Convicted drivers given taxi licences, BBC Scotland finds

Drivers with convictions for offences such as assault, housebreaking and drink-driving were issued taxi licences last year, a BBC Scotland investigation has revealed.

Councils approved 1,584 applications from people with convictions.

Data obtained by the BBC also shows that councils received more than 1,200 taxi-related complaints in 2014 – a small rise on the previous year.

But the Scottish Taxi Federation said the public should not be concerned.

Bill McIntosh, general secretary of the body which represents the taxi trade, played down the conviction and complaint figures.

He said: “All Scottish licensing authorities are required to ensure that in granting a licence to drive a taxi or a private hire car, the applicant meets with their interpretation of being a fit and proper person.

“[And] taking into account that there are approximately 36,500 licensed taxi and private hire car drivers throughout Scotland, and the many millions of journeys undertaken, it could be argued that the number of complaints made were in real terms relatively small.”

However, he added: “This is not to suggest that we should be dismissive of the numbers.”

Criminal records

The new figures – obtained through a series of co-ordinated freedom of information requests – come in the wake of Glasgow taxi driver Arshad Mohammed being found guilty of raping a female passenger.

And an East Renfrewshire taxi driver is currently awaiting sentence after admitting placing female passengers in a state of fear or alarm and lying on his licence application.

Michael Boyd, who had previously surrendered his East Ayrshire licence after a series of complaints, said on his application form that he had never previously held a taxi driver’s licence.

Police Scotland said the relevant checks had been carried out at the time of Mr Boyd’s application to East Renfrewshire, with a negative result.

The force said it was now developing a national IT system which would act as a “single point of reference for licences that had been granted or revoked by the relevant local authority”.

A recent amendment to the 1974 Rehabilitation of Offenders Act currently stipulates that applicants for taxi and private hire car licences must declare all previous spent and unspent convictions.

Each council’s licensing committee then typically consults with Police Scotland on all submitted taxi licence applications.

The committee then meets to discuss individual applications where objections have been raised, or inconsistencies have been detected, by the police.

The figures obtained by BBC Scotland show that the highest number of drivers with criminal histories have been issued licences by Glasgow (290), Edinburgh (257) and Falkirk (184) councils.

Many of the convictions are related to common traffic offences such as speeding or running a red light.

But other convictions included assault, breach of the peace, car theft, drink-driving, indecent exposure and possession of an offensive weapon.

Two licensed drivers in the Borders had charges dating back to the 1970s related to unlawful carnal knowledge of girls under 17.

In East Ayrshire, a licence was issued to an individual who had carried out 49 offences, including assault and theft, as well as repeatedly driving while disqualified and without any insurance.

In that particular case, the council said a panel had fully considered all previous convictions – the last of which was from 2006.

Guidance from the Scottish government suggests “local licensing authorities will want to consider each case on its merits, but they will doubtless take a particularly cautious view of any offences involving violence, and especially sexual attack”.

The report was guided by a concern that “the industry is protected from infiltration and targeting by organised crime groups”.

A spokesperson for Highland Council said there were “no hard and fast rules” about who should be granted a licence.

“An applicant with a series of recent convictions, for example, is more likely to be considered not to be a fit and proper person than an applicant with older convictions whose record shows that he or she has not re-offended for a considerable time,” it said.

Complaints increase

The BBC Scotland investigation revealed that taxi-related complaints had doubled, and even trebled, in some council areas.

Aberdeen City Council received 144 complaints in 2014 – up from 51 the previous year.

And the reporting of grievances doubled in East Ayrshire, East Dunbartonshire, Highland and South Lanarkshire.

The most complaints were received by Edinburgh (340), North Lanarkshire (210), and Aberdeen (144).

The bulk of complaints were related to the personal behaviour of drivers, and dangerous driving.

But Highland Council also received complaints including tailgating, money laundering and the sale of drugs and alcohol from licensed vehicles.

The complaint data also revealed that an East Ayrshire driver had his licence suspended in February 2014 after allegedly “placing a lone female in a state of fear and distress”.

Racial abuse

Assault and racial abuse were among the grievances filed to West Dunbartonshire council since 2010.

There were also complaints regarding public urination, fare disputes, vehicle conditions, drivers electing to take longer routes and refusals to take guide dogs.

However, grievances were not only filed by passengers but also by other by other cabbies for infractions by drivers of private hire vehicles.

Only Hackney carriages may pick up passengers from authorised taxi ranks or if hailed in the street.

