Action on people making off without paying for taxis

 

Action on people making off without paying for taxis

TAXI drivers and police officers in Amesbury are working together to tackle the number of people making off without paying for their fares.

Police are reminding people, especially those using taxis after nights out, that refusing to pay for a taxi fare is a criminal offence which could result in a conviction.

They have launched a campaign with local taxi drivers to raise awareness following an increase of the issue.

Sgt Ricky Lee, from the Amesbury Neighbourhood Police Team, said: “We are concerned that taxi drivers feel vulnerable during the night time economy – that matters to us. The idea behind the campaign is to highlight to people that it is a serious offence to make off without paying.”

Taxi driver Dave McHugh said many drivers have stopped working at night so they don’t have to deal with the problem.

“It’s been more of an issue with the economy as it is,” he said. “The problem has always been there but the recession has made it a lot worse. Fuel prices have also gone up for us so that pushes taxi prices up as well. Pennies are tighter and while people can still afford to go out, they argue the cost of a taxi.”

There will be more police officers out on the streets as part of the campaign, as well as posters displayed around the town and in taxis.

Sgt Lee said: “We want the taxi drivers to know that we take them seriously. We can’t do our job without taxi drivers, it is about partnership working. If taxi drivers don’t come out to move people on from outside pubs and clubs then we have people loitering in the streets, and that creates an atmosphere for residents and there is more likely to be antisocial behaviour.” While reported antisocial behaviour in the town is down by 40 per cent, Sgt Lee said it is still a particular problem in the early hours of the morning when pubs close.

Mr McHugh said: “We are all after the same thing: a better, safer, hassle free environment for us to work in.”

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

NTA Motoring by Roger Blaxall – Peugeot 508

508gtexteriorRemember when driving a car with lashings of wood, leather and chrome meant only one thing – you’d arrived!

Proudly piloting the flagship of the range, the alluring glitter of chrome, heady aroma of leather and magnificence of real tree wood all conspired to give a real sense of occasion at the wheel.

Is that why people of a certain age still go misty eyed remembering models like the Wolseley 6/110, Ford’s Zodiac or something impossibly exotic like a Lancia 2000? I do as I remember being collected for Cubs in said Wolseley, sliding around on the leather back seat, marveling at the smell, silence and sophistication – very different than our Hillman Minx!

How times have changed – and while wood, leather and chrome still have their place; many luxury -or as many manufacturers call them ‘executive’ – cars today boast a dazzling array of technology, leading neatly to my driving impressions of Peugeot’s 508 GT. At over £30,000 it’s an expensive proposition – but for those with a clientele who want to feel pampered and special, and drivers who want to make a positive first impression, it’s well worth a closer look. 

There was a time when driving a Peugeot made a statement about you. Back in the seventies, its models were something of a rarity in the UK with the 504 in particular one of the first diesel engined cars which made sense for curious UK drivers. Peugeot’s big cars, too, have always been rather special with the 604 and 605 ranges among my personal favourites.

Its rapid growth in the last twenty five years means Peugeot’s much more ‘mainstream’ now, the 205 and 405 expanding its UK offering in the mid eighties and laying the foundations for the successful company we know today.

The 508 is its executive offering and one of the more sophisticated models in the large car market, the model’s distinctive design language identifying it as something out of the ordinary; that ‘Grand Tourer’ moniker’s definitely not out of place.

508gtinteriorAny flagship represents the very best a manufacturer has to offer and in the 508’s case words like ‘bespoke’ and ‘exclusive’ are entirely appropriate. As the pinnacle of its UK range, it boasts a staggering amount of kit with any leather and chrome used discretely and tastefully. And this svelte machine has a few clever twists, too – mind you at £30,150 you were expecting that, weren’t you?

Let’s start on the outside where the 508 impresses with its styling which Peugeot claims raises the bar with a ‘streamlined, prestigious and dynamic’ appearance. The grille treatment in particular gives a clue to the latent elegance of the car – it’s in the ‘floating’ style now adopted by the company for all its latest models with eye-catching LED headlamps giving that extra touch of class. Three ‘claws’ in the rear lamps are another distinctive trademark – and there’s more; open the door, take a seat and prepare to be impressed – the GT has a cabin to savour.

Chrome is reserved for the door pulls, instrument panel dials, gear knob and is tastefully applied to the centre console, while Nappa leather’s used on the electrically adjustable and heated seats. And the luxury I was mentioning? How about keyless entry, quad zone air conditioning and a smart head up instrument display that’s a boon for long distance drivers. And there’s more – the GT also boasts an electric parking brake, remote tyre pressure monitoring, front and rear parking aids, cruise control, and JBL hi fi. The icing on the cake’s a comforting lumbar massage function for the driver on his heated front seat; protecting it all is a state of the art security system.

