Criminals Are Dodging Council Ban And Driving For Uber In Southend

A seaside town has complained that Uber, the app-driven taxi service, is using convicted criminals to tout for business even though the council has banned them from working as cabbies.

Taxi firms in Southend, Essex, have been dismayed by the arrival of up to 50 Uber drivers operating in the resort.

Among the new drivers are two familiar faces — Nasser Hussain, 60, and Nisar Abbas, 37, who were stripped of their private hire licences by the council for operating a ring in which they and other drivers shared each other’s penalty points for speeding, running red lights and other offences to avoid being banned.

Uber drivers are required to hold private hire vehicle (PHV) licences issued by the local authorities, but the two men sidestepped their bans by applying through Transport for London (TfL) instead of Southend council.

Such “cross-border” drivers are exploiting a legal grey area, which has worked to Uber’s advantage as the company seeks to expand into new areas across the UK.

Other places affected by the tactic include Bristol, where dozens of Uber drivers are using London PHV licences to avoid the local council’s requirement that taxi drivers must take a special driving and city geography test.

At Southend Crown Court in 2010, Hussain and Abbas were each jailed for 12 months after pleading guilty to 10 counts of perverting the course of justice.

The judge, Ian Graham, told Hussain, who lives in Southend: “You continued to carry the public when you should have been off the road altogether.”

Tony Cox, Southend council’s cabinet member for transport, said: “What I find astounding is that we did our part and removed these people from the road, but we now find we are impotent to protect the public.

“Uber are sticking two fingers up at licensing authorities like ours, and TfL is complicit in it.”

Despite complaints from the council, both Hussain and Abbas were still shown on TfL’s register of licensed drivers last week.

Steve ********, of the GMB union’s professional drivers’ section, said: “It is tantamount to an invasion and it is a much wider problem than Southend. Across the country, Uber are twisting the regulations to suit their ends. Local licensing systems are being sidestepped in the most cynical way.”

Uber now asks prospective drivers if they have had a PVH licence rejected or revoked.

An Uber spokesman said Hussain and Abbas still drove for the company but that their vetting was a matter for TfL.

A TfL spokesman said: “These are very serious issues, which have been raised with us and are under investigation


New taxi licences suspended by council amidst chaos at offices

The suspension comes after Knowsley Council removed the ‘street knowledge’ test and there was a spike in applications

The issuing of new taxi licences in Knowsley as the council struggles to cope with a deluge of applications.

The move follows changes to the licensing process which some critics say have made it too easy to for people to qualify to drive a taxi – specifically removal of the ‘street knowledge’ section of the application.

Also it is no longer a requirement for a Hackney cab or private hire driver to live in the area where the licence is issued.

Taxi drivers in Merseyside have been speaking out over the issue claiming would-be drivers are ‘scamming’ Knowsley Council by going into the borough applying for a licence and then going to Manchester or Liverpool to ‘work for Uber’ because they don’t have to have ‘ street knowledge to get a licence in the borough.

Now Knowsley Council licensing bosses say they “intend to look into the reasons for the increased numbers, which may include a review of existing policies to ensure that they remain robust and fit for purpose”.

A statement on the authority’s website said: “The current rate of applications is not sustainable as the council’s licensing service simply has not currently got the resources to manage and regulate the increasing level of drivers, particularly if some of these drivers have no intention of operating within in the Knowsley area.”

For a taxi licence in Knowsley applicants must pay £49, show you ”are a fit a proper person’, pass a DBS and DVLA check, a medical and have been driving for 12 months.

Once you pass the checks applicants must complete the Level 2 Certificate in the ‘Introduction to the Role of the Professional Taxi and Private Hire Driver’ (QCF), which doesn’t include a ‘street knowledge’ test, before you are licensed to drive and take a driver skills assessment with council officers.

The temporary suspension is expected to last ‘no longer than 14 days’ and the council said “they would like to apologise for any inconvenience that this may cause but it is felt that this is a necessary measure at this time”.

A Knowsley Council spokesperson said: “The volume of taxi licensing applications received has significantly increased recently.

