Taxi driver fined for picking up disabled passenger in Carlisle city centre

A furious taxi driver has vowed to appeal against a parking ticket he was issued while picking up a disabled passenger.

A traffic warden issued Jimmy Shankland a £70 parking ticket as he waited for Jack and Jean Hood outside the post office on Scotch Street, Carlisle city centre, just before 11am on Friday.

Although Mr Shankland, 61, told the warden he was waiting for a disabled customer, his appeals made no difference.

“I have never been so angry and I could feel my heart pumping with anger,” said Mr Shankland, “I have never felt anything like it.”

Mr Hood, 88, is the sole carer for his 85-year-old wife, who is blind and has been in a wheelchair for two and a half years because she has difficulty walking.

The couple, who have been married for 63 years, were so upset by the incident they gave Mr Shankland £20 towards the fine.

Mr Hood said: “I thought it was very, very unfair for him. You couldn’t be there long because we came right down. He was just getting the door open.”

Once or twice a week, the couple, who live at Newlaithes Avenue, Morton, Carlisle, get dropped off at Marks & Spencer and picked up outside the post office by taxis so that they can do their shopping.

“I have never had any bother there before and we go there often,” said Mr Hood.

Mr Shankland has driven taxis in Carlisle for 16 years but said he has never known anything like it. He said you might expect such things to happen in London but not in Carlisle.

He said: “In my mind, in my estimation, [the warden] was discriminating against that disabled person.”

Mr Shankland argued that taxi drivers can wait for disabled passengers on double yellow lines and have a duty to their disabled customer to ensure they do not discriminate against them.

He said: “If I hadn’t picked the customer up, I would have been in breach of my licensing badge, then I’d have been discriminating against a wheelchair user. I would have been suspended with no pay.”

Wayne Casey, the chairman of the Carlisle Taxi Drivers’ Association, supported Mr Shankland.

He said: “I think the driver is entitled to wait as long as it takes to get a customer in and out of a vehicle. There’s a bit of a difference between parking and waiting.”

By law, taxi drivers cannot refuse to give disabled people in wheelchairs a lift or charge them extra.

Mr Shankland said he would be appealing against his ticket to Cumbria County Council.

He was issued a parking ticket last month when he nipped into the bakers for a roll but he paid the fine as he admitted it was his fault for parking on double lines.

A spokesman for the county council said: “The council carries out on-street parking enforcement in order to ensure the smooth flow of traffic and prevent inconsiderate parking.

“In this particular case, if Mr Shankland wishes to challenge the ticket, he can do so through the council’s normal appeals process.

“The council investigates every challenge on its own merits and mitigating circumstances will be taken into account. In instances where the council decides there is no case for a ticket to be cancelled, drivers still have the opportunity to make a further appeal to the independent adjudicator at the Traffic Penalty Tribunal.”

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

‘Extortionate’ licence fees for private hire car drivers

The fee rise comes after a review of charges associated with private hire cars in response to new government legislation.

Under the new system, vehicle licence fees will decrease, but drivers will face paying up to 33 per cent more for a yearly licence.

Manager of Starline Minicabs Malcolm Cannon branded the new fees ‘extortionate’ in a formal objection to the proposals.

He wrote: “As someone who has held a Chichester District Council licence for 28 years, I find this completely unacceptable and will certainly have to consider carefully whether to renew if these huge hikes are implemented. Personally, it looks as though drivers are paying for the reductions given to vehicle operators.”

The cost of renewing a private hire driver’s licence for one year will rise from £85 to £113 effective from May 23.

Drivers can also apply for a three-year licence that costs £285 to renew, an increase of £10 a year.

Cllr Paul Jarvis commented that considered in the face of six-years’ worth of inflation since the last review, the change in fees was a relatively ‘insignificant amount’.

He added that officers had ‘done the best job they could’, adding: “At the end of the day, if they get it wrong, all they simply do is re-adjust these numbers in the future. I think this is perfectly reasonable and fair, and we have to let it run for a certain period.”

A total of nine formal objections to the fee rise were acknowledged from individuals and groups of the 320 drivers licensed with the council. Many comments focussed on the difference in three-year and one-year fees, which officers attributed to admin costs already covered in an application.

At the start of the meeting, chairman Cllr John Ridd said: “When it comes to fees, we are talking about people’s livelihoods, and perhaps not the most well-to-do in our society, but hard working people, for whom every penny counts.”

He went on to add: “We are concerned that the service does continue, as we hope, without disadvantaging any members.”

The fee changes were passed with an agreement to review the fees after one year.

