Taxi driver who grabbed woman between legs faces jail

A TAXI driver from Leamington who grabbed a woman between her legs when she got out of his cab following a row about the fare has been warned to expect an immediate prison sentence. Balvinder Singh had denied sexually assaulting the woman after driving her home, claiming ‘it just did not happen’ a jury was told. But the jury at Warwick Crown Court took just two hours to find the 56 year-old of Tachbrook Road, guilty by a unanimous verdict.

Adjourning for a pre-sentence report, Judge Barry Berlin warned that a taxi driver convicted of breach of trust by a sexual offence against a passenger ‘ought to go immediately to custody.’ Prosecutor Tariq Shakoor said that in the early hours of Sunday January 17 last year a woman in her 50s made a complaint to the police that she had been sexually assaulted by a taxi driver. “The defendant’s case is that he was the taxi driver during this incident, but that no sexual assault took place.”

Mr Shakoor said the woman had been out for the night, socialising with friends in Coventry city centre, and had visited a number of pubs, ‘having a normal Saturday night out.’ At about 2.30 in the morning a friend she was with, but who lived in a different part of the city to her, left to go home. “She stays on, and eventually she too decides it’s time to go home. She leaves a public house and flags down a black cab close-by. There is no dispute the defendant is the driver.”

The woman shared the cab with a male friend who was dropped off first before continuing to her home. But when they arrived there was a dispute over the fare, which was higher than she thought it should be, which Singh said was because of waiting time while they dropped off her friend. The woman became abusive, and called the police to complain about being overcharged – but although the operator told her it was a civil matter, the line remained open and recorded the exchange, which ended with her paying Singh £10.

She complained she could not get out, so Singh got out to open the door, and when she got out he then grabbed hold of her. “He put his hand between her legs, over her clothing, in the area of her private parts. She couldn’t believe what he’d done,” said Mr Shakoor. “If you are sure that is what he did, that is a sexual assault. His case is that it just did not happen,” he explained.

He said during the incident the woman heard someone shout out, which caused Singh to let go, and he got back into the taxi and drove off – and she went inside and, ‘quite distraught,’ called the police again. The jury heard a woman who lived in the same street happened to be awake and could hear the argument over the fare, so got out of bed and looked out of the window. “She describes seeing the driver grabbing the female around the area of her waist and holding her in what she described as a bear hug, pulling her towards him. “It appeared as if he was trying to kiss her. She alerts her partner who gets out of bed and shouts out of the window.”

Following the incident, Singh was traced and arrested, but denied the offence, added Mr Shakoor. In court, Singh said he had kept his foot on the brake during the argument over the fare to keep the door locked so the woman could not make off without paying.

But he said it was then she who hugged him, apologising for the argument over the fare, so he had hugged her back. “She said she liked me. I said ‘no, I’m married, and I moved her with two hands, pushing outwards to her shoulders, and then got back into the taxi and drove away.” He denied touching her between the legs, and accused her of making it all up to get him into trouble.

After the jury returned its verdict, at the request of his barrister Jonathan Veasey-Pugh, Judge Berlin agreed to adjourn for a pre-sentence report to be prepared on Singh. But he commented: “He must realise this is a serious matter for which an immediate custodial sentence is highly likely, particularly in view of what is a breach of trust.” Singh was granted bail, but Judge Berlin warned him: “That must not in your mind mean that there is not going to be an immediate custodial sentence. “I take the view that a taxi driver who is convicted of breach of trust by a sexual offence committed against a passenger ought to go immediately to custody.”

Private Hire driver loses licence for ‘intimidating’ women

A private hire driver has been stripped of his licence for intimidating women.

In one incident he confronted an elderly passenger at her home at night after her daughter had complained about his attitude towards her mother.

The complaint centred on his refusal to help the elderly woman when dropping her off after a journey. He was also accused of requesting a tip from her.

In a separate incident, he used his vehicle to block access to another woman in her own car.

She was trapped for ten minutes and subsequently complained to the firm he worked for, saying she had felt “intimidated” by his behaviour.

All three incidents happened in April this year.

The driver, who cannot be named for legal reasons, had previously been issued with a final written warning by East Riding Council over his conduct towards passengers.

That had been triggered by two complaints in the space of five months about his behaviour.

The first, in December last year, involved claims of “abusive conduct” towards a young female passenger who he followed down a cul-de-sac after dropping her off.

In March, a male passenger alleged the driver had asked him to sell him some drugs although this was subsequently denied.

He was issued with a final written warning on April 7 – the same day as he was alleged to have asked for a tip after refusing to help the elderly passenger who he later confronted at her home.

The decision by the council’s licensing committee to revoke his licence with immediate effect has been revealed in newly published minutes.

The minutes say: “At a meeting with officers on April 28, the appellant failed to see the importance of these complaints and how his actions were not appropriate and how they may have impacted on vulnerable customers and caused them alarm.

“The appellant is not promoting the aims of the licensing policy and his conduct is not that which is expected of a licensed driver, particularly relating to his unacceptable conduct towards a vulnerable adult by visiting her uninvited at her home address.”

