Black cab drivers protest over ‘lack of regulation of minicabs’ outside TfL HQ

Families of taxi drivers protested outside TfL’s headquarters this afternoon (Picture: @SherbAlert/Twitter)

London’s black cab drivers and their families gathered in their masses outside Transport for London’s headquarters today to protest over the “lack of proper regulation” of private minicab companies.

Hundreds of men, women, children and even dogs, wore Save Taxi t-shirts and held banners and placards outside Windsor House, Victoria Street, from 2pm this afternoon.

It is the latest in a number of demonstrations held by cab drivers calling for TfL to impose tougher restrictions on minicab firms.

Drivers have repeatedly complained they are losing earnings as a result of private hire cars and apps such as Uber, which they allege are not being subjected to the same licensing rules as black cabs.

Protesters today staged a demonstration in support of London’s taxi drivers as they claim TfL is not supporting them against ‘unfair competition’ and there ‘unbalanced regulation’ between black cabs and private hire vehicles.

On a Facebook group titled ‘Save our Black Cabs’, protesters and London cabbies say they want to raise awareness over their ‘inadequacy’.

Protesters have also set up a hashtag of Twitter, #SaveTaxi, to showcase the level of support for London’s black taxis, whose drivers say they are losing money due to the lack of regulation.

Garrett Emmerson, TfL’s chief operating officer of surface transport, said: “As the regulator of London’s taxi and private hire trades, we apply legislation fairly and equally.

“We have not treated, and do not treat, Uber any differently to any other London operator and we are satisfied that Uber currently complies with private hire licensing requirements.”

Today’s protest follows on from a similar event in May, during which about 1,000 black cab drivers blockaded the streets around the TfL headquarters.

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

Jail ride for minicab directors over accounting failures

6938705977_0d226702c4_oTwo company directors who ran a taxi hire company have received jail sentences and been disqualified for failing to keep adequate accounting records and failing to pay £150,000 in VAT owing to HMRC, following an Insolvency Service investigation

Two disqualified directors who were found to be in control of a series of retail businesses while still banned from running a company have received prison sentences and a further disqualification, following an investigation by the Insolvency Service and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) into the companies which collapsed owing over £10m

Arfan Khan and Gerard Burns, both from Middlesbrough were directors of Thornaby Cars Ltd trading as Royal Cars. The company was wound-up on 28 July 2010 following a petition by HMRC.

The investigation found Khan and Burns unlawfully transferred £150,0000 from the company before it was wound up to another company which they controlled, when they knew that such an amount was owed to HMRC for unpaid VAT. In doing so, they prevented HMRC from being paid the debt that it was owed.

Both Khan and Mr Burns failed to keep adequate accounting records to show the financial position of Thornaby Cars Ltd.

Khan further continued to use the business name Royal Cars previously used by Thornaby Cars, when its use had been prohibited for a period of five years from 28 July 2010.

At Newcastle-upon-Tyne Crown Court Khan was sentenced to 16 months’ imprisonment and disqualified from being a company director for a period of 10 years.

Burns was sentenced to 10 months’ imprisonment (to be suspended for two years) and disqualified from acting as a company director for a period of five years.

Simon Button, deputy chief investigative officer, from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) said: ‘The Insolvency Service and BIS will take firm action when we find that company directors have abused the trust that the public expect from them when they hold such a responsible position.

‘Both Mr Khan and Mr Burns were clearly aware that the money belonged to the company and its creditors, and was not theirs to do with as they wished.’

– See more at: https://www.accountancylive.com/

Redditch taxi driver cleared by a jury of sexual assaulting university student

A REDDITCH taxi driver has been cleared by a jury of sexual assaulting a university student.

Former teacher Shamim Ahmed, aged 37, of Studley Road, had been accused of pinning the young woman against his taxi and kissing her on the left side of the neck.

But the jury at Worcester Crown Court took just 50 minutes to decide, unanimously, that he was innocent.

Mohammad Hafeez, prosecuting, said the Redditch student had been for a night on the town with friends after coming home from university on October 3 last year.