A spokesperson for Falkirk Council said it was “impossible” to make any correlation between a driver’s criminal history and the complaints.

The council said: “Once a driver is licensed they are subject to an annual renewal process which enables both the police and the licensing authority to undertake checks on the continuing fitness of the driver.”

Complaints across Scotland rose marginally between 2013 and 2014, from 1,167 to 1,201.

However, a number of councils refused to release their complaint data, or only released a portion of it, so the actual number of annual grievances is likely to be higher.

‘Lack of evidence’

Most councils in Scotland have enforcement units, empowered by the 1982 Civic Government Act, to investigate any alleged wrongdoing.

But the data obtained by BBC Scotland reveals that often many of the complaints are not upheld.

No action was taken in nearly 90% of the complaints submitted to Falkirk Council in 2014.

In South Ayrshire, two-thirds of complaints were not upheld.

The spokesperson for Falkirk Council said disciplinary action was often not taken due to a lack of evidence or corroboration of events.

They said: “This is particularly the case when taxi drivers complain about each other and the licensing authority finds itself in a position of having to deal with ‘tit for tat’ complaints.

“Other types of complaints are not of the nature where formal action would be suitable, for example in relation to personal hygiene and appearance issues.

“There are, of course, a number of complaints where the complainant does not wish to pursue the matter beyond the driver being made aware of their complaint.”

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

Glenda speaks out over ‘regular snubs’ for blind and disabled across town

Blind people are regularly snubbed by taxi drivers and eating establishments in Hemel Hempstead, it is claimed.

That is the experience of guide dog user Glenda Holding who was once turned away from seven eateries in just one evening in the town.

“ Guide dogs are allowed everywhere, in any public place. You really shouldn’t be having to tell people – the staff should be aware.
Glenda Holding, guide dog owner

The 50-year-old recently testified against a Hemel Hempstead taxi driver who refused to take her in his cab because she had guide dog Vicky with her.

“I have had this happen to me many times before – it is not a new thing,” she said.

“Some just don’t like having the dog in the car. I have had issues before when they have asked me for £2 extra for the dog because they have to clean the car because the dog has been in there.”

As reported in last week’s Gazette, Hackney carriage driver Rajesh Kumar Punni was fined £300 and ordered to pay £741 in court costs after refusing to pick up Glenda at the town centre taxi rank in December last year.

But Glenda, who runs a toddler group at the town centre’s Salvation Army base, has revealed this type of discrimination is not uncommon.

She said: “I’ve just stopped taking taxis and I only take them if I absolutely have to. If you fight and get into the taxi it is really uncomfortable.

“I don’t want to have the hassle. I have to explain myself every time I get a taxi and it’s not fair.

“Sometimes wheelchair users have this problem so it’S an issue.”

Glenda, who lived in Adeyfield for 20 years before recently moving to Leighton Buzzard, was born with retinitis pigmentosa – better known as tunnel vision – which means she is now completely night blind and has a very small field of vision.

She received her first guide dog in 2002 and Vicky is her second assistance dog.

She said: “One evening with my first guide dog I went out and seven eating establishments wouldn’t allow me entry with my dog,” said Glenda, who has even been told to leave the animal outside.

“I don’t think they are as aware of the law as they should be and I don’t think they realise that guide dogs are specially trained to know what to do in those situations.”

She added she also regularly gets challenged by security guards when entering local supermarkets.

Glenda said: “Guide dogs are allowed everywhere, in any public place. You really shouldn’t be having to tell people – the staff should be aware.

“There are a number of guide dog users in Hemel itself, it is not like I’m the only one they will come across.”

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

Cabbies slam council’s taxi fare increases

NEW higher fares could ruin the taxi trade and leave customers feeling robbed, say drivers at one of the city’s biggest cab firms.

Wiltshire Council has just standardised all the county’s taxi tariffs, bringing in higher night-time rates and charges for journeys with more than four passengers.

At an emergency meeting, drivers from On-Line City Cabs agreed the change would lose them customers and destroy their night-time business.

And they say it could encourage people to drink-drive or walk home late at night, putting vulnerable people in danger.

Until May 7 there was a day rate (6am to 10pm), a night and Sunday rate (10pm to 6am), and one for Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.

A cab to Tidworth from the city centre used to cost £30 during the day and £50 at night.

Now the same journey for five passengers will cost £50 in the day, £72 between 10pm and 2.30am, and £96 between 2.30am and 6am — almost double what it used to cost.