The committee was told the man, who had been a licensed driver for over 11 years, was not currently working as a taxi driver having had his licence suspended on April 27.

The minutes reveal some councillors favoured a three-month suspension of his licence but they were out-voted by a majority who supported an immediate revocation.

Taxi driver accused of ‘sitting outside swimming pool in pants’ loses licence appeal

A Labour councillor was accused of ‘sitting outside a swimming pool in his pants’ as he lost an appeal after being refused of a taxi licence.

Oadby and Wigston Borough Council denied an application made by Gurpal Atwal in late 2016 and this decision was backed by magistrates in Loughborough yesterday.

This was after a committee in January 2017 decided he was “not fit and proper” to undertake the position of a cab driver.

The body rejected the private hire and Hackney carriage licence application despite Mr Atwal passing a DBS check and other relevant driving checks.

Outlining the council’s position, its legal representative Dave Gill said: “In essence there were a number of allegations.

“From 2015 there were a consistent number of complaints. No charges, but alleged offences and contact with police.

“The council’s single sole duty is to protect the public.”

Following his statement the officer from the council who led the committee’s enquiries took to the stand.

Licensing Enforcement Officer for Oadby and Wigston Borough Council, Tracey Aldwinckle, 49, explained the statements she had gathered – from which varying accusations emerged.

While being questioned by Mr Atwal’s defence, she said: “I was told your client is using unlicensed drivers on school runs and then he sat in his pants outside a swimming pool because he believes that’s acceptable.”

As well as this a raft of further alleged misdemeanours were stated to the court – most of which had stemmed from 2015 up until now.

There were also claims of racism and an allegation Mr Atwal “swore at” a man.

However he said that when this was followed up officers chose to take no further action.

Mr Atwal’s defence solicitor Anthony Schiller said there was “no indication” from any member of the travelling public of aggressive or racist behaviour.

He also described how his client has worked for over 20 years as a taxi driver in Leicester.

He stated that the majority of witnesses spoken to by Ms Aldwinckle had connections to Mr Atwal’s former business partner.

Mr Atwal owned a fifty-per-cent stake in Handsome Cars in Leicester and is taking his former business partner to high court in regards to a sum of around £300,000.

Mr Atwal still has a taxi licence in Leicester

Addressing magistrates Mr Schiller said: “We know there are links to people you have not seen today.

“It’s often said a business dispute can be worse than a divorce.

“You have to use the mythical scales of justice to make the decision.”

Mr Atwal also denied the accusations in court – stating they were “all fabricated”.

When questioned in front of magistrates Mr Atwal said: “I am not a racist person. I treat everybody fairly.
“They [the statements] were all fabricated to discredit my character.”

In regards to the business dispute Mr Gill commented that it was believed Mr Atwal had involved “heavies” when things did not go his way.

Mr Atwal did not comment following the hearing.

As well as not being granted a licence Mr Atwal was also charged £1,250 in costs.

Speaking after the hearing Bill Boulter, 70, who chaired the Oadby and Wigston Borough Council licensing panel which made the original decision said he was “very pleased”.

Mr Atwal currently holds a licence allowing him to drive cabs in Leicester until 2018.

 

source: http://www.leicestermercury.co.uk/news/local-news/taxi-driver-accused-sitting-outside-218270

Cabbies ‘would be forced off the road’ as Hull council says they may ban diesel taxis from 2018

Councillor Martin Mancey has said the council may ban giving new taxi licences to diesel drivers

Taxi drivers would be ‘forced off the road’ if the city council stopped issuing licences to those with diesel vehicles, it is claimed.

Councillor Martin Mancey, portfolio holder for strategic transport, has suggested the Guildhall may consider following London, where mayor Sadiq Khan has said no new taxi licence should granted to drivers with diesel vehicles from January 2018.

But Peter Nilsson, chairman of the Hull Hackney Carriage Association, has warned that would undoubtedly result in fewer taxis because of the extra costs drivers would incur.

He said: “Would our fares go up? Probably not. But I do believe people would not taxi driving, and so there would be fewer taxis on the road. Each taxi represents a business.

Cllr Mancey was speaking ahead of the publication of the Government’s air action plan, which is expected later this month.

He said: “In London, the mayor is saying that no new taxi licence will be issued for diesel vehicles from January. As a council, we have to look at all measures and I would not rule that out.

“If we were to go down a similar path, and it’s a big if, it would certainly not be in January 2018. We would want to hear the views of both Hackney carriage and private hire drivers. We would have have a discussion with them. There would be extensive consultation.”

Cllr Mancey accepted the measure would be met with concern among Hull’s cabbies, many of whom claim they are struggling to scratch a living even without any incoming extra costs.

However, he said this needed to be seen in the context of an estimated 29,000 deaths each year caused by emmisions.

Cllr Mancey said: “From the point of view of taxi drivers, I imagine there will be some concerns because petrol vehicles do less miles to the gallon, potentially increasing overall costs. That may put pressure on fares. But we have to look at the bigger picture – public health.”

