Wayne’s world February 2016

casey confWayne’s world

By

Wayne Casey

The views in this piece should not be regarded as whatever, by whoever it may (and will) offend.

Regard me as a spectator

A personally favourite, now long dead comedian called George Carlin once observed that he was a spectator to events; I’m beginning to regard myself similarly in all things taxi.

I look at things happening and think very misappropriate and very unpolitically correct things about them. I do not regard this as my fault, I regard it on the whole as societies fault, therefore your fault because you lot are in fact society, as much as that fills me with trepidation.

The perfect example of the stupidity of our very existence happened this week when I was half way through a particularly decent bottle of merlot.

‘That damn app’ firm claimed victory over TFL on the very day one of its drivers was convicted of the sexual assault of a young woman.

I am not telling lies here, check the local paper from Islington.

A driver registered with ‘that damn app’ sexually assaulted a woman, yet this took little news from the national headlines.

The greater headline was a non-story, the press proclaimed the app’s victory over the regulators, further free promotion of that app.

You would, as a fair-minded person believe that someone in a particular company would actually stop and think ‘Hmmm, woman being violated against their will, that isn’t good’.

Likewise you would naturally think that someone in the nations press would stop and think ‘you know what? Maybe we should ask the company in question a few questions’. Yet there is nothing, there is a virtual press black out.

I honestly see some of these apps like a enormous bungee jump, it’s a huge thrill, will the rope hold, or will you die.

Comparatively, get in the vehicle hailed app via the iphone and will you get home still in a virginal state.

I believe the odds are roughly the same, although the chances are bungee jumping is still a little safer.

It was a similar story the month previous.

Ordinarily you would expect employing someone who was reportedly mentally disturbed would raise a few questions.

A person who was so disturbed they took a knife into a tube station, attacking and stabbing an innocent individual whilst shouting ‘this is for Syria’ would raise more than a passing comment in the press that the driver worked for an app firm.

You would believe this would lead to questions about your vetting procedures, or at least about your application process.

For example, ‘did you interview the person who is picking up your customers on your behalf, was he playing with knives at the time of the interview, were his trousers soiled, was he dribbling etc?’

Yet, whom did the media choose to vent its anger upon?.

The taxi trade of course, for merely pointing out that none of the normal things that the public should consider being done without question, were seemingly done.

This type of stupidity or just plain ignorance in the press, the lack of questions, assisted in creating situations like in Rotherham, where questions were not asked because it was not considered politically correct to ask them.

People fearful that asking questions may lead to them losing the vital things in life, like your job if you ask them, therefore complaints went ignored or uninvestigated.

Then we have stories about local authorities increasing license fees by around 100%, and in some cases much more.

Considering since time immortal licensing departments have been zero profit making, it rather makes you wonder about the level of accountancy skills employed by those all holy folk above us.

My milkman Dave charges me £6.40p each week for half a dozen bottles of milk delivered to my door by local delinquents, I don’t know if that expensive or not, I consider shopping a menial task and therefore delegate it.

Nevertheless, I like Dave, he does support Manchester United, which has put a serious strain on our relationship over the years, but we have put this aside.

Now if Dave comes along next week and says Wayne, I need £1000 for those six bottles, there was a surge in demand. I think Dave and me would have a serious falling out.

In fact, as much as I like Dave, I really think I’d kick him all around my front lawn, and as you folk will know from my gardening column in the paper, I really like my lawn.

Therefore, if all of a sudden, my local council decided to increase my license fee by 100%, I’d be a little upset, because these people, unlike Dave my milkman, should actually know, say to a figure of say around 5% either way, if the fee is accurate.

Naturally, I can sack Dave and get litres of the white stuff far cheaper elsewhere, but I cant sack my licensing authority (well could if I went to Rossendale or some other ghastly place where the sun doesn’t shine).

I recently heard of one local authority saying it took 15 hours to process a PH operator’s license as part of the justification for a huge increase in license fees.

Can somebody please write in and tell me how it takes 15 hours to look at an application form, I wonder if this timescale includes teaching basic English to the council staff?

How long can it possibly take to look at a form that you designed yourself, maybe check the accompanying planning consent and maybe check a criminal records certificate (if required).

As I write it was reported that some poor bloke in York had his school contract suspended for hugging his own children, and if I write that I genuinely believe the people responsible for his suspension should be water boarded for their stupidity, I’m regarded as the bad guy?

Of course, we are all well used to the high level of stupidity we are subjected to from the bureaucracy that is responsible for licensing. I know I have mentioned it before, but this 3-year licensing malarkey is a case in point.

Aside from the sheer stupidity of the government not to give out any guidance on the implementation of the law they brought in, foolishly believing it would reduce red tape.

In itself, a level of stupidity on a higher level. This was only to be expected when you listened to Baroness Kramer talk on the subject in parliament, the deregulation bill and its implications were very obviously beyond her ken.

A few months on, we appear to have local authority licensing departments attempting to justify their existence by dreaming up new excuses not to issue the licenses, or to make it harder for licensees, although I am sure this is not the case even though it looks that way.

What level of petty minded bureaucracy will refuse to issue a 3-year license on the basis a medical may expire during the duration of the license?

Unless licensing department employees are all now medically qualified, which bearing in mind some appear to have been lobotomised and is therefore doubtful. How on earth can they say whether a driver is medically suitable to continue to drive or not to drive?

Clearly, they cannot, they need a form, they need a form from the licensee’s doctor or a medical professional where the doctor says they are fit to drive a licensed vehicle.

They can then tick a box and issue a license.

Similarly with the DBS check (or whatever they’re called this week), if they expire midway through a person’s licensing period then some councils are using this as a reason not to issue the 3–year license.

I despair at this type of idiocy.

In an article in the Derbyshire Telegraph, Mid-Derbyshire’s MP Pauline Latham, recently said there was a “very serious” loophole in the taxi licensing process.