The rates will stay the same for four or fewer passengers during the day and before 2.30am.

But some firms, including On-Line City Cabs and Value Cars, have agreed to charge only the lower rates.

On-Line City Cabs operations manager Paul Humphries said: “The night-time tariff after 2.30am and for more than four passengers is potentially going to ruin the taxi trade, discourage people from coming into our city and make the passengers that do travel feel like they have been legally robbed.”

Value Cars boss Scott Woodford said it was “very clear” Salisbury cab drivers did not want to increase fares and his firm would not put up its prices.

“The new rate means some taxi journeys will be too expensive and the fear is that people will simply stop coming into Salisbury,” he said.

The council says the new system will help passengers know the maximum they can be charged, wherever they are in the county.

It says it consulted drivers countywide and the changes were agreed at a licensing committee.

Owner of The Chapel nightclub Amanda Newbery said: “It’s unfair on our customers who are out for a good night and don’t expect to be stung with these extortionate fees.”

Amanda advised her customers to pre-book taxis home and said she was working with responsible cab firms to find a way around the system.

Salisbury has the ninth most expensive taxi fares in Britain at £7 for two miles on the basic rate.

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

Taxi driver told to pay back £10,000

A taxi driver falsely claimed more than £10,000 after setting up a cash saving account with £50,000 of his own money, a court heard.

Carl Oliver failed to inform Shropshire Council of a £50,000 lump sum he received as a result of selling his home following a divorce, Shrewsbury Magistrates Court was told. The total over-payment of housing benefit to Oliver before he closed the account two years ago was calculated to be £10,029.28.

The 47-year-old, who made his first claim for benefits in 2010, admitted two counts of failing to notify a change of circumstances affecting housing benefits when he appeared at court.

Mr Mike Davies, prosecuting, said: “As soon as there is a change in circumstances you must notify the benefit agency.

“He originally claimed benefits as he was a single man with a low income as a taxi driver.

“Information came to light that the defendant had an increase in income. He had £50,000 in an account. The account was closed in 2013 and the bank notified the authorities.

“He attended an interview and was frank and open.

“He believed as the money was placed in an ISA he didn’t need to declare it as he could not touch it.”

Mr Euros Jones, for Oliver, said ignorance to the law was no defence.

He said Oliver was full and frank in interview and when he made his initial claim it had been genuine.

“Oliver received £50,000 from a house settlement and when the process was over he put the money in an ISA ready to buy his own house,” he said.

“He is a hard working taxi driver. He didn’t understand that he had to declare the information. He wasn’t fraudulent from the outset.”

Oliver, of Hill Crest in Penley near Ellesmere, was ordered to pay £200, given a 12-month community order and told to complete 240 hours of unpaid work.

source: http://www.shropshirestar.com/

DVLA’s Share Driving Licence service is available

From today (19 May 2015) you can view and share your driving licence information online.

From 8 June 2015, the paper counterpart to the photocard driving licence will not be valid and will no longer be issued by DVLA. Further information can be found by visiting our campaign page.

Share Driving Licence service has now moved from private to public beta. This new service allows GB driving licence holders to share their information held at DVLA with others online while ensuring they stay in control of who sees it. Although the Share Driving Licence service is available from today you’ll need to keep hold of your paper counterpart as it remains valid until 8 June 2015.

You can view your driving licence including the vehicle categories you’re entitled to drive and any endorsement or penalty points you may have by using our free View Driving Licence service. You can also use this service to share your driving licence information with a third party such as an employer, vehicle hire company or driving school. Driving licence information shared using Share Driving Licence will only be available with the consent of the driving licence holder.

Generate a code to share your driving licence with a third party

This online alternative to the current paper counterpart has been several months in development. The new sharing feature has been built into the View Driving Licence service on GOV.UK. You can now generate a code to share with a third party. This code can be shared by email, text, face to face or over the phone. There is also an option to print or save a summary of the driving licence information.

source:https://www.gov.uk/government/news/dvlas-share-driving-licence-service-is-available

May 25

Convicted drivers given taxi licences, BBC Scotland finds

Drivers with convictions for offences such as assault, housebreaking and drink-driving were issued taxi licences last year, a BBC Scotland investigation has revealed.

Councils approved 1,584 applications from people with convictions.

Data obtained by the BBC also shows that councils received more than 1,200 taxi-related complaints in 2014 – a small rise on the previous year.