She decided to go home when she felt tired after drinking four pints of lager and two vodka shots and a friend got a taxi for her from the town centre.

Mr Hafeez alleged that, when Ahmed stopped the car near her home, she climbed out of the taxi and “stumbled” into his arms.

She told the jury that he said he wanted to kiss her.

She claimed that, when she refused, he pinned her against the car and kissed the left side of her neck.

Cross-examined by Alison Scott-Jones, defending, she said she was fully aware of what was happening.

“After a long day, you were tired, drunk and confused and simply misinterpreted what had taken place,” suggested Miss Scott-Jones.

In a statement to police, Ahmed denied saying he was going to kiss the girl and that, when she got out of the car, she looked as though she was going to fall and embraced him.

Ahmed, who is married and the father of a four-year-old son, had denied sexual assault.

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

Taxi drivers fury at £1,000 per year charge from New Street Station

RMT union says black cab drivers will quit station taxi rank over new charges of up to £1,000 per year

Birmingham’s black cab drivers are up in arms after being told they will have to pay extra fees of up to £1,000 per year to pick up passengers at New Street Station .

And they are threatening to refuse to visit the station, leaving commuters stranded, unless the fee is cut.

The taxi driver’s union RMT is now meeting with Network Rail bosses over the charges which they say could see drivers forced out of business.

It adds that drivers already pay a 20p fee to the station every time they pick up a passenger there.

But Network Rail says the new fees, which are being introduced when the station fully opens on September 20 following five years of rebuilding work, are part of a policy to improve air quality by issuing higher charges for higher polluting cars.

General secretary Mick Cash said: “None of our taxi driver members will accept Network Rail’s terms. They are all united and determined that no-one will pay this extortionate fee.”

“Instead, drivers will be forced to ply for hire near the station, meaning that Network Rail’s actions will simply inconvenience passengers by making them walk further to pick up a taxi. This will have serious consequences and create severe congestion throughout the surrounding area.

“Bearing in mind that £750 million has been spent refurbishing New Street station to benefit passengers, it is appalling that one of the results will be to disrupt and inconvenience passengers with onward travel needs as taxi drivers are unfairly penalised.”

The disruption could start during ‘Super September’ – an unprecedented number of major events in the City Centre which have already prompted warnings of traffic chaos.

The union also complained that drivers have been patient working around the construction site for the last five years .

Network Rail said the new charge is designed to discourage older and more polluting vehicles. A spokeswoman said: “The charge is on a sliding scale, similar to the road tax, starting at around £400 per year. The £1,000 is at the higher end of the scale. This is designed to ensure better air quality and a better customer experience.”

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

Gateshead taxi drivers trained to spot vulnerable young people

Training from police for local Gateshead drivers will help prevent child sexual exploitation, it is hoped

Cabbies are being trained to spot and help vulnerable young people.

Taxi drivers and private hire operators in Gateshead will learn how to identify children and young people who are at risk of being sexually exploited, on a new course.

Drivers will receive safeguarding advice and details of who to contact about report any suspicions they may have, in order to keep vulnerable passengers safe.

The training is being delivered by the police and the Gateshead Local Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB) on behalf of Gateshead Council.

The free sessions will be made available to around 700 hackney carriage drivers and private hire vehicle drivers in Gateshead over the coming weeks, along with call handlers and despatch staff.

Anneliese Hutchinson, service director of development and public protection at Gateshead Council, said it was vital that taxi drivers know how they can help protect children and young people from sexual exploitation.

“Helping to keep vulnerable children and young people safe is everyone’s business,” she said.

“Taxi drivers’ work brings them into daily contact with people across Gateshead who may be at risk of harm. We are not expecting them to make the decision on whether a child is at risk, but we do want to help them to be confident on what to report and who to report to.

“Drivers are in a unique position to see and report anything they feel concerned about, whether that’s a child in the wrong company or a young person who seems vulnerable.”