The current system forces applicants to disclose if they have had a licence refused or revoked but there is no way of telling if the applicant is telling the truth.

Taxi drivers are checked for criminal records but issues that would not show up on police records may not be known about.

Mrs Latham said the loophole had meant that a driver who has had a licence revoked by the council in one area for asking out young girls who used his taxi was successful in getting a new licence from a neighbouring authority.

She asked for a statement by the Department for Transport on the “possibility of a register of taxi drivers” so councils can check applicants to see if they have had a licence refused or revoked by another authority.

It is nice to discover that MP’s and local authorities are now fearful about the licensing system they have allowed develop.

From a personal point of view, and if I was a council official.

If I received an application for a taxi or private hire license from someone who lived many miles away, I would ask myself the question. ‘Why does this person want a license here, he lives nowhere near the place’?

I would perhaps use one of those new fangled things more commonly known as a telephone and call my colleague in the area of the applicants abode. I would ask if the chap ever had a license there.

Indeed, I may even add a question to the application form asking if the applicant has previously held a taxi or private hire license anywhere else and if it was revoked or suspended.

Sure, a person could tell fibs, but if they are caught telling fibs on an official form, they should, could and would get fined and convicted of a criminal offence.

I know this is revolutionary stuff.

 

The above article appears in the February edition of PHTM

Taxi driver suspended over offensive sign

A frustrated taxi driver’s offensive sign and verbal tirade in his campaign for tougher rules and safety regulations has landed him with a one-month suspension.

Eric Needham, 62, of Chesterfield Road, Temple Normanton, was punished by Chesterfield Borough Council’s licensing committee for using a sign in his cab banning non-English speaking customers after he had been attacked.

An unsuccessful Chesterfield magistrates’ court appeal brought by Mr Needham on Wednesday, February 3, against his taxi licence suspension also heard how he was punished for using offensive language and for not wearing his licensed taxi badge.

Mr Needham told the hearing: “The thing that hurts is that I’m a patient person but I say things in not a nice manner and I apologise. I call a spade a spade and if someone upsets me I will have a go and stand my corner.

“It hurts when I try to do the job in a proper manner and I care a lot for the people of this town and that is why it has come to this.

“If I said things that were not nice it was in the heat of the moment and I apologise.

“It’s frustration. That’s my problem and I am ashamed my 41 years as a taxi driver have been tarnished.”

The council imposed 13 licensing penalty points against Mr Needham for three breaches between May, 2014, and May, 2015 – exceeding a maximum twelve limit – and on October 14, last year, a council committee decided to impose a one-month taxi licence suspension.

Despite warnings, Mr Needham refused to move a sign from his taxi which read “Only English spoken in this vehicle” and failed to wear his licence badge, according to prosecuting barrister Asitha Ranatunga.

Mr Ranatunga revealed how further points had been imposed due to Mr Needham’s offensive language when dealing with council officers and Asian drivers.

He said: “Mr Needham refused to remove an inappropriate sign after being requested to do so on more than one occasion.

“He used inappropriate language about council officers and Asian drivers which were found offensive. Comments were made in public and demonstrated a lack of professionalism, courtesy and respect to the public.

“Since the committee decision in October, 2015, council licensing manager Trevor Durham has had further occasion to speak to Mr Needham and comments made in that conversation are consistent with his behaviour.”

Mr Needham told the court his behaviour was triggered after he repeatedly raised concerns with the council that regulations were not being enforced properly upon taxis across the borough.

The 62-year-old has previously campaigned over fears that too many cabs are being allowed to operate in the town, drivers are operating without vehicle checks and taxi-rank parking restrictions are not being enforced, meter tampering is not being monitored and unregulated and untrained cabbies are putting the public at risk and giving good cabbies a bad name.

Mr Needham told the court he had been attacked by two Asian customers with one putting an arm round his neck and the other punching him in the stomach during an attempted armed robbery and he fears a lot of drivers are in danger.

Mr Needham argued he had used the sign for his safety and has struggled to wear his badge because it gets in the way when dealing with wheelchair customers.

However, council licensing manager Trevor Durham told the court a council solicitor had found Mr Needham’s comments about Asian drivers offensive after he told the solicitor he needed the sign because he did not know what Asians were saying in his cab and whether they were saying anything derogatory, abusive or plotting.

Mr Durham stated no external or internal signs can be displayed in taxis other than stated by law and drivers must have a regard to the code of conduct and there was a failure to wear a badge and discriminatory behaviour will not be tolerated. But he also stressed Mr Needham’s sign was not deemed racist.

Mr Durham added: “Mr Mann talked about Asian drivers not speaking English at the ranks and he has concerns about Asian taxi drivers and the people coming into his vehicle but you cannot compel someone to speak English. It was felt the sign didn’t serve a purpose and it was intended to offend. It could be considered that if you are not an English speaker you’re not welcome in this car.

“A lot of Mr Needham’s history involves derogatory comments about people from ethnic backgrounds. It’s unacceptable behaviour and not something we want from our taxi drivers.

“The regulations are only worth having if they are upheld and we are trying to do that and that kind of ranting and behaviour is bad enough for officers never mind the public.”

Mr Durham added he had also received a phone call from Mr Needham complaining about Asian taxi drivers and he accused them of bringing the taxi trade down and accused the council of not acting on two complaints despite no suspects having been identified.

Mr Durham said he warned Mr Needham but he carried on and blamed Asian drivers for the ills of the taxi trade.

Mr Needham’s friend and neighbour Stephen Wright, Chesterfield branch chairman of the Private Hire and Hackney Association Paul Mann, and fellow taxi driver David Hopton described him as “caring and good man”, “a responsible operator and no threat to the public”, and “one of the most honest blokes”.