But the Scottish Taxi Federation said the public should not be concerned.

Bill McIntosh, general secretary of the body which represents the taxi trade, played down the conviction and complaint figures.

He said: “All Scottish licensing authorities are required to ensure that in granting a licence to drive a taxi or a private hire car, the applicant meets with their interpretation of being a fit and proper person.

“[And] taking into account that there are approximately 36,500 licensed taxi and private hire car drivers throughout Scotland, and the many millions of journeys undertaken, it could be argued that the number of complaints made were in real terms relatively small.”

However, he added: “This is not to suggest that we should be dismissive of the numbers.”

Criminal records

The new figures – obtained through a series of co-ordinated freedom of information requests – come in the wake of Glasgow taxi driver Arshad Mohammed being found guilty of raping a female passenger.

And an East Renfrewshire taxi driver is currently awaiting sentence after admitting placing female passengers in a state of fear or alarm and lying on his licence application.

Michael Boyd, who had previously surrendered his East Ayrshire licence after a series of complaints, said on his application form that he had never previously held a taxi driver’s licence.

Police Scotland said the relevant checks had been carried out at the time of Mr Boyd’s application to East Renfrewshire, with a negative result.

The force said it was now developing a national IT system which would act as a “single point of reference for licences that had been granted or revoked by the relevant local authority”.

A recent amendment to the 1974 Rehabilitation of Offenders Act currently stipulates that applicants for taxi and private hire car licences must declare all previous spent and unspent convictions.

Each council’s licensing committee then typically consults with Police Scotland on all submitted taxi licence applications.

The committee then meets to discuss individual applications where objections have been raised, or inconsistencies have been detected, by the police.

The figures obtained by BBC Scotland show that the highest number of drivers with criminal histories have been issued licences by Glasgow (290), Edinburgh (257) and Falkirk (184) councils.

Many of the convictions are related to common traffic offences such as speeding or running a red light.

But other convictions included assault, breach of the peace, car theft, drink-driving, indecent exposure and possession of an offensive weapon.

Two licensed drivers in the Borders had charges dating back to the 1970s related to unlawful carnal knowledge of girls under 17.

In East Ayrshire, a licence was issued to an individual who had carried out 49 offences, including assault and theft, as well as repeatedly driving while disqualified and without any insurance.

In that particular case, the council said a panel had fully considered all previous convictions – the last of which was from 2006.

Guidance from the Scottish government suggests “local licensing authorities will want to consider each case on its merits, but they will doubtless take a particularly cautious view of any offences involving violence, and especially sexual attack”.

The report was guided by a concern that “the industry is protected from infiltration and targeting by organised crime groups”.

A spokesperson for Highland Council said there were “no hard and fast rules” about who should be granted a licence.

“An applicant with a series of recent convictions, for example, is more likely to be considered not to be a fit and proper person than an applicant with older convictions whose record shows that he or she has not re-offended for a considerable time,” it said.

Complaints increase

The BBC Scotland investigation revealed that taxi-related complaints had doubled, and even trebled, in some council areas.

Aberdeen City Council received 144 complaints in 2014 – up from 51 the previous year.

And the reporting of grievances doubled in East Ayrshire, East Dunbartonshire, Highland and South Lanarkshire.

The most complaints were received by Edinburgh (340), North Lanarkshire (210), and Aberdeen (144).

The bulk of complaints were related to the personal behaviour of drivers, and dangerous driving.

But Highland Council also received complaints including tailgating, money laundering and the sale of drugs and alcohol from licensed vehicles.

The complaint data also revealed that an East Ayrshire driver had his licence suspended in February 2014 after allegedly “placing a lone female in a state of fear and distress”.

Racial abuse

Assault and racial abuse were among the grievances filed to West Dunbartonshire council since 2010.

There were also complaints regarding public urination, fare disputes, vehicle conditions, drivers electing to take longer routes and refusals to take guide dogs.

However, grievances were not only filed by passengers but also by other by other cabbies for infractions by drivers of private hire vehicles.

Only Hackney carriages may pick up passengers from authorised taxi ranks or if hailed in the street.

A spokesperson for Falkirk Council said it was “impossible” to make any correlation between a driver’s criminal history and the complaints.

The council said: “Once a driver is licensed they are subject to an annual renewal process which enables both the police and the licensing authority to undertake checks on the continuing fitness of the driver.”

Complaints across Scotland rose marginally between 2013 and 2014, from 1,167 to 1,201.