And Coun John McElroy, cabinet member for environment and transport at Gateshead Council added: “This training is designed to make sure that our license holders know how to report anything they see which makes them feel uneasy.

“Their work may also give them an insight into certain venues or locations that have raised their suspicions.

“Again we want them to know where to report those concerns. Everyone needs to play their part in making communities more aware that children are vulnerable and drivers are in an important position to look for signs of abuse.”

Phil Jones, proprietor of Blaydon Cabs, who has around 45 drivers attending the training said: “I am 100% behind this.

“It’s a very worrying issue nationally and it’s only right that taxi drivers, who can help a lot in spotting anything untoward, should play their part in helping to stop this.

“Drivers have a duty of care towards our customers and if they do see any signs, or notice any patterns of suspicious behaviour, then they need to flag it up.

“We are always looking for ways of giving a better service to the public and being alert to this and aware of what to look out for, can only add to what we provide to our customers across Gateshead.”

The safeguarding training must now be completed before drivers’ licenses can be renewed and nine one hour sessions are taking place over the summer.

And anyone applying for their first license as a hackney or private hire driver must undergo the training prior to the license being issued.

The first sessions are taking place at Gateshead Civic Centre this week and are already full. In total almost 300 drivers have signed up for the training, with this number growing day by day.

Gary Hetherington, independent chair of Gateshead LSCB added: “Protecting children and young people remains a key priority for the LSCB and partners in Gateshead.

“CSE is an extremely complex issue and cannot be dealt with quickly by any one single agency, which is why we have a strong partnership approach in Gateshead.”

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

Jul 27

NTA Annual General Meeting & Conference 2015

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

Conference Partners

The format will be as follows;

Monday 26th October 2015

09:00 to 12:30; NTA Directors Meeting

14:00 to 17:00; Annual General Meeting

19:30hrs; NTA Chairman’s Dinner

Tuesday 27th October 2015

10:00 to 15:30 Conference

 

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

Jul 31

Black cab drivers protest over ‘lack of regulation of minicabs’ outside TfL HQ

Families of taxi drivers protested outside TfL’s headquarters this afternoon (Picture: @SherbAlert/Twitter)

London’s black cab drivers and their families gathered in their masses outside Transport for London’s headquarters today to protest over the “lack of proper regulation” of private minicab companies.

Hundreds of men, women, children and even dogs, wore Save Taxi t-shirts and held banners and placards outside Windsor House, Victoria Street, from 2pm this afternoon.

It is the latest in a number of demonstrations held by cab drivers calling for TfL to impose tougher restrictions on minicab firms.

Drivers have repeatedly complained they are losing earnings as a result of private hire cars and apps such as Uber, which they allege are not being subjected to the same licensing rules as black cabs.

Protesters today staged a demonstration in support of London’s taxi drivers as they claim TfL is not supporting them against ‘unfair competition’ and there ‘unbalanced regulation’ between black cabs and private hire vehicles.

On a Facebook group titled ‘Save our Black Cabs’, protesters and London cabbies say they want to raise awareness over their ‘inadequacy’.

Protesters have also set up a hashtag of Twitter, #SaveTaxi, to showcase the level of support for London’s black taxis, whose drivers say they are losing money due to the lack of regulation.

Garrett Emmerson, TfL’s chief operating officer of surface transport, said: “As the regulator of London’s taxi and private hire trades, we apply legislation fairly and equally.

“We have not treated, and do not treat, Uber any differently to any other London operator and we are satisfied that Uber currently complies with private hire licensing requirements.”

Today’s protest follows on from a similar event in May, during which about 1,000 black cab drivers blockaded the streets around the TfL headquarters.

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

Jul 30

Jail ride for minicab directors over accounting failures

6938705977_0d226702c4_oTwo company directors who ran a taxi hire company have received jail sentences and been disqualified for failing to keep adequate accounting records and failing to pay £150,000 in VAT owing to HMRC, following an Insolvency Service investigation

Two disqualified directors who were found to be in control of a series of retail businesses while still banned from running a company have received prison sentences and a further disqualification, following an investigation by the Insolvency Service and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) into the companies which collapsed owing over £10m

Arfan Khan and Gerard Burns, both from Middlesbrough were directors of Thornaby Cars Ltd trading as Royal Cars. The company was wound-up on 28 July 2010 following a petition by HMRC.