“In December 2016, we received twice as many applications as we would normally expect and we are not resourced to process and regulate this many applications.

“As a result, we are reviewing our processes and the reasons for the increase in applications. This is anticipated to take a few weeks and whilst this review is being undertaken, we have introduced a temporary suspension of any new licenses being processed.”


Pirate cabs exploit licensing loophole to dodge knowledge tests

Express newspapers report that A YORKSHIRE mill town has been bombarded by applications from would-be-cabbies nationwide who see it as a soft touch for a taxi licence.

Private-hire drivers can be approved by any town hall to work anywhere in England and Wales

Huddersfield, famous for being the birthplace of rugby league, is at the centre of a minicab licensing storm.

Until recent deregulation, private-hire drivers could be licensed only by the local authority where they lived.

But they can now be approved by any town hall to work anywhere in England and Wales.

This has led minicab bosses to send new driver applications to councils that do not require knowledge tests.

Some councils are being bombarded by thousands of requests from drivers with no knowledge of the area.

Now Kirklees Council in West Yorkshire is rushing in a knowledge test after being swamped with non-local applications.

Senior Tory councillor Robert Light said: “Kirklees is seen as a soft touch.

We became suspicious after we had a lot more applications than normal from all over the place.

“A lot of other councils are bringing in knowledge tests. The duty of the council is to ensure public safety and Kirklees drivers don’t want outsiders taking their trade.

“We need to know taxis are legitimate and not putting the public at risk.”

More than 250 of those badged up in Rossendale in Lancashire are working more than 100 miles away in Derby, which has a tough maps test.

Paul Brent, chairman of the National Taxi Association, said: “These pirates are getting their licences in the sticks and working anywhere.

“Trafford in Greater Manchester, where I come from, got rid of the knowledge test and ended up with 3,000 applicants. It will take three years to clear the backlog.

“One guy was talking about working in London. He could not care less that he did not know where St Paul’s or Piccadilly was as long as he had his sat nav or phone.

“Councils can’t take enforcement action against cabs not registered in their area. So anyone getting into one risks getting ripped off. It is an absolute disaster.”

The Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association said: “We are extremely concerned about cross-border hiring.

“The local licensing authorities do not then know the identity of who is driving or have the ability to check their criminal record or suitability to carry passengers in their area.”


Refused taxi ride because of guide dog

Paralympic double gold medal winner Libby Clegg, 26, suffers from Stargardt disease, a rare inherited condition that leads to the loss of central

TAXI drivers in Loughborough have left a Paralympic double gold medal winner stranded on the side of the road – because they didn’t want her guide dog in the car.

And the shocking incident hasn’t happened just once, but seven times at least.

Rio Olympian Libby Clegg, 26, suffers from Stargardt disease, a rare inherited condition that leads to the loss of central vision, that will eventually lead to a complete loss of sight.

And speaking to the Echo she says that on at least seven occasions in the last two years, taxi drivers in Loughborough have just driven off and left her and her guide dog Hatti, waiting for help.

Sometimes she has been left standing at Loughborough train station for half an hour waiting for a taxi with cabs just driving off.

This has also happened to her at least 20 times in London.

Libby, who lives in Loughborough, won gold medals in both the T11 100m and T11 200m sprints at the 2016 Rio Olympic games.

She told the Echo: “It is just ignorant, and I am just left absolutely shocked sometimes because I can’t believe what has just happened.

“Some people just don’t think dogs should be in the car, but it still isn’t an excuse to just drive off and leave someone stranded waiting for a taxi

“I think the best advice to anyone who has had similar difficulties to myself is to stay strong.

“I have learned that you really need to be able to speak up about issues like this.

“People need to know just how annoying and upsetting it can be when simple things like being able to get a taxi are made harder by ignorant and rude taxi drivers.

“I have sometimes admitted defeat and just walked home late at night.

“I really feel that sometimes it is just Hatti that is discriminated against, but also sometimes I definitely take it personally, just because I have a visual impairment doesn’t make me different to anyone else.

“Some taxi drivers are really helpful, and really good, but I have had too many bad experiences now that I just prefer to use my own private one.

