share the ride with three mates using our fare split feature,” the email said.

Now, back to my ride.

Keo tells me she’s been working 6-11pm most nights and earning up to $150 per night using Uber (excluding fuel costs). For the immediate future her income through Uber is high, as it adds a $15 bonus to every fare, regardless of whether it’s for $5 or $50. How long this will last is unclear, as it’s likely unsustainable for Uber, even though it takes a 20 per cent cut from fares.

The trip with Keo was the second one I had taken for the night. And although I got to my destination in one piece, the use of Google Maps on an iPhone that didn’t have a cradle, and a driver who didn’t know Sydney’s streets all that well, meant the journey took longer than usual. At one point Keo was resting her phone on the passenger’s seat and picking it up when needed.

An earlier trip from home to the Opera House with “Adam” that cost $6.33 — a little less than the trip with Keo due to the fact that this person normally drives a taxi and knew how to get around — was taken in a Toyota Rav4. I couldn’t fault him on his driving, but an annoying moth flying around his car and the fact he was wearing a rugby top reminded me what “low cost” meant.

The new “low cost” option is expected to go public within weeks for the rest of Uber users in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney. This journalist — a big user of Uber— was not given early access to it on his own Uber app, but gained access to it via a friend’s smartphone to test it out.

There were some other hiccups in using the service, which are expected in the early days of a small-scale rollout. When trying to get back from the Opera House, for example, there were no drivers available. But after a 10 minute walk around Circular Quay, Keo eventually became available and drove from North Sydney to the city to get me.

“Availability will be very limited at first,” Uber said in its email last week.

Comment is being sought from the NSW Transport Minister over the legality of the service.

source: http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/

 

Low cost ‘taxi’ service a danger to the public, furious taxi council says

Sydney taxi drivers and the NSW Taxi Council are furious with a new initiative launched by US tech start-up Uber that allows car owners to use their own vehicles to taxi people around for a fee.

The NSW Roads and Maritime Services has requested a meeting with Uber to discuss how the NSW Passenger Transport Act applies to the new service, and how Uber will respond to its obligations under the act. The RMS said it was “looking forward to Uber’s response”.

This has to be dealt with before it gets out of hand.

NSW Taxi Council chief executive Roy Wakelin-King

Until now, the $US250 million ($270 million) Google-backed Uber has only allowed users to ride in taxis and private hire cars in Sydney and Melbourne. But now it has started to branch out into the “ridesharing” market, allowing anyone to ferry users around in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne provided they are at least 24 years old, have insurance, a licence, no criminal record, and own a four-door car that is no older than a 2005 model.

An ad that appears on Facebook for drivers.

“This has to be dealt with before it gets out of hand,” NSW Taxi Council chief executive Roy Wakelin-King said.

“We have an organisation that is asking people to take on faith a [taxi or hire car] booking system that has no regulatory checks or balances.”

There were no vehicle or driver background checks by the NSW government, he said.

“[It] represents a clear risk to the public.”

Mr Wakelin-King said the Taxi Council had asked the NSW government to investigate.

“We will also be warning passengers about the risks of using this service,” he said.

The service is currently only available to select users but is due to be launched publicly within weeks. Called “low cost” in Australia and “UberX” overseas, the company takes a 20 per cent cut from each fare.

The new option on the Uber smartphone app has infuriated the taxi industry, according to one Sydney driver, who said drivers were questioning the legality of the service and the fact it was largely unregulated.

Drivers have signed up by responding to Uber job ads on Seek, Facebook and Gumtree. The job ads stipulate that drivers wanting to be part of the low cost service must be “fun and outgoing”, with “strong communication skills and great city knowledge”, and “be willing to participate in a police background check”.

One of the drivers Fairfax Media spoke to said she used to be a fast-food home delivery driver.

Uber’s legal obligations are unclear, such as details of insurance and passenger injury compensation.

Uber Sydney general manager David Rohrsheim said every low cost ride was backed by third party liability insurance up to $US5 million per incident.

Already some US states have banned or are attempting to ban similar businesses.

source: http://www.smh.com.au/digital-life/

 

Minicab drivers lose licences in crackdown after sex grooming case

Heywood minicab drivers in public safety crackdown after sex grooming scandal

Five minicab drivers and one hackney carriage driver have had their licences torn up in a council clamp-down called in the wake of the town’s grooming scandal.