The investigation found Khan and Burns unlawfully transferred £150,0000 from the company before it was wound up to another company which they controlled, when they knew that such an amount was owed to HMRC for unpaid VAT. In doing so, they prevented HMRC from being paid the debt that it was owed.

Both Khan and Mr Burns failed to keep adequate accounting records to show the financial position of Thornaby Cars Ltd.

Khan further continued to use the business name Royal Cars previously used by Thornaby Cars, when its use had been prohibited for a period of five years from 28 July 2010.

At Newcastle-upon-Tyne Crown Court Khan was sentenced to 16 months’ imprisonment and disqualified from being a company director for a period of 10 years.

Burns was sentenced to 10 months’ imprisonment (to be suspended for two years) and disqualified from acting as a company director for a period of five years.

Simon Button, deputy chief investigative officer, from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) said: ‘The Insolvency Service and BIS will take firm action when we find that company directors have abused the trust that the public expect from them when they hold such a responsible position.

‘Both Mr Khan and Mr Burns were clearly aware that the money belonged to the company and its creditors, and was not theirs to do with as they wished.’

– See more at: https://www.accountancylive.com/

Jul 30

Redditch taxi driver cleared by a jury of sexual assaulting university student

A REDDITCH taxi driver has been cleared by a jury of sexual assaulting a university student.

Former teacher Shamim Ahmed, aged 37, of Studley Road, had been accused of pinning the young woman against his taxi and kissing her on the left side of the neck.

But the jury at Worcester Crown Court took just 50 minutes to decide, unanimously, that he was innocent.

Mohammad Hafeez, prosecuting, said the Redditch student had been for a night on the town with friends after coming home from university on October 3 last year.

She decided to go home when she felt tired after drinking four pints of lager and two vodka shots and a friend got a taxi for her from the town centre.

Mr Hafeez alleged that, when Ahmed stopped the car near her home, she climbed out of the taxi and “stumbled” into his arms.

She told the jury that he said he wanted to kiss her.

She claimed that, when she refused, he pinned her against the car and kissed the left side of her neck.

Cross-examined by Alison Scott-Jones, defending, she said she was fully aware of what was happening.

“After a long day, you were tired, drunk and confused and simply misinterpreted what had taken place,” suggested Miss Scott-Jones.

In a statement to police, Ahmed denied saying he was going to kiss the girl and that, when she got out of the car, she looked as though she was going to fall and embraced him.

Ahmed, who is married and the father of a four-year-old son, had denied sexual assault.

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

Jul 30

Taxi drivers fury at £1,000 per year charge from New Street Station

RMT union says black cab drivers will quit station taxi rank over new charges of up to £1,000 per year

Birmingham’s black cab drivers are up in arms after being told they will have to pay extra fees of up to £1,000 per year to pick up passengers at New Street Station .

And they are threatening to refuse to visit the station, leaving commuters stranded, unless the fee is cut.

The taxi driver’s union RMT is now meeting with Network Rail bosses over the charges which they say could see drivers forced out of business.

It adds that drivers already pay a 20p fee to the station every time they pick up a passenger there.

But Network Rail says the new fees, which are being introduced when the station fully opens on September 20 following five years of rebuilding work, are part of a policy to improve air quality by issuing higher charges for higher polluting cars.

General secretary Mick Cash said: “None of our taxi driver members will accept Network Rail’s terms. They are all united and determined that no-one will pay this extortionate fee.”

“Instead, drivers will be forced to ply for hire near the station, meaning that Network Rail’s actions will simply inconvenience passengers by making them walk further to pick up a taxi. This will have serious consequences and create severe congestion throughout the surrounding area.