However, Magistrates dismissed Mr Needham’s appeal though stressed that they did not doubt his devotion to the taxi trade and to the public.

Following the hearing, Councillor Andy Bellamy, Chesterfield Borough Council’s chair of appeals and regulatory committee, said: “We take the welfare of passengers travelling in taxis in the borough very seriously and we will take action to award penalty points and suspend or revoke licenses where necessary.

“We will also not tolerate people using abusive and offensive language to our staff.

“I am pleased that magistrates have recognised the severity of the case and upheld this suspension.”

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

REVEALED: Westerham pervert was council’s minicab driver for disabled children

A pervert driving instructor worked as a minicab driver for disabled children on behalf of Kent County Council, the Chronicle can reveal.

Matthew Ottley, 40, formerly of High Street, Westerham, was sentenced at Maidstone Crown Court on Friday to four and a half years in prison after pleading guilty to charges of causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity, and arranging or facilitating child prostitution or pornography.

He previously ran the Edenbridge-based minicab company Matt’s Taxis, which he stood down from in March 2014.

During his time as a minicab driver Ottley was on the council’s list of recommended drivers for transporting disabled children to school.

A Kent County Council spokesman said: “KCC held taxi contracts with Mr Ottley until summer 2014. We did not receive any complaints about him.”

He also ran Westerham-based driving school I Drive Safely, which was an AA franchise.

A spokesman from the AA said: “We suspended this individual as soon as we heard about these serious allegations last summer, and he then resigned while under suspension. At the time, he had a clear DBS check.”

They added that in the future after his release, “he would not be offered a franchise as any potential instructor must have a clean DBS check”.

A Sexual Harm Prevention Order has been issued against Ottley for 10 years, which means he will have to follow strict restrictions around children and when using the internet after his release.

Detective constable Caroline White said: “Ottley planned to film these young girls for his own gratification and while thankfully this didn’t take place, the consequences of his intentions are likely to remain with his victims for a long time. Both of these girls did the right thing in telling staff at their school of their concerns.

“Their courage has ensured that Ottley has been brought to justice and I hope now that both of these children and their families can move on with their lives.”

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

Uber drivers spotted DEFECATING in gardens on millionaire’s row

a minicab driver last year in Manchester

UBER rivers have been accused of POOING in the gardens of multi-million pound homes as they try to make cash on lucrative airport runs.

And when well-heeled villagers in the leafy Stanwell, Surrey, complain about the potty behaviour, they say expletives are hurled at them from the foul-mouthed drivers.

Vigilante residents in the area, where many homes are worth over £3million, are now naming and shaming the cabbies by posting images of them on Facebook.

A newly-launched Facebook group called “Uber off out of Stanwell” protestors claim claim drivers from the app-based minicab service use their gardens as toilets, swear at residents and toss food waste and litter out of their cab windows while on a run to nearby Heathrow Airport.

A spokesman for the group said: “All that Uber is interested in is profit and how many drivers use this app and how many people they get to use this app.”

Campaigners have been naming and shaming minicab drivers by posting images of them on the Facebook page.

The spokesman said there are at least 20 to 30 Uber drivers who regularly park and congregate outside shops, causing disabled and elderly people to park farther away.

He says abuse from minicab drivers has still not improved, despite Uber saying it is monitoring the situation and urging residents to report the behaviour so it could ‘take appropriate action’.

He said: “It has upset us all beyond belief. You have to scream and scream before someone listens and when they do it’s too late.

“All we need is the community to join together and get our streets back. I’m not asking for David Cameron to come down.

“We want our streets back. All we want is our community back and for it not to be used as a free car park.

“It’s opened my eyes to the wider implications Uber could have on London’s cab drivers.

“The ultimate solution is if David Cameron and Boris Johnson want Uber to be part of our society, then let them have the same rules and conditions as the black cab drivers.

“Let’s see how long Uber lasts – because it won’t.”

Uber said since receiving complaints it had stopped allowing drivers to receive dispatches on residential streets in the areas around Heathrow.

A spokesman said: “We have been closely monitoring the situation and can see on our mapping system that there are no cars logged into the Uber app on these streets.

“We have sent a representative from Uber to the area and can confirm that there are no Uber vehicles there.

“We will continue to monitor this and would ask residents to let us know of any issues by going to t.uber.com/lhr_offence.”

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

Lincoln taxi drivers told to pay for college courses or risk losing licence (and they aren’t happy)

Taxi drivers in Lincoln fear they will be thousands of pounds out of pocket after being told they need to take a college course or risk losing their licence.

The City of Lincoln Council wants drivers to take a BTEC qualification covering customer care, public protection, health and safety and routes and fares.

But some drivers say they will lose money because they will have to take a week off work to complete the course.

Taxi driver Helen Glover told the Echo: “My partner and I who are both taxi drivers in Lincoln have just been informed that the council are making us do a BTEC course that will cost £240 each.

“This is for all taxi drivers. Also it is a total of 35 hours so that will be a week off work to do this course – that’s in excess of £400 each.

“My partner has been doing this job for nearly 40 years and I can safely say he knows the job and don’t think he needs a bit of paper to say he can.

“I have worked with the public for 30 years and been driving a private hire vehicle for over eight.

“We already have a CRB check and driving licences checked and cars mot’ed twice a year.

“Insurance is expensive and now if we don’t do this course we won’t be able to renew our badges.

“If this course was done online or free it would still rile us bit if you worked in a supermarket and they wanted you to do extra training they would pay for it so why not the council?”

Another taxi driver said that he did an NVQ a few years ago which has made absolutely no difference to how he drives or deals with the public.

Councillor Ric Metcalfe, leader of the City of Lincoln Council, said: “I fully understand the reaction of experienced taxi drivers.

“The council has an important role in public protection. Everybody who gets in a taxi needs to know they’re getting a good and consistent service.