Rochdale council say they have adopted a ‘robust’ approach to protecting ‘vulnerable members of the community’ from rogue cabbies after nine men were jailed for 77 years in 2012 for a string of sexual abuse against youngsters in Heywood .

Five of those who were convicted of child sex offences were private hire drivers who drove their young victims around in their licenced cabs.

Since then, council bosses who issue licences to private and public hire cabs, say that they have overhauled the way they assess new and existing drivers to see if they are ‘fit and proper’ to be on the road.

That has resulted in six drivers losing their licences after they were judged to pose a potential risk to the public either because they had an existing criminal conviction or because the council believed there was a ‘reasonable cause’ to question their suitability to be a driver.

An seventh driver also had their licence revoked, but had it reinstated on appeal.

Of the six drivers who had their licences revoked, one allegedly tried to start an relationship with a 15-year-old girl while another allegedly had connections to some of those jailed for grooming vulnerable youngsters in May 2012.

Another had exposed himself to a customer while a different driver had convictions for common assault and had made threats to kill.

All six drivers have had their licences withdrawn over the last 12 months.

In a report to councillors, Andy Glover , the council’s public protection manager, said the council was going further than other authorities to try to safeguard people.

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

Rape of teenager in Windsor on night out leads to change in how private hire vehicles are identified

pirate-flag-xbTHE rape of a teenager who got into a car she was told was a ‘taxi’ has led to a change in how private hire vehicles are identified.

Proposals have been approved to force all of the more than 950 private hire vehicles operating in the Royal Borough to display a sticker in the front window of their vehicle bearing the logo of their firm as a mark of authenticity.

The move has come as a direct result of an incident in Windsor in May last year, when a 19-year-old girl was raped after getting into a car she was told by her assailant Anshul Sharma was a taxi as she left Liquid nightclub in Victoria Street.

She was attacked in the car after it was driven to a closed petrol station. Sharma, then of Hencroft Street, Slough, was jailed for five years in October last year.

Cllr Jesse Grey, a member of the Royal Borough’s Licensing Panel which authorised the move at a meeting on Tuesday, said: “Obviously one rape is one too many so we felt that we needed to do something to just tighten up the system a little bit.”

Currently, private hire vehicles are only required to display identification on the exterior rear of their vehicles though many already do display a windscreen logo.

Original proposals put forward at the meeting included forcing the majority of private hire vehicles to display a door sign bearing the council’s logo and a licence number, which was strongly opposed by nearly all firms in the borough with some threatening to move their business elsewhere if the move was approved.

The firms feared a dramatic loss of custom from businesses and formal occasions if their high-spec cars were plastered with the council logo and purple and white colours.

Speaking after the meeting, Shaid Nadeem, manager at FiveStar Windsor which already has the windscreen sticker in place, said: “The signs would have been too much when you consider them on the cars we have such as our Mercedes.

“The council has been very responsive on this.”

The changes are expected to come into force next week.

- See more at: http://www.windsorobserver.co.uk/

Grantham court: Taxi driver stopped motorist almost four times over the alcohol limit

A motorist who was almost four times over the drink-drive limit had to be stopped by a taxi driver who stood in front of his car on a zebra crossing.

Waldemar Marcin Obrycki, 33, of Goodliff Road, Grantham, admitted drink driving on March 29 and also driving without a licence and without insurance.

Prosecuting, Daniel Pietryka said somebody had witnessed “appalling” driving by the defendant at 8pm in Trent Road, Grantham. He was driving very slowly, going up on to the kerb and crossing the white lines. The taxi driver stopped the car and took hold of the keys to prevent Obrycki from driving away.

The police were called and Obrycki failed a roadside breath test. A later reading at the police station showed 130 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath. The legal limit is 35 microgrammes.

Me Pietryka said Obrycki had been drinking in a bar before going home where he had some beers and whisky. He said the defendant was a provisional licence holder and a man of previous good character.

