Rossendale Scribbler: Council needs to solve why the Valley is hot spot for taxi drivers

There are many reasons to visit Rossendale. There’s the walking. The cycling. The steam railway. The Whitaker. And, it would seem, Rossendale appears to be a great place to register to be a taxi driver.

I’m not sure why, but I do know that it’s costing the council money to keep an eye on taxi drivers registered in Rossendale but working away from the area.

Rossendale has 1,200 licensed hackney carriages in total, for its population of 65,000.

In contrast, Bradford has just 222 hackney carriages, for a population of more than 500,000.

And that’s bothering people in Bradford, who can’t understand why drivers there come here to get their licence.

And there in lies a peculiar problem. Rossendale appears to be a popular place to come and get a taxi licence, but then go and work in lots of other places.

There’s nothing illegal about this as licensing legislation means that any council in the country can issue a taxi licence which can then be used anywhere in the country for pre-booked work.

It’s all a little odd.

Rossendale council’s licensing sub-committee meets remarkably regularly to deal with applications to become taxi drivers.

Members of the public don’t get to see what happens because it has to be dealt with in private.

Rossendale council then has an obligation to make sure it monitors those taxis – and that’s becoming an expensive business.

When councillors in Keighley, Yorkshire, kicked off at the number of Rossendale taxis working in their area, Rossendale council defended itself by insisting it did carry out lots of checks outside of Rossendale, including Keighley, Manchester and Bradford.

Such enforcement doesn’t come cheap – so I don’t have much sympathy for those taxi drivers protesting outside of Rossendale council last week over various licensing changes the council is proposing, including the introduction of an assumption that if you want a Rossendale taxi licence, you’ll be expected to work primarily in Rossendale too.

The council move follows criticism from a number of areas, including Rochdale, which earlier this year when Rochdale council claimed its efforts to improve standards among taxi drivers – including raising awareness of potential child exploitation – were being undermined because Rossendale had ‘lower standards’ when it came to approving taxi drivers, a claim denied by Rossendale council.

And now the police and crime commissioner for Lancashire, Clive Grunshaw, has raised the issue of out-of-area taxi driving with Rossendale after he received complaints about it from Leeds when Rossendale taxi drivers ‘causing all sorts of problems there.’

Indeed, the issue was raised in Parliament way back in 2014 by a Bolton MP who posed the question: “Why do people go to Rossendale to get a taxi licence?”

There wasn’t an answer forthcoming, although some have suggested a taxi licence is cheaper to get here than in many other areas.

When times are tough, as they are now, a council’s duty has to be to the people it is there to serve, not people who want to get the taxi version of a ship’s flag of convenience.

Rossendale doesn’t need 1,200 taxis.

Threats to hold strikes if the council doesn’t listen to the cabbies will hopefully fall on deaf ears – if most of those cabbies are working outside the area, we won’t notice anyway.

Quite why Rossendale is such a hot spot for cabbies is a mystery – but it’s one the council needs to solve quickly.

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

 

 

 

As the NTA wrote back in 2012; –

 

Mrs. Helen Lockwood
Chief Executive
Rossendale Borough Council
Town Centre Offices
Lord Street
Rawtenstall
Rossendale
BB4 7LZ

10th April 2012

Dear Mrs. Lockwood

Re: Rossendale Hackney Carriages used exclusively in Manchester

I write on behalf of our members in Manchester in respect of vehicles licensed by your authority which are used solely by private hire firms within Manchester, for hiring’s within Manchester. I duly attach photographs of the offending vehicles, as supplied by our members.

As you will appreciate, the licensing function local authorities are mandated to provide is an arduous task, not only must officers deal with Hackney Carriage and private hire licensing matters, they must also deal with a plethora of other licensing functions.

However, it is the Hackney Carriage and private hire function our members wish me to bring to your attention.

In this respect I wish to alert you to the phenomenon of Hackney Carriages Proprietors and Drivers licensing themselves in one area, only to work exclusively in another. As you may imagine this creates all manner of difficulties and issues from a licensing perspective. In the past 12 to 18 months this issue has been considered by both the House of Commons Transport Select Committee and it’s currently being addressed by the Law Commission, who are looking at widespread reform of the taxi and private hire industries.

The issue of ‘cross border’ Hackney Carriages was addressed in 2008 with a Judicial review commonly known as the ‘Berwick case’ – Newcastle City Council, R (on the application of) v Berwick-Upon-Tweed Borough Council & Ors [2008] EWHC 2369 (Admin) (05 November 2008).

A brief synopsis was that vehicles licensed by Berwick Borough Council were being used effectively as ‘private hire vehicles’ by operators in and around Newcastle upon Tyne – some considerable distance away from the vehicles own licensing area. It was argued that Newcastle City Council were unable to stop and check these vehicles whilst they were working within Newcastle as they were not Newcastle licensed vehicles. In addition to this – the licensing conditions in Berwick were very different to those of Newcastle.

Berwick Council suggested they were unable to refuse applications.

In summing up the case the judge stated at 34:

“However it would seem to me to be difficult for any local authority to justify exercising their discretion by granting a hackney carriage licence to an applicant when the authority knows that the applicant has no intention of using that licence to ply for hire in its area. This is particularly so when the local authority also knows that the intention is to use the hackney carriage in an area remote from that authority’s area. I say that because it seems to me it is very difficult to exercise proper control over hackney carriages which are never, or rarely, used in the prescribed area. It is also undesirable for authorities to be faced with a proliferation of hackney carriages licensed outside the area in which they are being used and therefore not subject to the same conditions and byelaws as apply to those vehicles licensed in the area.”