“Hatti is part of my family now, I have had her for two years, but also she is a working dog, she is clean and very well trained, so I just don’t understand why people still have this stigma and won’t take myself and her in the car.”

Libby is an ambassador for the charity Guide Dogs and Loughborough MP Nicky Morgan recently attended an event run by the charity in Parliament, to show her support for a move that taxi drivers should receive disability equality training when getting their licence.

Mrs Morgan told the Echo: “I think it is outrageous that this has been happening, and it just shows that the call for the equality training is real.

“It is very worrying to hear from so many people who have been illegally turned away from taxis because they travel with an assistance dog.”

Uber’s York licence to be reviewed, as complaints log is revealed

UBER drivers are coming from Leeds, Bradford and London to work in York, according to a council report.

City of York Council has received 72 complaints about Uber’s vehicles and drivers since the app-based service was allowed to operate in the city four months ago.

A union representing local drivers has now urged city leaders to rescind Uber’s licence, when it comes up for renewal later this month.

The company operates in 536 countries and works by customers ordering a taxi to their location on their smartphone.

It has proved controversial in other UK cities and York is no exception.

Thirty one complaints have been made about vehicles coming into the city from elsewhere, however investigations found 24 of the complaints were unfounded or could not be fully investigated due to insufficient evidence.

A council report said drivers of vehicles licensed by authorities in Leeds, Bradford, Kirklees and London appeared to have chosen to work in York.

Uber was reported 23 times for plying for hire – the process of a private hire car picking up passengers who flag them down instead of booking them – but 22 cases were deemed unfounded or could not be pursued.

Picking up people illegally means passengers would not be insured if the driver was involved in a crash.

Other complaints range from Uber cars not having the correct door signs and licence plates to no insurance and smoking in the cab.

Councillors will meet next week to discuss renewing the firm’s licence, which expires on Christmas Eve, but is facing strong calls from the GMB union to rescind it.

GMB, the trade union for Hackney and Private Hire drivers, met with Rachael Maskell MP, for York Central, on Friday.

Bill Chard, speaking on behalf of the GMB’s Professional Drivers’ Section, said: “These drivers have no connection with, and are not controlled or managed by City of York Council.

“GMB calls upon the council to withdraw Uber’s licence as they have proved that they are neither fit nor capable of operating safely in the city.

“GMB would like the council to confirm whether Uber’s operating licence was given on the basis of six licensed vehicles.”

A spokesman for Uber said: “Uber is fully licensed in York and abides by the same rules and regulations as other operators in the City.

“Uber is also licensed in surrounding areas and licensed private-hire drivers are not restricted from carrying out bookings in other areas provided the operator, driver and vehicle are properly licensed. Uber only uses licensed drivers and vehicles under its operating licences, and therefore such bookings are not illegal.

“York licensed drivers booked by other York private hire operators are also able to carry out booking in other areas, for instance picking up bookings from Selby.”


Dec 17

Southampton taxi fares to be cut over festive period

TAXI fares in Southamptonwill be slashed this Christmas after a single cabbie scuppered the goodwill gesture last year.

Traditional double fares from 11pm on Christmas Eve to 6am on December 27 will be cut to time-and-a-half.

Taxi chiefs hope the move will boost trade as well as offering some cheer to hard-pressed customers.

Perry McMillan, chairman of the Southampton cab section of Unite, the union, said: “It’s a goodwill gesture from the trade to encourage people into taxis over Christmas.”

Ian Hall, chairman of the Southampton Hackney Association, who first proposed the Christmas cut, said: “We want to encourage people to get into white taxis. It’s good for the customer.”

Taxi trade bodies had hoped to bring in the reduced fares last Christmas but a lone taxi driver objected, triggering a licensing meeting which delayed the change.

Marc Smith, 50, said the festive gesture was “truly bizarre” and claimed many passengers did not care what they were charged to get home from a night out in the city at Christmas. He said drivers  deserved the higher premium for working Christmas holidays.

Double fares from 11pm on New Year’s Eve until 6am on New Year’s Day will remain.