However, a number of councils refused to release their complaint data, or only released a portion of it, so the actual number of annual grievances is likely to be higher.

‘Lack of evidence’

Most councils in Scotland have enforcement units, empowered by the 1982 Civic Government Act, to investigate any alleged wrongdoing.

But the data obtained by BBC Scotland reveals that often many of the complaints are not upheld.

No action was taken in nearly 90% of the complaints submitted to Falkirk Council in 2014.

In South Ayrshire, two-thirds of complaints were not upheld.

The spokesperson for Falkirk Council said disciplinary action was often not taken due to a lack of evidence or corroboration of events.

They said: “This is particularly the case when taxi drivers complain about each other and the licensing authority finds itself in a position of having to deal with ‘tit for tat’ complaints.

“Other types of complaints are not of the nature where formal action would be suitable, for example in relation to personal hygiene and appearance issues.

“There are, of course, a number of complaints where the complainant does not wish to pursue the matter beyond the driver being made aware of their complaint.”

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

May 25

Glenda speaks out over ‘regular snubs’ for blind and disabled across town

Blind people are regularly snubbed by taxi drivers and eating establishments in Hemel Hempstead, it is claimed.

That is the experience of guide dog user Glenda Holding who was once turned away from seven eateries in just one evening in the town.

“ Guide dogs are allowed everywhere, in any public place. You really shouldn’t be having to tell people – the staff should be aware.
Glenda Holding, guide dog owner

The 50-year-old recently testified against a Hemel Hempstead taxi driver who refused to take her in his cab because she had guide dog Vicky with her.

“I have had this happen to me many times before – it is not a new thing,” she said.

“Some just don’t like having the dog in the car. I have had issues before when they have asked me for £2 extra for the dog because they have to clean the car because the dog has been in there.”

As reported in last week’s Gazette, Hackney carriage driver Rajesh Kumar Punni was fined £300 and ordered to pay £741 in court costs after refusing to pick up Glenda at the town centre taxi rank in December last year.

But Glenda, who runs a toddler group at the town centre’s Salvation Army base, has revealed this type of discrimination is not uncommon.

She said: “I’ve just stopped taking taxis and I only take them if I absolutely have to. If you fight and get into the taxi it is really uncomfortable.

“I don’t want to have the hassle. I have to explain myself every time I get a taxi and it’s not fair.

“Sometimes wheelchair users have this problem so it’S an issue.”

Glenda, who lived in Adeyfield for 20 years before recently moving to Leighton Buzzard, was born with retinitis pigmentosa – better known as tunnel vision – which means she is now completely night blind and has a very small field of vision.

She received her first guide dog in 2002 and Vicky is her second assistance dog.

She said: “One evening with my first guide dog I went out and seven eating establishments wouldn’t allow me entry with my dog,” said Glenda, who has even been told to leave the animal outside.

“I don’t think they are as aware of the law as they should be and I don’t think they realise that guide dogs are specially trained to know what to do in those situations.”

She added she also regularly gets challenged by security guards when entering local supermarkets.

Glenda said: “Guide dogs are allowed everywhere, in any public place. You really shouldn’t be having to tell people – the staff should be aware.

“There are a number of guide dog users in Hemel itself, it is not like I’m the only one they will come across.”

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

May 25

Cabbies slam council’s taxi fare increases

NEW higher fares could ruin the taxi trade and leave customers feeling robbed, say drivers at one of the city’s biggest cab firms.

Wiltshire Council has just standardised all the county’s taxi tariffs, bringing in higher night-time rates and charges for journeys with more than four passengers.

At an emergency meeting, drivers from On-Line City Cabs agreed the change would lose them customers and destroy their night-time business.

And they say it could encourage people to drink-drive or walk home late at night, putting vulnerable people in danger.

Until May 7 there was a day rate (6am to 10pm), a night and Sunday rate (10pm to 6am), and one for Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.

A cab to Tidworth from the city centre used to cost £30 during the day and £50 at night.

Now the same journey for five passengers will cost £50 in the day, £72 between 10pm and 2.30am, and £96 between 2.30am and 6am — almost double what it used to cost.

The rates will stay the same for four or fewer passengers during the day and before 2.30am.

But some firms, including On-Line City Cabs and Value Cars, have agreed to charge only the lower rates.

On-Line City Cabs operations manager Paul Humphries said: “The night-time tariff after 2.30am and for more than four passengers is potentially going to ruin the taxi trade, discourage people from coming into our city and make the passengers that do travel feel like they have been legally robbed.”

