Private hire operator loses licence for running taxi business outside district

A district council has revoked the licence of a private hire operator, as well as hackney carriage licences for five of his vehicles, after he was found to be running his taxi business outside of the district.

Ismail Emin, a Chelmsford resident, had been granted the licences by Uttlesford District Council for his business, West End Cars, in October 2015.

Emin listed the business address as a unit in Ongar Road, Great Dunmow, and he provided a letter from the landlord confirming he was a tenant at the address.

However, the council said it had received complaints that West End Cars vehicles were driving around Chelmsford with a Chelmsford telephone number on the side of their vehicles.

A member of Uttlesford’s enforcement team carried out two visits to the Dunmow address to check the record of bookings, but found no signage or any indication of the firm’s presence.

Neighbours also had no knowledge of a taxi business operating from that address.

At a meeting of Uttlesford’s Licensing and Environmental Health Committee last month (23 May), Emin failed to provide any supporting evidence that the business or the taxis were based in Uttlesford.

Cllr Robert Chambers, chairman of the Licensing and Environmental Health Committee, said: “The reason why someone from outside the area would seek a license in Uttlesford is quite clear – Uttlesford has one of the lowest fee structures in the country, and almost certainly in Essex.

“It is the policy of the council not to licence any hackney carriage which will not be predominantly used within Uttlesford. To reinforce this it is the practice of the Council to seek a declaration from the applicant that the vehicle will be predominantly used within the district. In this instance, Mr Emin’s declaration was false. There was no evidence to show that he has run his business within the district, or that any of the hackney carriage vehicles are working here.”

The council said its policy was based on a 2009 High Court case in which the judge said that, when considering applications for licences, councils must have regard to whether the vehicles will be used to ply for hire in the council’s district or whether they will be used predominantly outside of the district. In the latter event the council should refuse to grant a licence.

Cllr Chambers said: “I hope this case sends a strong message to those who fail to meet the licensing conditions that this will not be tolerated and that the council will not hesitate to take the appropriate action.”

source: http://localgovernmentlawyer.co.uk/

Derby City Council ‘granted taxi licences to criminals’, report concludes

CRIMINALS were being granted taxi licences by Derby City Council until as recently as last year, a damning report has found.

Between 2012 and 2015, expert auditors found that councillors on the authority’s Taxi Licensing Sub Committee had allowed licences to people with criminal records who had committed offences including “hate crime, harassment, intimidation and making improper comments to young women”.

In one instance, a taxi driver was granted a licence despite “publishing material threatening or intending to stir up religious/sexual hatred”.

In recent times, the auditors found that the authority had taken steps to “strengthen governance in this area”, including ensuring officers were involved in the decision-making process.

But the experts from Grant Thornton said there was evidence councillors “continue to involve themselves inappropriately in operational matters” around taxis.

The city council granted licences to criminals, the report says

The report also blasts the council for its handling of a recent Government-ordered pay review.

The Derby Telegraph had already reported how the work had cost more than £5 million to date after being beset with problems.

The review had been carried out by a company called Aquarius.

But, back in September 2014, the council’s former chief executive, Adam Wilkinson, revealed that “the previous consultants (Aquarius)” were not able to complete their work due to a “contractual issue”.

Councillor Lisa Eldret, responsible for staff matters at the city council, later revealed Aquarius was using the pay review system of a company called Hay without permission. The Aquarius work is now being redone by Hay at an additional cost of £1.2 million to the taxpayer.

Now, the auditors have said that the council had “asked” Aquarius to use the “Hay-based approach” that led to the problem.

Their report says: “It should have been clear as early as September 2013 that asking a firm other than Hay to apply a Hay-based approach would be problematic.”

The report adds that an allegedly politically-motivated decision by councillors around staff pay arrangements, made in 2013, had “meant extra costs of £3 million”.

It says that “according to officers, it was motivated by a political desire to protect refuse workers” in a bid to prevent them striking before an election, though some councillors denied this.

The council said many of the matters reported occurred some time ago and that it had already made a large number of improvements.

Council leader Ranjit Banwait, said: “I am confident many of the issues reported by our external auditors today are in the past; those issues that are more recent in nature are being reviewed and addressed – robust measures are already in place following an extensive overhaul of our governance.”

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

Celtic FC Foundation donate £7,000 to Glasgow Taxi Outing

CELTIC FC Foundation has today donated £7,000 to this year’s Glasgow Taxis´ Outing Fund for Sick Children, continuing the club’s long-standing support of the annual charity event.