“Bearing in mind that £750 million has been spent refurbishing New Street station to benefit passengers, it is appalling that one of the results will be to disrupt and inconvenience passengers with onward travel needs as taxi drivers are unfairly penalised.”

The disruption could start during ‘Super September’ – an unprecedented number of major events in the City Centre which have already prompted warnings of traffic chaos.

The union also complained that drivers have been patient working around the construction site for the last five years .

Network Rail said the new charge is designed to discourage older and more polluting vehicles. A spokeswoman said: “The charge is on a sliding scale, similar to the road tax, starting at around £400 per year. The £1,000 is at the higher end of the scale. This is designed to ensure better air quality and a better customer experience.”

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

Jul 30

Gateshead taxi drivers trained to spot vulnerable young people

Training from police for local Gateshead drivers will help prevent child sexual exploitation, it is hoped

Cabbies are being trained to spot and help vulnerable young people.

Taxi drivers and private hire operators in Gateshead will learn how to identify children and young people who are at risk of being sexually exploited, on a new course.

Drivers will receive safeguarding advice and details of who to contact about report any suspicions they may have, in order to keep vulnerable passengers safe.

The training is being delivered by the police and the Gateshead Local Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB) on behalf of Gateshead Council.

The free sessions will be made available to around 700 hackney carriage drivers and private hire vehicle drivers in Gateshead over the coming weeks, along with call handlers and despatch staff.

Anneliese Hutchinson, service director of development and public protection at Gateshead Council, said it was vital that taxi drivers know how they can help protect children and young people from sexual exploitation.

“Helping to keep vulnerable children and young people safe is everyone’s business,” she said.

“Taxi drivers’ work brings them into daily contact with people across Gateshead who may be at risk of harm. We are not expecting them to make the decision on whether a child is at risk, but we do want to help them to be confident on what to report and who to report to.

“Drivers are in a unique position to see and report anything they feel concerned about, whether that’s a child in the wrong company or a young person who seems vulnerable.”

And Coun John McElroy, cabinet member for environment and transport at Gateshead Council added: “This training is designed to make sure that our license holders know how to report anything they see which makes them feel uneasy.

“Their work may also give them an insight into certain venues or locations that have raised their suspicions.

“Again we want them to know where to report those concerns. Everyone needs to play their part in making communities more aware that children are vulnerable and drivers are in an important position to look for signs of abuse.”

Phil Jones, proprietor of Blaydon Cabs, who has around 45 drivers attending the training said: “I am 100% behind this.

“It’s a very worrying issue nationally and it’s only right that taxi drivers, who can help a lot in spotting anything untoward, should play their part in helping to stop this.

“Drivers have a duty of care towards our customers and if they do see any signs, or notice any patterns of suspicious behaviour, then they need to flag it up.

“We are always looking for ways of giving a better service to the public and being alert to this and aware of what to look out for, can only add to what we provide to our customers across Gateshead.”

The safeguarding training must now be completed before drivers’ licenses can be renewed and nine one hour sessions are taking place over the summer.

And anyone applying for their first license as a hackney or private hire driver must undergo the training prior to the license being issued.

The first sessions are taking place at Gateshead Civic Centre this week and are already full. In total almost 300 drivers have signed up for the training, with this number growing day by day.

Gary Hetherington, independent chair of Gateshead LSCB added: “Protecting children and young people remains a key priority for the LSCB and partners in Gateshead.

“CSE is an extremely complex issue and cannot be dealt with quickly by any one single agency, which is why we have a strong partnership approach in Gateshead.”

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

Jul 30

Forged certificate of good conduct minicab applicant caught

Fake NYPD recommendation from Birmingham taxi driver application form

Wannabe minicab driver used ‘good conduct’ notice in bid to get job – and has received a caution

A would-be Black Country minicab driver has been cautioned by cops after his pal faked a New York Police Department certificate to back up a licence application.

The prospective taxi driver, from Sandwell, who has not been named, used a ‘good conduct’ notice from the NYPD to endorse his request for a private hire driver’s licence.