At 35 the judge stated:

“I have had placed before me in evidence a considerable amount of detail of where the hackney carriages licensed by Berwick are in use. This is without using the powers that exists under section 57 of the 1976 Act to require information. Thus it seems to me it will not be an unduly difficult task to discover whether an applicant for a licence has the intention of plying for hire within Berwick’s area.

However that must be a matter for Berwick. It may be they will wish to seek certain information to assist them using section 57. I consider that it would be perfectly proper to seek such information to ensure that Berwick’s hackney carriages are intended to be used in their area and thus any enforcement powers can be exercised locally. It is to be noted that section 57 (3) makes it an offence to knowingly or recklessly make a false statement. This is quite apart from the fact that an applicant who does not act honestly towards the issuer of a licence may well not be a fit and proper person and may well have his or her licence revoked or not renewed. I do not believe there is any reason to believe that applicants will not continue to provide information, whether through filling out an application form or more specifically under section 57, in an honest and straightforward manner.”

And at 37 the judge advised:

“It may well be that up to now local authorities have not sought information as to the intentions of licence applicants. This may be because until recently it has not been an issue. It may be that following this judgment it will no longer be an issue. However the fact that it has not generally been done up to now is no reason in my view why such information cannot be sought in the future.”

Members are obviously concerned these vehicles may not be subject to the same checks and balances as locally licensed vehicles.

As you will appreciate, the licensing policy developed in Rossendale is intended for the good people of Rossendale, it is inherently different to the one developed within Manchester. It is not the place of either my members or myself to suggest what conditions you should have in place for taxi and private-hire licensees within your area – we firmly believe this function is one best developed by locals.

For example – a local authority may (for their own reasons) develop an emissions policy for the vehicles they license, such policies are obviously to the benefit of local residents – yet if a policy such as this can be easily circumvented by vehicles simply licensing themselves in another area – then such a policy would be ineffective to its overall well intended aim.

Indeed, a local authority may wish – due to customer complaints or suchlike – implement a topographical knowledge test or similar for licensees. Again, if this admirable policy, which would benefit a great number of taxi and private hire users, can be easily bypassed by merely obtaining a license in another area, it effectively lessens the effect of a very worthwhile goal.

Recently it has emerged that many motor insurers simply ask where a ‘taxi’ is licensed in the belief this is the area where the taxi is worked – the insurance premium is based upon this area, which maybe an area where insurance is classed as a lower risk. We have been advised by contacts within the motor insurance industry they would consider this type of activity fraudulent and it would be unacceptable to some insurance companies.

Going through the Judges comments in the ‘Berwick case’, it is clear he appreciated how difficult it would be for a local authority to exercise proper control over its licensees if the vehicles and drivers, operate – effectively free from regulation – remotely from their area of license. As an immediate example – perhaps you could advise if Rossendale Council has dispatched its officers to Manchester to check licenses and vehicles?

In addition to the above, if a passenger hires a Rossendale licensed vehicle from a private hire company in Manchester and there is a subsequent complaint – who does the passenger complain to? The passenger will very probably and understandably believe they have hired a Manchester licensed vehicle and will have very little idea of the vagaries of taxi licensing.

The judge in the case did offer a relatively inexpensive and simple solution to the issue of vehicles from one area working in another and it comes in the guise of a simple question which should be added to the application form. The judge summed this up at 59:

“Following the handing down of my judgment in draft I heard Counsel on the appropriate form of relief that I should grant. In my judgment the appropriate relief, and the relief that I therefore grant, is by declaration as follows:

(i) In the proper exercise of its statutory discretion under section 37 of the Town Police Clauses Act 1847 a licensing authority is obliged to have regard (a) to whether the applicant intends that the hackney carriage if licensed will be used to ply for hire within the area of that authority, and (b) whether the applicant intends that the hackney carriage will be used (either entirely or predominantly) for private hire remotely from the area of that authority.

(ii) A licensing authority may in the proper exercise of its discretion under the said section 37 refuse to grant a licence in respect of a hackney carriage that is not intended to be used to ply for hire within its area and/or is intended to be used (either entirely or predominantly) for private hire remotely from the area of that authority.

(iii) In determining whether to grant a licence under the said section 37 a licensing authority may
require an applicant to submit information pursuant to section 57 Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 in order to ascertain the intended usage of the vehicle.”

If a person makes a false representation in order to obtain a license, section 57 (3) this makes it an offence.

I attach an application form from Northumberland council where the question regarding section 57 is asked, our association understand similar questions are being attached to licenses in other parts of the country.

We urge you to speak with your licensing department in respect of this letter and the obvious issues raised.

Sincerely

WJ Casey
Wayne Casey
Administration Officer

France in meltdown as taxi drivers violently protest Uber and ‘smash up Courtney Love cab’

Taxi drivers brought chaos to the streets of Paris

TAXI protests against Uber have turned violent in France as demonstrators smashed up Courtney Love’s cab and held “her driver hostage'”in frightening scenes.

The country appears to be in meltdown after days of violence and dangerous scenes across the nation.

Chaos in Calais, which saw tyres set alight in road and rail blocks by the port, has been followed by pandemonium in the capital with the taxi strikes.

The violent scenes have been likened by Ms Love to Baghdad.

The rocker erupted into rage at the French government and demanded to know why there were not enough police to protect the nation – in a similar situation to Calais.

She tweeted: “François Hollande where are the f****** police??? Is it legal for your people to attack visitors? Get your a** to the airport. Wtf???”

Ms Love, the widow of tragic Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain, described how she was faced with metal bars.

Paris taxi drivers are striking over the Uber mobile phone app which gives users the chance to access cut price cab drivers in their area.

In Britain the app has also caused London taxi drivers to fear for their future sparking outrage within the industry.

Uber drivers’ cars were flipped over by some violent cabbie mobs, who also blocked roads around Paris.