Defending, Stuart Wild told the court that Obrycki had been out with others before they returned to his shared accommodation. He said: “It was there he consumed a large amount of beer and whisky as he explained to the police.

“He was then persuaded to take the vehicle from Goodliff Road to the Costcutter store off Trent Road just a few hundred yards away.”

Mr Wild said Obrycki’s bad driving drew the attention of other road users and the taxi driver stepped on to the zebra crossing to stop his car.

He said there was no suggestion of speeding or dangerous driving.

The court was told Obrycki had been in the UK for four years and was working full-time at Moy Park in Grantham. He did not accept he drank on a daily basis, but when he did drink it was to excess and he was being assessed by Addaction.

Magistrates sentenced Obrycki to 18 weeks in prison suspended for 12 months. He was disqualified from driving for 34 months. He was also given a 12 month supervision order with a six month alcohol treatment requirement. He was fined £200 for driving without insurance and ordered to pay costs of £85 and a victim surcharge of £80. There was no separate penalty for driving without a licence.

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

Apr 23

Black Country taxi drivers call to keep cars longer

Taxi drivers say they are struggling to make ends meet due to rules stating they must replace their vehicles every 10 years.

They are asking to be allowed to keep their cars for 15 years to cut costs – and insist it will have no impact on safety.

The issue has gone before a Walsall Council taxi committee, but no decision was made as members wanted to get more information.

Drivers say it has been rumbling on for five years and needs to be resolved.

Walsall Private Hire Association chairman Zulfqar Ali said: “This could go on for months yet and it has already been dragging on for years.

“There would be financial benefits for the drivers as this is a difficult time for us and things like this make it even harder.

“There would be no compromise in safety for the people of Walsall,” he added.

“The cars have to be checked twice a year to see if they are roadworthy and it isn’t fair to stop us using a car when it is still in good condition.

“There are different standards for black cabs and it is very frustrating.”

Licensing committee chairman Councillor Keith Sears said: “We have asked officers to draw up a report and it will come back before the next committee.

The extension could be pursued, but my own personal view is that if we are not careful we will have a fleet of private hire vehicles that are old and out of date.

“If we do extend the lifetime of the vehicles there could be a need for an extra test to be carried out on them, so they would be checked three times a year.

“As a vehicle gets older parts get worn and things start to go wrong. But we will look at the report and take it from there.”

The association has put forward a series of proposals for the council to consider and Mr Ali says he hopes they will come to an agreement soon. It comes after a string of long-running disputes between taxi drivers and council bosses in Wolverhampton over licensing of older vehicles.

Drivers there were opposed to new council rules allowing older cars – saying there are already too many taxis in the city.

New Hackney Carriage drivers could buy taxis up to four years old – with that increasing to six years in 2015.

But Parminder Sekhon, chairman of Wolverhampton Taxi Owners’ Association, said any such move would lessen the quality of taxis in the city.

Figures released last summer showed 1,000 fewer taxi drivers are on the streets of the West Midlands and Staffordshire since the recession – the first drop in eight years.

It comes despite repeated calls by cabbies for a cap on the number of licences issued as they complain there is not enough work to go around.

The figures were similar all over the country as the Department For Transport said the recession had resulted in a drop in the number of Hackney carriages and private hire licences since 2011.

In the West Midlands the overall number of licences of all types dropped from 15,866 to 15,076. However, there were increases in Walsall from 1,388 in 2011 to 1,445 in 2013.

source: http://www.expressandstar.com/

Apr 23

Would you pay a random person to taxi you around? I did and this is what happened

On Tuesday night a woman who usually delivers fast food to Sydney homes drove me from the Opera House to my apartment in Surry Hills for a measly $7.10. I didn’t know this woman prior to her driving me home in the Suzuki Swift she owns – rather I used a new feature in the taxi and private hire car app Uber – due to be rolled out to others soon – to request she pick me up.

“Keo”, as she is known in the app, has been picking up dozens of people over the past five days while driving on Sydney’s inner-city roads after responding to a job ad from Uber on Seek. Similar ads appear on Facebook, Gumtree and other sites for drivers in Sydney and other cities.

Keo is not a licensed taxi driver, nor is her car a limousine with licensed hire car number plates. Instead she is a regular licence holder who has been vetted by Uber employees to ferry me around at “low cost” rates – rates far lower than what a traditional Sydney taxi charges.

