Sandwell councillor ‘sorry’ for taxi contract declaration

Mahboob Hussain and his wife had a 50% share in the firm, according to Companies House documents

A Sandwell councillor said his failure to declare his stake in a taxi firm which won part of a multi-million-pound contract was “an oversight”.

Mahboob Hussain said he “made a mistake on a form” when he claimed neither he nor his wife had a beneficial interest in any work for the local authority.

Mr Hussain stated he worked for Dudley-based Five Star Taxis and Minibuses, but not that he or his wife had shares.

Jan Britton, council chief executive, was satisfied with the explanation.

‘Quite technical’

The company was one of 47 awarded a contract to provide passenger transport by Sandwell Council on 24 October 2013, worth a combined £3.5m a year until February 2017.

“I’m very sorry,” said Mr Hussain, who has been on the council since 2004. “I have declared an interest for many years and a lot of people know I have a link to the taxi trade in Dudley.”

Mr Britton said: “I accepted his explanation that he simply made a mistake filling out his form as he referred to the same company elsewhere [on the form].

“The form was only introduced in 2012 and the questions are quite technical.

“On the basis of my own investigations I can say he was not in a position to influence the outcome of the contract nor did he seek to.”

A register of Mr Hussain’s personal interests from 12 September, after the contract was awarded, answered “none” to the question of whether he or his partner had any beneficial interest in contracts with the authority.

An amended personal register of interests stating Mr Hussain was a shareholder was published on the council’s website on 23 September when a blogger highlighted the details that were missed.

‘No scrutiny’

Companies House documents say his wife Nasreen Begum was a 20% shareholder on 9 October 2013 before the contract was awarded, while Mr Hussain held no shares in the taxi firm then. He transferred 10% on 31 August 2012.

Latest documents however said Mr Hussain was a 30% shareholder in the company on 22 July, while Mrs Begum had a 20% share.

Former Langley independent socialist councillor Mick Davies, said: “It’s not as if you can forget you have a taxi firm.

“There’s obviously been no scrutiny here.”

 

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

Ex-mayor banned from pubs given drinks licencing role

Tory Gosport Borough councillor Wayne Ronayne, 54, was handed a six-month Pub Watch ban following alcohol-fuelled celebrations

A former mayor who was barred from every pub in his town just hours after being sworn in has a new role – on the licensing board.

Tory Gosport Borough councillor Wayne Ronayne, 54, was handed a six-month Pub Watch ban following the alcohol-fuelled celebrations.

The ban means the former Royal Navy Warrant Officer is now barred from a total of 36 pubs and clubs in the town.

He was out celebrating with his partner Paula Carter, also 54, four hours after receiving the news he would be the town’s mayor.

But the boozy party allegedly refused to leave The Star Pub in Gosport, Hants, when asked by bar staff, who eventually called police.

They were then refused entry to another bar and the pair were handed a six-month ban for their behaviour.

But landlords in the town have today criticised the council after he was put on the committee which makes decisions on pub licenses.

Phil Cox, a landlord and chairman of Pub Watch in Gosport, said the new role is a potential conflict of interest.

He said: “How is he in a position to judge if someone is a fit and proper person?

“We have great concerns with it. I don’t think he’s in a position to sit on any licence that’s a Pub Watch member.

“He’s still writing to us now complaining about it.”

Tory council leader Mark Hook and licensing board chairman Roger Allen have defended the move and said Cllr Ronayne will be competent and impartial on the board.

Cllr Ronayne quit as mayor 40 days after his inauguration following the ban over an incident in Wetherspoon’s pub The Star on the day he took office.

Liberal Democrat opposition leader, Cllr Peter Chegwyn, said: “It is totally wrong for this man to be on the board.

“It is really snubbing Pub Watch and the Gosport public.

“There are plenty of other council boards he could serve on.”

The licensing board is made up of 12 councillors, plus the new mayor Cllr Keith Gill and council leader Cllr Hook.

Members vote on reports about pub and private hire licenses if they are deemed too controversial for council officers to decide on themselves.

Arthur Caraccio, owner of Nelsons Bar and Pub Watch member, said it was a ridiculous decision.

The mayoress Paula Carter was given a year-long pub ban after attempting to go to his bar.

He said: “It’s a joke. The problem will be if I have a licence issue and I’m up.

“Is he going to be impartial? He’d have to recuse himself.”

Cllr Hook defended his decision to put Cllr Ronayne on the licensing board.

He said: “This is just another example of Pub Watch and opposition councillors having a witch hunt against Wayne.

“Wayne is a considerable councillor who’s taken his punishment. He has my full support and I’m appalled they’d think otherwise.”

He added it is rare for the board to look at pub licenses – the last was in 2012.

If a pub issue did come up Cllr Ronayne could declare an interest and therefore not vote.

Cllr Allen added: “If there are circumstances or interests that may prejudice the impartiality of a councillor then he or she should declare such interests.”