Value Cars boss Scott Woodford said it was “very clear” Salisbury cab drivers did not want to increase fares and his firm would not put up its prices.

“The new rate means some taxi journeys will be too expensive and the fear is that people will simply stop coming into Salisbury,” he said.

The council says the new system will help passengers know the maximum they can be charged, wherever they are in the county.

It says it consulted drivers countywide and the changes were agreed at a licensing committee.

Owner of The Chapel nightclub Amanda Newbery said: “It’s unfair on our customers who are out for a good night and don’t expect to be stung with these extortionate fees.”

Amanda advised her customers to pre-book taxis home and said she was working with responsible cab firms to find a way around the system.

Salisbury has the ninth most expensive taxi fares in Britain at £7 for two miles on the basic rate.

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

May 25

Taxi driver told to pay back £10,000

A taxi driver falsely claimed more than £10,000 after setting up a cash saving account with £50,000 of his own money, a court heard.

Carl Oliver failed to inform Shropshire Council of a £50,000 lump sum he received as a result of selling his home following a divorce, Shrewsbury Magistrates Court was told. The total over-payment of housing benefit to Oliver before he closed the account two years ago was calculated to be £10,029.28.

The 47-year-old, who made his first claim for benefits in 2010, admitted two counts of failing to notify a change of circumstances affecting housing benefits when he appeared at court.

Mr Mike Davies, prosecuting, said: “As soon as there is a change in circumstances you must notify the benefit agency.

“He originally claimed benefits as he was a single man with a low income as a taxi driver.

“Information came to light that the defendant had an increase in income. He had £50,000 in an account. The account was closed in 2013 and the bank notified the authorities.

“He attended an interview and was frank and open.

“He believed as the money was placed in an ISA he didn’t need to declare it as he could not touch it.”

Mr Euros Jones, for Oliver, said ignorance to the law was no defence.

He said Oliver was full and frank in interview and when he made his initial claim it had been genuine.

“Oliver received £50,000 from a house settlement and when the process was over he put the money in an ISA ready to buy his own house,” he said.

“He is a hard working taxi driver. He didn’t understand that he had to declare the information. He wasn’t fraudulent from the outset.”

Oliver, of Hill Crest in Penley near Ellesmere, was ordered to pay £200, given a 12-month community order and told to complete 240 hours of unpaid work.

source: http://www.shropshirestar.com/

May 20

DVLA’s Share Driving Licence service is available

From today (19 May 2015) you can view and share your driving licence information online.

From 8 June 2015, the paper counterpart to the photocard driving licence will not be valid and will no longer be issued by DVLA. Further information can be found by visiting our campaign page.

Share Driving Licence service has now moved from private to public beta. This new service allows GB driving licence holders to share their information held at DVLA with others online while ensuring they stay in control of who sees it. Although the Share Driving Licence service is available from today you’ll need to keep hold of your paper counterpart as it remains valid until 8 June 2015.

You can view your driving licence including the vehicle categories you’re entitled to drive and any endorsement or penalty points you may have by using our free View Driving Licence service. You can also use this service to share your driving licence information with a third party such as an employer, vehicle hire company or driving school. Driving licence information shared using Share Driving Licence will only be available with the consent of the driving licence holder.

Generate a code to share your driving licence with a third party

This online alternative to the current paper counterpart has been several months in development. The new sharing feature has been built into the View Driving Licence service on GOV.UK. You can now generate a code to share with a third party. This code can be shared by email, text, face to face or over the phone. There is also an option to print or save a summary of the driving licence information.

source:https://www.gov.uk/government/news/dvlas-share-driving-licence-service-is-available

May 20

‘I found a taxi driver in his baffies’ — Fife cabbies told to smarten up

Baffies – a Scottish term for slippers

Taxi drivers across Fife have been criticised for their “shocking” dress sense.

Scruffy drivers wearing slippers and jogging bottoms have been spotted ferrying passengers in west Fife.

Elsewhere, others have been seen in shorts and baseball caps while driving dirty taxis.

Many have been warned that they are flouting the dress code drawn up between Fife Council and the local taxi associations and have been told in no uncertain terms to pull their socks up.

Councillor Bob Young, chairman of the council’s licensing and regulation committee, which oversees taxi standards, said the state of many drivers’ clothing is a real “bugbear” of his.