Former Hoops favourite, Tosh McKinlay handed over the cheque to help fund the trip for at least 300 deserving kids on the Celtic Way.

It brings the contribution by the club to the Glasgow Taxis’ Outing Fund to nearly £140,000 over the last 18 years.

Established in 1945, the Glasgow Taxis´ Outing Fund aims to provide a day of excitement and fun for children with special needs.

This year’s event takes place on Wednesday, June 15, and will see a colourful convoy of cabs once again make the traditional journey from the West End of Glasgow to Troon in Ayrshire, where the children will enjoy a fun-packed day.

Celtic Chief Executive Peter Lawwell said: “We are absolutely delighted to continue our support of the taxis outing for yet another year. This is a great annual occasion for the city, bringing great fun to children who really deserve our support”.

“The money Celtic has donated and the effort and hard work of so many people, has meant thousands of children and their families receiving much needed help. Everyone who makes this event so special deserves enormous credit”.

“Celtic was formed in 1888 to help to help people in need and we are pleased that today, the objective of making a positive difference to the lives of others remains such an important part of the club. We hope everyone involved in Wednesday’s event enjoys a great day out.”

Tosh McKinlay said: “I was lucky enough to see them off from the Kelvin Way last year in their 70th year, so it’s great to take part again. For Celtic FC Foundation to put in another £7,000 is a fantastic gesture and it’s great to promote that.”

Jim Buchanan, chairperson of the Glasgow Taxis’ Outing Fund, said: “We can’t thank the people and all the fans who have donated through Celtic FC Foundation enough. It’s fantastic and we really appreciate it and all they have done for us over the years.

“The outing is one of the first days that everybody thinks about.This is the really big charity we have in the taxi trade and everyone that attends the event speaks about it all the time.

“All the taxi drivers always want to know when the date is for next year, ask questions about it and it’s the only thing a lot of them speak about.

“Sometimes it’s difficult to determine who the real kids are – the ones in the front or the ones in the back!

“They work hard and a lot of them make a huge effort to do up their taxi with balloons and in the past we have had things like spaceships and tennis courts. They take their cab off the road for two or three days and work on it, they think it’s worthwhile and so do we.

“We aim for around 150 drivers and we have volunteers and charitable donations from people like Celtic. There are so many people involved all-year round, but on the day there could be up to 220 volunteers from different backgrounds distributing the food to the kids. The support we get is fantastic.”

Davie Hodgson, a taxi driver based out of Castlemilk, said: “My first outing was 24 years ago this year. We absolutely love it. It’s a humbling day. We are all Glasgow taxi drivers and it’s a day where we can give something back to the city – and it’s one day where everyone likes taxi drivers!

“It’s cracking day and a lot of the boys put in a lot of effort with dressing up, and this year we are going as The Magnificent Seven.

“It’s the one day of the year when the drivers can just act like weans. You see them all on the Kelvin Way leaping about like lunatics. It’s terrific and I would never miss it.

“It means a lot to the kids and it’s nice to give something back. We work up in Castlemilk and all the boys are all buzzing. They all have the cowboy outfits already and tomorrow they will start turning up with them even though the event is on Wednesday!”

source: http://www.celticfc.net/

Newcastle under Lyme council officer suspended over taxi licensing allegations

A COUNCIL licensing officer has been suspended following allegations against the staff member.

Newcastle Borough Council has taken the action while an internal investigation into the issue takes place.

It is understood that the allegations against the officer relate to the borough council’s issuing of licences to taxi drivers.

A borough council spokesman said: “We can confirm that a member of staff has been suspended while an investigation takes place.

“As this is still under way it would be inappropriate for us to comment further.”

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

Taxi driver in court for four-mile detour on four-mile journey

A taxi driver took a passenger wanting to travel on a four-mile journey in the Black Country on a detour to Birmingham – costing them twice the fare, a court heard.

Talbraiz Ali, 35, was asked by his customer to go from Cape Hill in Smethwick to Sandwell and Dudley railway station.

But instead, Ali, who was working for 247 Cars and had only been a taxi driver for 28 days, took the passenger to Harborne and then charged £15 for the trip – over double the expected fare of £7.

Ali, of Minstead Road, Erdington, pleaded guilty to a charge of unnecessary prolonging of a journey by hackney carriage at Sandwell Magistrates Court yesterday.