Normally it costs me $10 to $15 to go to or from the Opera House from home, depending on traffic. Only paying $7.10 seems crazy, but there are a number of incentives for drivers. One of the main ones is that they can use the service whenever they want. Another is that they don’t have to pay the excessive fees many taxi drivers do to lease a taxi if they don’t own one.

Called “low cost” in Australia and “UberX” overseas, the new option has “infuriated” the local taxi industry, according to one taxi driver Fairfax Media spoke to, who said Sydney taxi drivers were questioning the legality of it and the fact it is was largely unregulated by government.

Already some US states have banned or are attempting to ban similar offerings, which have been dubbed “ridesharing” services. In Minneapolis, such services have been outright banned and drivers have been fined if found to be using them to pick up passengers; in Seattle they have been given the go ahead – but only 150 drivers are allowed to be available at any one time per app. Meanwhile, new laws introduced in California last year allow their use, but require companies behind them to have at least $US1 million in public liability insurance. Since this insurance was imposed, the apps have been adding $US1 “safety” fees on top of all fares.

It’s unclear from Uber’s legal terms how much a passenger would receive if they were hurt while riding in a low cost Uber in Australia.

Uber Sydney general manager David Rohrsheim said every low cost Uber ride was “backed by third party liability insurance up to $US5 million per incident”.

“With more options, consumers win, drivers win and Australia’s cities win.”

Until now, Uber – which has $US250 million in backing from Google – has only let Australian users ride in taxis and private hire cars in Sydney and Melbourne. Only recently did it begin quietly branching out into the ridesharing market to let anyone ferry users around who is 24-years-old, has their own car that has at least four doors and is a 2005 model or newer, has comprehensive insurance, no criminal record, and a licence.

Drivers wanting to use low cost must also be “fun” and “outgoing”, with “strong communication skills and great city knowledge” and “be willing to participate in a police background check”.

In an email to some Uber users last Wednesday, Uber said the cars that pick you up will generally be “an economical vehicle such as a Toyota Prius, Honda Civic or Holden Cruze”.

“Rides from North Bondi to the CBD could cost as little as $15, which is cheaper than a 333 bus ticket if you share the ride with three mates using our fare split feature,” the email said.

Now, back to my ride.

Keo tells me she’s been working 6-11pm most nights and earning up to $150 per night using Uber (excluding fuel costs). For the immediate future her income through Uber is high, as it adds a $15 bonus to every fare, regardless of whether it’s for $5 or $50. How long this will last is unclear, as it’s likely unsustainable for Uber, even though it takes a 20 per cent cut from fares.

The trip with Keo was the second one I had taken for the night. And although I got to my destination in one piece, the use of Google Maps on an iPhone that didn’t have a cradle, and a driver who didn’t know Sydney’s streets all that well, meant the journey took longer than usual. At one point Keo was resting her phone on the passenger’s seat and picking it up when needed.

An earlier trip from home to the Opera House with “Adam” that cost $6.33 — a little less than the trip with Keo due to the fact that this person normally drives a taxi and knew how to get around — was taken in a Toyota Rav4. I couldn’t fault him on his driving, but an annoying moth flying around his car and the fact he was wearing a rugby top reminded me what “low cost” meant.

The new “low cost” option is expected to go public within weeks for the rest of Uber users in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney. This journalist — a big user of Uber— was not given early access to it on his own Uber app, but gained access to it via a friend’s smartphone to test it out.

There were some other hiccups in using the service, which are expected in the early days of a small-scale rollout. When trying to get back from the Opera House, for example, there were no drivers available. But after a 10 minute walk around Circular Quay, Keo eventually became available and drove from North Sydney to the city to get me.

“Availability will be very limited at first,” Uber said in its email last week.

Comment is being sought from the NSW Transport Minister over the legality of the service.

source: http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/

 

Low cost ‘taxi’ service a danger to the public, furious taxi council says

Sydney taxi drivers and the NSW Taxi Council are furious with a new initiative launched by US tech start-up Uber that allows car owners to use their own vehicles to taxi people around for a fee.