Dec 16

Rochdale Cowboy

An uninsured taxi driver from Norden has been fined £400, given six points on his driving licence and ordered to pay £500 costs.

Parvez Akhtar, aged 44, of Shelfield Lane, Norden, Rochdale, was found guilty of illegally plying for hire and having no insurance. He was prosecuted by Manchester City Council earlier this month.

It is illegal for private hire drivers to pick up passengers who flag them down in the street, and doing so automatically means they have no insurance.

City Council officers became suspicious after noticing Akhtar’s private hire car did not have the proper markings, designed to allow members of the public to recognise it as a licensed vehicle, during an operation in March.

The officers stopped the car and noticed there were passengers in the back, but although Akhtar told the officers they had pre-booked, the passengers themselves said this was not true.

The officers investigated and found no evidence that a journey had been pre-booked, but although Akhtar claimed this was because the taxi company he worked for had made a mistake, representatives of this company appeared in court and disproved this claim.

Councillor Nigel Murphy, Manchester City Council’s executive member for the environment, said: “Hundreds of thousands of people will enjoy nights out in the city centre over the next few weeks. I’d like to wish them all a happy Christmas but remind them to think about getting home safely – either by pre-booking a private hire cab or by using one of our taxi ranks that are staffed by marshals.

“I’d also like to warn any irresponsible drivers who operate without any concern for the safety of their passengers that both our officers and the police will be out and about during the Christmas period looking for them.”


Dec 16

The Reiver January 2012

Due to editorial deadlines it’s a few days before Christmas.

Some people are predicting the world will end in 2012. I don’t know about you, but impending doom is certainly taking the shine off Christmas for myself, indeed, if things do go t*ts up next year, it kind of makes writing this article a wee bit of a waste of time.

Unfortunately, even if the doom-mongers are wrong about the world ending in 2012, there can be little doubt the year will shape the future of taxis in England and Wales.

I refer of course to the Law Commission (LC). I must say I am totally astonished by the level of ignorance, lack of understanding and general ‘head in the sand’ attitude of the cab trade. I shouldn’t be, but around the country in respect of the LC the cab trade seem generally stupid. It’s almost as if people want t see what they regard as ‘investments’ being flushed down the toilet.

Casey has warned you for over 12 months about impending doom, yet you all appear to have completely ignored his warnings. I find that weird, Casey’s plate is worth £35, yet he’s more concerned about losing his £35 than someone who still owes something in the region of £50K? He must have Scottish roots.

Certainly, this type of sheer stupidity isn’t only within the dominions of the cab trade in respect of the LC.

A fine example appears in Oxford, where a proportion of drivers are objecting to the mandatory fitting of CCTV in vehicles. The council are prepared to pay the first £100 of the £400 system, leaving the cab owner with £300 to find. A lot of money for many of you in derestricted areas (or indeed any area at the moment because the job is sh*te), But when you consider Oxford is a limited area and a place where plates have exchanged hands for somewhere in the region of £80K, it kind of puts their ‘cannot afford it’ stance into a clearer light.

Again, I find it quite amazing that a place like Oxford is worrying about a cost of £300, when they stand to lose £79,700 more if the LC isn’t given a cogent argument in the next month or so as to why nationwide delimitation won’t work.

Unfortunately the stupidity and neglect of the cab trade will go a long way towards shaping the consultation paper due early in the spring.

Current thinking appears to cover nationwide numbers delimitation, tighter emissions controls and operators licenses for hackney radio circuits.

Whilst operators licenses for radio circuits are actually a sensible idea, first mooted 5 or 6 years ago by Casey himself, the other two ideas will see many of you go out of business…..which, as you might agree, would be a shame.

The ongoing saga of cameras in taxis

If there was a bit of kit out there that would more or less, catch every person responsible for misbehaving in a taxi, every puker, every runner, every malicious allegation, every racial slur, every assault and every person generally being an arse, I would be ordinarily certain the cab trade would grab hold of it very quickly indeed.

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

For those of you who were media watching late last year, you may be aware that Oxford Councils decision to make cameras in Cabs a mandatory created not only nationwide media frenzy, but a worldwide one. Even the Washington post, which I presume never usually regards news items from a small City in middle England as newsworthy, reported on the saga.