It’s under the bonnet where the 508GT comes into its own; start up and there’s a muted ‘thrum’ from the 200 bhp 2.1 litre engine that hooks up to a smooth six speed automatic gearbox; no manual’s available. Overall fuel economy is up to an amazing 49mpg with a vast touring range and arduous city driving helped by the auto stop/start that engages automatically at in heavy traffic.  

The overall impression is of refinement, calm efficiency and, correct, luxury – this big Peugeot will be appreciated by those drivers who concentrate on long journeys with one or more passengers; suffice to say I was very impressed by the GT.

The good news is that there’ll be some great deals on the current range soon after a new face lifted version was announced recently.

Any bad news?

Well, make the most of cars like the 508 while they last – our luxury/executive market’s changing fast and while places like China can’t get enough of big European style cars, it looks like the end of the road for some big cars in the UK, those without a fancy German name plate have seen their sales nose-diving in recent years as customers are much more choosy.

Peugeot, like its mid market rivals, will no doubt rise to the challenge; it’s developed a range of thrifty and refined new petrol and diesel engines and is blazing a trail with hybrid power, while an innovative new range of ‘air injection’ engines have just been unveiled, too. Whether they have the luxury of time on their side, though, is another matter…

Teens leave Southend cab without paying

FOUR teenage girls fled a taxi without paying their fare.

Police are appealing for information after the teenagers, who were travelling to Wesley Road on June 21, left without paying their fare of £14 at around 1am.

Officers have released CCTV of four girls they want to talk to in connection with this incident in the hope someone can identify them.

Anyone who recognises the girls in the photo or who has any other information can call PC Gillian Parks at Southend police station on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

source: http://www.echo-news.co.uk/news/

Taxi fares to rise in Cambridge as cap on hackney carriage numbers debated

David Wratten, Director of Cambridge City Licensed Taxis in his cab

The cost of getting a hackney carriage taxi in Cambridge is to go up for the first time in two years as cabbies battle for business.

The city council’s licensing committee approved the rise of approximately 2 per cent yesterday after drivers complained increasing costs and heightened competition was making it harder for them to earn a living.

Councillors also agreed to look into the feasibility of carrying out a study into hackney carriage demand, which could ultimately see a cap put on the number of licences issued.

The fare rise, which will come in on September 15, is different to the flat rise of 5p or 10p per journey which was initially suggested.

The committee instead backed drivers’ suggestion that the rate at which the bill goes up should be slightly increased, meaning that shorter journeys will be less affected by the change.

Cllr Jeremy Benstead, who chairs the panel, said: “The trade didn’t ask for an increase last year when they could have done and they believe their costs are now going up. This idea will not be as expensive for shorter trips and we are all for keeping costs down for people if we can.”

A study commissioned by the council last year estimated hackney carriage drivers in Cambridge now spent 51 per cent of their working time waiting, rather than on a job.

There are currently 308 hackney carriage drivers vying for trade in the city, up against 180 private hire vehicles, which cannot be regulated by the council, and another 800 registered in south Cambridgeshire.

The difference is that a hackney carriage can be flagged down in the street.

David Wratten, chairman of hackney carriage trade association Cambridge City Licensed Taxis, said increased competition was a factor in the request for a price rise.

He said: “The problem we have is the volume of cabs and the limited amount of rank space in the city.

“Every vehicle now has to be wheelchair accessible and they come on expensive finance so drivers are under a lot of pressure. People are using mobile phones and ringing up companies to get private hires so the whole game has changed.”

The cap will be considered in a bid to tackle congestion, and follows warnings that competition between cabbies could boil over into violence.

A cap was last in force in 1995, when there were 120 hackney carriages, but can only be brought in if a survey finds there is no significant unmet demand for taxis.

Councillors also agreed to start negotiations on a voluntary code to end the sale of high-strength beer and ciders in the city, in a bid to combat anti-social behaviour.

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

 

Cheltenham council on brink of insanity

New York chose yellow and London opted for black, but what about Cheltenham?

All taxis in the town will have to be the same colour in the future as part of a bid to smarten up the fleet and make it easier for people to hail a cab.

But the jury is still out on which colour should be chosen.

Dark green has been floated as the front runner by Cheltenham Borough Council, the authority which licenses all taxis in town.

But that is not set in stone with the taxi trade set to be asked for opinions on which colour drivers would prefer in the coming weeks.