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

Nuneaton and Bedworth taxi drivers fume over 276 per cent charge rise

FUMING taxi drivers across Nuneaton and Bedworth say they have been hit by a ‘staggering’ 276 per cent rise in charges over the past three years.

Incensed by the latest increase by Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough Council, they have written to the Town Hall to object.

It was known that the borough council in its budget setting chose to increase fees and charges across the board but the new taxi driver charge is a step too far according to the Nuneaton and Bedworth Taxi Proprietors Association.

The chair of the association has sent two emails to the local authority to contest the latest rise.

In the first it suggests that the association has, for some time, been seeking a meeting to discuss a request to increase the amount that taxi users have to pay – to no avail.

“As you know we have been requesting a fare rise and would like an emergency meeting to once again try and achieve this objective, especially in the light of the percentage rises being applied to our industry in both fees and wages,” the email states.

In the second email it said: “Our association would like to object to the rise in charges for drivers and vehicles.

“The percentage rise equals a staggering 276 per cent in drivers fees, which seems inexplicable over three years when there has been no change in actual working practices.

“The rise in vehicles we understand more because of increase costs in maintenance wages etc, but unfortunately we have not been allowed to react to ours as unlike yourselves we cannot just increase our charges.”

According to a report, due to be put before the council’s cabinet tonight, the new licence fee for new driver applications has been set at £294 – £94 more than the fee in 2015/16.

The new renewal fees for drivers is £246, which is £46 more than last year’s fee.

Vehicle licence applications are to rise from £154 to £188.

But, according to council officers, the new charges still make the local authority one of the cheapest in the area.

In the report it states:

“The largest increase is in relation to the new driver applications and has resulted in an increase of 38 per cent, equating to a new weekly cost for a hackney carriage/private hire driver licence of £2.70.

“During budget setting for 2015/16, and following a review of the calculation of the costs for the services it became apparent that the council was not recovering the costs of this part of the licensing service, as more officer time was being spent on this area of work due to local demand and national changes. This was addressed through fee increases, last year generating an additional £40,000, and an estimated £30,000 this year.

“Even with the current fee increases it would appear that the fees will be reasonably comparable with other local authorities within the area.”

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

South Ribble Council leader faces axe over taxi row

  • South Ribble Council’s leader is facing a vote of no-confidence revolt related to a taxi-licensing investigation
  • Rebel Conservatives say they have grown frustrated with the handling of allegations
  • A motion has been submitted to the chief executive to remove Coun Smith from her position
  • Coun Smith says she will not step down and insists she has done nothing wrong

The embattled leader of South Ribble Council is at the centre of a move to oust her.

Coun Paul Wharton, Tory member for Farington, has submitted a motion to remove Coun Margaret Smith from the position. He claims other rebel Conservatives have also signed the motion, after growing concerned at her handing of the taxi licensing scandal.

Coun Wharton said: “The council has been dragged through enough and I’m trying to protect the integrity that’s left. We have to take this news seriously, it’s not a blip like she keeps saying.”

He added: “I was elected to represent the residents of my ward and I will not sit back complacently and allow the leader to further damage the reputation of our council.”

A month ago a secret report into child sexual exploitation by two taxi drivers was leaked to the press. In it the council was criticised for failing to carry out proper background checks. Since then a new probe has been launched into how a cabbie who tied up a disabled boy had his licence renewed.

The council and its leader have been criticised for failing to make the report public.

“I was elected to represent the residents of my ward and I will not sit back complacently and allow the leader to further damage the reputation of our council.”

Coun Paul Wharton

But Coun Smith says that she has done nothing wrong and still enjoys the confidence of the people of South Ribble.

She said: “I have been a councillor for 33 years, I have been a cabinet member, group leader and mayor and the people that come up to me say that they think I am doing a good job. What Councillor Wharton is asking me to do is something I cannot do, as the report [into the taxi licensing issues] will go to the chair of the scrutiny committee, not to me.

“I have done my very best to make sure that we have conducted ourselves as best we can in the circumstances, but there are protocols that must be followed.

“We still have members of staff who are suspended and they deserve a fair hearing.”

The motion has been received by council chief executive Mike Nuttall, who must now decide when a vote will be held on the matter. If a majority vote against Coun Smith, she will be removed from her position with immediate effect.

Coun Wharton’s decision to enter the motion comes after he received a phone call telling him he was suspended from the local Conservative group.

After challenging Coun John Rainsbury – party chief whip – over a lack of formal notification, he said he then received an email saying the matter was being considered by Conservative Party HQ.

Coun Wharton said: “I’m disappointed and upset about it because I’ve worked very hard for my residents and the party. I believe it’s completely personal because I’ve put my head above the trenches.”