We had big brother watch moaning on about it infringing civil liberties and some Oxford cab owners waffling on about how much it was going to cost them.

The National Taxi Associations excellent website regularly reports instances of drivers being beaten, abused and robbed.

Drivers in Cardiff recently threatened strike action as they believed the local police didnt do enough to protect the cab trade.

I was never a believer in councils making things mandatory, yet something needs to be done about the level of violence and incidents involving both the licensed taxi and private hire industries. It is patently obvious the cab trade are not prepared to install camera systems unless they are actually forced to.

Yes, there are many questions we need to ask. The downloading of images should perhaps only be done by either local authorities (for what reason I fail to understand) and the police. It is surely about time a body such as the NTA organised a camera system at a reasonable price for its members that would effectively cover all of our concerns.

But lets not forget one thing about these camera systems. Each one of you could at some point be at the brunt end of a malicious allegation. The general attitude of local authorities is one of you being guilty till proven innocent. After all, a customer wouldn’t go to the bother of complaining unless something had happened? (sound familiar?)

A camera system could clear your good name within hours, unless of course you’re guilty, in which case, I don’t want people like you ruining the trades reputation anyway.

Till next month






Dec 16

Taximeters get green light as Fenland councillors shrug off 500-signature petition

Taxi rank and bus station in the Wisbech Horsefair

TAXIMETERS will be installed in Fenland’s hackney carriages after councillors shrugged off a 500-signature petition today.

Councillors were presented with the petition, which objected to the fitting of taximeters, at today’s meeting of Fenland District Council.

Lisa Corbett, speaking on behalf of Bev’s Taxis in Wisbech, said that, in a survey they had conducted, 500 people voted against meters with only five in favour.

She said: “We are in a very deep recession and I will quote council leader Alan Melton himself who said that times are tough and money is tight.

“Do you honestly believe the public want to pay extra for taxis? I am calling on you to defer this decision and give this petition the weight it deserves.”

But a recommendation to adopt the new Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Policy was approved, with only Independents Mark Archer and Virginia and Michael Bucknor voting against the plans.

Councillor Kit Owen, FDC’s portfolio holder for transport, said the old charging policies were “outdated” and taximeters would create “a level playing field for all hackney carriage drivers”.

He said meters would prevent overcharging and taxi drivers would still have the option of choosing to charge customers less than the price displayed.

Cllr Owen quashed pleas from Councillors Archer and Virginia Bucknor for the council to defer the decision to allow more consultation with taxi drivers.

Cllr Virginia Bucknor said: “My experience is that in 26 years of living in Wisbech I have never been overcharged, in fact sometimes I’ve been quite shocked at how little I was charged.

“With roadworks now in Wisbech there will be a lot of traffic around the main roundabouts. I know so many people use taxis to go shopping especially from the villages.

“When meters are introduced it’s going to put the fares up. If they get held up in the middle of Wisbech, as is inevitable, the fare will be increased.

“I’m not saying this for political reasons, it’s for the people who use them. I’m absolutely convinced that it’s going to put the price up at the very worst time when they can’t afford it.”

Councillor Philip Hatton spoke in support of taximeters, claiming that he had been a victim of overcharging, which was “rife” in the district.

Meters will be installed in all hackney carriages by April.

Wisbech & District Hackney Carriage Drivers’ Association Chairman Councillor Dave Patrick, who was absent from the debate because of the conflict of interest, said the decision opposed public feeling.

He said: “They have not listened to the public’s wishes. I believe that the decision reached today will see some taxi drivers charging the full amount displayed on the meter.

“This will discourage customers in these tight financial times and make the livelihood of taxi drivers more difficult.”


Dec 16

Rank bad planning in Dunfermline

THE removal of Dunfermline’s biggest taxi rank has left revellers trying to flag down taxis on one of the city’s main roads after a night out.

Work on the Pilmuir Street car park has meant that a temporary taxi rank has been set up next to the former Bruce Street car park.