The only colour thought to be off the table is black because of the number of private hire vehicles – cars that have to be booked in advance and which cannot be hailed from the street – already using it.

The adoption of a uniform colour for all hackney carriages in Cheltenham will take place gradually, as and when taxi drivers replace their vehicles so that the change doesn’t leave anybody out of pocket.

Councillor Andrew McKinlay (LD, Up Hatherley), cabinet member for development and safety at the borough council, said: “After lengthy consultation with the taxi trade and others, cabinet has approved plans to introduce a uniform colour for hackney carriages in Cheltenham.

“This will help the public to clearly distinguish hackney carriages from other licensed vehicles and will improve the appearance of the public hire licensed fleet.

“It’s important to mention that we don’t want this to be a costly exercise for taxi owners.

“The policy will be gradually implemented as and when licensed cars are replaced. The chosen colour will be one that drivers can easily buy, so there will be no need to re-spray.

“Dark green has been suggested as a potential colour, however we will be consulting with the taxi trade once again to take their views on which colour they think is most suitable.”

The council looked at the same issue last November and at that time it thought black would be the best colour to adopt. Jonny Rocks drove a private hire vehicle for almost seven years but currently works under a hackney licence.

He believes choosing dark green would be a bad move.

He said: “Anything dark is awful to keep clean – that was always the argument against black.

“The council will need to speak to the motoring industry because I don’t think there is a dark green that is a standard colour.

“I think it’s a horrible colour. Silver or grey are the best colours. They always look smart.”

While the choice of colour may be up for discussion, Mr Rocks likes the principle of uniformity.

“I think it could help,” he said. “I am not against the idea as long as it is the right colour. It could look really smart.”

All new applicants seeking a hackney carriage licence must have a vehicle less than five years old.

Meanwhile, drivers seeking to renew their licence must make sure their vehicles meets certain age criteria.

For example a car built in 2000 will be acceptable for a licence until 2014, 2001 until 2015, 2002 until 2016 and so on.

The yellow colour of New York’s taxis dates back to the New York Taxicab Company of 1907. Its cabs were originally painted red and green, but the owner repainted them to be visible from a distance.

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

 

Apr 23

National Taxi Association AGM & Conference 2014

The Annual General Meeting and Conference in 2014 will take place at the Brittannia Country House Hotel, Palatine Road, Didsbury, Manchester.

The format will be as follows;

Monday 27th October 2014

09:00 to 12:30; NTA Directors Meeting

14:00 to 17:00; Annual General Meeting

19:30hrs; NTA Chairman’s Dinner

Tuesday 28th October 2014

10:00 to 15:30 Conference

 

 

 23153493

 

 

 

Jul 24

Action on people making off without paying for taxis

 

Action on people making off without paying for taxis

TAXI drivers and police officers in Amesbury are working together to tackle the number of people making off without paying for their fares.

Police are reminding people, especially those using taxis after nights out, that refusing to pay for a taxi fare is a criminal offence which could result in a conviction.

They have launched a campaign with local taxi drivers to raise awareness following an increase of the issue.

Sgt Ricky Lee, from the Amesbury Neighbourhood Police Team, said: “We are concerned that taxi drivers feel vulnerable during the night time economy – that matters to us. The idea behind the campaign is to highlight to people that it is a serious offence to make off without paying.”

Taxi driver Dave McHugh said many drivers have stopped working at night so they don’t have to deal with the problem.

“It’s been more of an issue with the economy as it is,” he said. “The problem has always been there but the recession has made it a lot worse. Fuel prices have also gone up for us so that pushes taxi prices up as well. Pennies are tighter and while people can still afford to go out, they argue the cost of a taxi.”

There will be more police officers out on the streets as part of the campaign, as well as posters displayed around the town and in taxis.

Sgt Lee said: “We want the taxi drivers to know that we take them seriously. We can’t do our job without taxi drivers, it is about partnership working. If taxi drivers don’t come out to move people on from outside pubs and clubs then we have people loitering in the streets, and that creates an atmosphere for residents and there is more likely to be antisocial behaviour.” While reported antisocial behaviour in the town is down by 40 per cent, Sgt Lee said it is still a particular problem in the early hours of the morning when pubs close.

Mr McHugh said: “We are all after the same thing: a better, safer, hassle free environment for us to work in.”

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

Jul 22

NTA Motoring by Roger Blaxall – Peugeot 508

508gtexteriorRemember when driving a car with lashings of wood, leather and chrome meant only one thing – you’d arrived!

Proudly piloting the flagship of the range, the alluring glitter of chrome, heady aroma of leather and magnificence of real tree wood all conspired to give a real sense of occasion at the wheel.