Cllr Ronayne denies any wrongdoing. He appealed the ban in July but it was unanimously rejected.

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

MK Taxi Scandal: Two drivers hand in licenses

FOLLOWING the taxi licensing scandal, Milton Keynes Council is continuing to review the licences of taxi drivers as part of its trade-wide overhaul of taxi licensing practices and procedures.

Two drivers, from the original list of seven who the council believed warranted review, have already surrendered their plates and licences, and are no longer operating in Milton Keynes.

Three other drivers have since appeared before the council’s Regulatory Sub-Committee, who considered all of the relevant facts.

One driver has had his application for renewal turned down, while the other two will continue to operate in Milton Keynes.

The remaining two taxi drivers are due to appear before the sub-committee as soon as is possible.

Meanwhile the council has already started carrying out enhanced DBS checks on all 1,300 or so taxi drivers – both Private Hire and Hackney Carriage drivers – operating in Milton Keynes.

As MKWeb revealed, these checks will cost taxpayers more than £66,000 but are aimed to ensure another driver with serious previous convictions such as rape is not allowed to pick up residents in Milton Keynes unless there are “exceptional circumstances”.

Since the taxi licensing scandal emerged at the end of August, Milton Keynes Council has changed the review policy for drivers and made “clearer guidelines” on previous convictions.

Two of the councillors involved in the scandal, Councillor Subhan Shafiq, the former mayor, and Cllr Stuart Burke, the former chair of the licensing committee, have been given new roles, despite residents call for them to resign their roles as councillors.

Cllr Sahfiq is now a member of the health and adult social care committee and the joint negotiating committee and Cllr Burke, who was chairman of the licensing committee that granted Nadeem Ahmed Kiani a private hire taxi licence in 2011 despite his conviction of rape in 1994, will also now be a member of the overview and scrutiny management committee and working group – which is designed to hold the council to account on decisions it has made.

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

 

Burnley minicab driver fined for illegal plying

6938705977_0d226702c4_oA Burnley private hire driver has been fined £600 for picking up a passenger off the street without them pre-booking the ride.

Zahid Nadeem was driving a Skoda Octavia private hire car when he picked up the passenger in St James Row, Burnley.

Unbeknown to Nadeem, the passenger was a plain clothes police officer taking part in a pre-planned operation to catch private hire drivers plying for trade. It is illegal for private hire cars to pick up passengers without the journey being pre-booked.

Nadeem (47), of Colne Road, Burnley, was fined £600 and ordered to pay costs and a victim surcharge totaling £210 for plying for hire without a licence. He also had eight penalty points applied to his driving licence for using a vehicle without insurance.

The prosecution, brought by Burnley Council, was heard at Burnley Magistrates’ Court. Nadeem did not attend the hearing. The case was proved in his absence.

Coun. Tony Harrison, the council’s Executive member for community services, said: “Private hire drivers aren’t allowed to pick up passengers without the journey being pre-booked. If they do the car isn’t insured and passengers are put at risk.”

siurce: http://www.pendletoday.co.uk/

London minicab controller arrested as ‘Isil agent’ in Bangladesh

 

Samiun Rahman was arrested in Bangladesh

Samiun Rahman, 24, is accused of travelling from London to Syria and Bangladesh, allegedly recruiting jihadists to fight for Islamic State

An East London minicab operator ran a Bangladesh terrorist cell recruiting jihadists to join Islamic State’s and al-Qaeda-linked militias in Syria, police in Dhaka have said.

Samiun Rahman, a 24 year old radio-cab controller of Bangladeshi origin, entered the country earlier this year and began targeting local Muslims through the Facebook page of a moderate Islamic television channel, they said. Two of those he allegedly recruited were arrested last week as they prepared to travel to Syria via Turkey posing as religious students.

He was produced in court in Dhaka on Monday where he was remanded in custody for three days under Bangladesh’s Anti-Terrorism Act. He is accused of criminal conspiracy and supporting a banned militant organisation. If he is found guilty he could be sentenced to life imprisonment.

Dhaka police said in a statement that he had confessed “he was staying in Bangladesh to recruit jihadists for the IS and Nusra brigade (an affiliate of Al-Qaeda). He further disclosed he took part in jihadi activities in Syria between September and December 2013”. Detectives are now investigating how his alleged recruitment operation was funded.

Police said they had learned of his recruitment drive when seven alleged Islamic militants arrested earlier this month said a British man known as ‘Ibn Hamden’ was approaching militants to join Isil fighters in Syria. One of those suspects was an associate of Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis, the 21 year old student behind the failed 2012 attack on New York’s Federal Reserve Bank.

According to police Mr. Rahman had adopted a more radical Islamic lifestyle after he was arrested in London for being drunk two years ago and was detained for several days. After he was released, he advertised on the internet for an Arabic teacher to improve his understanding of the Quran.

In the advert, posted online in November 2012, he said he had struggled with learning the language online and wanted to study “classical Arabic so that I can understand the Quran, preferably in the Middle East, Egypt, Yemen, Morocco”.