Coun Rainsbury said it was a private group issue and all he could say was that Coun Wharton was “fully aware of his position”.

Coun Wharton said the reason he was given for his suspension was that he voted against a cabinet appointment last Wednesday.

In the same meeting three rising stars of the cabinet – brought to inject some youthful energy – departed amid bitter recriminations over the taxi licensing issue.

Two, Michael Green and Caroline Moon, refused to continue – claiming their positions had become “untenable” due to false opposition claims of a cover-up.

The third, Warren Bennett, was removed by Coun Smith just 48 hours after leaving his job as her deputy.

Labour Coun Claire Hamilton supported the motion. She said: “After last Wednesday’s meeting of the council, I felt I had no alternative.

“The Leader simply doesn’t seem to have grasped the enormity of what has happened.”

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

 

 

Nationwide drive for new taxi laws

A SURVIVORS’ group which helped tighten taxi rules in Rotherham after the child sex scandal wants stricter laws across the UK.

The Rotherham CSE Steering Group is writing to all councils in the country, urging them to take a similar stance with licensing.

New rules imposed by commissioner Mary Ney mean the majority of the borough’s cabs will need cameras and audio kit by July 6.

And “Katie”, a member of the steering group which advised RMBC, said: “We are now putting together a national plan to help prevent and reduce CSE.

“Part of our plan will be covering licensing policies, including taxis to make it safer for all passengers and drivers.

“We are contacting all councils throughout the UK to put our suggestions in place as we feel this can reduce all forms of crime.”

The steering group was consulted by Rotherham Borough Council on licensing changes explored after the Jay report highlighted the “prominent” role of taxis in CSE.

Now members — aiming to be heard by other authorities — have held meetings with Kirklees Council in Huddersfield, North Yorkshire County Council and spoken at a multi-agency event in Durham.

On Wednesday, they met Sheffield Council officials and group member “Jessica” said: “We’ve had some positive responses.

“I think they need to have stricter taxi licensing.

“Some drivers who are not happy about the cameras are moving to Sheffield or Barnsley for their plates but still operating in Rotherham.

“Why are people going to these lengths? The cameras are not going to be for child sexual exploitation, it could be an assault of a driver, anything.

“The main thing that we were fighting for with taxis is CCTV and audio. This is not just a problem for Rotherham, so it’s something we wanted to put in the national plan.”

RMBC’s new policy means all journeys must be video recorded, with audio activated when the passenger is a child or vulnerable adult. Drivers are unable to access footage.

The steering group has called for further measures to be introduced, including glass separating minicab drivers from passengers, a ban on under-16s in the front seat and enhanced DBS checks on drivers.

Jessica said: “People in our group like to put their ideas forward, but we’re all at different stages, so not everyone’s ready or feels strong enough to do meetings or conferences.

“At our art therapy group we have about 20 people but it’s a smaller core who are involved in the national plan.

“I’ve made friends in the steering group with people who I now speak to every single day.

“We want to tackle CSE from every angle, but that will take years to do.”

Rotherham drivers whose renewal date falls after July 6 have until they submit a new application to install the required equipment.

RMBC says this affects 150 of 780 vehicles.

The steering group can be contacted on RSG1400@mail.com.

source: http://rotherhamadvertiser.co.uk/

May 26

Taxi driver fined for picking up disabled passenger in Carlisle city centre

A furious taxi driver has vowed to appeal against a parking ticket he was issued while picking up a disabled passenger.

A traffic warden issued Jimmy Shankland a £70 parking ticket as he waited for Jack and Jean Hood outside the post office on Scotch Street, Carlisle city centre, just before 11am on Friday.

Although Mr Shankland, 61, told the warden he was waiting for a disabled customer, his appeals made no difference.

“I have never been so angry and I could feel my heart pumping with anger,” said Mr Shankland, “I have never felt anything like it.”

Mr Hood, 88, is the sole carer for his 85-year-old wife, who is blind and has been in a wheelchair for two and a half years because she has difficulty walking.

The couple, who have been married for 63 years, were so upset by the incident they gave Mr Shankland £20 towards the fine.

Mr Hood said: “I thought it was very, very unfair for him. You couldn’t be there long because we came right down. He was just getting the door open.”

Once or twice a week, the couple, who live at Newlaithes Avenue, Morton, Carlisle, get dropped off at Marks & Spencer and picked up outside the post office by taxis so that they can do their shopping.

“I have never had any bother there before and we go there often,” said Mr Hood.