Is that why people of a certain age still go misty eyed remembering models like the Wolseley 6/110, Ford’s Zodiac or something impossibly exotic like a Lancia 2000? I do as I remember being collected for Cubs in said Wolseley, sliding around on the leather back seat, marveling at the smell, silence and sophistication – very different than our Hillman Minx!

How times have changed – and while wood, leather and chrome still have their place; many luxury -or as many manufacturers call them ‘executive’ – cars today boast a dazzling array of technology, leading neatly to my driving impressions of Peugeot’s 508 GT. At over £30,000 it’s an expensive proposition – but for those with a clientele who want to feel pampered and special, and drivers who want to make a positive first impression, it’s well worth a closer look. 

There was a time when driving a Peugeot made a statement about you. Back in the seventies, its models were something of a rarity in the UK with the 504 in particular one of the first diesel engined cars which made sense for curious UK drivers. Peugeot’s big cars, too, have always been rather special with the 604 and 605 ranges among my personal favourites.

Its rapid growth in the last twenty five years means Peugeot’s much more ‘mainstream’ now, the 205 and 405 expanding its UK offering in the mid eighties and laying the foundations for the successful company we know today.

The 508 is its executive offering and one of the more sophisticated models in the large car market, the model’s distinctive design language identifying it as something out of the ordinary; that ‘Grand Tourer’ moniker’s definitely not out of place.

508gtinteriorAny flagship represents the very best a manufacturer has to offer and in the 508’s case words like ‘bespoke’ and ‘exclusive’ are entirely appropriate. As the pinnacle of its UK range, it boasts a staggering amount of kit with any leather and chrome used discretely and tastefully. And this svelte machine has a few clever twists, too – mind you at £30,150 you were expecting that, weren’t you?

Let’s start on the outside where the 508 impresses with its styling which Peugeot claims raises the bar with a ‘streamlined, prestigious and dynamic’ appearance. The grille treatment in particular gives a clue to the latent elegance of the car – it’s in the ‘floating’ style now adopted by the company for all its latest models with eye-catching LED headlamps giving that extra touch of class. Three ‘claws’ in the rear lamps are another distinctive trademark – and there’s more; open the door, take a seat and prepare to be impressed – the GT has a cabin to savour.

Chrome is reserved for the door pulls, instrument panel dials, gear knob and is tastefully applied to the centre console, while Nappa leather’s used on the electrically adjustable and heated seats. And the luxury I was mentioning? How about keyless entry, quad zone air conditioning and a smart head up instrument display that’s a boon for long distance drivers. And there’s more – the GT also boasts an electric parking brake, remote tyre pressure monitoring, front and rear parking aids, cruise control, and JBL hi fi. The icing on the cake’s a comforting lumbar massage function for the driver on his heated front seat; protecting it all is a state of the art security system.

It’s under the bonnet where the 508GT comes into its own; start up and there’s a muted ‘thrum’ from the 200 bhp 2.1 litre engine that hooks up to a smooth six speed automatic gearbox; no manual’s available. Overall fuel economy is up to an amazing 49mpg with a vast touring range and arduous city driving helped by the auto stop/start that engages automatically at in heavy traffic.  

The overall impression is of refinement, calm efficiency and, correct, luxury – this big Peugeot will be appreciated by those drivers who concentrate on long journeys with one or more passengers; suffice to say I was very impressed by the GT.

The good news is that there’ll be some great deals on the current range soon after a new face lifted version was announced recently.

Any bad news?

Well, make the most of cars like the 508 while they last – our luxury/executive market’s changing fast and while places like China can’t get enough of big European style cars, it looks like the end of the road for some big cars in the UK, those without a fancy German name plate have seen their sales nose-diving in recent years as customers are much more choosy.

Peugeot, like its mid market rivals, will no doubt rise to the challenge; it’s developed a range of thrifty and refined new petrol and diesel engines and is blazing a trail with hybrid power, while an innovative new range of ‘air injection’ engines have just been unveiled, too. Whether they have the luxury of time on their side, though, is another matter…

Jul 22

Teens leave Southend cab without paying

FOUR teenage girls fled a taxi without paying their fare.

Police are appealing for information after the teenagers, who were travelling to Wesley Road on June 21, left without paying their fare of £14 at around 1am.

Officers have released CCTV of four girls they want to talk to in connection with this incident in the hope someone can identify them.

Anyone who recognises the girls in the photo or who has any other information can call PC Gillian Parks at Southend police station on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

source: http://www.echo-news.co.uk/news/

Jul 22

Taxi fares to rise in Cambridge as cap on hackney carriage numbers debated

David Wratten, Director of Cambridge City Licensed Taxis in his cab

The cost of getting a hackney carriage taxi in Cambridge is to go up for the first time in two years as cabbies battle for business.