The NSW Roads and Maritime Services has requested a meeting with Uber to discuss how the NSW Passenger Transport Act applies to the new service, and how Uber will respond to its obligations under the act. The RMS said it was “looking forward to Uber’s response”.

This has to be dealt with before it gets out of hand.

NSW Taxi Council chief executive Roy Wakelin-King

Until now, the $US250 million ($270 million) Google-backed Uber has only allowed users to ride in taxis and private hire cars in Sydney and Melbourne. But now it has started to branch out into the “ridesharing” market, allowing anyone to ferry users around in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne provided they are at least 24 years old, have insurance, a licence, no criminal record, and own a four-door car that is no older than a 2005 model.

An ad that appears on Facebook for drivers.

“This has to be dealt with before it gets out of hand,” NSW Taxi Council chief executive Roy Wakelin-King said.

“We have an organisation that is asking people to take on faith a [taxi or hire car] booking system that has no regulatory checks or balances.”

There were no vehicle or driver background checks by the NSW government, he said.

“[It] represents a clear risk to the public.”

Mr Wakelin-King said the Taxi Council had asked the NSW government to investigate.

“We will also be warning passengers about the risks of using this service,” he said.

The service is currently only available to select users but is due to be launched publicly within weeks. Called “low cost” in Australia and “UberX” overseas, the company takes a 20 per cent cut from each fare.

The new option on the Uber smartphone app has infuriated the taxi industry, according to one Sydney driver, who said drivers were questioning the legality of the service and the fact it was largely unregulated.

Drivers have signed up by responding to Uber job ads on Seek, Facebook and Gumtree. The job ads stipulate that drivers wanting to be part of the low cost service must be “fun and outgoing”, with “strong communication skills and great city knowledge”, and “be willing to participate in a police background check”.

One of the drivers Fairfax Media spoke to said she used to be a fast-food home delivery driver.

Uber’s legal obligations are unclear, such as details of insurance and passenger injury compensation.

Uber Sydney general manager David Rohrsheim said every low cost ride was backed by third party liability insurance up to $US5 million per incident.

Already some US states have banned or are attempting to ban similar businesses.

source: http://www.smh.com.au/digital-life/

 

Apr 23

Minicab drivers lose licences in crackdown after sex grooming case

Heywood minicab drivers in public safety crackdown after sex grooming scandal

Five minicab drivers and one hackney carriage driver have had their licences torn up in a council clamp-down called in the wake of the town’s grooming scandal.

Rochdale council say they have adopted a ‘robust’ approach to protecting ‘vulnerable members of the community’ from rogue cabbies after nine men were jailed for 77 years in 2012 for a string of sexual abuse against youngsters in Heywood .

Five of those who were convicted of child sex offences were private hire drivers who drove their young victims around in their licenced cabs.

Since then, council bosses who issue licences to private and public hire cabs, say that they have overhauled the way they assess new and existing drivers to see if they are ‘fit and proper’ to be on the road.

That has resulted in six drivers losing their licences after they were judged to pose a potential risk to the public either because they had an existing criminal conviction or because the council believed there was a ‘reasonable cause’ to question their suitability to be a driver.

An seventh driver also had their licence revoked, but had it reinstated on appeal.

Of the six drivers who had their licences revoked, one allegedly tried to start an relationship with a 15-year-old girl while another allegedly had connections to some of those jailed for grooming vulnerable youngsters in May 2012.

Another had exposed himself to a customer while a different driver had convictions for common assault and had made threats to kill.

All six drivers have had their licences withdrawn over the last 12 months.

In a report to councillors, Andy Glover , the council’s public protection manager, said the council was going further than other authorities to try to safeguard people.

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

Apr 23

Rape of teenager in Windsor on night out leads to change in how private hire vehicles are identified

pirate-flag-xbTHE rape of a teenager who got into a car she was told was a ‘taxi’ has led to a change in how private hire vehicles are identified.

Proposals have been approved to force all of the more than 950 private hire vehicles operating in the Royal Borough to display a sticker in the front window of their vehicle bearing the logo of their firm as a mark of authenticity.