Mr David Elliot, prosecuting on behalf of Sandwell Council, explained that a man called for a taxi from 247 Cars from the McDonald’s at Cape Hill, Smethwick, which arrived driven by Ali five minutes later on December 9.

Asking to be taken to Sandwell and Dudley Railway Station the passenger was surprised when, instead of turning right as expected, Ali turned left towards Birmingham instead.

“He asked the driver where he was going, who said that he wanted to avoid the traffic. The passenger asked him to turn around, and he took a right,” said Mr Elliot.

However Ali proceeded to take more and more of a diversion, repeatedly ending up on the Hagley Road, and also driving through Harborne High Street at one point.

Eventually the taxi driver succeeded in getting to the railway station and the passenger was charged £15 for the trip.

Apart from the initial remarks, there was no conversation between the pair during the longer than expected journey, and the passenger also noted that there was no sat nav.

The court was told that Ali had only started driving a taxi in Sandwell in November 2015.

Mr Elliot added that it would be up to the council’s licensing committee to determine to what extent they would penalise Ali, whether that be a warning or losing his license in the borough.

Representing Ali, Mr Michael Wooldridge said: “This is an unfortunate matter, and so odd that it defies any logical explanation.”

Mr Wooldridge stressed that his client had only been a taxi driver for 28 days, and that this was his second job, with his main employment being at a factory.

Mr Wooldridge added: “He took a wrong turn at the start and it all went from there. It is not a case where he has deliberately gone around the houses.”

He also highlighted that Ali had limited English.

Ali received a 12 month conditional discharge and was also ordered to pay costs of £250 and a victim surcharge of £15.

Read more at http://www.expressandstar.com/

Jun 18

Private hire operator loses licence for running taxi business outside district

A district council has revoked the licence of a private hire operator, as well as hackney carriage licences for five of his vehicles, after he was found to be running his taxi business outside of the district.

Ismail Emin, a Chelmsford resident, had been granted the licences by Uttlesford District Council for his business, West End Cars, in October 2015.

Emin listed the business address as a unit in Ongar Road, Great Dunmow, and he provided a letter from the landlord confirming he was a tenant at the address.

However, the council said it had received complaints that West End Cars vehicles were driving around Chelmsford with a Chelmsford telephone number on the side of their vehicles.

A member of Uttlesford’s enforcement team carried out two visits to the Dunmow address to check the record of bookings, but found no signage or any indication of the firm’s presence.

Neighbours also had no knowledge of a taxi business operating from that address.

At a meeting of Uttlesford’s Licensing and Environmental Health Committee last month (23 May), Emin failed to provide any supporting evidence that the business or the taxis were based in Uttlesford.

Cllr Robert Chambers, chairman of the Licensing and Environmental Health Committee, said: “The reason why someone from outside the area would seek a license in Uttlesford is quite clear – Uttlesford has one of the lowest fee structures in the country, and almost certainly in Essex.

“It is the policy of the council not to licence any hackney carriage which will not be predominantly used within Uttlesford. To reinforce this it is the practice of the Council to seek a declaration from the applicant that the vehicle will be predominantly used within the district. In this instance, Mr Emin’s declaration was false. There was no evidence to show that he has run his business within the district, or that any of the hackney carriage vehicles are working here.”

The council said its policy was based on a 2009 High Court case in which the judge said that, when considering applications for licences, councils must have regard to whether the vehicles will be used to ply for hire in the council’s district or whether they will be used predominantly outside of the district. In the latter event the council should refuse to grant a licence.

Cllr Chambers said: “I hope this case sends a strong message to those who fail to meet the licensing conditions that this will not be tolerated and that the council will not hesitate to take the appropriate action.”

source: http://localgovernmentlawyer.co.uk/

Jun 16

Derby City Council ‘granted taxi licences to criminals’, report concludes

CRIMINALS were being granted taxi licences by Derby City Council until as recently as last year, a damning report has found.

Between 2012 and 2015, expert auditors found that councillors on the authority’s Taxi Licensing Sub Committee had allowed licences to people with criminal records who had committed offences including “hate crime, harassment, intimidation and making improper comments to young women”.

In one instance, a taxi driver was granted a licence despite “publishing material threatening or intending to stir up religious/sexual hatred”.

In recent times, the auditors found that the authority had taken steps to “strengthen governance in this area”, including ensuring officers were involved in the decision-making process.

But the experts from Grant Thornton said there was evidence councillors “continue to involve themselves inappropriately in operational matters” around taxis.