“This is really about training arising from new risks that councils across the country are being more aware of.

“One of the modules is about safeguarding children. Taxi drivers have a year in which to complete the course, and it should be possible to complete it without loss of earnings.”

From March 7, it will become council policy that all drivers must have the BTEC Introduction to the Role of the Taxi and Private Hire Driver.

Kevin Barron, licensing manager, said: “The City of Lincoln Council is committed to ensuring the city’s residents and visitors are able to use a service that conforms to a high standard of service, safety and comfort.

“The new policy takes into account the licensing requirements and experiences of other councils, and introduces extra measures required in terms of training and the qualifications required for drivers.

“The requirement for training will enhance the service provided to the travelling public and also the professional status of drivers.

“The BTEC certificate is nationally recognised, used by many other authorities and is locally available.

“We invited more than 500 interested parties including drivers and operators to give their views on the draft policy but just over four per cent chose to respond.

“These views were taken into account when a decision on the policy was made.”

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

Feb 09

Wayne’s world February 2016

casey confWayne’s world

By

Wayne Casey

The views in this piece should not be regarded as whatever, by whoever it may (and will) offend.

Regard me as a spectator

A personally favourite, now long dead comedian called George Carlin once observed that he was a spectator to events; I’m beginning to regard myself similarly in all things taxi.

I look at things happening and think very misappropriate and very unpolitically correct things about them. I do not regard this as my fault, I regard it on the whole as societies fault, therefore your fault because you lot are in fact society, as much as that fills me with trepidation.

The perfect example of the stupidity of our very existence happened this week when I was half way through a particularly decent bottle of merlot.

‘That damn app’ firm claimed victory over TFL on the very day one of its drivers was convicted of the sexual assault of a young woman.

I am not telling lies here, check the local paper from Islington.

A driver registered with ‘that damn app’ sexually assaulted a woman, yet this took little news from the national headlines.

The greater headline was a non-story, the press proclaimed the app’s victory over the regulators, further free promotion of that app.

You would, as a fair-minded person believe that someone in a particular company would actually stop and think ‘Hmmm, woman being violated against their will, that isn’t good’.

Likewise you would naturally think that someone in the nations press would stop and think ‘you know what? Maybe we should ask the company in question a few questions’. Yet there is nothing, there is a virtual press black out.

I honestly see some of these apps like a enormous bungee jump, it’s a huge thrill, will the rope hold, or will you die.

Comparatively, get in the vehicle hailed app via the iphone and will you get home still in a virginal state.

I believe the odds are roughly the same, although the chances are bungee jumping is still a little safer.

It was a similar story the month previous.

Ordinarily you would expect employing someone who was reportedly mentally disturbed would raise a few questions.

A person who was so disturbed they took a knife into a tube station, attacking and stabbing an innocent individual whilst shouting ‘this is for Syria’ would raise more than a passing comment in the press that the driver worked for an app firm.

You would believe this would lead to questions about your vetting procedures, or at least about your application process.

For example, ‘did you interview the person who is picking up your customers on your behalf, was he playing with knives at the time of the interview, were his trousers soiled, was he dribbling etc?’

Yet, whom did the media choose to vent its anger upon?.

The taxi trade of course, for merely pointing out that none of the normal things that the public should consider being done without question, were seemingly done.

This type of stupidity or just plain ignorance in the press, the lack of questions, assisted in creating situations like in Rotherham, where questions were not asked because it was not considered politically correct to ask them.

People fearful that asking questions may lead to them losing the vital things in life, like your job if you ask them, therefore complaints went ignored or uninvestigated.

Then we have stories about local authorities increasing license fees by around 100%, and in some cases much more.

Considering since time immortal licensing departments have been zero profit making, it rather makes you wonder about the level of accountancy skills employed by those all holy folk above us.

My milkman Dave charges me £6.40p each week for half a dozen bottles of milk delivered to my door by local delinquents, I don’t know if that expensive or not, I consider shopping a menial task and therefore delegate it.

Nevertheless, I like Dave, he does support Manchester United, which has put a serious strain on our relationship over the years, but we have put this aside.

Now if Dave comes along next week and says Wayne, I need £1000 for those six bottles, there was a surge in demand. I think Dave and me would have a serious falling out.

In fact, as much as I like Dave, I really think I’d kick him all around my front lawn, and as you folk will know from my gardening column in the paper, I really like my lawn.

Therefore, if all of a sudden, my local council decided to increase my license fee by 100%, I’d be a little upset, because these people, unlike Dave my milkman, should actually know, say to a figure of say around 5% either way, if the fee is accurate.

Naturally, I can sack Dave and get litres of the white stuff far cheaper elsewhere, but I cant sack my licensing authority (well could if I went to Rossendale or some other ghastly place where the sun doesn’t shine).

I recently heard of one local authority saying it took 15 hours to process a PH operator’s license as part of the justification for a huge increase in license fees.

Can somebody please write in and tell me how it takes 15 hours to look at an application form, I wonder if this timescale includes teaching basic English to the council staff?

How long can it possibly take to look at a form that you designed yourself, maybe check the accompanying planning consent and maybe check a criminal records certificate (if required).

As I write it was reported that some poor bloke in York had his school contract suspended for hugging his own children, and if I write that I genuinely believe the people responsible for his suspension should be water boarded for their stupidity, I’m regarded as the bad guy?

Of course, we are all well used to the high level of stupidity we are subjected to from the bureaucracy that is responsible for licensing. I know I have mentioned it before, but this 3-year licensing malarkey is a case in point.

Aside from the sheer stupidity of the government not to give out any guidance on the implementation of the law they brought in, foolishly believing it would reduce red tape.

In itself, a level of stupidity on a higher level. This was only to be expected when you listened to Baroness Kramer talk on the subject in parliament, the deregulation bill and its implications were very obviously beyond her ken.