“I found a taxi driver in his baffies, jogging bottoms and a T-shirt in Dunfermline,” he said. “He was doing everything else right – helping an old lady out of the taxi etc.”

He added: “You can get a decent pair of trousers out of Tesco for £6, for goodness’ sake.”

Fife Council’s licensing enforcement officer, Donald Jenks, said there were some very good examples of drivers turning up smartly dressed but others are continuing to wear inappropriate clothing.

Asked if he could write to operators and issue a polite request for drivers to smarten up, Mr Jenks said: “I do write to them but I don’t necessarily write politely.

“I say: you’re not meeting the dress code and I expect better.”

Meanwhile, taxi drivers condemned last year for putting passengers at risk have improved their standards.

A year ago, 19 taxis in north-east Fife were pulled off the road after serious defects were found during annual inspection tests by council officers.

This year’s tests found significant improvements, with 96% of taxis passing with flying colours and the rest passing on a retest.

Operators in west Fife maintained their good results with a 97% first-time pass rate and the remainder meeting standards when retested.

North-east Fife councillor John Docherty said he is pleased with the improvements.

“I’m absolutely delighted with these figures compared to some of the previous results,” he said.

“However, we really need to be very firm with the ones who continue to fail.”

Last year’s failures included a car with a speedometer that was clearly not working.

Another had a broken exhaust system and a kinked brake pipe, while a third was found to have a catalogue of defects including a flat spare wheel, a torn wiper blade and problems with the brake pedal.

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

May 20

Witness stunned by babies in minicab boot

A SHOCKED member of the public said two women travelling in a mini bus allowed their minicab driver to drive with their two babies in the boot – still in their pram.

Yesterday morning a man said two women with three babies boarded a mini bus outside Limehurst Primary School, Limeside. He said two babies were in a double pram and the other in a single.

He explained: “The driver folded up the single pram and put it into the back of the mini-bus, and one of the women took the baby into the bus with her.

“Then the driver lifted the double pram, with the babies still in it, into the boot, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. He drove the mini-bus and I saw the babies inside. I’m not sure who disgusted me more, the driver or the mum.”

A picture of the mini-bus was uploaded to social media, where it was seen by Oldham Council which said it would investigate immediately. The council has asked both the driver and the witness to its offices

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

May 20

Uber seeks Boris Johnson meeting over minicab plans

6938705977_0d226702c4_oUber says smart technology helps to move people around London efficiently

The car-booking phone app firm Uber has requested a meeting with Boris Johnson about his proposals to “take action” against minicabs in London.

Last week he called for action against the threat posed by the “massive increase” of private hire vehicles.

Jo Bertram at Uber said the answer to London’s traffic problems was not to “limit licences and jobs”, which she said would push up prices.

A spokesperson for the mayor said he was “not on an Uber witch-hunt”.

Ms Bertram said that limiting licences and jobs would also “force people back into their own cars, causing more congestion and pollution”.

‘Doesn’t make sense’

She said: “This is why smart technology like Uber is so important as it ensures modern, clean vehicles can move lots more people around the city efficiently.”

Ms Bertram said she wanted to work with the mayor to improve transport and keep the capital moving.

A spokesperson for City Hall said: “This [tackling the number of private hire cabs] is about London being able to provide a high-quality minicab and black cab trade for London, which isn’t eroding key objectives such as keeping traffic moving and cleaning up our air.‎”

The spokesperson said it did not matter who the drivers work for, saying: “It just doesn’t make sense to have such a large number of minicab drivers in the capital.”

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

May 15

Mayor seeks new powers over private hire trade and unsafe pedicabs‎

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, today pledged to push for new powers to enable him to cap the number of Private Hire Vehicles in the capital.
 
The Mayor has also confirmed he will be seeking powers over unsafe and unregulated pedicabs and rickshaws on the streets of London’s West End.
 
The Mayor, who has received clear advice from Transport for London, will be pressing for Primary Legislation from the Government to enable TfL to cap the number of Private Hire Vehicle drivers operating in the capital, which are rising by more than 1,000 each month.
 
Currently there are 78,690 minicab drivers in London and over the past year that number has risen by 12,268. At this rate, over the next two years, there will be an additional 26,526 minicab drivers – bringing the total number to more than 105,000. 
 
The growth of private hire vehicle drivers in the last 18 months (from December 2013 to date) is approximately 18%. The Mayor is concerned that this unprecedented rise in numbers is causing increased congestion, particularly in central London, as well as more pollution and problems of illegal parking.
 