The city council granted licences to criminals, the report says

The report also blasts the council for its handling of a recent Government-ordered pay review.

The Derby Telegraph had already reported how the work had cost more than £5 million to date after being beset with problems.

The review had been carried out by a company called Aquarius.

But, back in September 2014, the council’s former chief executive, Adam Wilkinson, revealed that “the previous consultants (Aquarius)” were not able to complete their work due to a “contractual issue”.

Councillor Lisa Eldret, responsible for staff matters at the city council, later revealed Aquarius was using the pay review system of a company called Hay without permission. The Aquarius work is now being redone by Hay at an additional cost of £1.2 million to the taxpayer.

Now, the auditors have said that the council had “asked” Aquarius to use the “Hay-based approach” that led to the problem.

Their report says: “It should have been clear as early as September 2013 that asking a firm other than Hay to apply a Hay-based approach would be problematic.”

The report adds that an allegedly politically-motivated decision by councillors around staff pay arrangements, made in 2013, had “meant extra costs of £3 million”.

It says that “according to officers, it was motivated by a political desire to protect refuse workers” in a bid to prevent them striking before an election, though some councillors denied this.

The council said many of the matters reported occurred some time ago and that it had already made a large number of improvements.

Council leader Ranjit Banwait, said: “I am confident many of the issues reported by our external auditors today are in the past; those issues that are more recent in nature are being reviewed and addressed – robust measures are already in place following an extensive overhaul of our governance.”

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

Jun 13

Celtic FC Foundation donate £7,000 to Glasgow Taxi Outing

CELTIC FC Foundation has today donated £7,000 to this year’s Glasgow Taxis´ Outing Fund for Sick Children, continuing the club’s long-standing support of the annual charity event.

Former Hoops favourite, Tosh McKinlay handed over the cheque to help fund the trip for at least 300 deserving kids on the Celtic Way.

It brings the contribution by the club to the Glasgow Taxis’ Outing Fund to nearly £140,000 over the last 18 years.

Established in 1945, the Glasgow Taxis´ Outing Fund aims to provide a day of excitement and fun for children with special needs.

This year’s event takes place on Wednesday, June 15, and will see a colourful convoy of cabs once again make the traditional journey from the West End of Glasgow to Troon in Ayrshire, where the children will enjoy a fun-packed day.

Celtic Chief Executive Peter Lawwell said: “We are absolutely delighted to continue our support of the taxis outing for yet another year. This is a great annual occasion for the city, bringing great fun to children who really deserve our support”.

“The money Celtic has donated and the effort and hard work of so many people, has meant thousands of children and their families receiving much needed help. Everyone who makes this event so special deserves enormous credit”.

“Celtic was formed in 1888 to help to help people in need and we are pleased that today, the objective of making a positive difference to the lives of others remains such an important part of the club. We hope everyone involved in Wednesday’s event enjoys a great day out.”

Tosh McKinlay said: “I was lucky enough to see them off from the Kelvin Way last year in their 70th year, so it’s great to take part again. For Celtic FC Foundation to put in another £7,000 is a fantastic gesture and it’s great to promote that.”

Jim Buchanan, chairperson of the Glasgow Taxis’ Outing Fund, said: “We can’t thank the people and all the fans who have donated through Celtic FC Foundation enough. It’s fantastic and we really appreciate it and all they have done for us over the years.

“The outing is one of the first days that everybody thinks about.This is the really big charity we have in the taxi trade and everyone that attends the event speaks about it all the time.

“All the taxi drivers always want to know when the date is for next year, ask questions about it and it’s the only thing a lot of them speak about.

“Sometimes it’s difficult to determine who the real kids are – the ones in the front or the ones in the back!

“They work hard and a lot of them make a huge effort to do up their taxi with balloons and in the past we have had things like spaceships and tennis courts. They take their cab off the road for two or three days and work on it, they think it’s worthwhile and so do we.

“We aim for around 150 drivers and we have volunteers and charitable donations from people like Celtic. There are so many people involved all-year round, but on the day there could be up to 220 volunteers from different backgrounds distributing the food to the kids. The support we get is fantastic.”

Davie Hodgson, a taxi driver based out of Castlemilk, said: “My first outing was 24 years ago this year. We absolutely love it. It’s a humbling day. We are all Glasgow taxi drivers and it’s a day where we can give something back to the city – and it’s one day where everyone likes taxi drivers!

“It’s cracking day and a lot of the boys put in a lot of effort with dressing up, and this year we are going as The Magnificent Seven.