The move has come as a direct result of an incident in Windsor in May last year, when a 19-year-old girl was raped after getting into a car she was told by her assailant Anshul Sharma was a taxi as she left Liquid nightclub in Victoria Street.

She was attacked in the car after it was driven to a closed petrol station. Sharma, then of Hencroft Street, Slough, was jailed for five years in October last year.

Cllr Jesse Grey, a member of the Royal Borough’s Licensing Panel which authorised the move at a meeting on Tuesday, said: “Obviously one rape is one too many so we felt that we needed to do something to just tighten up the system a little bit.”

Currently, private hire vehicles are only required to display identification on the exterior rear of their vehicles though many already do display a windscreen logo.

Original proposals put forward at the meeting included forcing the majority of private hire vehicles to display a door sign bearing the council’s logo and a licence number, which was strongly opposed by nearly all firms in the borough with some threatening to move their business elsewhere if the move was approved.

The firms feared a dramatic loss of custom from businesses and formal occasions if their high-spec cars were plastered with the council logo and purple and white colours.

Speaking after the meeting, Shaid Nadeem, manager at FiveStar Windsor which already has the windscreen sticker in place, said: “The signs would have been too much when you consider them on the cars we have such as our Mercedes.

“The council has been very responsive on this.”

The changes are expected to come into force next week.

- See more at: http://www.windsorobserver.co.uk/

Apr 21

Grantham court: Taxi driver stopped motorist almost four times over the alcohol limit

A motorist who was almost four times over the drink-drive limit had to be stopped by a taxi driver who stood in front of his car on a zebra crossing.

Waldemar Marcin Obrycki, 33, of Goodliff Road, Grantham, admitted drink driving on March 29 and also driving without a licence and without insurance.

Prosecuting, Daniel Pietryka said somebody had witnessed “appalling” driving by the defendant at 8pm in Trent Road, Grantham. He was driving very slowly, going up on to the kerb and crossing the white lines. The taxi driver stopped the car and took hold of the keys to prevent Obrycki from driving away.

The police were called and Obrycki failed a roadside breath test. A later reading at the police station showed 130 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath. The legal limit is 35 microgrammes.

Me Pietryka said Obrycki had been drinking in a bar before going home where he had some beers and whisky. He said the defendant was a provisional licence holder and a man of previous good character.

Defending, Stuart Wild told the court that Obrycki had been out with others before they returned to his shared accommodation. He said: “It was there he consumed a large amount of beer and whisky as he explained to the police.

“He was then persuaded to take the vehicle from Goodliff Road to the Costcutter store off Trent Road just a few hundred yards away.”

Mr Wild said Obrycki’s bad driving drew the attention of other road users and the taxi driver stepped on to the zebra crossing to stop his car.

He said there was no suggestion of speeding or dangerous driving.

The court was told Obrycki had been in the UK for four years and was working full-time at Moy Park in Grantham. He did not accept he drank on a daily basis, but when he did drink it was to excess and he was being assessed by Addaction.

Magistrates sentenced Obrycki to 18 weeks in prison suspended for 12 months. He was disqualified from driving for 34 months. He was also given a 12 month supervision order with a six month alcohol treatment requirement. He was fined £200 for driving without insurance and ordered to pay costs of £85 and a victim surcharge of £80. There was no separate penalty for driving without a licence.

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

Apr 17

East Lancs taxi drivers face ‘scrap car’ threat

TAXI drivers in Hyndburn will be forced to scrap cars that don’t meet emissions targets, it was revealed.

The council’s new taxi policy will come into force next month following a consultation with drivers in the borough, if councillors agree.

Hackney carriage owners will be made to install a swivel seat for disabled passengers, and signage and markings on glasswork will be banned.

Although the council has backtracked on plans to take private hire cars older than seven years off the road, because ‘vehicle age is potentially an arbitrary test’, it is mainly only newer models that will meet the new emissions standards.

The council said vehicles must meet the Euro Three standard by 2015, Euro Four by 2016 and Euro Five by 2017.

EU directives stated all cars must be Euro Five standard by September 2010.

All cars will continue to be tested twice a year, and three when they reach the age of seven.

A spokesman for Accrington firm Max Cabs said: “This has not been finalised, it’s a long way from being finalised and if people want to contest it they can do, although I don’t know if any will.