The Mayor is of the firm view that London must be able to cap the number of minicab drivers – however, currently Transport for London does not have the ability to do so. He will, therefore, be seeking legislation to give the capital that power.
 
In a separate move, the Mayor will press to obtain powers over the regulation of pedicabs. The Mayor believes these vehicles jam up roads in the West End and unnecessarily and consistently fail to ensure the safety of their passengers. Uniquely, London is not currently able to restrict or regulate pedicabs in any way, unlike the rest of the country.
 
The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “We must be able to take action against the threat posed by the massive increase we are seeing in the number of private hire vehicles. There are only 25,000 black cabs and 8,000 buses in London and yet there are already over 75,000 minicabs and rising. We’re starting to see a threat to free movement of traffic on the roads. 
 
“What we are proposing therefore is legislation, which I will be looking to take forward in Parliament, to restrict the number of minicabs that can come on the streets. 
 
“We will also be seeking powers for TfL over pedicabs – which so far have been completely immune from regulation. These vehicles jam up the roads and consistently fail to ensure the safety of their passengers.”
 
Notes to editor
 
Increase in private hire driver numbers in recent years:
 
2009/2010 59,191
2010/2011 61,200
2011/2012 64,063
2012/2013 66,975
2013/2014 65,656
2014/2015 76,249
 
Examples of traffic/parking congestion spots include:
 
West End (Piccadilly, Mayfair, Leicester Square) during Thursday, Fridays and Saturday nights and residential streets around Heathrow.
 
Particular streets/locations include:
 
St Pancras International
Dover Street
Berkeley St/Dover St
Piccadilly/Shaftesbury Avenue/Swallow Street and Wardour Street
Portman Square and Grosvenor Place
Knightsbridge/Hyde Park Corner
Edgware Road/ Marylebone (includes both Praed Street (Paddington Station), Star Street, Bryanston Sq and Marylebone Road).
Charing Cross Road/ Leicester Square
Camden High Street
Greenwich around 02
Clapham High St
 
The Mayor is seeking to include the legislation in a London Bill in this year’s Queen’s speech.
 
TfL currently has a major private hire review ongoing and will start making changes later this year. This includes an English language requirement and better geographic knowledge requirements for minicab drivers.
 
Tfl is also increasing its enforcement against touting and other illegal activity, working with the Metropolitan Police Service to target known hotspots and better responding to real-time information to take swift action against touting, for example.

May 13

Cabbie’s licence revoked for failing to renew £55 MOT

Aqeel Maqsud Kayani did not MOT test his vehicle as required by Reading Borough Council despite reminders being sent from the licensing department

A Hackney Carriage driver who failed to renew the £55 MOT on his vehicle has had his licence revoked.

Aqeel Maqsud Kayani, of Rosedale Crescent, Earley , did not MOT test his vehicle as required by Reading Borough Council despite reminders being sent from the licensing department.

The council revoked the 29-year-old’s Hackney Carriage Vehicle (HCV) licence and he appealed against the decision at Reading Magistrates Court on September 9, 2014.

He lost that appeal and was ordered to pay costs of £1,000.

Mr Kayani appealed against the magistrates’ decision and appeared before Reading Crown Court on Friday, May 1, 2015 to argue his case.

The court heard the council had sent Mr Kayani a letter in June 2013 reminding him his MOT was due but received no response.

A further three letters were sent to Mr Kayani warning that his licence would be suspended and then revoked if he failed to go ahead with the MOT test.

The council’s licensing department only received confirmation the MOT test had been carried out six days after the final deadline.

The judge at Reading Crown Court did not accept Mr Kayani’s argument that he did not receive any of the letters from the council and said the local authority had little option but to suspend and then revoke the vehicle licence.

Full legal costs of £1,162 were also awarded to the council.

A Hackney Carriage with a valid plate in Reading borough has a transfer value of between £50,000 and £70,000.

Councillor Paul Gittings, Reading’s lead councillor for culture, sport and consumer services, said: “The safety of passengers using Hackney Carriages in Reading is very important to us which is why we must insist the vehicles undergo regular checks.

“Reading Borough Council issues reminders to HCV licence holders when their MOTs are due and the vast majority take their responsibilities seriously and act promptly.

“The cost of ensuring a Hackney Carriage is fit to be on the road is £55 but the failure in this case of the owner to do so has cost him an awful lot more.”

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

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