Mr Shankland has driven taxis in Carlisle for 16 years but said he has never known anything like it. He said you might expect such things to happen in London but not in Carlisle.

He said: “In my mind, in my estimation, [the warden] was discriminating against that disabled person.”

Mr Shankland argued that taxi drivers can wait for disabled passengers on double yellow lines and have a duty to their disabled customer to ensure they do not discriminate against them.

He said: “If I hadn’t picked the customer up, I would have been in breach of my licensing badge, then I’d have been discriminating against a wheelchair user. I would have been suspended with no pay.”

Wayne Casey, the chairman of the Carlisle Taxi Drivers’ Association, supported Mr Shankland.

He said: “I think the driver is entitled to wait as long as it takes to get a customer in and out of a vehicle. There’s a bit of a difference between parking and waiting.”

By law, taxi drivers cannot refuse to give disabled people in wheelchairs a lift or charge them extra.

Mr Shankland said he would be appealing against his ticket to Cumbria County Council.

He was issued a parking ticket last month when he nipped into the bakers for a roll but he paid the fine as he admitted it was his fault for parking on double lines.

A spokesman for the county council said: “The council carries out on-street parking enforcement in order to ensure the smooth flow of traffic and prevent inconsiderate parking.

“In this particular case, if Mr Shankland wishes to challenge the ticket, he can do so through the council’s normal appeals process.

“The council investigates every challenge on its own merits and mitigating circumstances will be taken into account. In instances where the council decides there is no case for a ticket to be cancelled, drivers still have the opportunity to make a further appeal to the independent adjudicator at the Traffic Penalty Tribunal.”

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

May 26

‘Extortionate’ licence fees for private hire car drivers

The fee rise comes after a review of charges associated with private hire cars in response to new government legislation.

Under the new system, vehicle licence fees will decrease, but drivers will face paying up to 33 per cent more for a yearly licence.

Manager of Starline Minicabs Malcolm Cannon branded the new fees ‘extortionate’ in a formal objection to the proposals.

He wrote: “As someone who has held a Chichester District Council licence for 28 years, I find this completely unacceptable and will certainly have to consider carefully whether to renew if these huge hikes are implemented. Personally, it looks as though drivers are paying for the reductions given to vehicle operators.”

The cost of renewing a private hire driver’s licence for one year will rise from £85 to £113 effective from May 23.

Drivers can also apply for a three-year licence that costs £285 to renew, an increase of £10 a year.

Cllr Paul Jarvis commented that considered in the face of six-years’ worth of inflation since the last review, the change in fees was a relatively ‘insignificant amount’.

He added that officers had ‘done the best job they could’, adding: “At the end of the day, if they get it wrong, all they simply do is re-adjust these numbers in the future. I think this is perfectly reasonable and fair, and we have to let it run for a certain period.”

A total of nine formal objections to the fee rise were acknowledged from individuals and groups of the 320 drivers licensed with the council. Many comments focussed on the difference in three-year and one-year fees, which officers attributed to admin costs already covered in an application.

At the start of the meeting, chairman Cllr John Ridd said: “When it comes to fees, we are talking about people’s livelihoods, and perhaps not the most well-to-do in our society, but hard working people, for whom every penny counts.”

He went on to add: “We are concerned that the service does continue, as we hope, without disadvantaging any members.”

The fee changes were passed with an agreement to review the fees after one year.

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

May 26

Nuneaton and Bedworth taxi drivers fume over 276 per cent charge rise

FUMING taxi drivers across Nuneaton and Bedworth say they have been hit by a ‘staggering’ 276 per cent rise in charges over the past three years.

Incensed by the latest increase by Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough Council, they have written to the Town Hall to object.

It was known that the borough council in its budget setting chose to increase fees and charges across the board but the new taxi driver charge is a step too far according to the Nuneaton and Bedworth Taxi Proprietors Association.

The chair of the association has sent two emails to the local authority to contest the latest rise.

In the first it suggests that the association has, for some time, been seeking a meeting to discuss a request to increase the amount that taxi users have to pay – to no avail.

“As you know we have been requesting a fare rise and would like an emergency meeting to once again try and achieve this objective, especially in the light of the percentage rises being applied to our industry in both fees and wages,” the email states.

In the second email it said: “Our association would like to object to the rise in charges for drivers and vehicles.

“The percentage rise equals a staggering 276 per cent in drivers fees, which seems inexplicable over three years when there has been no change in actual working practices.

“The rise in vehicles we understand more because of increase costs in maintenance wages etc, but unfortunately we have not been allowed to react to ours as unlike yourselves we cannot just increase our charges.”