The city council’s licensing committee approved the rise of approximately 2 per cent yesterday after drivers complained increasing costs and heightened competition was making it harder for them to earn a living.

Councillors also agreed to look into the feasibility of carrying out a study into hackney carriage demand, which could ultimately see a cap put on the number of licences issued.

The fare rise, which will come in on September 15, is different to the flat rise of 5p or 10p per journey which was initially suggested.

The committee instead backed drivers’ suggestion that the rate at which the bill goes up should be slightly increased, meaning that shorter journeys will be less affected by the change.

Cllr Jeremy Benstead, who chairs the panel, said: “The trade didn’t ask for an increase last year when they could have done and they believe their costs are now going up. This idea will not be as expensive for shorter trips and we are all for keeping costs down for people if we can.”

A study commissioned by the council last year estimated hackney carriage drivers in Cambridge now spent 51 per cent of their working time waiting, rather than on a job.

There are currently 308 hackney carriage drivers vying for trade in the city, up against 180 private hire vehicles, which cannot be regulated by the council, and another 800 registered in south Cambridgeshire.

The difference is that a hackney carriage can be flagged down in the street.

David Wratten, chairman of hackney carriage trade association Cambridge City Licensed Taxis, said increased competition was a factor in the request for a price rise.

He said: “The problem we have is the volume of cabs and the limited amount of rank space in the city.

“Every vehicle now has to be wheelchair accessible and they come on expensive finance so drivers are under a lot of pressure. People are using mobile phones and ringing up companies to get private hires so the whole game has changed.”

The cap will be considered in a bid to tackle congestion, and follows warnings that competition between cabbies could boil over into violence.

A cap was last in force in 1995, when there were 120 hackney carriages, but can only be brought in if a survey finds there is no significant unmet demand for taxis.

Councillors also agreed to start negotiations on a voluntary code to end the sale of high-strength beer and ciders in the city, in a bid to combat anti-social behaviour.

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

 

Jul 21

Cheltenham council on brink of insanity

New York chose yellow and London opted for black, but what about Cheltenham?

All taxis in the town will have to be the same colour in the future as part of a bid to smarten up the fleet and make it easier for people to hail a cab.

But the jury is still out on which colour should be chosen.

Dark green has been floated as the front runner by Cheltenham Borough Council, the authority which licenses all taxis in town.

But that is not set in stone with the taxi trade set to be asked for opinions on which colour drivers would prefer in the coming weeks.

The only colour thought to be off the table is black because of the number of private hire vehicles – cars that have to be booked in advance and which cannot be hailed from the street – already using it.

The adoption of a uniform colour for all hackney carriages in Cheltenham will take place gradually, as and when taxi drivers replace their vehicles so that the change doesn’t leave anybody out of pocket.

Councillor Andrew McKinlay (LD, Up Hatherley), cabinet member for development and safety at the borough council, said: “After lengthy consultation with the taxi trade and others, cabinet has approved plans to introduce a uniform colour for hackney carriages in Cheltenham.

“This will help the public to clearly distinguish hackney carriages from other licensed vehicles and will improve the appearance of the public hire licensed fleet.

“It’s important to mention that we don’t want this to be a costly exercise for taxi owners.

“The policy will be gradually implemented as and when licensed cars are replaced. The chosen colour will be one that drivers can easily buy, so there will be no need to re-spray.

“Dark green has been suggested as a potential colour, however we will be consulting with the taxi trade once again to take their views on which colour they think is most suitable.”

The council looked at the same issue last November and at that time it thought black would be the best colour to adopt. Jonny Rocks drove a private hire vehicle for almost seven years but currently works under a hackney licence.

He believes choosing dark green would be a bad move.

He said: “Anything dark is awful to keep clean – that was always the argument against black.

“The council will need to speak to the motoring industry because I don’t think there is a dark green that is a standard colour.

“I think it’s a horrible colour. Silver or grey are the best colours. They always look smart.”

While the choice of colour may be up for discussion, Mr Rocks likes the principle of uniformity.

“I think it could help,” he said. “I am not against the idea as long as it is the right colour. It could look really smart.”

All new applicants seeking a hackney carriage licence must have a vehicle less than five years old.

Meanwhile, drivers seeking to renew their licence must make sure their vehicles meets certain age criteria.

For example a car built in 2000 will be acceptable for a licence until 2014, 2001 until 2015, 2002 until 2016 and so on.