She said: “How on earth are these people allowed to do this? The first car was destroyed, all tyres slashed and beat with bats.

“These guys trying to open the doors and the cops are doing nothing?? French Taliban? Civil reform needed in France?? I want to go home.

“They’ve ambushed our car and are holding our driver hostage. They’re beating the cars with metal bats. This is France?? I’m safer in Baghdad.”

Ms Love, the former frontwoman of Nineties rock band Hole, was leaving Charles de Gaulle airport this morning when she was confronted by the gang.

She later posted a video on Instagram showing several intimidating men surrounding her vehicle at a petrol station.

Now safe, she said: “Paid some guys on motorcycles to sneak us out, got chased by a mob of taxi drivers who threw rocks, passed two police and they did nothing.”

The riots saw France’s interior minister call for a nationwide legal clampdown on Uber.

Taxi drivers claim Uber, which has one million users in France, is unfair competition.

Burning tyres blocked the ring road around Paris, Marseilles and Aix-en-Provence in southeast France, including at motorway exits, and blocked access to train stations in the two cities.

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

Cabbies strike threat ‘off the table’ after decision over taxi licensing rules delayed

Rossendale council has extended a consultation over a new taxi licensing policy after cabbies picketed last week

Council bosses have delayed a decision over changes to taxi licencing rules.

The decision to extend a consultation over a new taxi licencing policy was made after cabbies threatened strike action and picketed the council offices at Futures Park in Bacup.

Drivers fear that Rossendale council’s revised licensing policy ‘will impact on jobs’ if introduced.

David Lawrie, Rossendale Taxi Association chairman, has welcomed the council’s decision to extend the consultation period. He said: “Since the protest we have been having full and frank discussions with the council and they have left us feeling very positive. We have been pointing out the problems with the current draft policy and they have been listening.

David did however add that if an acceptable compromise was not reached ‘strike action would be back on the table’.

Council leader Alyson Barnes said: “It was a really positive meeting. I am very clear that we as a Council need to we listen to concerns and issues in a positive fashion and see how we can address them.

“We do need to revise our current policies but we have agreed to extend the consultation to give everyone more time to have their say.”

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

 

Court upholds council’s decision to ban Luton taxi driver

Luton Magistrates Court upheld the Borough Councils decision not to renew the hackney carriage licence of a Luton taxi driver who was caught speeding in Milton Keynes

A court has upheld the borough council’s decision not to renew the hackney carriage licence of a Luton taxi driver.

Licensing officers attended Luton Magistrates Court and outlined three separate complaints about Ayoub Khan overcharging, leaving a taxi unattended in a town centre rank and a police investigation into an allegation of attempting to pervert the course of justice relating to two speeding offences committed in Leicestershire and Milton Keynes.

Magistrates pointed out that the overcharging complaints followed a similar pattern and the complainants were unknown to each other, one of them lives in Scotland.

Mr Khan, of Fitzroy Avenue, denied seeing papers about the speeding incidents sent to him by the two police forces requiring he nominate the driver of his vehicle at the time of the incidents.

He claims he had no idea how the details of someone living in India at the time were sent to the police in connection with the incidents.

Forensic comparison of Mr Khan’s signature sent to the police and on documentation supplied to the council’s licensing service provided a link in the handwriting samples, according to expert opinion.

Magistrates determined the appeal on the balance of probabilities, describing council evidence as ‘credible’ and Mr Khan’s evidence as ‘evasive’.

The appeal was dismissed and Mr Khan, who has held cab licences with Luton and South Bedfordshire for over 20 years, was ordered to pay the council’s full costs of £983.

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

Rotherham minicab driver faces 11 child sex charges

A MAN has been charged with several offences relating to child sexual exploitation in Rotherham.

Sajid Bostan, of Vernon Road, Rotherham, faces 11 charges including unlawful sexual intercourse with a girl under the age of 13, indecent assault and buggery.

It is alleged the offences occurred between 1990 and 2001.

Bostan has been bailed to appear before Rotherham Magistrates’ Court on Thursday. He has been charged as part of Operation Clover, a joint investigation by South Yorkshire Police in partnership with Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council and the Crown Prosecution Service.

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

Jun 25

Rossendale Scribbler: Council needs to solve why the Valley is hot spot for taxi drivers

There are many reasons to visit Rossendale. There’s the walking. The cycling. The steam railway. The Whitaker. And, it would seem, Rossendale appears to be a great place to register to be a taxi driver.

I’m not sure why, but I do know that it’s costing the council money to keep an eye on taxi drivers registered in Rossendale but working away from the area.

Rossendale has 1,200 licensed hackney carriages in total, for its population of 65,000.

In contrast, Bradford has just 222 hackney carriages, for a population of more than 500,000.

And that’s bothering people in Bradford, who can’t understand why drivers there come here to get their licence.

And there in lies a peculiar problem. Rossendale appears to be a popular place to come and get a taxi licence, but then go and work in lots of other places.

There’s nothing illegal about this as licensing legislation means that any council in the country can issue a taxi licence which can then be used anywhere in the country for pre-booked work.

It’s all a little odd.

Rossendale council’s licensing sub-committee meets remarkably regularly to deal with applications to become taxi drivers.

Members of the public don’t get to see what happens because it has to be dealt with in private.

Rossendale council then has an obligation to make sure it monitors those taxis – and that’s becoming an expensive business.

When councillors in Keighley, Yorkshire, kicked off at the number of Rossendale taxis working in their area, Rossendale council defended itself by insisting it did carry out lots of checks outside of Rossendale, including Keighley, Manchester and Bradford.

Such enforcement doesn’t come cheap – so I don’t have much sympathy for those taxi drivers protesting outside of Rossendale council last week over various licensing changes the council is proposing, including the introduction of an assumption that if you want a Rossendale taxi licence, you’ll be expected to work primarily in Rossendale too.