According to a report, due to be put before the council’s cabinet tonight, the new licence fee for new driver applications has been set at £294 – £94 more than the fee in 2015/16.

The new renewal fees for drivers is £246, which is £46 more than last year’s fee.

Vehicle licence applications are to rise from £154 to £188.

But, according to council officers, the new charges still make the local authority one of the cheapest in the area.

In the report it states:

“The largest increase is in relation to the new driver applications and has resulted in an increase of 38 per cent, equating to a new weekly cost for a hackney carriage/private hire driver licence of £2.70.

“During budget setting for 2015/16, and following a review of the calculation of the costs for the services it became apparent that the council was not recovering the costs of this part of the licensing service, as more officer time was being spent on this area of work due to local demand and national changes. This was addressed through fee increases, last year generating an additional £40,000, and an estimated £30,000 this year.

“Even with the current fee increases it would appear that the fees will be reasonably comparable with other local authorities within the area.”

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

May 24

South Ribble Council leader faces axe over taxi row

  • South Ribble Council’s leader is facing a vote of no-confidence revolt related to a taxi-licensing investigation
  • Rebel Conservatives say they have grown frustrated with the handling of allegations
  • A motion has been submitted to the chief executive to remove Coun Smith from her position
  • Coun Smith says she will not step down and insists she has done nothing wrong

The embattled leader of South Ribble Council is at the centre of a move to oust her.

Coun Paul Wharton, Tory member for Farington, has submitted a motion to remove Coun Margaret Smith from the position. He claims other rebel Conservatives have also signed the motion, after growing concerned at her handing of the taxi licensing scandal.

Coun Wharton said: “The council has been dragged through enough and I’m trying to protect the integrity that’s left. We have to take this news seriously, it’s not a blip like she keeps saying.”

He added: “I was elected to represent the residents of my ward and I will not sit back complacently and allow the leader to further damage the reputation of our council.”

A month ago a secret report into child sexual exploitation by two taxi drivers was leaked to the press. In it the council was criticised for failing to carry out proper background checks. Since then a new probe has been launched into how a cabbie who tied up a disabled boy had his licence renewed.

The council and its leader have been criticised for failing to make the report public.

“I was elected to represent the residents of my ward and I will not sit back complacently and allow the leader to further damage the reputation of our council.”

Coun Paul Wharton

But Coun Smith says that she has done nothing wrong and still enjoys the confidence of the people of South Ribble.

She said: “I have been a councillor for 33 years, I have been a cabinet member, group leader and mayor and the people that come up to me say that they think I am doing a good job. What Councillor Wharton is asking me to do is something I cannot do, as the report [into the taxi licensing issues] will go to the chair of the scrutiny committee, not to me.

“I have done my very best to make sure that we have conducted ourselves as best we can in the circumstances, but there are protocols that must be followed.

“We still have members of staff who are suspended and they deserve a fair hearing.”

The motion has been received by council chief executive Mike Nuttall, who must now decide when a vote will be held on the matter. If a majority vote against Coun Smith, she will be removed from her position with immediate effect.

Coun Wharton’s decision to enter the motion comes after he received a phone call telling him he was suspended from the local Conservative group.

After challenging Coun John Rainsbury – party chief whip – over a lack of formal notification, he said he then received an email saying the matter was being considered by Conservative Party HQ.

Coun Wharton said: “I’m disappointed and upset about it because I’ve worked very hard for my residents and the party. I believe it’s completely personal because I’ve put my head above the trenches.”

Coun Rainsbury said it was a private group issue and all he could say was that Coun Wharton was “fully aware of his position”.

Coun Wharton said the reason he was given for his suspension was that he voted against a cabinet appointment last Wednesday.

In the same meeting three rising stars of the cabinet – brought to inject some youthful energy – departed amid bitter recriminations over the taxi licensing issue.

Two, Michael Green and Caroline Moon, refused to continue – claiming their positions had become “untenable” due to false opposition claims of a cover-up.

The third, Warren Bennett, was removed by Coun Smith just 48 hours after leaving his job as her deputy.

Labour Coun Claire Hamilton supported the motion. She said: “After last Wednesday’s meeting of the council, I felt I had no alternative.

“The Leader simply doesn’t seem to have grasped the enormity of what has happened.”

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

 

 

May 21

Nationwide drive for new taxi laws

A SURVIVORS’ group which helped tighten taxi rules in Rotherham after the child sex scandal wants stricter laws across the UK.

The Rotherham CSE Steering Group is writing to all councils in the country, urging them to take a similar stance with licensing.

New rules imposed by commissioner Mary Ney mean the majority of the borough’s cabs will need cameras and audio kit by July 6.