But with few or no signs flagging up the new rank, people leaving the city centre at night have been creating a free-for-all on the roads in order to get picked up.

Many taxi drivers have also resorted to parking illegally and picking up outside Carnegie Drive and are refusing to drive into the rank, causing further concern with an increasing number of residents out celebrating and the likes of Black Friday fast approaching.

One female reveller, who was unaware the taxi rank was now situated at the Bruce Street car park, told the Press, “I ended up walking up to towards the post office to get a taxi after I remembered they were no longer picking up from the Pilmuir Street rank.

“But when I asked one of the passing street pastors where I would get a taxi, they told me I would have to walk all the way back to the Thomsons car park.

“I couldn’t see any signage for it and it was quite dark walking down there – not the best place for a taxi rank.

“A woman in the queue in front of me even fell in one of the potholes in the car park as she was trying to get into the taxi.”

Chairman of the West Fife Taxi Owners Association and owner of A1Tch Taxis, John Aitchison, said, “For me it’s more an issue for members of the public, although the drivers are having issues with people coming in with their shoes covered in mud – it is in a building site after all. We have been doing the best we can,way things are in the town, but unfortunately we are always the last to be thought of.

“We want to be part of an integrated transport society and it is us that provide a vital service when public transport isn’t there, especially at this time of the year.”

It is understood that the temporary rank will be in place for the next six months, despite suggestions from drivers to bring in a temporary rank closer into the city centre.

Local taxi driver Gary Fraser, who is also a member of the association, added, “The biggest problem is that there is no pavement on one side of Carnegie Drive and that means on a Saturday night there are people wandering around on the road and this could very well lead to accidents.

“The rank across from the Ballroom was well established and is where the majority of people would go to get a taxi and now many are unsure about where to go.

“Many people are also trying to park here, despite it being taxi-only.”

A representative from Barr Construction told the Press they had initially put up signs directing people from Carnegie Drive to the new rank but due to recent severe weather conditions the signs had blown away.

He said the company intended to put more signs up in time for the busy period ahead.

Susan Hughes, chief executive of Dunfermline Delivers, which is responsible for implementing taxi marshals as one of their initiatives to create a safer environment, said, “The safety of customers in the city centre is our highest priority and Dunfermline’s taxi marshals have become an integral part of building a safer evening environment.

“The taxi marshals brought to our attention some concerns they had regarding the temporary taxi rank being used during the Tesco construction.

“As a result Dunfermline Delivers has informed all of the parties involved about these concerns and will be convening an urgent meeting involving Fife Council, Fife Constabulary and Barr Construction, to ensure the safest possible facility is provided for customers, taxi drivers and our marshals.

“It is inevitable that during the construction phase of the new Tesco there will be some disruption and Dunfermline Delivers is focused on working with our partners to minimise the inconvenience to both customers and businesses in Dunfermline.”

Lead officer of roads management at Fife Council, Ian Jones, said, “Before works began we agreed with the developers and the local taxi association that the former Bruce Street car park would become the temporary taxi rank and this was signposted.

“However, the taxi marshals’ report last week highlighted some concerns so we are all meeting again this week along with the police and Dunfermline Delivers


Dec 16

Normanton taxi driver’s battle to clear name

Taxi driver Aamer Shahzad.

A taxi driver turned detective to clear his name after a mum accused him of assaulting her two-year-old son.

Aamer Shahzad, 31, feared he could be sent to prison and lose his licence after being quizzed by police over the allegations that he slapped the youngster for jumping on his car seats.

The case against him was eventually dropped thanks to CCTV footage he obtained after contacting a shop owner in Normanton, near Wakefield.

The pictures revealed the toddler’s mother smacking her son across his legs shortly after Mr Shahzad had dropped them off.

The woman, in her 20s, later admitting making up the story against Mr Shahzad after panicking when she realised she had left red marks on his legs and feared she would get into trouble.

The mum, who cannot be named for legal reasons, admitted assault and perverting justice on July 25. She was given a nine-month prison sentence, suspended for 18 months, and made the subject of a supervision order for two years.

Passing sentence at Leeds Crown Court, recorder Simon Jackson said: “You set out over two pages the details of your allegation against this taxi driver.