The council move follows criticism from a number of areas, including Rochdale, which earlier this year when Rochdale council claimed its efforts to improve standards among taxi drivers – including raising awareness of potential child exploitation – were being undermined because Rossendale had ‘lower standards’ when it came to approving taxi drivers, a claim denied by Rossendale council.

And now the police and crime commissioner for Lancashire, Clive Grunshaw, has raised the issue of out-of-area taxi driving with Rossendale after he received complaints about it from Leeds when Rossendale taxi drivers ‘causing all sorts of problems there.’

Indeed, the issue was raised in Parliament way back in 2014 by a Bolton MP who posed the question: “Why do people go to Rossendale to get a taxi licence?”

There wasn’t an answer forthcoming, although some have suggested a taxi licence is cheaper to get here than in many other areas.

When times are tough, as they are now, a council’s duty has to be to the people it is there to serve, not people who want to get the taxi version of a ship’s flag of convenience.

Rossendale doesn’t need 1,200 taxis.

Threats to hold strikes if the council doesn’t listen to the cabbies will hopefully fall on deaf ears – if most of those cabbies are working outside the area, we won’t notice anyway.

Quite why Rossendale is such a hot spot for cabbies is a mystery – but it’s one the council needs to solve quickly.

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

 

 

 

As the NTA wrote back in 2012; –

 

Mrs. Helen Lockwood
Chief Executive
Rossendale Borough Council
Town Centre Offices
Lord Street
Rawtenstall
Rossendale
BB4 7LZ

10th April 2012

Dear Mrs. Lockwood

Re: Rossendale Hackney Carriages used exclusively in Manchester

I write on behalf of our members in Manchester in respect of vehicles licensed by your authority which are used solely by private hire firms within Manchester, for hiring’s within Manchester. I duly attach photographs of the offending vehicles, as supplied by our members.

As you will appreciate, the licensing function local authorities are mandated to provide is an arduous task, not only must officers deal with Hackney Carriage and private hire licensing matters, they must also deal with a plethora of other licensing functions.

However, it is the Hackney Carriage and private hire function our members wish me to bring to your attention.

In this respect I wish to alert you to the phenomenon of Hackney Carriages Proprietors and Drivers licensing themselves in one area, only to work exclusively in another. As you may imagine this creates all manner of difficulties and issues from a licensing perspective. In the past 12 to 18 months this issue has been considered by both the House of Commons Transport Select Committee and it’s currently being addressed by the Law Commission, who are looking at widespread reform of the taxi and private hire industries.

The issue of ‘cross border’ Hackney Carriages was addressed in 2008 with a Judicial review commonly known as the ‘Berwick case’ – Newcastle City Council, R (on the application of) v Berwick-Upon-Tweed Borough Council & Ors [2008] EWHC 2369 (Admin) (05 November 2008).

A brief synopsis was that vehicles licensed by Berwick Borough Council were being used effectively as ‘private hire vehicles’ by operators in and around Newcastle upon Tyne – some considerable distance away from the vehicles own licensing area. It was argued that Newcastle City Council were unable to stop and check these vehicles whilst they were working within Newcastle as they were not Newcastle licensed vehicles. In addition to this – the licensing conditions in Berwick were very different to those of Newcastle.

Berwick Council suggested they were unable to refuse applications.

In summing up the case the judge stated at 34:

“However it would seem to me to be difficult for any local authority to justify exercising their discretion by granting a hackney carriage licence to an applicant when the authority knows that the applicant has no intention of using that licence to ply for hire in its area. This is particularly so when the local authority also knows that the intention is to use the hackney carriage in an area remote from that authority’s area. I say that because it seems to me it is very difficult to exercise proper control over hackney carriages which are never, or rarely, used in the prescribed area. It is also undesirable for authorities to be faced with a proliferation of hackney carriages licensed outside the area in which they are being used and therefore not subject to the same conditions and byelaws as apply to those vehicles licensed in the area.”

At 35 the judge stated:

“I have had placed before me in evidence a considerable amount of detail of where the hackney carriages licensed by Berwick are in use. This is without using the powers that exists under section 57 of the 1976 Act to require information. Thus it seems to me it will not be an unduly difficult task to discover whether an applicant for a licence has the intention of plying for hire within Berwick’s area.

However that must be a matter for Berwick. It may be they will wish to seek certain information to assist them using section 57. I consider that it would be perfectly proper to seek such information to ensure that Berwick’s hackney carriages are intended to be used in their area and thus any enforcement powers can be exercised locally. It is to be noted that section 57 (3) makes it an offence to knowingly or recklessly make a false statement. This is quite apart from the fact that an applicant who does not act honestly towards the issuer of a licence may well not be a fit and proper person and may well have his or her licence revoked or not renewed. I do not believe there is any reason to believe that applicants will not continue to provide information, whether through filling out an application form or more specifically under section 57, in an honest and straightforward manner.”

And at 37 the judge advised:

“It may well be that up to now local authorities have not sought information as to the intentions of licence applicants. This may be because until recently it has not been an issue. It may be that following this judgment it will no longer be an issue. However the fact that it has not generally been done up to now is no reason in my view why such information cannot be sought in the future.”

Members are obviously concerned these vehicles may not be subject to the same checks and balances as locally licensed vehicles.

As you will appreciate, the licensing policy developed in Rossendale is intended for the good people of Rossendale, it is inherently different to the one developed within Manchester. It is not the place of either my members or myself to suggest what conditions you should have in place for taxi and private-hire licensees within your area – we firmly believe this function is one best developed by locals.