“It will be better for taxiing in general. We will have a clean, better fleet and drivers will have a newer car that they will probably take better care of.”

The Lancashire Telegraph first revealed plans to bring in a new policy in December.

Speaking at the time, deputy council leader Coun Clare Pritchard said: “This is about providing a comprehensive plan.

“We have several policies hanging around and this will bring it into one complete policy.

“I would hope it would improve standards.”

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

Apr 17

Newcastle Borough Council votes to tighten taxi age restrictions

 

SAVE OUR LIVELIHOODS: Tariq Mahmood, front, with cabbies protesting outside the civic offices in Newcastle.

TAXI drivers have lost their fight against plans to tighten age restrictions on their vehicles.

Newcastle Borough Council has decided to stop re-licensing Hackney carriage saloon car vehicles once they are eight-years-old.

Previously saloon cars could remain licensed as Hackney carriages as long as they passed an annual MOT test, while only those licensed as private hire vehicles had to be ‘retired’ after eight years.

Members of the Newcastle and Kidsgrove Taxi Association staged a protest prior to the meeting at the Civic Offices in Merrial Street last night.

But the full council voted to change the licensing policy to ensure the safety and reliability of the vehicles.

Tariq Mahmood, chairman of the Newcastle and Kidsgrove Taxi Association, has hit out at the decision and said the group would not give up its fight.

The 50-year-old, of North Road, Cobridge, who has been working as a cabbie for eight years, said: “We are angry about the decision and we do not accept that this is the right thing to do.

“It is stupid that in neighbouring Stoke-on-Trent the policy is completely different in that Hackney carriage vehicles don’t have to retire at a certain age, as long as they pass a MOT and a suitability test.

“A lot of taxi drivers can’t afford to buy new cars and this will hit us hard.

“We will have to raise taxi fares and the fact that saloon hackney carriages in Stoke-on-Trent can travel to Newcastle will put us out of business.

“If it isn’t unsafe for people to be sat in Stoke-on-Trent licensed taxis that are more than eight years old, why is it unsafe for them to sit in ours?

“It is our livelihood that is affected and it feels like we don’t have a say on the matter. More than 100 drivers are affected by this decision and we will keep fighting this.”

Father-of-three Abdul Halim, aged 47, of Winifred Street, Hanley, said: “We simply can’t afford to replace a car just because it’s eight years old. A car of that age is not an old car and there is no reason why it isn’t safe. My car was made in 2007 so now it means I will have to buy another one next year.

“Times are already hard for taxi drivers as people are taking less taxis in this economic climate and the council isn’t helping matters.

“I don’t understand why Newcastle Borough Council have decided to do this.”

Conservative councillors voted against the proposals, saying they would have an impact on taxi drivers who were already struggling.

But Labour councillor Mark Olszewski, chairman of the public protection committee, accused the Tories of electioneering, saying the authority had a duty to ensure the safety of residents.

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

Apr 15

Minicab driver prosecuted for snubbing blind person

A PRIVATE-hire driver has been fined for refusing to take a guide dog in his minicab.

Mohammed Foysal (40), of Laxley Close, Oldham, was asked to pick up a fare outside B&Q Oldham and take the passenger to Shaw. But when Foysal arrived at the store he was heard to say he didn’t allow dogs in his car.

The refusal was reported to Oldham Council and Foysal told a licensing officer he was scared of the dog, which had licked him on a previous journey.

At Oldham Magistrates Court Foysal pleaded guilty to Oldham’s first prosecution under the Equality Act of 2010. He was fined £73 and ordered to pay costs of £320.

In a separate case, a shopkeeper was fined for selling alcohol to a child during a test purchase run by trading standards officers.

Last August a staff member at St Mary’s Convenience Store in Henshaw Street sold four cans of lager to a 15 year old.

The store’s owner, Ahmed Fahim Yousef Zada of Henshaw Street, was prosecuted as he is responsible for his employees’ actions.

Zada (29), who had previously been cautioned for the same offence in 2012, was fined £220 and ordered to pay costs of £350.

source: http://www.oldham-chronicle.co.uk/

Apr 15

Court upholds minicab licence decision

The owner of a minicab firm which has had it’s licence revoked has seen the decision upheld by magistrates after he challenged it in court.