The yellow colour of New York’s taxis dates back to the New York Taxicab Company of 1907. Its cabs were originally painted red and green, but the owner repainted them to be visible from a distance.

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

 

Jul 21

Taxi driver has car windows smashed in racist attack in Hitchin Road, Luton, while family were sat in the back

A TAXI driver had three of his car windows smashed by a man with a hammer in a racially motivated attack in Hitchin Road, Luton.

The incident happened at around 5pm yesterday (Sunday) when the driver was sat in his car at a red light by the Inspire swimming pool.

A man driving a white van left his vehicle and approached the taxi, making racially abusive comments towards the driver and two of his family members who were sitting in the back of the car.

He then smashed the rear and two passenger windows with a hammer before getting back in his van and driving off towards Cannon Lane.

Nobody was seriously hurt in the incident, but all three victims have been left extremely upset.

The offender was a white man, in his mid 20s, between 5ft 8ins and 5ft 10ins tall, of athletic build, with light brown hair which was short on the sides and spikey on top, and was wearing a black crew neck t-shirt.

PC Rutt said: “This was a seemingly unprovoked attack which has left the victim and his family extremely upset. Thankfully no one suffered any serious injuries but this offender is obviously a violent individual who was not afraid to use a weapon in a public place to cause a great amount of damage and fear.

“Hitchin Road was busy at the time of this attack and I would encourage anyone who saw this incident taking place or may know who the offender is, to please get in touch. Even the smallest piece of information could help us find this individual.”

If you have information relating to this incident, contact PC Rutt, in confidence, on the non-emergency 101 number.

source: http://www.luton-dunstable.co.uk/

Jul 21

Paris taxi wars: Minicab firms to protest new law

The wat between traditional PAris taxi drivers and private minicab firms shows no sign of being resolved.

First it was the traditional taxi drivers in Paris who protested against what they saw as unfair competition from private hire minicabs (Véhicle de Tourisme avec Chauffeurs).

Now the tide has turned with minicab drivers set to demonstrate on Monday against a proposed government law aimed at ending the increasingly bitter battle between the two versions of taxis.

On Monday drivers from the private hire car firms like Snapcar, Chauffeur-privé, LeCab, Allocab et Supershuttle, will descend on Place Vauban in the seventh arrondissement to demonstrate.

The VTC drivers are angry at various amendments in a new law, that has already been given the green light by the National Assembly, that was put forward after taxi drivers had complained of unfair competition from firms like Uber.

But now it is the VTC drivers who say the new rules will leave them at a disadvantage and threaten their livelihoods.

One amendment forces VTC drivers to return to a private garage or to the company’s office in between each journey, meaning they can’t park up by the side of the road.

The law also bars them from using a geo-localisation system on smartphones, like the system used by Uber, whereas taxi drivers will be able to use the technology in future.

“It’s incredible, it’s scandalous. We cannot work in these conditions,” Yan Hascoet, from the union FFTPR told Le Parisien newspaper.

Hascoet said the law will simply lead to increased costs for the VTC companies.

Taxi driver unions on the other hand defended the new law.

“Parking on public roads is reserved only for taxi drives. That’s already in the law, but VTC drivers don’t respect it.

The new law, that was inspired by a report by MP Thomas Thévenoud, will be discussed by the Senate this week

source: http://www.thelocal.fr/

Jul 18

Carlisle taxi driver cleared of sex attack

 

Dariusz Kowalczyk

Dariusz Kowalczyk, 48, had been accused of “behaving in a sexually predatory way” and of launching a serious assault on the woman after parking in a secluded part of Carlisle.

But a jury returned a not guilty verdict following a four-day trial at Carlisle Crown Court.

Mr Kowalczyk, of Esther Street on Carlisle’s Currock estate, was visibly emotional as he walked free from the court’s dock after the jury foreman announced the verdict.

The cabbie had denied a charge of orally raping the woman.

The prosecution in the case had claimed that Mr Kowalczyk drove her to a “quiet spot” at Stainton, near Etterby, Carlisle, before carrying out an attack.

But Mr Kowalczyk said that everything that happened was consensual.

Mr Kowalczyk, a Polish national, sat alongside an interpreter in the dock during the trial.

The jury deliberated for four hours and 19 minutes before returning the not guilty verdict.

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

Jul 16

Cumbrian taxi driver accused of sex attack

A TAXI driver has gone on trial accused of carrying out a sex attack on a passenger.

Dariusz Kowalczyk, 48, is accused of “behaving in a sexually predatory way” and of launching a serious assault on the woman after parking in a secluded part of Carlisle.