A few months on, we appear to have local authority licensing departments attempting to justify their existence by dreaming up new excuses not to issue the licenses, or to make it harder for licensees, although I am sure this is not the case even though it looks that way.

What level of petty minded bureaucracy will refuse to issue a 3-year license on the basis a medical may expire during the duration of the license?

Unless licensing department employees are all now medically qualified, which bearing in mind some appear to have been lobotomised and is therefore doubtful. How on earth can they say whether a driver is medically suitable to continue to drive or not to drive?

Clearly, they cannot, they need a form, they need a form from the licensee’s doctor or a medical professional where the doctor says they are fit to drive a licensed vehicle.

They can then tick a box and issue a license.

Similarly with the DBS check (or whatever they’re called this week), if they expire midway through a person’s licensing period then some councils are using this as a reason not to issue the 3–year license.

I despair at this type of idiocy.

In an article in the Derbyshire Telegraph, Mid-Derbyshire’s MP Pauline Latham, recently said there was a “very serious” loophole in the taxi licensing process.

The current system forces applicants to disclose if they have had a licence refused or revoked but there is no way of telling if the applicant is telling the truth.

Taxi drivers are checked for criminal records but issues that would not show up on police records may not be known about.

Mrs Latham said the loophole had meant that a driver who has had a licence revoked by the council in one area for asking out young girls who used his taxi was successful in getting a new licence from a neighbouring authority.

She asked for a statement by the Department for Transport on the “possibility of a register of taxi drivers” so councils can check applicants to see if they have had a licence refused or revoked by another authority.

It is nice to discover that MP’s and local authorities are now fearful about the licensing system they have allowed develop.

From a personal point of view, and if I was a council official.

If I received an application for a taxi or private hire license from someone who lived many miles away, I would ask myself the question. ‘Why does this person want a license here, he lives nowhere near the place’?

I would perhaps use one of those new fangled things more commonly known as a telephone and call my colleague in the area of the applicants abode. I would ask if the chap ever had a license there.

Indeed, I may even add a question to the application form asking if the applicant has previously held a taxi or private hire license anywhere else and if it was revoked or suspended.

Sure, a person could tell fibs, but if they are caught telling fibs on an official form, they should, could and would get fined and convicted of a criminal offence.

I know this is revolutionary stuff.

 

The above article appears in the February edition of PHTM

Feb 08

Taxi driver suspended over offensive sign

A frustrated taxi driver’s offensive sign and verbal tirade in his campaign for tougher rules and safety regulations has landed him with a one-month suspension.

Eric Needham, 62, of Chesterfield Road, Temple Normanton, was punished by Chesterfield Borough Council’s licensing committee for using a sign in his cab banning non-English speaking customers after he had been attacked.

An unsuccessful Chesterfield magistrates’ court appeal brought by Mr Needham on Wednesday, February 3, against his taxi licence suspension also heard how he was punished for using offensive language and for not wearing his licensed taxi badge.

Mr Needham told the hearing: “The thing that hurts is that I’m a patient person but I say things in not a nice manner and I apologise. I call a spade a spade and if someone upsets me I will have a go and stand my corner.

“It hurts when I try to do the job in a proper manner and I care a lot for the people of this town and that is why it has come to this.

“If I said things that were not nice it was in the heat of the moment and I apologise.

“It’s frustration. That’s my problem and I am ashamed my 41 years as a taxi driver have been tarnished.”

The council imposed 13 licensing penalty points against Mr Needham for three breaches between May, 2014, and May, 2015 – exceeding a maximum twelve limit – and on October 14, last year, a council committee decided to impose a one-month taxi licence suspension.

Despite warnings, Mr Needham refused to move a sign from his taxi which read “Only English spoken in this vehicle” and failed to wear his licence badge, according to prosecuting barrister Asitha Ranatunga.

Mr Ranatunga revealed how further points had been imposed due to Mr Needham’s offensive language when dealing with council officers and Asian drivers.

He said: “Mr Needham refused to remove an inappropriate sign after being requested to do so on more than one occasion.

“He used inappropriate language about council officers and Asian drivers which were found offensive. Comments were made in public and demonstrated a lack of professionalism, courtesy and respect to the public.

“Since the committee decision in October, 2015, council licensing manager Trevor Durham has had further occasion to speak to Mr Needham and comments made in that conversation are consistent with his behaviour.”

Mr Needham told the court his behaviour was triggered after he repeatedly raised concerns with the council that regulations were not being enforced properly upon taxis across the borough.

The 62-year-old has previously campaigned over fears that too many cabs are being allowed to operate in the town, drivers are operating without vehicle checks and taxi-rank parking restrictions are not being enforced, meter tampering is not being monitored and unregulated and untrained cabbies are putting the public at risk and giving good cabbies a bad name.

Mr Needham told the court he had been attacked by two Asian customers with one putting an arm round his neck and the other punching him in the stomach during an attempted armed robbery and he fears a lot of drivers are in danger.

Mr Needham argued he had used the sign for his safety and has struggled to wear his badge because it gets in the way when dealing with wheelchair customers.

However, council licensing manager Trevor Durham told the court a council solicitor had found Mr Needham’s comments about Asian drivers offensive after he told the solicitor he needed the sign because he did not know what Asians were saying in his cab and whether they were saying anything derogatory, abusive or plotting.

Mr Durham stated no external or internal signs can be displayed in taxis other than stated by law and drivers must have a regard to the code of conduct and there was a failure to wear a badge and discriminatory behaviour will not be tolerated. But he also stressed Mr Needham’s sign was not deemed racist.

Mr Durham added: “Mr Mann talked about Asian drivers not speaking English at the ranks and he has concerns about Asian taxi drivers and the people coming into his vehicle but you cannot compel someone to speak English. It was felt the sign didn’t serve a purpose and it was intended to offend. It could be considered that if you are not an English speaker you’re not welcome in this car.