For example – a local authority may (for their own reasons) develop an emissions policy for the vehicles they license, such policies are obviously to the benefit of local residents – yet if a policy such as this can be easily circumvented by vehicles simply licensing themselves in another area – then such a policy would be ineffective to its overall well intended aim.

Indeed, a local authority may wish – due to customer complaints or suchlike – implement a topographical knowledge test or similar for licensees. Again, if this admirable policy, which would benefit a great number of taxi and private hire users, can be easily bypassed by merely obtaining a license in another area, it effectively lessens the effect of a very worthwhile goal.

Recently it has emerged that many motor insurers simply ask where a ‘taxi’ is licensed in the belief this is the area where the taxi is worked – the insurance premium is based upon this area, which maybe an area where insurance is classed as a lower risk. We have been advised by contacts within the motor insurance industry they would consider this type of activity fraudulent and it would be unacceptable to some insurance companies.

Going through the Judges comments in the ‘Berwick case’, it is clear he appreciated how difficult it would be for a local authority to exercise proper control over its licensees if the vehicles and drivers, operate – effectively free from regulation – remotely from their area of license. As an immediate example – perhaps you could advise if Rossendale Council has dispatched its officers to Manchester to check licenses and vehicles?

In addition to the above, if a passenger hires a Rossendale licensed vehicle from a private hire company in Manchester and there is a subsequent complaint – who does the passenger complain to? The passenger will very probably and understandably believe they have hired a Manchester licensed vehicle and will have very little idea of the vagaries of taxi licensing.

The judge in the case did offer a relatively inexpensive and simple solution to the issue of vehicles from one area working in another and it comes in the guise of a simple question which should be added to the application form. The judge summed this up at 59:

“Following the handing down of my judgment in draft I heard Counsel on the appropriate form of relief that I should grant. In my judgment the appropriate relief, and the relief that I therefore grant, is by declaration as follows:

(i) In the proper exercise of its statutory discretion under section 37 of the Town Police Clauses Act 1847 a licensing authority is obliged to have regard (a) to whether the applicant intends that the hackney carriage if licensed will be used to ply for hire within the area of that authority, and (b) whether the applicant intends that the hackney carriage will be used (either entirely or predominantly) for private hire remotely from the area of that authority.

(ii) A licensing authority may in the proper exercise of its discretion under the said section 37 refuse to grant a licence in respect of a hackney carriage that is not intended to be used to ply for hire within its area and/or is intended to be used (either entirely or predominantly) for private hire remotely from the area of that authority.

(iii) In determining whether to grant a licence under the said section 37 a licensing authority may
require an applicant to submit information pursuant to section 57 Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 in order to ascertain the intended usage of the vehicle.”

If a person makes a false representation in order to obtain a license, section 57 (3) this makes it an offence.

I attach an application form from Northumberland council where the question regarding section 57 is asked, our association understand similar questions are being attached to licenses in other parts of the country.

We urge you to speak with your licensing department in respect of this letter and the obvious issues raised.

Sincerely

WJ Casey
Wayne Casey
Administration Officer

Jun 25

France in meltdown as taxi drivers violently protest Uber and ‘smash up Courtney Love cab’

Taxi drivers brought chaos to the streets of Paris

TAXI protests against Uber have turned violent in France as demonstrators smashed up Courtney Love’s cab and held “her driver hostage'”in frightening scenes.

The country appears to be in meltdown after days of violence and dangerous scenes across the nation.

Chaos in Calais, which saw tyres set alight in road and rail blocks by the port, has been followed by pandemonium in the capital with the taxi strikes.

The violent scenes have been likened by Ms Love to Baghdad.

The rocker erupted into rage at the French government and demanded to know why there were not enough police to protect the nation – in a similar situation to Calais.

She tweeted: “François Hollande where are the f****** police??? Is it legal for your people to attack visitors? Get your a** to the airport. Wtf???”

Ms Love, the widow of tragic Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain, described how she was faced with metal bars.

Paris taxi drivers are striking over the Uber mobile phone app which gives users the chance to access cut price cab drivers in their area.

In Britain the app has also caused London taxi drivers to fear for their future sparking outrage within the industry.

Uber drivers’ cars were flipped over by some violent cabbie mobs, who also blocked roads around Paris.

She said: “How on earth are these people allowed to do this? The first car was destroyed, all tyres slashed and beat with bats.

“These guys trying to open the doors and the cops are doing nothing?? French Taliban? Civil reform needed in France?? I want to go home.

“They’ve ambushed our car and are holding our driver hostage. They’re beating the cars with metal bats. This is France?? I’m safer in Baghdad.”

Ms Love, the former frontwoman of Nineties rock band Hole, was leaving Charles de Gaulle airport this morning when she was confronted by the gang.

She later posted a video on Instagram showing several intimidating men surrounding her vehicle at a petrol station.

Now safe, she said: “Paid some guys on motorcycles to sneak us out, got chased by a mob of taxi drivers who threw rocks, passed two police and they did nothing.”

The riots saw France’s interior minister call for a nationwide legal clampdown on Uber.

Taxi drivers claim Uber, which has one million users in France, is unfair competition.

Burning tyres blocked the ring road around Paris, Marseilles and Aix-en-Provence in southeast France, including at motorway exits, and blocked access to train stations in the two cities.

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

Jun 24

Cabbies strike threat ‘off the table’ after decision over taxi licensing rules delayed

Rossendale council has extended a consultation over a new taxi licensing policy after cabbies picketed last week

Council bosses have delayed a decision over changes to taxi licencing rules.

The decision to extend a consultation over a new taxi licencing policy was made after cabbies threatened strike action and picketed the council offices at Futures Park in Bacup.

Drivers fear that Rossendale council’s revised licensing policy ‘will impact on jobs’ if introduced.