And “Katie”, a member of the steering group which advised RMBC, said: “We are now putting together a national plan to help prevent and reduce CSE.

“Part of our plan will be covering licensing policies, including taxis to make it safer for all passengers and drivers.

“We are contacting all councils throughout the UK to put our suggestions in place as we feel this can reduce all forms of crime.”

The steering group was consulted by Rotherham Borough Council on licensing changes explored after the Jay report highlighted the “prominent” role of taxis in CSE.

Now members — aiming to be heard by other authorities — have held meetings with Kirklees Council in Huddersfield, North Yorkshire County Council and spoken at a multi-agency event in Durham.

On Wednesday, they met Sheffield Council officials and group member “Jessica” said: “We’ve had some positive responses.

“I think they need to have stricter taxi licensing.

“Some drivers who are not happy about the cameras are moving to Sheffield or Barnsley for their plates but still operating in Rotherham.

“Why are people going to these lengths? The cameras are not going to be for child sexual exploitation, it could be an assault of a driver, anything.

“The main thing that we were fighting for with taxis is CCTV and audio. This is not just a problem for Rotherham, so it’s something we wanted to put in the national plan.”

RMBC’s new policy means all journeys must be video recorded, with audio activated when the passenger is a child or vulnerable adult. Drivers are unable to access footage.

The steering group has called for further measures to be introduced, including glass separating minicab drivers from passengers, a ban on under-16s in the front seat and enhanced DBS checks on drivers.

Jessica said: “People in our group like to put their ideas forward, but we’re all at different stages, so not everyone’s ready or feels strong enough to do meetings or conferences.

“At our art therapy group we have about 20 people but it’s a smaller core who are involved in the national plan.

“I’ve made friends in the steering group with people who I now speak to every single day.

“We want to tackle CSE from every angle, but that will take years to do.”

Rotherham drivers whose renewal date falls after July 6 have until they submit a new application to install the required equipment.

RMBC says this affects 150 of 780 vehicles.

The steering group can be contacted on RSG1400@mail.com.

source: http://rotherhamadvertiser.co.uk/

May 21

Taxi Drivers CCTV lands ‘sex attack’ liar in Jail

A woman has been sent to prison for falsely claiming a taxi driver sexually assaulted her. Claire Emma Carr, 20, from west Hull was jailed for 12 weeks after she admitted lying.

The falsely accused driver today told the Mail he could have “lost everything” if he did not have CCTV in his vehicle – which proved she was telling lies.

The 48-year-old driver picked up Carr from an address in Camelford Close, Bransholme, and took her to her home in Wesley Court, west Hull, on April 13.

He said: “It was just a normal job. I asked her where she was going, we didn’t even speak until we got to Freetown Way. Someone had been knocked off their bike and we were saying how bad it was. I dropped her off as normal, she paid me the fare, and that was that.”

The next morning, the taxi driver, who has worked in the city for 25 years, had a knock on his door from a police officer.

“It was about 8.30am,” he said. “I asked if I could help him and he said there had been an allegation of a sexual assault against me. I was absolutely mortified.”

The driver told the police officer he had CCTV cameras in his vehicle, which were checked and proved nothing had happened.

“She had told police I had made some sexual remarks to her, and that when we got to Fountain Road she said I had tried to put my hands down her trousers,” he said.

“She said she screamed and made me stop the car and ran off. Thankfully, the CCTV proved different and showed what really happened.”

The taxi driver, who has asked not to be named, said the CCTV he has inside his vehicle saved his life.

“If it wasn’t for my CCTV I could have lost everything,” he said. “I would have lost my job which is my living, I could have lost my house. Thankfully, I have got a rock-solid marriage and my wife knew she was lying, but someone else might not have been so lucky.”

The 48-year-old is now urging other drivers to install CCTV in their vehicles after he purchased the equipment himself. “It saved my life,” he said. “I dread to think what could have happened if I didn’t have this in my vehicle.”

The taxi driver described Carr as “completely normal” when he met her on April 13.

“I just don’t know what went through her head,” he said. “I believe she should be named and shamed for what she has done. Her actions undermine actual victims of sexual abuse and assault.

“There was no reason for what she did. The stress I have been under has been horrendous.”

Carr pleaded guilty to wasting police time when she appeared at Hull Magistrates’ Court on Monday. She was jailed for 12 weeks.

Detective Chief Inspector Kevin Foster, of Humberside Police’s protecting vulnerable people unit, said: “We actively encourage victims of sexual assault to contact the force so they can be supported by specialist officers. Any allegation of sexual assault is then thoroughly and robustly investigated to ensure offenders are brought to justice.