He later traveled to Morocco and Mauritania before spending three months in Syria late last year. He arrived in Bangladesh on February 25th this year to begin his Isil recruitment drive, detectives said.

In an exclusive interview with the Telegraph as he waited to be remanded at Dhaka’s Metropolitan Magistrates Court, Mr. Rahman denied the charges and said he had no involvement in terrorism or with jihadist groups and that he had simply returned to Bangladesh to deal with a family property dispute.

He confirmed he had travelled with a friend to Syria last year but said it was for a humanitarian aid mission. He had been detained by British counter-terrorism officers after he landed at Gatwick on his return, but they had accepted his explanation and released him after a few hours, he said.

He declined to comment on police claims that he had been radicalised after being arrested and jailed for being drunk and said his conviction was now “spent.” He had studied the Quran to “become a better person”, he said.

Detectives had arrested him at his family home in Sylhet and had held him for five days before staging a fake arrest at a Dhaka railway station on Sunday, he claimed.

He said he believed police had arrested him after they intercepted a telephone conversation in which he discussed his work in Syria with another suspected militant who was recently arrested by police. He conceded the person he was talking to may have been involved in terrorism but declined to explain what they had discussed.

“Whoever I was speaking to maybe is amongst this scenario. They have no proof against me…and just because I spoke to someone about being in Syria, it wasn’t even in Syria, just the border, I think they go over-happy, something like this and they must have contacted a few other people and they said some stuff, but they did not mention my name. I saw the transcripts of the phone calls of the other persons. They never mentioned my name, and now I am under suspicion for trying to take people to Syria”, he said.

At Mr. Rahman’s family home near Grays Inn Road, Holborn, east London, a woman who said he was his sister said the family had “no idea what was going on”.

“We don’t know what he was doing out there. We don’t know anything about it. I can’t really speak to you”, she said.

A neighbour said Mr. Rahman had turned to Islam while serving a prison sentence.

“Before he went to prison, he wasn’t religious at all. He drank all the time. He was completely antisocial and always arguing with his older brother about this and that.

“He’s lived here with his mum and sisters for years. Then he got put inside. When he came out after a few months he was wearing the full Muslim gear, the hat, the robe, the beard – everything. I couldn’t even recognise him.

“I assumed he was putting it all on so he could get out of prison early. But instead of standing around on the streets, he started going to the mosque all the time. All the drink stopped.

“But then he went away to the Middle East. I know his mum told one of the neighbours she was worried he’d gone to fight with ISIS. It must be terrible for her.”

Mr. Rahman is accused of recruiting would-be Isil fighters in Dhaka and in Sylhet, in the north of the country, where his family are believed to have relatives.

source: http://www.telegraph.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

 

Booking form: Nta-2014-Conf-booking-form

 

Oct 01

Sandwell councillor ‘sorry’ for taxi contract declaration

Mahboob Hussain and his wife had a 50% share in the firm, according to Companies House documents

A Sandwell councillor said his failure to declare his stake in a taxi firm which won part of a multi-million-pound contract was “an oversight”.

Mahboob Hussain said he “made a mistake on a form” when he claimed neither he nor his wife had a beneficial interest in any work for the local authority.

Mr Hussain stated he worked for Dudley-based Five Star Taxis and Minibuses, but not that he or his wife had shares.

Jan Britton, council chief executive, was satisfied with the explanation.

‘Quite technical’

The company was one of 47 awarded a contract to provide passenger transport by Sandwell Council on 24 October 2013, worth a combined £3.5m a year until February 2017.

“I’m very sorry,” said Mr Hussain, who has been on the council since 2004. “I have declared an interest for many years and a lot of people know I have a link to the taxi trade in Dudley.”

Mr Britton said: “I accepted his explanation that he simply made a mistake filling out his form as he referred to the same company elsewhere [on the form].

“The form was only introduced in 2012 and the questions are quite technical.

“On the basis of my own investigations I can say he was not in a position to influence the outcome of the contract nor did he seek to.”

A register of Mr Hussain’s personal interests from 12 September, after the contract was awarded, answered “none” to the question of whether he or his partner had any beneficial interest in contracts with the authority.

An amended personal register of interests stating Mr Hussain was a shareholder was published on the council’s website on 23 September when a blogger highlighted the details that were missed.

‘No scrutiny’

Companies House documents say his wife Nasreen Begum was a 20% shareholder on 9 October 2013 before the contract was awarded, while Mr Hussain held no shares in the taxi firm then. He transferred 10% on 31 August 2012.

Latest documents however said Mr Hussain was a 30% shareholder in the company on 22 July, while Mrs Begum had a 20% share.

Former Langley independent socialist councillor Mick Davies, said: “It’s not as if you can forget you have a taxi firm.

“There’s obviously been no scrutiny here.”