“A lot of Mr Needham’s history involves derogatory comments about people from ethnic backgrounds. It’s unacceptable behaviour and not something we want from our taxi drivers.

“The regulations are only worth having if they are upheld and we are trying to do that and that kind of ranting and behaviour is bad enough for officers never mind the public.”

Mr Durham added he had also received a phone call from Mr Needham complaining about Asian taxi drivers and he accused them of bringing the taxi trade down and accused the council of not acting on two complaints despite no suspects having been identified.

Mr Durham said he warned Mr Needham but he carried on and blamed Asian drivers for the ills of the taxi trade.

Mr Needham’s friend and neighbour Stephen Wright, Chesterfield branch chairman of the Private Hire and Hackney Association Paul Mann, and fellow taxi driver David Hopton described him as “caring and good man”, “a responsible operator and no threat to the public”, and “one of the most honest blokes”.

However, Magistrates dismissed Mr Needham’s appeal though stressed that they did not doubt his devotion to the taxi trade and to the public.

Following the hearing, Councillor Andy Bellamy, Chesterfield Borough Council’s chair of appeals and regulatory committee, said: “We take the welfare of passengers travelling in taxis in the borough very seriously and we will take action to award penalty points and suspend or revoke licenses where necessary.

“We will also not tolerate people using abusive and offensive language to our staff.

“I am pleased that magistrates have recognised the severity of the case and upheld this suspension.”

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

Feb 08

REVEALED: Westerham pervert was council’s minicab driver for disabled children

A pervert driving instructor worked as a minicab driver for disabled children on behalf of Kent County Council, the Chronicle can reveal.

Matthew Ottley, 40, formerly of High Street, Westerham, was sentenced at Maidstone Crown Court on Friday to four and a half years in prison after pleading guilty to charges of causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity, and arranging or facilitating child prostitution or pornography.

He previously ran the Edenbridge-based minicab company Matt’s Taxis, which he stood down from in March 2014.

During his time as a minicab driver Ottley was on the council’s list of recommended drivers for transporting disabled children to school.

A Kent County Council spokesman said: “KCC held taxi contracts with Mr Ottley until summer 2014. We did not receive any complaints about him.”

He also ran Westerham-based driving school I Drive Safely, which was an AA franchise.

A spokesman from the AA said: “We suspended this individual as soon as we heard about these serious allegations last summer, and he then resigned while under suspension. At the time, he had a clear DBS check.”

They added that in the future after his release, “he would not be offered a franchise as any potential instructor must have a clean DBS check”.

A Sexual Harm Prevention Order has been issued against Ottley for 10 years, which means he will have to follow strict restrictions around children and when using the internet after his release.

Detective constable Caroline White said: “Ottley planned to film these young girls for his own gratification and while thankfully this didn’t take place, the consequences of his intentions are likely to remain with his victims for a long time. Both of these girls did the right thing in telling staff at their school of their concerns.

“Their courage has ensured that Ottley has been brought to justice and I hope now that both of these children and their families can move on with their lives.”

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

Feb 08

Uber drivers spotted DEFECATING in gardens on millionaire’s row

a minicab driver last year in Manchester

UBER rivers have been accused of POOING in the gardens of multi-million pound homes as they try to make cash on lucrative airport runs.

And when well-heeled villagers in the leafy Stanwell, Surrey, complain about the potty behaviour, they say expletives are hurled at them from the foul-mouthed drivers.

Vigilante residents in the area, where many homes are worth over £3million, are now naming and shaming the cabbies by posting images of them on Facebook.

A newly-launched Facebook group called “Uber off out of Stanwell” protestors claim claim drivers from the app-based minicab service use their gardens as toilets, swear at residents and toss food waste and litter out of their cab windows while on a run to nearby Heathrow Airport.

A spokesman for the group said: “All that Uber is interested in is profit and how many drivers use this app and how many people they get to use this app.”

Campaigners have been naming and shaming minicab drivers by posting images of them on the Facebook page.

The spokesman said there are at least 20 to 30 Uber drivers who regularly park and congregate outside shops, causing disabled and elderly people to park farther away.

He says abuse from minicab drivers has still not improved, despite Uber saying it is monitoring the situation and urging residents to report the behaviour so it could ‘take appropriate action’.

He said: “It has upset us all beyond belief. You have to scream and scream before someone listens and when they do it’s too late.

“All we need is the community to join together and get our streets back. I’m not asking for David Cameron to come down.

“We want our streets back. All we want is our community back and for it not to be used as a free car park.

“It’s opened my eyes to the wider implications Uber could have on London’s cab drivers.

“The ultimate solution is if David Cameron and Boris Johnson want Uber to be part of our society, then let them have the same rules and conditions as the black cab drivers.

“Let’s see how long Uber lasts – because it won’t.”

Uber said since receiving complaints it had stopped allowing drivers to receive dispatches on residential streets in the areas around Heathrow.

A spokesman said: “We have been closely monitoring the situation and can see on our mapping system that there are no cars logged into the Uber app on these streets.

“We have sent a representative from Uber to the area and can confirm that there are no Uber vehicles there.

“We will continue to monitor this and would ask residents to let us know of any issues by going to t.uber.com/lhr_offence.”

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

Feb 04

Lincoln taxi drivers told to pay for college courses or risk losing licence (and they aren’t happy)

Taxi drivers in Lincoln fear they will be thousands of pounds out of pocket after being told they need to take a college course or risk losing their licence.

The City of Lincoln Council wants drivers to take a BTEC qualification covering customer care, public protection, health and safety and routes and fares.

But some drivers say they will lose money because they will have to take a week off work to complete the course.

Taxi driver Helen Glover told the Echo: “My partner and I who are both taxi drivers in Lincoln have just been informed that the council are making us do a BTEC course that will cost £240 each.