Councillors in Wolverhampton ordered for the licence of Westside Radio Cars to be revoked in October but Tahir Hussain, the owner of the firm, had appealed to magistrates.

It was revoked after a council investigation found they had four uninsured cars operating over a weekend in July last year.

Mr Hussain had appealed the original decision, which was made by the licensing sub-committee in October, and appeared at Wolverhampton Magistrates Court to hear his fate.

But magistrates upheld the ruling made by the committee, saying he was not a ‘fit and proper’ person to run the firm.

Mrs Sarah Hardwick, who represented Wolverhampton City Council at the hearing, said Mr Hussain had failed to provide the correct insurance documents when the council visited their base. She told the court that the trips the four uninsured cars carried out jeopardised public safety.

She said: “Under council guidelines, they can revoke a license for multiple breaches of guidelines, and the council believe there were multiple breaches as a number of journeys were made across the weekend.”

She said Mr Hussain accepted that the cars he was using from another company, Motor Accident Claims Ltd, were not properly insured.

Chairman of the bench, Dr Alison Felce ordered Mr Hussain to pay £2,125.52 in costs, but he said he will now appeal to the crown court.

Speaking after the hearing, he said: “I have 21 days now to appeal which I will do. I feel as though we have been treated unfairly and I will take it as far as I need to, to clear my name.”

source: http://www.expressandstar.com/

Apr 15

Taxi driver was playing Johnny Mathis CD in his cab – when the US singing star got in

John McManus with his hero Johnny Mathis

Black cab driver John McManus had the surprise of his life when he picked up his musical hero after his concert in Manchester.

A taxi driver who has been a Johnny Mathis fan for 30 years had the surprise of his life when he went to pick up a fare – and his musical hero climbed into the back of his cab.

John McManus had been hoping to see the veteran crooner in concert in Manchester on Saturday night but was left disappointed when he was unable to get a ticket.

The morning after the concert at the Phones4u Arena, 65-year-old John, of Manchester Road, Wardley, put on a CD of Johnny Mathis’ greatest hits as he was sent to collect a passenger at the Lowry Hotel.

And the granddad of five was stunned when the 78-year-old American star opened the door and sat on the back seat.

His favourite song ‘Someone’ – with the line ‘someone wants to say hello’ – was playing just as Mathis climbed in.

John said: “As this line of the song played the cab door opened and I heard a voice say ‘you’ve got good taste in music.’

“I turned around, saw it was Johnny and all I could think to say to him in return was ‘hiyah’. I had no idea who I was picking up before I arrived at the Lowry. My company was booked by the hotel concierge to pick up an ‘A class’ customer.

“My children have grown up listening to his music and my wife is a massive fan. I phoned my wife afterwards and said ‘you won’t believe who I’ve had in the back of my cab’ and she guessed Wayne Rooney.

“She screamed when I told her it was Johnny. This has definitely made my year,”

John continued to play the Greatest Hits collection during the 45-minute drive with his hero. And he overcame his nerves to tell him that they have similar names – he is known to friends and family as ‘John-E’ – and that he was sorry to miss out on getting tickets to his first Manchester show in three years.

Before dropping the Texan-born hitmaker off at the Mere Golf Resort and Spa in Knutsford, where he was due to play a round of golf, he couldn’t resist asking for a photo of the pair together, which Johnny happily obliged. He was also rewarded with a handshake and a hug from the performer.

John added: “I have all his albums and I seen him in concert loads of times, every time he has been over to the UK, apart from this one. Even when I lived in Spain I would fly in to see him. So I was gutted to miss him this time round.

“But this was better than going to the show. I feel like I got the cherry on the cake. I told that him that I had followed his career for many years and he hugged me. He told me that the Manchester public are beautiful.

“He’s an A class singer and his personality is just as good as his songs. He is a nice, pleasant guy.

“Luckily I always carry a camera in my black cab.

“After that I had to go straight home. I just couldn’t get over what had happened.

“I’m still buzzing from the experience now.

“I feel like all my birthdays and Christmases have come at once.”

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

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