 

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

Oct 01

Ex-mayor banned from pubs given drinks licencing role

Tory Gosport Borough councillor Wayne Ronayne, 54, was handed a six-month Pub Watch ban following alcohol-fuelled celebrations

A former mayor who was barred from every pub in his town just hours after being sworn in has a new role – on the licensing board.

Tory Gosport Borough councillor Wayne Ronayne, 54, was handed a six-month Pub Watch ban following the alcohol-fuelled celebrations.

The ban means the former Royal Navy Warrant Officer is now barred from a total of 36 pubs and clubs in the town.

He was out celebrating with his partner Paula Carter, also 54, four hours after receiving the news he would be the town’s mayor.

But the boozy party allegedly refused to leave The Star Pub in Gosport, Hants, when asked by bar staff, who eventually called police.

They were then refused entry to another bar and the pair were handed a six-month ban for their behaviour.

But landlords in the town have today criticised the council after he was put on the committee which makes decisions on pub licenses.

Phil Cox, a landlord and chairman of Pub Watch in Gosport, said the new role is a potential conflict of interest.

He said: “How is he in a position to judge if someone is a fit and proper person?

“We have great concerns with it. I don’t think he’s in a position to sit on any licence that’s a Pub Watch member.

“He’s still writing to us now complaining about it.”

Tory council leader Mark Hook and licensing board chairman Roger Allen have defended the move and said Cllr Ronayne will be competent and impartial on the board.

Cllr Ronayne quit as mayor 40 days after his inauguration following the ban over an incident in Wetherspoon’s pub The Star on the day he took office.

Liberal Democrat opposition leader, Cllr Peter Chegwyn, said: “It is totally wrong for this man to be on the board.

“It is really snubbing Pub Watch and the Gosport public.

“There are plenty of other council boards he could serve on.”

The licensing board is made up of 12 councillors, plus the new mayor Cllr Keith Gill and council leader Cllr Hook.

Members vote on reports about pub and private hire licenses if they are deemed too controversial for council officers to decide on themselves.

Arthur Caraccio, owner of Nelsons Bar and Pub Watch member, said it was a ridiculous decision.

The mayoress Paula Carter was given a year-long pub ban after attempting to go to his bar.

He said: “It’s a joke. The problem will be if I have a licence issue and I’m up.

“Is he going to be impartial? He’d have to recuse himself.”

Cllr Hook defended his decision to put Cllr Ronayne on the licensing board.

He said: “This is just another example of Pub Watch and opposition councillors having a witch hunt against Wayne.

“Wayne is a considerable councillor who’s taken his punishment. He has my full support and I’m appalled they’d think otherwise.”

He added it is rare for the board to look at pub licenses – the last was in 2012.

If a pub issue did come up Cllr Ronayne could declare an interest and therefore not vote.

Cllr Allen added: “If there are circumstances or interests that may prejudice the impartiality of a councillor then he or she should declare such interests.”

Cllr Ronayne denies any wrongdoing. He appealed the ban in July but it was unanimously rejected.

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

Oct 01

MK Taxi Scandal: Two drivers hand in licenses

FOLLOWING the taxi licensing scandal, Milton Keynes Council is continuing to review the licences of taxi drivers as part of its trade-wide overhaul of taxi licensing practices and procedures.

Two drivers, from the original list of seven who the council believed warranted review, have already surrendered their plates and licences, and are no longer operating in Milton Keynes.

Three other drivers have since appeared before the council’s Regulatory Sub-Committee, who considered all of the relevant facts.

One driver has had his application for renewal turned down, while the other two will continue to operate in Milton Keynes.

The remaining two taxi drivers are due to appear before the sub-committee as soon as is possible.

Meanwhile the council has already started carrying out enhanced DBS checks on all 1,300 or so taxi drivers – both Private Hire and Hackney Carriage drivers – operating in Milton Keynes.

As MKWeb revealed, these checks will cost taxpayers more than £66,000 but are aimed to ensure another driver with serious previous convictions such as rape is not allowed to pick up residents in Milton Keynes unless there are “exceptional circumstances”.

Since the taxi licensing scandal emerged at the end of August, Milton Keynes Council has changed the review policy for drivers and made “clearer guidelines” on previous convictions.

Two of the councillors involved in the scandal, Councillor Subhan Shafiq, the former mayor, and Cllr Stuart Burke, the former chair of the licensing committee, have been given new roles, despite residents call for them to resign their roles as councillors.

Cllr Sahfiq is now a member of the health and adult social care committee and the joint negotiating committee and Cllr Burke, who was chairman of the licensing committee that granted Nadeem Ahmed Kiani a private hire taxi licence in 2011 despite his conviction of rape in 1994, will also now be a member of the overview and scrutiny management committee and working group – which is designed to hold the council to account on decisions it has made.

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

 

Oct 01

Burnley minicab driver fined for illegal plying

6938705977_0d226702c4_oA Burnley private hire driver has been fined £600 for picking up a passenger off the street without them pre-booking the ride.