“However, in cases like this, any false reports of sexual assault will not be tolerated and those responsible face being charged with wasting police time and dealt with by the courts.”

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

May 20

Taxis and private hire vehicles in Milton Keynes break rules more than 1,000 times in a year

A former transport spokesman has been left ‘horrified’ after it was revealed taxis and private hire vehicles breached MOT and other regulations more than 1,100 times in just a year.

Alderman Paul Bartlett, a former Milton Keynes Councillor who represented Stony Stratford for 16 years, submitted a freedom of information request to the council.

The response he got left him shocked as it showed there were 1,140 breaches by Private Hire and Hackney vehicles in Milton Keynes from April 2015 to April 2016.

Mr Bartlett said: “It’s only because of the increasing vigilance of Council Officers and the Chairman of the Licensing Committee that dodgy drivers’ are being pulled off the roads.

“I am horrified by these figures and astounded that following the so-called Taxigate scandal when the Liberal Democrat Mayor sponsored a private hire sex offender so many companies and so many drivers’ simply have not ‘got it’ that they are licensed to provide the public a safe and secure service.”

And Mr Bartlett feels identifying companies who regularly breach the regulations would allow passengers greater control over their journeys.

He said: “It is time that dodgy companies and drivers are named and shamed so that passengers can make their choice on who they choose to ferry them around Milton Keynes.

“Maybe if businesses in Milton Keynes stopped using private hire companies that fail to provide a service that can be guaranteed to be safe the companies and drivers will finally get the message.”

A spokesman for Milton Keynes Council told OneMK: “The Council carries out its duties under the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 and conducts a vehicle compliance test of all the vehicles it licences either twice or three times a year (on first application and subsequent renewals).

“Once licensed the Council’s enforcement team conducts regular enforcement operations to ensure that those vehicles licensed continue to meet the relevant requirements. The Council’s requirements are published in its Policy and these require the structural safety and mechanics of the vehicle to be above and beyond the legal MOT requirements.

“There are three types of action that the Council can take under the above legislation when a vehicle fails below the standard required by the Council and it depends on whether it is a vehicle with a current licence or without. We will revoke, issue an immediate suspension or issue a delayed suspension where a licence is held or refuse a licence if the vehicle is not currently licensed.

“We therefore record the data in that manner based upon the legal route used and not the actual physical reason for the action. Due to the general request of the FOI we provided the answers in one figure.

“The Council licences just over 1,000 vehicles, all tested two or three times a year. The majority of the 1,140 incidents will follow these checks. As such the vehicle is prevented from being used and not licensed until it meets our requirements. If the vehicle is already licensed then the licence is suspended or revoked until we are satisfied that the vehicle is fit for use.

“There is of course substantial enforcement action taken by the Council which results in road side spot checks by our patrol officer who will issue notices where defects are found on vehicles, and enforcement operations where Council officers in conjunction with the Police conduct road side checks and request vehicles to attend the Council workshop for a full vehicle examination.

“The figures we provided therefore include all routine tests and enforcement action that resulted in refusal, suspension or delayed suspension or enforcement action that resulted in revocation, suspension or delayed suspension. The 1,140 figure does not distinguish between all these different type of vehicle failures but they range from tyres below the legal limit to not displaying smoke signs.

“The figure however is correct for the period of time given.”

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

May 20

Every taxi in Warrington is set to have CCTV installed from next month

EVERY taxi in Warrington is set to have CCTV installed in order to protect the security of drivers and passengers.

Warrington Borough Council has ordered cabbies across town to fit their vehicles with CCTV after a consultation with drivers, members of the public and partner agencies.

It hopes that the cameras, which will be rolled out from June 1, will tackle crime in taxis as well as help bring justice when offences are committed.

Installation costs around £400 per vehicle and when taxis have their six monthly or annual MOTs the cameras will be installed alongside stickers alerting users of their presence.

Cllr Judith Guthrie said: “The taxi hire trade valuable public service, especially late at night when other forms of public transport are not always available.

“Security for drivers and passengers is of a high priority – the cameras will act hopefully as a deterrent to prevent any crime happening and help those most vulnerable to feel safer.

“The council is also aware that the taxi and private hire sector is becoming increasingly-competitive following steps to deregulate the taxi licensing regime.

“It is in the best interests of the council and our local business to demonstrate that licensed operators in Warrington operate to the highest standards, providing a quality service in order that they can remain commercially competitive.”

Some of the town’s cabbies have had their say on the move, which would also allow them to record sound if they choose.