Kowalczyk, of Esther Street on the city’s Currock estate, denies orally raping the woman after she hailed his cab when leaving a nightspot.

His trial got underway at Carlisle Crown Court yesterday, where barrister Timothy Brennand outlined the case against the cabbie.

Kowalczyk, a Polish national, sat alongside an interpreter in the dock as the court hearing began.

Mr Brennand said the woman at the centre of the case, who is in her early twenties, had been out in the city centre and had become separated from friends at the Outrageous nightspot in English Street.

“She decided, having lost contact with her friends, she was going to make her own way home,” Mr Brennand told a jury.

“She went to a taxi rank and got into a taxi being driven by the defendant.”

The woman asked to be taken to the north of the city but Mr Brennand said she was taken out of the city, near to the London Road junction of the M6.

In a taped interview played to the court on video, the woman told officers: “The man took me the wrong way. He didn’t take me home.”

Mr Brennand said the cabbie drove to a “dark and secluded area and parked up”.

The woman, he added, was ordered to get out of the back and into the front of the car.

“She was manipulated and, the prosecution say, coerced and threatened to behave in this particular way,” said the barrister.

The court was told she was ordered to perform a sexual act on the cabbie but she refused.

Mr Brennand said Kowalczyk then drove her to a “quiet spot” at Stainton, near Etterby, Carlisle.

There, he said, Kowalczyk is alleged to have carried out the attack. This lasted for a few seconds, the court heard, and the woman got out of the taxi.

“It’s not clear from the evidence whether she was bundled out or was able to escape,” said Mr Brennand.

She was found by a passing motorist in a distressed state, the jury was told.

“The prosecution contend she was in no fit state to give any consent to what this defendant had on his mind at all,” said the barrister.

Kowalczyk was arrested and told officers the woman had made an advance to him while in his cab.

Mr Brennand said: “He claimed everything from the beginning to the end was consensual.”

The attack is alleged to have happened on March 18 last year.

The trial continues.

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

 

Jul 15

General thoughts on the Deregulation Bill

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I’d rather be playing golf

General thoughts on the Deregulation Bill

By

Wayne Casey

The views expressed in this column may (definitely aren’t) the views of the National Taxi Association

My position in respect of taxi and private hire law has been very consistent; I didn’t and still don’t believe any change should occur. The law is perfectly straightforward, despite its age.

Local authorities have every tool available to effectively police the taxi and private hire industries – sadly some local authorities have absolute tools working for them, but that article is for another day.

I suppose in many respects taxi and private hire law is like buses, you wait 150 years then two arrive at once.

Back in 2011 the Law Commission (LC) were invited (and paid some 1/3 of a million quid) to look at, change and modernise taxi and private hire licensing law. The results of this enquiry were initially due earlier this year – but through one thing or another, their thoughts and final views didn’t surface until May.

During this time, the Department for Transport (DFT) carried out (in January) what is known as a ‘quickie’ consultation, giving selected stakeholders a minimal time to respond and (considering how the taxi trades views have been treated, the term is quite apt).

For whatever reason, but most presumably, because they could, the DFT chose to add three things to the Deregulation bill. This was obviously in despite the imminent deliberations of the LC being revealed.

The changes proposed were / are as follows;

  1. Allowing private hire operators to sub-contract bookings to operators licensed in a different district. This change will improve operators’ ability to meet passengers’ needs. And it will help to make the passenger’s experience so much more convenient
  2. Allowing anyone with an ordinary driver’s licence to drive a private hire vehicle when it is “off-duty”. The principal benefit of this measure is that a PHV could be used as a family car, freeing up many families from the need to run a second car and saving them money.
  3. Making the standard duration for all taxi and PHV driver licences three years; and five years for all PHV operator licences. Shorter durations will only be granted on a case by case basis, where it is justifiable for a particular reason. This will reduce the financial and administrative burden of having to make more frequent licence renewals.

The above changes went with seeming lightening speed through the House of Commons, this was in despite of being called “ill-thought through” and “reckless” by the opposition. Indeed Labour’s bid to block changes to the taxi-licensing regime was subject to a vote, and was subsequently defeated by 285 votes to 206, a majority of 79.

At the time of writing, the bill has had its second reading in the House of Lords; it is now to go to the Committee stage – this is a line-by-line examination of the Bill, which is yet to be scheduled although likely to be in the autumn.

Naturally, I would expect many of you to wonder what all the fuss is about. At face value the proposed changes wouldn’t appear to be overly harsh, indeed they seemingly bring the rest of the country (except the Peoples Republic of Plymouth) into line with legislation already in place in London.