“It’s the one day of the year when the drivers can just act like weans. You see them all on the Kelvin Way leaping about like lunatics. It’s terrific and I would never miss it.

“It means a lot to the kids and it’s nice to give something back. We work up in Castlemilk and all the boys are all buzzing. They all have the cowboy outfits already and tomorrow they will start turning up with them even though the event is on Wednesday!”

source: http://www.celticfc.net/

Jun 13

Newcastle under Lyme council officer suspended over taxi licensing allegations

A COUNCIL licensing officer has been suspended following allegations against the staff member.

Newcastle Borough Council has taken the action while an internal investigation into the issue takes place.

It is understood that the allegations against the officer relate to the borough council’s issuing of licences to taxi drivers.

A borough council spokesman said: “We can confirm that a member of staff has been suspended while an investigation takes place.

“As this is still under way it would be inappropriate for us to comment further.”

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

Jun 07

Taxi driver in court for four-mile detour on four-mile journey

A taxi driver took a passenger wanting to travel on a four-mile journey in the Black Country on a detour to Birmingham – costing them twice the fare, a court heard.

Talbraiz Ali, 35, was asked by his customer to go from Cape Hill in Smethwick to Sandwell and Dudley railway station.

But instead, Ali, who was working for 247 Cars and had only been a taxi driver for 28 days, took the passenger to Harborne and then charged £15 for the trip – over double the expected fare of £7.

Ali, of Minstead Road, Erdington, pleaded guilty to a charge of unnecessary prolonging of a journey by hackney carriage at Sandwell Magistrates Court yesterday.

Mr David Elliot, prosecuting on behalf of Sandwell Council, explained that a man called for a taxi from 247 Cars from the McDonald’s at Cape Hill, Smethwick, which arrived driven by Ali five minutes later on December 9.

Asking to be taken to Sandwell and Dudley Railway Station the passenger was surprised when, instead of turning right as expected, Ali turned left towards Birmingham instead.

“He asked the driver where he was going, who said that he wanted to avoid the traffic. The passenger asked him to turn around, and he took a right,” said Mr Elliot.

However Ali proceeded to take more and more of a diversion, repeatedly ending up on the Hagley Road, and also driving through Harborne High Street at one point.

Eventually the taxi driver succeeded in getting to the railway station and the passenger was charged £15 for the trip.

Apart from the initial remarks, there was no conversation between the pair during the longer than expected journey, and the passenger also noted that there was no sat nav.

The court was told that Ali had only started driving a taxi in Sandwell in November 2015.

Mr Elliot added that it would be up to the council’s licensing committee to determine to what extent they would penalise Ali, whether that be a warning or losing his license in the borough.

Representing Ali, Mr Michael Wooldridge said: “This is an unfortunate matter, and so odd that it defies any logical explanation.”

Mr Wooldridge stressed that his client had only been a taxi driver for 28 days, and that this was his second job, with his main employment being at a factory.

Mr Wooldridge added: “He took a wrong turn at the start and it all went from there. It is not a case where he has deliberately gone around the houses.”

He also highlighted that Ali had limited English.

Ali received a 12 month conditional discharge and was also ordered to pay costs of £250 and a victim surcharge of £15.

Read more at http://www.expressandstar.com/

Jun 07

Pepper spray ‘test’ minicab driver given suspended sentence

A man who collected weapons and bought canisters of pepper spray online was “preparing to survive doomsday scenarios”, a court heard.

Sajjad Younis Khan, was described at Birmingham Magistrates’ Court as a “weapons enthusiast and survivalist”.

The 40-year-old minicab driver admitted possessing a weapon for the discharge of a noxious substance but said he had no intention of using it on others.

He also surrendered to police machetes and illegally held knives.

Khan was initially arrested under anti-terror laws and admitted to officers he was a weapons collector.

He had sprayed one of the four canisters of illegal pepper spray to test his own pain threshold, the court was told.

Prosecutor Amy Davies said Khan was a “prepper” which she defined it as “someone preparing to survive doomsday scenarios”.

Mitigatin, Aftab Zaroor, said the defendant was held in custody for seven days and “made full and frank admissions” that he purchased the substance but was unaware it was illegal.

Khan, of Whitmore Road, Small Heath – who has previous convictions for robbery and wounding dating back to 1994 – was released on conditional bail and will be sentenced on 6 June.

source: http://www.bbc.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/

 

 

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