“This is for all taxi drivers. Also it is a total of 35 hours so that will be a week off work to do this course – that’s in excess of £400 each.

“My partner has been doing this job for nearly 40 years and I can safely say he knows the job and don’t think he needs a bit of paper to say he can.

“I have worked with the public for 30 years and been driving a private hire vehicle for over eight.

“We already have a CRB check and driving licences checked and cars mot’ed twice a year.

“Insurance is expensive and now if we don’t do this course we won’t be able to renew our badges.

“If this course was done online or free it would still rile us bit if you worked in a supermarket and they wanted you to do extra training they would pay for it so why not the council?”

Another taxi driver said that he did an NVQ a few years ago which has made absolutely no difference to how he drives or deals with the public.

Councillor Ric Metcalfe, leader of the City of Lincoln Council, said: “I fully understand the reaction of experienced taxi drivers.

“The council has an important role in public protection. Everybody who gets in a taxi needs to know they’re getting a good and consistent service.

“This is really about training arising from new risks that councils across the country are being more aware of.

“One of the modules is about safeguarding children. Taxi drivers have a year in which to complete the course, and it should be possible to complete it without loss of earnings.”

From March 7, it will become council policy that all drivers must have the BTEC Introduction to the Role of the Taxi and Private Hire Driver.

Kevin Barron, licensing manager, said: “The City of Lincoln Council is committed to ensuring the city’s residents and visitors are able to use a service that conforms to a high standard of service, safety and comfort.

“The new policy takes into account the licensing requirements and experiences of other councils, and introduces extra measures required in terms of training and the qualifications required for drivers.

“The requirement for training will enhance the service provided to the travelling public and also the professional status of drivers.

“The BTEC certificate is nationally recognised, used by many other authorities and is locally available.

“We invited more than 500 interested parties including drivers and operators to give their views on the draft policy but just over four per cent chose to respond.

“These views were taken into account when a decision on the policy was made.”

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

Feb 02

Council want change in taxi licensing laws

Cheshire East not happy that drivers licensed by other local authorities are allowed to operate in the borough

CHESHIRE East is lobbying the Government for a change in taxi driver licensing laws because it fears a loophole could put children at risk from sexual predators.

The council says it is confident in its own rigorous checks on the drivers it licenses – but is not happy that drivers licensed by other local authorities are allowed to operate in Cheshire East.

It fears this could be used by criminals involved in child sexual exploitation and trafficking children from one area to another.

Cllr Rhoda Bailey (Con) told Tuesday’s cabinet meeting: “Cheshire East is very good, adept, vigilant, at making sure that applicants for taxi and private hire vehicle licenses are fit and proper people…

“The law now allows people who have been refused licences in this authority to go to another authority and get one there. We know this has happened in some cases.”

She continued: “Those operators from other areas, can be operating in Cheshire East. Where those drivers and operators acquire criminal convictions, we wouldn’t know about it because only the licensing authority granting the licence would be told by the police.

“The law is frankly too lax in relation to this situation. It’s a gap which is not in the interests of the fare paying public, it’s not in the interest of vulnerable travellers.”

Cllr Rachel Bailey, who has responsibility for safeguarding children, told the meeting: “With regard to child sexual exploitation and any connection to taxi drivers, my understanding is that, within Cheshire East, there has been one case but one case is one too many.”

The council first expressed its concerns over the licensing loophole nearly a year ago when leader Michael Jones wrote to the Government. He didn’t get a response.

Deputy leader David Brown (Con) said this week the council would write immediately to all local MPs, the Local Government Association and Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin pushing for a change to the law.

Crewe councillor Dorothy Flude (Lab) told the meeting she was disappointed the Government hadn’t responded to Cllr Jones’ letter.

“We’re an authority that does look seriously at who actually gets a licence in our authority and this is not assisted by our neighbouring local authorities,” she said.

Speaking after the meeting Cllr Flude reiterated she had every confidence in the way Cheshire East licensed its drivers and wanted a system which meant there was nationwide confidence.

She said she wanted a change in the legislation because ‘we want to be 100% sure that people who have criminal convictions are not being able to come and work in Cheshire East’.

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

Feb 02

Derbyshire MP lifts lid on ‘serious taxi licensing loophole’

Taxi drivers who have their licence revoked in one area could get one in another without anyone knowing about their previous misdemeanors, a Derby MP has warned the Commons.

Mid-Derbyshire’s Pauline Latham said there was a “very serious” loophole in the taxi licensing process.

The current system forces applicants to disclose if they have had a licence refused or revoked but there is no way of telling if the applicant is telling the truth.

Taxi drivers are thoroughly checked for a criminal record but issues that wouldn’t show up on police records may not be known about.

Mrs Latham said the loophole had meant that a driver who has had a licence revoked by the council in one area for asking out young girls who used his taxi was successful in getting a new licence from a neighbouring authority.

She asked for a statement by the Department for Transport on the “possibility of a register of taxi drivers” so councils can check applicants to see if they have had a licence refused or revoked by another authority.

In his reply, Chris Grayling MP, leader of the House of Commons, agreed it was a “very real problem” that had been identified and said he would make sure the Secretary of State for Transport was fully briefed on the issue.

Mrs Latham said: “The majority of taxi drivers would be truthful but there would be some that slip the net and there’s no way of checking.

“This loophole is potentially very serious as is shown in the case of a driver who had his licence revoked being able to get another one because there is no mechanism to check the record of a driver.

“I am grateful for the vigilance of Councillor Jane Orton, from Amber Valley Borough Council, in identifying the problem and bringing it to my attention.

“I hope the Department of Transport will look seriously and report back to the House of Commons on the possibility of creating a national register of taxi drivers so authorities can be sure the applicants are telling the truth about their history.”

Mrs Orton said the incident where a taxi driver had been asking out young girls was not in Derbyshire.