Zahid Nadeem was driving a Skoda Octavia private hire car when he picked up the passenger in St James Row, Burnley.

Unbeknown to Nadeem, the passenger was a plain clothes police officer taking part in a pre-planned operation to catch private hire drivers plying for trade. It is illegal for private hire cars to pick up passengers without the journey being pre-booked.

Nadeem (47), of Colne Road, Burnley, was fined £600 and ordered to pay costs and a victim surcharge totaling £210 for plying for hire without a licence. He also had eight penalty points applied to his driving licence for using a vehicle without insurance.

The prosecution, brought by Burnley Council, was heard at Burnley Magistrates’ Court. Nadeem did not attend the hearing. The case was proved in his absence.

Coun. Tony Harrison, the council’s Executive member for community services, said: “Private hire drivers aren’t allowed to pick up passengers without the journey being pre-booked. If they do the car isn’t insured and passengers are put at risk.”

siurce: http://www.pendletoday.co.uk/

Sep 29

London minicab controller arrested as ‘Isil agent’ in Bangladesh

 

Samiun Rahman was arrested in Bangladesh

Samiun Rahman, 24, is accused of travelling from London to Syria and Bangladesh, allegedly recruiting jihadists to fight for Islamic State

An East London minicab operator ran a Bangladesh terrorist cell recruiting jihadists to join Islamic State’s and al-Qaeda-linked militias in Syria, police in Dhaka have said.

Samiun Rahman, a 24 year old radio-cab controller of Bangladeshi origin, entered the country earlier this year and began targeting local Muslims through the Facebook page of a moderate Islamic television channel, they said. Two of those he allegedly recruited were arrested last week as they prepared to travel to Syria via Turkey posing as religious students.

He was produced in court in Dhaka on Monday where he was remanded in custody for three days under Bangladesh’s Anti-Terrorism Act. He is accused of criminal conspiracy and supporting a banned militant organisation. If he is found guilty he could be sentenced to life imprisonment.

Dhaka police said in a statement that he had confessed “he was staying in Bangladesh to recruit jihadists for the IS and Nusra brigade (an affiliate of Al-Qaeda). He further disclosed he took part in jihadi activities in Syria between September and December 2013”. Detectives are now investigating how his alleged recruitment operation was funded.

Police said they had learned of his recruitment drive when seven alleged Islamic militants arrested earlier this month said a British man known as ‘Ibn Hamden’ was approaching militants to join Isil fighters in Syria. One of those suspects was an associate of Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis, the 21 year old student behind the failed 2012 attack on New York’s Federal Reserve Bank.

According to police Mr. Rahman had adopted a more radical Islamic lifestyle after he was arrested in London for being drunk two years ago and was detained for several days. After he was released, he advertised on the internet for an Arabic teacher to improve his understanding of the Quran.

In the advert, posted online in November 2012, he said he had struggled with learning the language online and wanted to study “classical Arabic so that I can understand the Quran, preferably in the Middle East, Egypt, Yemen, Morocco”.

He later traveled to Morocco and Mauritania before spending three months in Syria late last year. He arrived in Bangladesh on February 25th this year to begin his Isil recruitment drive, detectives said.

In an exclusive interview with the Telegraph as he waited to be remanded at Dhaka’s Metropolitan Magistrates Court, Mr. Rahman denied the charges and said he had no involvement in terrorism or with jihadist groups and that he had simply returned to Bangladesh to deal with a family property dispute.

He confirmed he had travelled with a friend to Syria last year but said it was for a humanitarian aid mission. He had been detained by British counter-terrorism officers after he landed at Gatwick on his return, but they had accepted his explanation and released him after a few hours, he said.

He declined to comment on police claims that he had been radicalised after being arrested and jailed for being drunk and said his conviction was now “spent.” He had studied the Quran to “become a better person”, he said.

Detectives had arrested him at his family home in Sylhet and had held him for five days before staging a fake arrest at a Dhaka railway station on Sunday, he claimed.

He said he believed police had arrested him after they intercepted a telephone conversation in which he discussed his work in Syria with another suspected militant who was recently arrested by police. He conceded the person he was talking to may have been involved in terrorism but declined to explain what they had discussed.

“Whoever I was speaking to maybe is amongst this scenario. They have no proof against me…and just because I spoke to someone about being in Syria, it wasn’t even in Syria, just the border, I think they go over-happy, something like this and they must have contacted a few other people and they said some stuff, but they did not mention my name. I saw the transcripts of the phone calls of the other persons. They never mentioned my name, and now I am under suspicion for trying to take people to Syria”, he said.

At Mr. Rahman’s family home near Grays Inn Road, Holborn, east London, a woman who said he was his sister said the family had “no idea what was going on”.

“We don’t know what he was doing out there. We don’t know anything about it. I can’t really speak to you”, she said.

A neighbour said Mr. Rahman had turned to Islam while serving a prison sentence.

“Before he went to prison, he wasn’t religious at all. He drank all the time. He was completely antisocial and always arguing with his older brother about this and that.