David Lawrie, Rossendale Taxi Association chairman, has welcomed the council’s decision to extend the consultation period. He said: “Since the protest we have been having full and frank discussions with the council and they have left us feeling very positive. We have been pointing out the problems with the current draft policy and they have been listening.

David did however add that if an acceptable compromise was not reached ‘strike action would be back on the table’.

Council leader Alyson Barnes said: “It was a really positive meeting. I am very clear that we as a Council need to we listen to concerns and issues in a positive fashion and see how we can address them.

“We do need to revise our current policies but we have agreed to extend the consultation to give everyone more time to have their say.”

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

 

Jun 24

Court upholds council’s decision to ban Luton taxi driver

Luton Magistrates Court upheld the Borough Councils decision not to renew the hackney carriage licence of a Luton taxi driver who was caught speeding in Milton Keynes

A court has upheld the borough council’s decision not to renew the hackney carriage licence of a Luton taxi driver.

Licensing officers attended Luton Magistrates Court and outlined three separate complaints about Ayoub Khan overcharging, leaving a taxi unattended in a town centre rank and a police investigation into an allegation of attempting to pervert the course of justice relating to two speeding offences committed in Leicestershire and Milton Keynes.

Magistrates pointed out that the overcharging complaints followed a similar pattern and the complainants were unknown to each other, one of them lives in Scotland.

Mr Khan, of Fitzroy Avenue, denied seeing papers about the speeding incidents sent to him by the two police forces requiring he nominate the driver of his vehicle at the time of the incidents.

He claims he had no idea how the details of someone living in India at the time were sent to the police in connection with the incidents.

Forensic comparison of Mr Khan’s signature sent to the police and on documentation supplied to the council’s licensing service provided a link in the handwriting samples, according to expert opinion.

Magistrates determined the appeal on the balance of probabilities, describing council evidence as ‘credible’ and Mr Khan’s evidence as ‘evasive’.

The appeal was dismissed and Mr Khan, who has held cab licences with Luton and South Bedfordshire for over 20 years, was ordered to pay the council’s full costs of £983.

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

Jun 24

Rotherham minicab driver faces 11 child sex charges

A MAN has been charged with several offences relating to child sexual exploitation in Rotherham.

Sajid Bostan, of Vernon Road, Rotherham, faces 11 charges including unlawful sexual intercourse with a girl under the age of 13, indecent assault and buggery.

It is alleged the offences occurred between 1990 and 2001.

Bostan has been bailed to appear before Rotherham Magistrates’ Court on Thursday. He has been charged as part of Operation Clover, a joint investigation by South Yorkshire Police in partnership with Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council and the Crown Prosecution Service.

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

Jun 23

Nurseries win victory over vehicle licence rules

Nurseries in Barrow-in-Furness have won their fight against council plans to make them take out private hire licences for vehicles they use for pick-ups and drops off.

In May, Nursery World reported that Barrow Borough Council in Cumbria was requiring private nurseries in the area to take our private hire licences for vehicles with eight or fewer seats to transport children. Staff were also required to hold private hire drivers licences.

The move would have cost the two nurseries affected, Happy Kids Day Nursery and Cheeky Monkeys Childcare, thousands of pounds a year.

However, the council has now made a u-turn, saying that childcare businesses do not fall into the private hire licensing regime.

It follows months of campaigning by the nurseries and Colin Rudd, a parent whose son attends Cheeky Monkeys Childcare.

A letter sent to the nurseries from Jen Curtis, senior licensing officer at the council, states, ‘Following further legal advice and investigations, it has been decided that the businesses you are representing, do not fall into the private hire licensing regime. Therefore they are not required to be licensed as private hire operators, the vehicles they operate do not need to be licensed private hire vehicles and the drivers do not need a private hire drivers licence.

‘The Department of Transport guidance sets out key principles and characteristics, which the department considers to define a private hire vehicle. Although clear exemptions are made for childminders, businesses such as private nurseries fall into a grey area. The guidance offers a view on whether the services failing within this grey area should require licences and is designed to assist licensing authorities’ considerations where the decision is not clear-cut.

It adds, ‘The Licensing Authority is satisfied that the carrying of passengers is an ancillary part of the main service provided by the nurseries, the drivers of the vehicles have been vetted for wider works and have specific qualifications or training which go beyond driving and general customer care. This is on the basis that only qualified nursery staff drive the vehicles whilst transporting children to/from the setting, should this change in the future and the nurseries outsource the service or drivers they must notify Barrow Borough Council immediately.’

The letter also says that any fees the nurseries have already paid to the council will be refunded.

Kerry Griffin, owner of Cheeky Monkeys Childcare said that while they were delighted about the council’s u-turn, the nursery has lost business because they stopped using their vehicle.

Matthew Pilkington, Happy Tots Day Nursery’s business manager, said, ‘We are over the moon at this decision given the time and costs that have been involved.

‘Thanks to this outcome, we can spend the money we would have had to use for PHV licensing on facilities and equipment for the children in our care.’

Claire Schofield, director of membership, policy and communications at National Day Nurseries Association, said, ‘NDNA has long campaigned for its members to be treated fairly and sensibly by local authorities with regards to fees and licences.

‘Nurseries are mostly run as small businesses which can find it hard to balance the books and even small charges can make a difference.

‘We are pleased that Barrow Borough Council has looked into this issue after it was flagged up by Nursery World and will adopt a common sense approach towards nurseries driving children in private vehicles which includes paying back those who have bought licences and no longer need them.’

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

Jun 23

Wellingborough taxi driver’s licence suspended after spot check showed car was unsafe

A Wellingborough taxi driver has had his vehicle licence suspended after a spot check showed his car was unsafe.

Several other drivers were given warnings and told to up standards as part of a joint operation between Wellingborough Council and the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA).