She said she had been told about it by a councillor from another part of the country.

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

Feb 02

Bolton minicab driver stripped of licence after trying to coax teenage boy into car

A MINICAB driver has been stripped of his permit after an “extremely concerning” incident in which he tried to coax a teenager into his car.

The motorist’s private hire licence was revoked by councillors behind closed doors on Wednesday January 13 after they heard details of the misconduct.

“The incident related to the driver stopping a 16-year-old boy and offering him a lift without payment and this was extremely concerning,” a report of the meeting said.

It continued: “The driver admitted trying to give the young person a free lift but denied any wrongdoing.

“The driver’s explanation of wanting to ask the complainant about a college course was not found to be credible.

“He explained that he thought the complainant was a similar age or a student, which was not found credible.”

Bolton Council’s licensing sub-committee was told the 16-year-old victim and his parents had “expressed concern” at the driver’s behaviour.

The boy thought it was inappropriate to be offered a lift without having booked the minicab first and was aware he should not get into strangers’ cars.

He said he felt “uneasy” about being approached at the roadside.

Greater Manchester Police had told the committee the cabbie “had been stopped and warned about driving around and trying to pick up young people in relation to this case”.

The sub-committee decided after weighing up the evidence to quash the private hire vehicle licence of the driver, who was present at the hearing with a solicitor and an interpreter.

Minutes of the meeting say: “The sub-committee is not satisfied that the driver is a fit and proper person to hold a licence at this time.

“In coming to its decision, the sub-committee is mindful of its duty to protect the public and noted that there had been an allegation of inappropriate behaviour towards a young person.”

No details of the driver, including his name, age, native language, car or company he worked for, have been divulged by the council for data protection reasons.

Bolton Council refused to comment further and Greater Manchester Police said it could find no record of an incident matching the description.

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

Jan 29

Minicab drivers in Cambridge area face English language tests

Minicab drivers operating in the Cambridge area should face English language tests to improve safety as planned by Boris Johnson in London, according to taxi drivers.

The call has been made by the Cambridge Hackney Carriage Association and the News can today reveal that South Cambridgeshire District Council, which licenses the majority of private hire vehicles operating in the city and surrounding areas, is considering introducing English tests for the drivers.

The move comes after Transport for London (TfL) announced that private hire drivers will be required to demonstrate a certain standard of English in line with Home Office requirements for citizenship applications.

TfL also revealed plans for passengers to be given fare estimates and details of their vehicle and driver before the start of each journey.

Paul Bradley, general secretary of the Cambridge taxi drivers group which represents more than 200 cabbies, has called for the language tests to be introduced and to cut the number of minicab licences handed out by councils.

He said: “I feel the council need more control over private hire numbers for a similar reason we pushed for limitation on taxis.

“As for speaking English this is surely the first thing you would need to be able to do. I have come across only a few drivers that can barely speak English and am surprised they managed to get through the council’s knowledge test let alone be a taxi driver.”

Last year Cambridge City Council’s licensing committee decided to limit the number of licensed taxis, also known as hackney carriages, that can operate in the city setting the limit at 317 after more than a decade of unfettered licensing.

A spokeswoman for the district council was asked if the authority was also planning to introduce language tests.

She said: “No we don’t have a specific ‘English Test’, but we are considering a knowledge test for private hire that will test the understanding of written English.”

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, last year called on TfL to bring in new rules to ensure private hire cab drivers have a “certain basic level” of English.

Speaking to the London Assembly, he said: “I don’t think we can have a situation in which minicab drivers, who one way or another are regulated by this city, should be able to drive around and take fares without being able to speak English properly and without knowing the basics of geography of London.

“I have asked TfL to bring forward regulations to require a certain basic knowledge of English for all minicab drivers.”

Read more: http://www.cambridge-news.co.uk

Jan 29

Councillors set to decide whether to allow Ford blue for Bristol cabbies

Blue is the colour for Bristol’s taxis – as long as it is the right shade.

The city council insists that taxis in the city should be “Bristol Blue” so they can be easily identified as a licensed hackney cab.

But in order to save cabbies the cost of expensive resprays, the council has allowed major manufacturers to use some variations on the colour.

It means that if a cabbie buys a Fiat taxi in Capri Blue or a Citroen in Pacific Blue, then they will not be forced to pay for a repaint on their new vehicle.

There are also variations which apply to Mercedes and Volkswagen vehicles that also produce taxis with wheelchair access.

But Ford have now entered the market by introducing their version of a hackney cab.

Councillors are now being asked whether permission should be given for Ford Journeys which are painted in “Deep Impact Blue metallic” can be licensed as a cab without the need of a respray.

In a report to councillors, they are being advised that they should not apply the colour policy too rigidly.

“If Ford Deep Impact Blue metallic is sufficiently close to the approved Bristol Blue paint code, members may wish to give approval to depart from their policy,” the report says.

Councillors will meet on Tuesday to consider the matter.

The council decided eight years ago that Bristol’s taxis should be a uniform colour in much the same way as cabs in New York are yellow.

The move caused a storm among cabbies because they claimed they had not been properly consulted and three years was not long enough for them to comply with the new colour code.

They staged protests in the city centre, went on strike and a legal challenge was mounted by the Bristol Hackney Carriage Organisation (BCHO), claiming that drivers’ human rights had been violated.

But a High Court judge ruled that the council had done nothing wrong.

The council later announced that to avoid confusion, private hire cars would not be allowed to be blue.

Taxis should not be confused with private hire cars.

A taxi can be flagged down in the street but private hire cars should be pre-booked.

The council sets the cost of fares for taxis in the city but private hire cars are not obliged to use a meter.

A cabbie who drives a licensed taxi does not have to use a meter outside the city boundary.

Taxis have white and red licence plates while private hire vehicles use plates which are yellow and red.

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

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