“He’s lived here with his mum and sisters for years. Then he got put inside. When he came out after a few months he was wearing the full Muslim gear, the hat, the robe, the beard – everything. I couldn’t even recognise him.

“I assumed he was putting it all on so he could get out of prison early. But instead of standing around on the streets, he started going to the mosque all the time. All the drink stopped.

“But then he went away to the Middle East. I know his mum told one of the neighbours she was worried he’d gone to fight with ISIS. It must be terrible for her.”

Mr. Rahman is accused of recruiting would-be Isil fighters in Dhaka and in Sylhet, in the north of the country, where his family are believed to have relatives.

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

Sep 29

Woman sexually assaulted by bogus taxi driver after Freshers’ Week night out

 

Holy Name Church on Oxford Road

The 19-year-old left the University of Manchester’s Students’ Union on Oxford Road in Manchester city centre after attending the Pangaea night.

A young woman was sexually assaulted by a thug posing as a taxi driver after a night out at a Freshers’ Week event.

The 19-year-old left the University of Manchester’s Students’ Union on Oxford Road in Manchester city centre after attending the Pangaea night.

After looking for a taxi, she approached a car outside The Holy Name Church. The man inside said he was a taxi driver, so she got in.

But she was driven to an unknown location and sexually assaulted. The pervert then dropped her off in Fallowfield and drove off.

The terrifying ordeal happened in the early hours of the morning on Sunday, September 21.

The woman is now being supported by specially trained officers.

Thousands of students descended upon the university’s Students’ Union for the event on Saturday 20, one of a number Freshers’ Week nights out.

The man was mixed race, in his 30s, thin with short, shaved hair and wearing glasses. The car was a dark coloured saloon.

Police are now appealing for witnesses to come forward – particularly those at the Pangaea event – and are urging students to only use black cabs or to pre-book licensed taxis.

Det Con Elizabeth Howe said: “This was understandably very distressing for this young woman and she is being fully supported by specially trained officers.

“We would like to hear from anyone who was out in the area or at the Pangaea event itself last Saturday night into the early hours of Sunday morning, who may have any information that could assist our investigation.

“We would also like to remind the public to use licensed taxi companies by either pre-booking or going to a designated taxi rank.

“Stay together on a night out, and never get into an unknown car without checking it is a licensed taxi first. If unsure, go to a taxi rank particularly if you are on your own.”

Anyone with information is asked to call police on 0161 856 4146 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.

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

 

Sep 29

Scunthorpe taxi drivers who turn down fares will now be punished

 

John Fleming, the chairman of the Scunthorpe branch of the National Taxi Association

SCUNTHORPE cabbies have cautiously accepted a new points system that will punish them for refusing to take fares.

The new rules were prompted by claims some drivers were refusing to take people on short fares.

North Lincolnshire Council’s Licensing Taxi Policy suggests drivers could receive eight to 12 points on their Hackney licence if they refuse fares “without a reasonable excuse” – with 12 points meaning they could lose their licence.

Cabbies previously raised concerns in the Telegraph that the system would put them in danger as they would be forced to take customers who were verbally or physically threatening.

John Fleming, owner of Triple A Taxis and chairman of the Scunthorpe branch of the National Taxi Association, said: “The council has taken the decision that they will implement the points system irrespective.

“We reiterated if our members end up getting points we will end up appealing the decision.

“We want to make sure that the appeal process is fair and independent.

“We are worried that if there is an appeal, it will be heard by the same panel that implemented the points in the first place.

“I think we are going to see what happens and keep a close eye on it. If it turns out the appeal mechanism is unreasonable, a judgement will be made on that.”

Mr Fleming also said he was pleased that his association is represented on North Lincolnshire Council’s taxi forum with three of its members sitting on the panel.

“My main objective is to get more taxi drivers into our organisation so we will have a bigger sphere of influence,” he said.

“Our new association has over 100 members, that’s about 50 per cent of Hackney drivers in the area and we hope to have more.”

Councillor Keith Vickers, who chairs the licensing committee, said the rules were fair.

He said: “The important thing is we can work together with the drivers.

“If somebody does something wrong they get so many points and it will come before the committee.

“We don’t want to suspend somebody for a small misdemeanour as it’s their livelihood.

“I can understand the drivers will be worried, but nobody should be frightened.

“They will have chance to appeal in front of members of the committee. It’s a fair system and raises standards.

“This came about because drivers were refusing short fares. It’s better for the people who are using the taxis.”

Mr Vickers added that the points will stay on a driver’s licence for three years and as it’s a new system there may be a few difficulties to iron out.

No driver has at this stage been prosecuted using the new system.

National legislation states that it is an offence to refuse to carry a passenger unless they have an infectious disease, have an animal with them (except if it is a service or assistance animal) or if someone is deceased.