Of course, you are presuming that everything in London is fine and dandy. I mean there were 111 reported rapes by minicab drivers in London during 2010 alone – The Havens, a network of specialist sexual assault referral centres (SARCs) located across London, estimate that only 10-20% of rape victims actually report that they have been attacked – the truer figure is likely to be actually horrific.

Indeed, those holding London up to be the leading light of all things licensed always appear to neglect to mention the touts, the illegal minicab ranks and seemingly ‘blind eye’ turned by the authorities that are regularly reported via the excellent taxileaks blog.

So what could possibly go wrong allowing non-licensed drivers to drive licensed vehicles?

If you then consider the government is to allow sub contracting across district borders – then consider some local authorities will give a PH Operators license to a operator who basically has a one vehicle fleet, where jobs are accepted via the mobile phone – it could well transpire that local authorities with the least onerous conditions will be sourced.

Now before you start saying Casey, you’re losing the plot, you’re a scaremonger, a similar thing currently happens with Hackney Carriages where some silly councils issue licenses knowing the vehicle and driver will never be seen anywhere near the area of the license. In doing so they also know the driver and the vehicle will not be checked – because carrying out an enforcement operation 100 miles away is a lot more difficult than carrying out an enforcement operation 100 yards away (and that is seemingly difficult enough for some LA’s).

So in theory, a situation could arise where a vehicle is licensed in Kent and works in Carlisle. Nobody (except for a rozzer) has the power to stop the vehicle, and if nobody stops the vehicle, nobody will know who’s driving it – but that doesn’t matter anyway because the law has been changed to allow anyone to drive it (for non work purposes only though….nudge, nudge).

Of course we have large private hire operators who are wanting these changes – we in the taxi trade were after all sternly told by the private hire lobby, with a pointy wagging finger;

“In a modern Britain there should be no ‘invisible borders’ or ‘barriers to free trade’, as protectionism and outdated thinking belongs to yesterday.”

These same people now see the likes of global apps such as ‘Uber’ as a massive threat, they accuse these companies, with a straight face, of ‘not playing by the rules’. Pardon me whilst I just shed a tear.

The icing on the cake is the 3-year driver badges and 5-year operator licenses.

Considering between Carlisle and Newcastle there are four speed cameras (Corby Hill, Low Row, Greenhead & Hexham) – I could lose my license with interest going there and back – yet if I don’t inform my local authority I may not be checked for another three years. Yeah, they’ll make it a condition that I tell them if I commit any offence and yeah, if I tell them they’ll revoke my badge – but what if I don’t? I mean its not as if this hasn’t happened before.

Indeed, what if I commit a more ‘serious’ offence and don’t tell them – I don’t inform the court of my occupation and spend 6 months in jail for burglary. Is there a system in place with the correct checks and balances where my council is informed? Especially if I live in say, Manchester and license my cab and good self many miles away in Rossendale?

On the other hand, will they have to wait until my new DBS check comes back in two and a half years time?

Yes I realise some local authorities already issue 3 year driver licenses, yes I know this matches up with medicals and DBS checks – but surely this is a matter of the locals being the ones who are best placed to decide? Surely public safety comes before driver and operator convenience?

Ironically, if Uber does take off, and facing facts its currently worth $19 Billion and going up in value on a daily basis, the five-year operator license would be a speculative punt at best because drivers will (and are) leaving private hire operators in their droves into the open arms of Uber.

I don’t know if PH operators are completely silly – I presume they aren’t because I’m the poorest person in England, and they’re all as rich as Lannister’s. Nevertheless, it seems to me that if a PH operator in say Newcastle upon Tyne brings out an app – the chances are it will be used – but predominantly by their own customers. They won’t really attract new customers, because they’ll already have an app with their own favourite private hire company.

Indeed, the cross border issue, which I am very much against, could well work out to be of greater benefit to Uber than it is to the large private hire cartels that rather foolishly want it – after all it makes the global apps potential pool of drivers a lot larger.

The danger of the deregulation bill, or perhaps godsend (I am undecided which is worse), is that the Law Commission’s proposed laws will never come to fruition. For the many flaws of what the Law commission propose, I will give them credit in so far as they have discussed and sometimes been persuaded by argument – the DfT to their discredit have not.

The Law Commission for example see it as imperative that national standards are in place and that all licensing departments have power to check vehicles (and drivers) within their districts – whether or not they license them.

To this end, even though I disagree with some proposals – I acknowledge they do have a vision for their creation. Whereas it is difficult to see what the DfT and their deregulation bill has a vision of, if anything at all, but to satisfy the greed and egos of a few large operators.

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