The operation took place on the evening of Friday, June 19, between 6pm and 11pm.

Taxis were pulled over and asked to go to a local garage either immediately or after their current job, where they were met by officers from both the council and the DVSA.

Cars were then given a mechanical inspection by the DVSA, plus a check by the council to see if both vehicle and driver met licensing requirements.

If issues were found, the DVSA was able to prohibit use of the car, and the licensing officer could take action against licensing breaches.

Sixteen vehicles were pulled over in total. One taxi was found to have a rear passenger door panel that was so rusted it had caused the catch to become loose and at risk of falling open if leaned on.

The vehicle licence was immediately suspended and the car banned from being driven used until safe.

In total, the DVSA placed immediate prohibitions on two cars, meaning they can’t be used until repaired; and served deferred prohibitions on three, giving them a set time to complete any work.

As well as the unsafe door catch, issues included worn brake pads, a number of damaged lights, and worn ball joints.

The council’s licensing officer also found that five vehicles weren’t complying with licensing conditions, including not displaying tariff sheets or internal licence plates, dirty interiors, and not having first aid kits, fire extinguishers or spare wheels.

Six of the vehicles pulled over were found to be satisfactory.

Amanda Wilcox, licensing manager at the council, said: “This was a planned joint operation, and it proved to be very worthwhile.

“Our priority is to keep the public safe when they travel by taxi, and all licensed vehicles must be safe, well maintained and comply with licensing conditions.

“All licensed drivers are responsible for checking their cars before they set out to transport any member of the public.

“Vehicles are given two routine inspections a year, but between these routine checks standards can start to slip.

“Driving a licensed vehicle comes with a responsibility, and it became clear from this operation that more than half of owners and drivers thought the rules didn’t apply to them.

“From cars not in a roadworthy condition, to minor breaches of licensing requirements – if we saw a vehicle that didn’t meet the standards we took action, and we will continue to do so.”

If anyone is concerned about the condition of any licensed vehicle in the borough, they should contact the council’s licensing team on 01933 231966 or email licensing@wellingborough.gov.uk.

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

Jun 23

Private hire shake-up in Worcester scrapped after concerns around standards

A BID to ‘water down’ standards of private hire drivers in Worcester has been thrown out – after councillors insisted it would send the wrong message to the public.

After months of disagreements, Worcester City Council has decided all private cabbies must still undertake detailed local knowledge tests with pass marks of 80 per cent to secure permission to use the roads.

It was voted through 7-3 despite severe splits in opinion during a licensing committee meeting last night, with two Conservatives, Allah Ditta and Roger Knight, backing carrying on with the tough tests but three fellow party members going against.

In response to guidance from central Government that private hire cars do not need detailed knowledge of the roads, council officers have spent months devising new tests for them.

Back in March they drafted proposals to have private cabbies sit exams without local knowledge included, only to come back with a fresh version this week after concerns from hackney carriage drivers.

But the new version, which included a knowledge test but pass marks of just 65 per cent for questions on ‘places of interest’ and ‘routes’, fell foul of the majority of the committee.

The vote means prospective private hire drivers must reach the same pass marks as hackney carriages, the vehicles which use the congested ranks.

Councillor Adrian Gregson said: “I fail to see the logic in differentiating between the two tests – they need to be the same for both sets of drivers.”

Fellow Councillor Simon Cronin said: “I’ve seen no evidence to persuade me that the city will benefit from a lessening of the standards of the taxi trade, or why the standards of one set of drivers should be lower than the other.”

The three Conservatives to disagree with them, Matt Lacey, Gareth Jones and Lucy Hodgson, accused committee members of wasting staff time to get back to square one.

During the debate, another counter-argument to that status quo was that the different tests would make it easier for drivers to obtain private hire licenses, making it far less attractive to carry on running hackney carriages.

Back in February the council launched a ‘cap’ on hackney carriages for the first time ever, setting it at 230, after years of concern about over-ranking, double parking and environmental damage due to the growing numbers of drivers.

Legal advisers on the committee last night also said they feared potential challenges on the tough tests from private hire cabbies, insisting the officers were following national guidance – but it did not change the outcome.

But Councillor Joy Squires said: “It’s been very messy at times, but I must admit when I read the report I was surprised the option to keep the same standards for both wasn’t included.

“The people out there will expect us to have the highest standards we can, what this licensing committee says to the people of Worcester is very important.”

Her comments drew loud applause from hackney carriage drivers who had packed into the public gallery.

After the meeting Mohammed Sajad, from Worcester Taxi Drivers Association, said: “We don’t want to see standards for any drivers made worse, and that includes private hire.”

Here’s what the association said about this back in March, when they called it a ‘simpleton’ test.

The new tests will launch from July, but standards for both sections of the taxi trade will be the same.

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

Jun 22

Minicab-driving creep keeps licence after councillors ignore police warnings about danger he posed to women

Michael Boyd locked a female passenger in his car and told her he wanted to have sex with her after pretending he was an old friend

MICHAEL BOYD, 34, was allowed to stay behind the wheel after East Ayrshire councillors ignored police warnings he was a menace to female

A MINICAB driver was allowed to stay at the wheel after councillors ignored police warnings about the danger he posed to women passengers.

Michael Boyd, 34, went on to harass eight women and last week was jailed for 15 months.

He locked two victims in his cab, telling one he wanted to have sex with her and demanding another woman’s phone number.

He stalked a third female in the streets and at her workplace then traced a former partner to her home and bombarded her with phone calls and text messages.

And he told a lone passenger on a trip to Kilmarnock that he hated women from the town and described them as “sluts”.

Two years ago, Boyd appeared before a licensing panel in East Ayrshire where senior police officers raised concerns about his behaviour and attitude to women.