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

Sep 25

Fake Newcastle cabbie kidnapped young reveller before sexually abusing her

Businessman Mohammed Malik is facing years behind bars after he kidnapped and molested a 20-year-old who thought he was a taxi driver

Prowling the city centre in his black estate car, this is fake cabbie Mohammed Malik on the night he kidnapped and sexually abused a young reveller.

Stalking the streets looking for a victim, the businessman is caught on CCTV picking up a drunk 20-year-old who thought he was a taxi driver.

The victim got into Malik’s car near The Gate complex, on Newgate Street, and asked to be taken the short distance to the place in the city centre where she was staying with friends.

But instead Malik drove her to the West End of Newcastle, parked up in a secluded spot and subjected the terrified young woman to a sordid sex attack.

He was snared after three men who spotted the woman getting into the car noted down the registration number and texted it to police.

Now the 30-year-old, of Beaconsfield Street, Arthur’s Hill, Newcastle, is facing years in prison after a jury at Newcastle Crown Court convicted him of kidnap and sexual assault.

Prosecutor Julian Smith said the 20-year-old was a visitor to the city and had been out celebrating a birthday with friends in March when she started looking for a taxi around 4am.

Mr Smith said: “The complainant found herself drunk and alone, looking for a taxi to get her back to her friends.

“Unfortunately for her, the car she got into, believing it to be a taxi, is nothing of the sort.

“She found herself in the defendant’s car, who drove her to a secluded area to the west of the city, away from the city centre. He would not let her leave the car or take her to her friends or the place where she was staying.

“He took her away under false pretences, he would not let her leave and he then took the opportunity to seriously sexually assault her.”

The court heard the young woman and her friends had been to a number of bars, including Popworld, Kiss and Destiny.

They ended up in a takeaway near The Gate, at which point the 20-year-old left and went looking for a cab.

As she was a stranger to Newcastle, she didn’t realise she was only 200 yards from the place where her and her friends were staying.

She was unsuccessful in trying to hail a taxi outside Sinner’s bar and so started walking towards the Haymarket, up Newgate Street.

Mr Smith said: “At that point the defendant’s car comes into view driving down the road away from the Haymarket and it stops in the layby taxi rank outside Debenham’s.

“She approaches him and speaks to him them gets in the car.”

Malik, who manages a number of properties, including a takeaway, drove off with the woman in his VW Golf estate.

Three men passing by saw the woman getting into the car, which they noticed was not a taxi.

They made a note of the registration number and texted it to police. This would ultimately help nail Malik but could not stop the attack.

The pervert drove up Elswick Road with the kidnapped woman, parking up in a secluded spot on Bentinck Road, Elswick.

Despite her screams of “No”, he pulled her into the back seat by her arms and legs and subjected her to a sexual assault.

Mr Smith said: “He would have known she was lost because she told him she was not from round here.

“She was trusting him, believing him to be a taxi driver.

“It lasted some time and eventually, despite having no clue where she was, she told him he made her sick and had the courage to leave the car.

“She rang her friends as she ran away, she was in great distress.

“Fortunately she met two drunken Good Samaritans who stayed with her.”

Malik then reappeared in his car, acting as if nothing had happened and asking if she was going to get back in. She refused and the passers-by flagged down a genuine taxi to take her back into town to her friends.

Police were called and when the woman was examined they found bruising to her arms and legs.

Malik was arrested later the same day as a result of his number plate having been sent to the police.

His DNA was also recovered from the victim’s clothing.

Malik, who had denied kidnap and sexual assault, will be sentenced next month. He was remanded in custody and faces a significant jail term.

Judge John Milford told him: “Doubtless you have been warned as to the sort of sentence you are likely to receive in terms of years.”

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

 

Sep 25

New taxi laws could let sex offenders drive cabs, critics have said

New taxi laws have been criticised as they could open the door for ‘rapists to drive cabs’.

Critics have said the Government’s Deregulation Bill, which will be debated in the Lords next month, could permit anyone to drive a licensed vehicle without going through a council vetting process.

The proposals come as the full extent of taxi drivers’ involvement in the Rotherham child abuse scandal – in which some victims were raped in cabs after being picked up outside schools – continues to emerge.

Under deregulation, a licensed driver could operate outside his area and enforcement officers in that area would not be able to check if he has been vetted.

Rachel Griffin, director of personal safety campaign group the Suzy Lamplugh Trust, said: “The changes are going to put people across the country in real danger as they will make it much easier for someone with a past of violence and sexual offences to pose as a legitimate driver.”

Currently, anyone looking to operate as a private hire vehicle operator must obtain a licence from a council, which checks for previous criminal convictions and can refuse licences if it feels the applicant is not a ‘fit and proper person’.

Operators are able to operate only in the area in which they are licensed.

A Department of Transport spokesman said: “The Deregulation Bill will not put taxi passengers at risk and drivers will continue to have their backgrounds routinely checked. Councils will have strong tools to assess drivers’ and operators’ suitability and to carry out enforcement activity.