Documentation was demanded by Sandwell Council’s Taxi Licensing Office because the applicant had lived in the UK for less than five years.

However, the ruse was rumbled when a pal in the US city faked the certificate on his home computer and officials at the Black Country authority became suspicious of the scam.

The devious driver had begged the pal in New York to obtain the certificate.

However, he was informed that the applicant would have to attend in person to have his fingerprints taken before the prized notice could be issued. Alternatively he could download the form, attend the US Embassy in London, and pay for the service.

To avoid the inconvenience, the friend created the bogus certificate on his computer and the applicant presented it to the licensing office in the Black Country hoping to gain permission to begin taking fares.

Dubious Sandwell officers contacted the NYPD who soon passed on the information that the notice of good conduct was faked.

The applicant was interviewed by West Midlands Police and cautioned because of his previous good character.

A spokesman for West Midlands Police said: “His application for a private hire driver’s licence was understandably declined.

“It was a great example of multi-agency co-operation, not just locally, but across the Atlantic.”

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

Jul 30

Minicab driver appears in court charged with attempting to meet underage girl for sex

Teesside Law Courts in Middlesbrough

Nawaz Zadar has been charged with attempting to arrange a meeting :: The 23-year-old is remanded in custody

A Middlesbrough taxi driver has appeared in court charged with attempting to arrange a meeting with an underage girl for sex.

Nawaz Zadar, of Jedburgh Street, central Middlesbrough, appeared at Teesside Magistrates’ Court on Monday.

The 23-year-old was remanded into custody and the case was sent to Teesside Crown Court to be listed on August 10.

A spokesman for Middlesbrough Council said: “The authority can confirm it has suspended the licence of a Middlesbrough private hire driver while a police investigation is carried out.”

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

Jul 29

Uber faces UK legal action over drivers’ rights

Lawyers want Uber to class its drivers as employees and not contractors (Reuters)

Uber, the smartphone app-based taxi provider, is facing legal action in the UK over whether it treats its drivers as employees or partners and contractors. Brought by law firm Leigh Day on behalf of the GMB union, the lawsuit claims Uber does not ensure its drivers are paid a minimum wage or receive holiday pay.

Uber claims its drivers are “partners” instead of employees. Drivers are hailed by users of the Uber smartphone app, which is also used to track journeys and process payments. Uber operates in 300 cities worldwide, including London, Leeds, Manchester, Sheffield, Bristol and Newcastle in the UK.

According to Leigh Day, lawyers argue that Uber is in breach of employment law, but also “there are serious health and safety issues as currently Uber does not ensure its drivers take rest breaks or work a maximum number of hours per week”. The lawyers argue that these working conditions pose “a substantial risk to all road users” – especially given that the company itself claims there will be 42,000 Uber drivers on London’s roads by 2016, double the number of black cabs.

Furthermore, the law firm is unimpressed with reports of Uber drivers being suspended or having their accounts deactivated after making complaints about unlawful treatment, without being given an opportunity to challenge the company’s actions. Leigh Day points out that no employer can remove staff for raising these issues.

Successful legal action against Uber could see “substantial payouts for drivers”, Leigh Day claims These would include “compensation for past failures by the company to make appropriate payments to what lawyers argue are their workers”.

Uber should take responsibility for its drivers

Nigel Mackay, a lawyer in the employment team at Leigh Day, said: “Uber not only pays the drivers but it also effectively controls how much passengers are charged and requires drivers to follow particular routes. We believe that it’s clear from the way Uber operates that it owes the same responsibilities towards its drivers as any other employer does to its workers.

“In particular, its drivers should not be denied the right to minimum wage and paid leave. Uber should also take responsibility for its drivers, making sure they take regular rest breaks… If Uber wishes to operate in this way, and to reap the substantial benefits, then it must acknowledge its responsibilities towards its drivers and the public.”

Uber drivers say they are not required to take breaks. Theoretically they could work 24 hours a day without the app automatically logging them out and forcing them to rest.