Eugene Kelly, the co-owner of Lymmited Taxis and Minibuses, said: “I think it is a great move and I am fully behind it.

“There are no cons to this – it is good news for drivers and passengers.

“Passengers who get in our cars that have the cameras also say they think it is a great idea and how much more comfortable they feel.

“It is especially good for lone women travelling – it will definitely make them feel more comfortable.”

Dave Brownlee of We Care Travel says the move has proved popular with customers as well.

He said: “I’m very happy with the camera – I feel more confident and I know my customers do too.

“One lady who got in my cab last week liked the idea so much she said when she rings for a cab in future she will always ask for one that has a camera installed.

“I got my camera put in as soon as I heard about it even though my MOT is not due until the end of the year.”

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

May 20

Senior South Ribble Conservatives quit party roles following taxi scandal

Two senior members of South Ribble Conservatives have quit their party roles a month after the taxi licensing scandal came to public attention.

At a closed-doors AGM on Monday night, the chief whip, Coun Michael Green and his deputy, Coun Paul Wharton – who were responsible for discipline of members – decided not to stand again for the roles.

Coun John Rainsbury, chairman of licensing, has been elected as chief whip, with Coun Mike Nelson as deputy.

Coun Green said he was unable to commment on the decision to step down from the role he has held for 11 years. Coun Wharton said his decision was due to “personal integrity”.

“I didn’t feel I could fulfill my role effectively under the current leadership.

“I wouldn’t have the support of Margaret Smith (leader) or the members. I’m not sure what is deemed acceptable or not anymore.”

A month ago a secret report into child sexual exploitation by two taxi drivers was leaked to the press. In it the council was criticised for failing to carry out proper background checks. Since then a new probe has been launched into how a cabbie who tied up a disabled boy had his licence renewed.

The council and its leader have been criticised for failing to make the report public. Now senior members of the Labour Party have called for Coun Smith to release the report or resign. They have been supported by Tory Coun Wharton.

He said: “Margaret needs to quickly make the report available to the council and to residents, and if she’s not willing to do that, then she needs to seriously consider her position

“This is a serious safeguarding issue, not a blip as she seems to think.”

Coun Smith retained the vote as leader at the AGM unchalleged. She declined to comment. But her deputy Coun Warren Bennett was voted out.

He said: “It is disappointing in terms of the outstanding issues that the council is currently facing. I have been part of the team pressing for an honest and transparent investigation into what has gone wrong at South Ribble.

“I only hope that those now tasked to complete the process do so in the truthful and open manner that has always been the intention.”

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

May 20

Taxi seized and four suspended in Rossendale council inspection operation

Operation Spartacus was carried out by licensing and enforcement inspectors throughout the borough

A taxi has been seized and four others issued with suspension notices after Rossendale Borough Council conducted a taxi enforcement exercise.

During the exercise, 20 licensed hackney carriages were stopped and inspected of which four vehicles were issued with suspension notices for faults such as defective lights, defective windshield, unreported accident damage, bald tyres, damaged seat belts and interiors.

Operation Spartacus was deployed by Rossendale Borough Council’s Licensing and Enforcement Unit and Lancashire Police on Saturday, May 14 throughout the Valley.

One vehicle was in such an appalling condition that Lancashire Police had no alternative but to seize the vehicle.

Council officers also issued nine defect notices for further minor faults such as vehicle cleanliness, minor bodywork damage, absent ‘no smoking’ stickers, meter issues, cluttered boot space, wing mirror damage and shabby paintwork.

Five drivers were found to be operating a hackney carriage while not displaying upon them the hackney carriage drivers badge in such a position and manner as to be plainly visible

Coun Steve Hughes, chairman of Rossendale council’s Licensing Committee, welcomed the work.

He said: “This Operation proved a very successful exercise in identifying and suspending non-compliant drivers. There is no excuse for defective lights, filthy vehicles and illegal tyres.

“Taxi drivers are professional drivers and as such they should be carrying out basic checks before, during and at the end of each shift to ensure passenger safety. Failure to wear a drivers badge is extremely serious, it is imperative that the travelling public know that the driver of a hackney carriage has been checked by the Council and that they are licensed, the badge seeks to reassure this and it is illegal to then fail to wear this.”

Tracy Brzozowski, licensing and enforcement manager at Rossendale council added: “We will continue to conduct these inspections regularly. Licensed taxis are regularly tested and further taxi inspections are scheduled to take place to ensure all taxis are safe for customers. The lack of basic maintenance and defects found on some of the taxis was disappointing. A paying customer should always expect a road worthy vehicle.”

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

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