“The Disclosure and Barring Service [which replaced the criminal Records Bureau] will allow licensing authorities to discover any new convictions during the lifetime of a driver’s licence.”

Police estimate there are more than 1,000 sexual assaults each year involving unlicensed cab drivers in London alone.

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

LGA: Vulnerable children at risk from taxi licensing reforms

 

LGA press release

Plans to relax taxi laws could put children at greater risk of sexual exploitation, councils are warning.

Currently, anyone using a minicab can travel safe in the knowledge that the only person legally allowed to drive the car will have been through a rigorous council vetting process, including criminal records and medical history checks.

New government proposals within the Deregulation Bill, set to return to the House of Lords next month, will mean minicab licence holders will be able to allow other people to drive their vehicle when they are off-duty without any of those checks being carried out.

The Local Government Association, which represents more than 370 councils in England and Wales, is warning that this will make it easier for criminal gangs to exploit the system and use licensed vehicles to groom, rape and traffic children.

Independent reports into child sexual exploitation in both Rotherham and Rochdale found abusers used their minicabs to target vulnerable children, highlighting the need to ensure controls in this area remain as tight as possible.

Under the new proposals, someone already with a criminal background – such as for alleged sexual assaults, rapes and organised crime – could legally drive a branded vehicle, meaning they could use it to pick up passengers and target vulnerable children.

Cllr Ann Lucas OBE, Chair of the LGA’s Safer and Stronger Communities Board, said:

“Recent child sex abuse cases in Rotherham and Rochdale are a stark reminder of the position of trust that people put in taxi drivers and the vulnerability of some passengers.

“There is a determination across local government that nothing like this can be allowed to happen again. That is why we remain deeply concerned about the Government’s plan to relax taxi licensing laws which we believe will make it easier for criminal gangs to target vulnerable children for sexual exploitation.

“Anyone getting into a taxi or private hire vehicle should be assured that the only person allowed to drive the car has had their background thoroughly checked and vetted. The consequences for someone entering a branded vehicle where the driver has not been properly licensed and vetted by the council can be devastating. We should not be increasing the chances of that happening.

“Keeping children safe is our top priority and a responsibility councils take extremely seriously. It is imperative that the Government withdraws these plans so councils can continue to fully check everyone getting behind the wheel of a taxi or private hire vehicle to ensure vulnerable children are kept as safe as possible.”

Ministers suggest the fact the taxi licensing rules already apply in London means they can be rolled-out nationwide without the public being put at risk.

However, the Metropolitan Police estimate there are more than 1,000 sexual assaults each year involving taxi drivers in London alone.

Cllr Lucas added:

“Unlicensed taxis and touting have been endemic in the capital, providing an ideal cover for dangerous sexual predators. Instead of justifying an extension to these licensing rules, the state of the system in London actually provides strong evidence as to exactly why they cannot be rolled out nationwide.”

Sep 25

Barring private cabs from London’s bus lanes is legal – EU court adviser

(Reuters) – Allowing London’s trademark black cabs to use bus lanes while excluding other minicab companies does not constitute illegal state aid, an adviser to the highest European Union court found on Wednesday.

The opinion is the latest stage in a longstanding dispute between the British capital’s transport authority and Eventech, which owns a minicab fleet used by the cab firm Addison Lee.

An advocate general, who advises the European court in Luxembourg, found that Transport for London’s (TfL) policy of only allowing black cabs to use the city’s bus lanes did not constitute an unlawful transfer of public resources — essentially a subsidy — to registered taxis.

“Where state authorities make a bus lane on a public road available to black cabs but not to PHVs (private hire vehicles) during the hours of operation of that bus lane, that does not involve a transfer of ‘state resources’, provided that all comparable undertakings are granted access on equal terms,” Advocate General Nils Wahl said in his opinion.

Opinions from advocates general are respected by the court in a majority of cases.

The dispute comes at a time when alternative taxi providers, such as the car-sharing service Uber, have clashed with traditional cabs concerned about what they call unfair competition. The conflict has led to Europe-wide taxi strikes and temporary bans on Uber in Germany.

Eventech had argued that TfL’s bus lane policy was an infringement of the freedom to provide services and also amounted to illegal state aid to the benefit of black cabs.

But Wahl rejected those claims, saying that under EU state aid rules it was not necessary for member states to demand payment for access to public infrastructure, such as bus lanes.

“If…state aid rules were interpreted as generally requiring member states to charge for access to public infrastructure or state-controlled resources, this might deter states from creating or opening up areas to which there has previously been no, or only limited access,” Wahl said.

Eventech had also argued that exempting black cabs from paying fines for using the bus lanes amounted to an illegal transfer of public money to their benefit, a claim again rejected by Wahl.

The dispute began in 2010 when two of Addison Lee’s drivers were fined for driving their cars along a bus lane in central London. Eventech challenged the fines but lost before the High Court, leading to its appeal to the EU’s top court.

source: http://uk.reuters.com/article/

 

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