“That was an outrageous allegation to make against an identified individual which led to serious consequences.”

He added: “One has only to consider or speculate as to what might have been the consequences for this unfortunate taxi driver Mr Shahzad if he had not got the good sense and determination to pursue an inquiry at the local supermarket and obtain evidence which may never have been available but for his diligence, which revealed the assailant in this case was the defendant and not Mr Shahzad.

“Had that not been available, I am satisfied this defendant would have persisted in her complaint and the evidence may have been believed and this would have led to a serious charge against this wholly innocent man, with perhaps a miscarriage of justice following. It was very fortunate that was not the outcome.”

After the hearing, Mr Shahzad, 31, a driver for Normanton-based Local Cars, told the YEP he was off work for two days with stress and worry over the false claim.

He said: “I was shocked that she could say that about me. I was stressed out when the police twice called me in for interviews. I could have lost my job and my taxi driver’s licence.

“She didn’t complain about anything during the journey, she just paid her fare and got out.”

He added: “When the truth came out I was relieved. I didn’t understand what she had against me. All I did was pick her up and drop her off. If I hadn’t got the CCTV footage my livelihood could have been ruined.

“She can’t be a good person, doing what she did.”

Mr Shahzad’s boss, Wasim Ramzan, said: “I’ve never had any complaints about him, he’s a good worker.

“I can’t understand why she did it, to blame a person she doesn’t even know.

“She was just looking for an easy way out for herself.”

Jonathan Wilkinson, for the woman, said she lost her temper and hit the youngster after he bit her finger.


Dec 16

Taxi Trade in Burton….Screwed?

BURTON’S screw-spreading menace has taken a sinister turn after taxi drivers in the town were deliberately targeted.

The latest attack came when a handful of two-inch silver screws was scattered across the taxi rank outside Burton Railway Station.

The criminal struck during the cover of night and drivers were shocked to discover the Tarmac outside the station littered with screws.

Cabbie Khalid Javid collected the steel menaces in a bag yesterday morning so no cars entering the station car park had tyres punctured.

“We have had a lot of cars get screws stuck in their tyres because screws are lying in the streets all over Burton,” said Shaukat Mehmood, another driver.

“They’re everywhere and no-one knows who is doing it. It is a big problem for drivers.” The screw scattering at the station is the first incident yet which appears to be a deliberate attack on taxi drivers.

The incident comes just weeks after Staffordshire County Council’s highways team revealed officers had collected 1,500 screws discarded in streets across Burton during a five-hour clean-up operation.

The screw plague has left scores of motorists with massive repair bills after the objects became embedded in tyres.

Saj Hussain, manager of Speedy’s Wheels and Tyres, based in Hawkins Lane, Burton, said the number of people needing tyre changes had ‘more than doubled’ in recent weeks.

He said: “There are lots more people coming in because there are screws and nails stuck in their tyres.

“Two weeks ago was the busiest week for a long time. The number of people needing tyres was more than double the usual amount.”

Mr Hussain said many taxi drivers had visited his store in need of new tyres after suffering screw punctures.

The screws have been found across Burton and as far spread as Branston, Stretton, Winshill, Stapenhill and Outwoods.

Police have no suspects and no leads.

Anyone with information about the origin of the screws is asked to call Staffordshire Police on 101 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555111.

Screws which need clearing up from roads can be reported by calling 0300 111 8000.


Dec 15

Taxi and Private Hire Vehicle statistics

Dear National Taxi Association,

You might like to be aware that we have today published our biennial Taxi and Private Hire Vehicle statistics.  The latest figures relate to 31 March 2011 and are available from the Department’s website here:

Key points include:

  • There were 78,000 licensed taxis in England and Wales as at 31 March 2011. Of these 73,000 were in England, an increase of 3 per cent from 2009, the last time that this information was collected.
  • In 2011, in England 44,300 licensed taxis were wheelchair accessible – 61 per cent of the total.
  • There were 155,100 licensed Private Hire Vehicles (PHVs) in England and Wales as at 31 March 2011. 150,900 of these were in England, an increase of 3 per cent compared with 2009.