An Uber spokesperson said: “One of the main reasons drivers use Uber is because they love being their own boss. As employees, drivers would drive set shifts, earn a fixed hourly wage, and lose the ability to drive elsewhere as well as the personal flexibility they most value. The reality is that drivers use Uber on their own terms: they control their use of the app.”

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

Jul 29

Minicab firms angry at 80% licence fee cost hike

Ramin Pahlavan, of United Radio Cars, with a petition protesting against the new licence fee increase

PETITIONS are being compiled by Swindon’s minicab industry in opposition to new licence fee proposals which will increase by as much as 80 per cent.

Swindon Borough Council wants to bump up fees across the board for businesses and drivers in order to meet the costs of operating the cab licensing service, which currently operates at a loss.

But the town’s private hire minicab firms are concerned the new fees will hit their businesses hard and see more drivers out of work in the long term.

Ramin Pahlavan, a co-owner at United Radio Cars in Transfer Bridge Industrial Estate, said: “You expect things to go up, but inflation is not going up much.

“You expect things to go up because of the costs the Government expects the local authority to pay. But these increases, from what I have heard, are ridiculously high.

“The increases just don’t go with anything else happening around this country. We will be in touch with the council ourselves to find out the details. All the drivers and operators are very upset.”

Mr Pahlavan went as far as to say some drivers will see even more benefit in being out of work altogether, such is the rise in costs of running a taxi in Swindon.

“They will reduce the driver’s earnings,” he said.

“People will need to look at it and see if it’s worthwhile still being a taxi driver. In some cases they will see it’s not worth being employed and can get more out of benefits.”

Among the proposed increases, the largest jump is for those drivers wishing to sit the Knowledge test, who would fork out £50 for their first attempt, as opposed to £30 as it is now.

Those existing drivers looking to renew their minicab licences would be required to pay out 56 per cent more, at £70 rather than £45.50.

Operators like United, including V Cars, Cross Street Cars and SN1 Cars, which service more than 20 vehicles, will now be needed to fork out £450 for a licence, up from £309 in 2014/15.

Among the new costs, which have been created from scratch, a set of insurance stickers to attach to the window, cost £10 for each set.

Those companies which own the vehicles loaned out to the drivers will also be hit in the pocket by the proposals.

Private Hire Rental and CMH Car Hire own approximately 150 cars between them. They would need to pay out £200 to licence each of their vehicles, as opposed to £161 as it currently stands.

Steve Waggott, of Private Hire, said: “I just felt they were exorbitant.

“I have looked at the Government guidelines for this and it just feels as though the council has taken no notice of what they suggest, when proposing these huge increases.

“It’s certainly going to restrict the rate of new drivers coming in. It was already struggling as it is. In fact the number has gone down over the last five or six years.”

A council spokesman said: “The proposed increases are designed to prevent the taxi licensing service from operating at a loss, because at present the fees charged do not reflect the cost of providing the service.

“We have compared the proposed new fees against what other councils across the country charge, and they will be in line with the average amount.

“We raised these proposed increases with the taxi trade at the last two taxi forum meetings and they had no serious objections, and we invited them to come back to us before we published them, but they did not.

“If they come back within the 28-day period with representations, then the proposals will go back before the elected members of the cabinet who will consider any comments made before making a final decision.”

To see the proposals in full click here

The main difference between Hackney carriages and private hire vehicles is the former can be flagged down in the street or may be hired from a taxi rank. Private hire vehicles must be pre-booked through a licensed operator.

Selected fees:

      • Driver’s licence – first application: £75 (2014/15); £100 (proposed 2015/16); 25 per cent increase.
      • Driver’s licence – renewal: £45.50; £70; 56 per cent increase
      • Knowledge test: £30; £50; 80 per cent increase
      • Hackney carriage vehicle licence: £161; £200; 23 per cent increase
      • Private hire vehicle licence: £161; £200; 23 per cent increase.
      • Operators’ licence – 20-plus vehicles: £309; £450; 47 per cent increase.

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

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