They urged councillors to take away Boyd’s minicab badge, which had already been suspended after complaints.

But at a private meeting, he was allowed to stay on the road and went on to commit a series of offences.

The licensing meeting was held at East Ayrshire’s council HQ in Kilmarnock in August 2013.

Six councillors – chairman Tom Cook, Andrew Hershaw, George Mair, Neil McGhee, Kathy Morrice and Moira Pirie – made up the panel.

Two officers from Police Scotland – an inspector and a sergeant – also attended along with Boyd, from Kilmarnock, and his lawyer.

Boyd’s minicab licence had already been suspended after complaints were lodged against him two months earlier. But the panel decided to lift the ban and reject the police bid to have the private hire licence revoked.

In the published minutes of the meeting, the council wrote: “The licence holder was further advised that the panel had given the allegations serious consideration and that if he was brought before the panel in the future for any matter, the outcome was likely to be different.”

Boyd finally surrendered his East Ayrshire minicab licence after further complaints in 2014.

But he then applied for – and was granted – a new licence after lying to officials in neighbouring East Renfrewshire.

He told them he had never applied for a licence elsewhere and police in East Renfrewshire were unaware of their colleagues’ concerns in Ayrshire.

Within weeks of being granted the new licence, Boyd was offending there too. At Kilmarnock Sheriff Court last week, Boyd admitted two charges of threatening or abusive behaviour and two of causing fear and alarm, between February 2014 and March this year.

In January, he had appeared at Paisley Sheriff Court and admitted charges of placing four women in fear and alarm and lying in his minicab driver application.

A spokeswoman for East Ayrshire licensing committee said: “The licence was suspended on an emergency basis in June 2013 following complaints but the panel lifted that suspension on August 1 after hearing full details.

“The licence was suspended again in February 2014 following further complaints about his conduct whereupon he surrendered the licence.

“He then went to East Renfrewshire Council and provided false information on a new minicab licence application and this was then granted.”

East Renfrewshire licensing committee said: “Our checks are robust and in line with other licensing committees across Scotland.

“Before we grant a licence, we always do a background check which involves ¬contacting Police Scotland who carry out a full DVLA and criminal background check.

“Because Mr Boyd had no criminal convictions against him, he was granted a licence.”

East Ayrshire previously granted a minicab licence to a driver who had 49 convictions, including assault, theft and driving while disqualified and without insurance.

In that case, the council said a panel had “fully considered” all previous convictions.

Police Scotland said: “Michael Boyd applied to East Renfrewshire Council in March 2014 for a private hire minicab driver’s licence. All relevant police checks were carried out with negative result.

“Police Scotland is currently developing a national IT system which will allow each of the 14 divisions to cross-check applications from each of the 32 authorities and act as a single point of reference for licences that had been granted/revoked by the relevant local authority.”

Victim: I was terrified but the council didn’t care

ONE of Boyd’s victims ¬yesterday hit out at East Ayrshire Council for allowing Boyd to keep his licence.

He targeted the 47-year-old Kilmarnock mum six months after he was allowed back on the road.

She said: “As soon as I got in the minicab, he began acting strangely. He kept on moving about in his seat and looking at me.

“Boyd told me he couldn’t get a girlfriend and that he hated all women in ¬Kilmarnock. He shouted at me three times, once after I told him I was married.

“As soon as I got home, I threw him a tenner and did not wait for the change.

“I ran into the house because I was scared he would follow me. The council should have taken tougher action when they had the chance.

“I complained to the minicab firm and then the council, who took a full statement. But I heard nothing back.” The woman says she’s stopped travelling in minicabs alone.

She added: “I still feel upset. I’m glad that the authorities are doing something to make it harder for people like Boyd to get minicab licences.

“Unfortunately, it is too late for some of his victims.”

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

Jun 19

Summer Ramadan hits 25% of licensed drivers who stop work at sun-down

The sun is currently rising just after 04:30 BST and setting after 21:00

At least a quarter of minicab and taxi drivers in London are stopping work once the sun goes down to mark Ramadan.

The holy month commemorates the first revelation of the Quran to Muhammad, according to Islamic belief.

Organisations which represent drivers said at least 25% were finishing their shifts before sundown to return home and break their fasts with family.

It is estimated about one million Londoners will fast from sunrise to sunset during Ramadan.

The Muslim holy month follows the lunar calendar and as such it is the first time in many years it has fallen at this point in the summer when daylight lasts for about 19 hours.

Steve Wright, chairman of the Licensed Private Hire Car Association, said: “We are aware that many private hire and taxi drivers won’t be working during Ramadan. It’s certainly very tight, it’s about 25%, but it doesn’t stop the world from turning.

“There are lots of religious festivals which means there are less drivers available but we cope with it and others make hay – it’s a sort of counterbalance.”

He said the organisation arranged its trade shows around religious festivals and “there was a time when if a James Bond film was on TV a third of drivers would be at home watching it, so it’s nothing new”.

Steve McNamara from the Licensed Taxi Driver Association, which represents black cab drivers, said the number of drivers observing Ramadan and only choosing to work during daylight hours “will be high”.

He said: “London taxi drivers are very representative of the community we serve, recent graduates from the Knowledge of London are almost an exact mirror of the breakdown and mix of our great city.”

In contrast retailers in the city are seeing a boom in sales due to the so-called Ramadan Rush with new products and fashions released in time for the Holy month.

Nazmin Alim, the creative director at AAB Collection at East Shopping Centre in Green Street, said: “Ramadan is considered a key trading period and something we prepare for well in advance.

“It’s also a very communal month where family and friends come together. Inviting people to open fast with you is something which is highly regarded.

“Spending is on the agenda for food and clothing as social activities tend to increase due to invites, and gifts are given meaning the overall spend is much more during this month.”

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

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