Figures for individual licensing authorities are provided here:

We welcome any feedback on these statistics, and if you have any questions please feel free to contact me by return email or on the number below.

Kind regards,

Dec 15

Rickshaws – the new vision for transport in Gloucester city centre

RICKSHAWS buzzing around Gloucester city centre could be a common sight by 2013.

Tim Beck is currently bidding for a licence, similar to a Hackney Carriage one, to use his own rickshaw, which is also known as a pedicab, in the city.

  1. PEDAL POWER:   Tim Beck, with Sheriff of Gloucester Councillor Pam Tracey, Canon Nicky Arthy and Father Christmas.

    PEDAL POWER: Tim Beck, with Sheriff of Gloucester Councillor Pam Tracey, Canon Nicky Arthy and Father Christmas.

The 37-year-old is optimistic the application will go through, and when it does he believes it could be the start of a new dawn for public transport in Gloucester.

He said: “I hope to have everything finalised by Easter, and I’m looking to take people from the Cathedral to the Quays and back again.

“I can see another 10 or so coming to the city in the next few years if that happens.”

Mr Beck, from Gloucester, bought his Rickshaw for £2,500 from a company in Scotland which imported it from China.

A former builder, Mr Beck injured his back in May this year and immediately got his thinking cap on regarding future career avenues.

He said: “I’ve got no background in this whatsoever, it was just an idea I had.


“I am a big fan of Gloucester and I feel that the distance between the Cathedral and the Quays is just that little bit too much to walk, so this could be the ideal answer.

“I would be charging £2.50 per person per journey, and I can fit two in at a time.”

The licence he is applying for is essentially a Hackney Carriage one with certain modifications due to the nature of the pedicab. “The licence will have to be altered slightly, but I don’t see it being too much of an issue,” he added.

“There are around 800 in London, although the licensing is different there. They also have them in Hereford, Bristol and Oxford too.

“They have been around since 2005, but I can see them really taking off soon, over the last few years people have really been picking up on it.”

He was out using his pedicab at the weekend treating carollers and Father Christmas to a festive trip ahead of a performance at the Gloucester Cathedral. And the proposal has been backed by Gloucester City Centre Community Partnership secretary Barry Leach, who said Mr Beck had taken him for a demonstration ride. He said: “It’s a great idea.”


Dec 15

Taxi driver shocked by car park fine

Baffled: taxi driver Stephen Edwards with his parking fine.

A Taxi driver has described his “shock” after being fined £90 for leaving his car too long in a car park it wasn’t even in.

Baffled Stephen Edwards, from Hamden Way, Papworth Everard, received the fine through the post on Monday which said he had exceeded the one-and-a-half hour free parking time limit in Lidl’s St Neots car park, in Cambridge Street.

But he had, in fact, paid to park in the adjoining Huntingdonshire District Council car park – which shares the same entrance with Lidl –  for three hours and left within that period.

However, the camera system used by Lidl to ensure customers do not overstay in their car park by registering when number plates on vehicles enter and leave also picked up Mr Edwards’ Papworth Carriage Company and found him at fault on December 3.

The 63-year-old former policeman said: “It was a big shock when I got the letter through and I just find the whole thing ridiculous. It makes you wonder how many people have been fined and haven’t realised when they haven’t done anything wrong.

“I have never had a problem with a car park like this before, and won’t be using it again.”

A spokeswoman for Huntingdonshire District Council confirmed that they were aware of the issue.

She said: “Our officers have been down to the Lidl store and we have been told it is a problem with the software they are using in the car park.

“It is an intermittent fault because it should recognise when cars go through to our car park.”

But Mr Edwards added: “If the council knew about it, they should have foreseen issues like mine and done something sooner.”

Meanwhile, a spokeswoman for Lidl told the News & Crier that Athena ANPR Ltd, which provides the camera system for the supermarket, had met the district council and had agreed to install a pedestrian island at the entrance to the council car park which would clearly differentiate between the two car parks.

She added her apologies to Mr Edwards and said his fine would be cancelled.


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