He added the council is working hard to encourage people to use public transport.

Despite this, Mr Nilsson has predicted a number of problems should Hull follow a similar path to London, and said the association’s lawyers would invariably be involved.

He said: “Trying to get a petrol taxi is very difficult, because they’re a lot dearer to run than diesel taxis.

“Electric cars? I personally have not seen any that are fit for purpose. You can only go 100 miles on a charge. What do you do if a fare wants to go to Manchester Airport? It just can’t work.

“Hybrid vehicles are very expensive, compared to say a diesel taxi.”

According to Mr Nilsson’s reckoning, there are 170 black cabs in Hull. He believes there are in the region of 1,300 private hire vehicles.

He feels the driving factor behind Hull’s congestion, linked to poor air quality, is “poor road layout” as opposed to traffic volume.

“The roads are not coping with the number of vehicles,” he said. “No-one one knows the roads like taxi drivers. We know how the city works.

“Look at Spring Bank West, Cottingham Road and Bricknell Avenue. There used to be two lanes in each direction. Now there’s one. That’s the reason why our roads are becoming clogged. We’re losing roads.”

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

Taxi drivers ‘are being fined £200 for picking up passengers at Cheltenham Railway Station’

They say they keep being caught out by the automatic numberplate recognition system

Taxi drivers Pete Ballinger and Neil Harvey outside Cheltenham Railway Station.

Taxi drivers allegedly face hundreds of pounds in fines because they keep being charged for dropping off and picking up people at Cheltenham Railway Station.

Three drivers from Andy Cars in Cheltenham are facing fines which could top £600 between them.

They say they keep being caught out by the automatic numberplate recognition system which is in place at the station which charges motorists who stay there longer than 20 minutes.

Each of them have received fines of £100, which would rise to £200 if they were not promptly paid.

But the cabbies say they are only staying in the car park for a few minutes while they pick up and collect customers – and their on-board computers can prove it.

He said: “If that’s the case that means we can’t pick up and drop off at the station, and that can’t be right. If you want to pick up a disabled person you want to stop as near to the station as you can.

“It’s our livelihoods, it’s our jobs. We go there every single day. I can go there five times a day myself.

“It’s very frustrating. Now they’re reluctant to do drop offs just in case they get fined.”

ANPR systems use cameras to capture images of the vehicle and the licence plate on their arrival and when they leave the car park to calculate whether a motorist is liable for a fine.

A spokesman for APCOA said: “The ANPR system provides 20 minutes of free parking for dropping off and picking up passengers. We cannot comment on individual cases without further details.”

APCOA have been contacted for further comment.

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

Dec 30

Plymouth taxi drivers face having to spend thousands to comply with new emissions rules

NEW rules to cut air pollution in Plymouth have been criticised as “using a hammer to crack a nut”.

Strict curbs on vehicle emissions that come into force on January 10 will cost some taxi and private hire drivers thousands of pounds.

  1. 'UNNECCESSARY':      Roy Hamilton, secretary of the Plymouth  Licensed Taxi Association

          Roy Hamilton, secretary of the Plymouth Licensed Taxi Association

Hackney cabs and private hire cars licensed after April 1, 2010 will now have to comply with Euro 3 emissions standards.

Any taxis licensed after April 1, 2012 will have to comply with the much tougher Euro 4 technology.

Hackney carriage owners will be able to fit conversion kits at a cost of up to £2,000, but private hire drivers may need to buy new cars.

One leading Plymouth cabbie criticised the city council’s new rules.

Roy Hamilton, secretary of the Plymouth  Licensed Taxi Association, said his organisation had negotiated with the council to win a better deal with.

“Thanks to us, vehicles over six years old will now not have to be taken off the road.

“But these new rules are not necessary. It should have been done through natural wastage. Legislation should not be retrospective.

“The emissions rules are a hammer to crack a nut because the amount of pollution we cause is negligible compared to fireworks and the ferries.”

He said it would cost up to £2,000 to modify a black cab.

“What they have done is to increase the age of the Plymouth taxi fleet because people have been going up to London to buy older vehicles that have been modified.

“My own vehicle is Euro 4 compliant, but I feel sorry for the guys whose vehicles are not.”

Cabbie Jake Journeaux said: “From what I can gather I’ll need to get a new cab.

“That would cost thousands. Or, rather, it would cost my Dad thousands because this is his cab.

“It’s wrong to do this in the middle of a recession, when running costs and fuel prices are also rising.”

“I think the council is being very harsh,” said Raymond Smith. “Other parts of the country are not insisting on bringing in the Euro 4 standards.

“My cab is nine years old and Euro 3 compliant so it won’t cost me now. Originally they wanted it off the road by April 2013 because it isn’t Euro 4 compliant.

“As far as I know they have given us leeway to 2015. That’s when I’ll have to retire because it would cost more than £30,000 to buy a new one.

“We don’t cause a  lot of emissions. I work an eight-hour day – but for five and a half or six hours I’m parked up at the railway station waiting for a fare.

“Buses and lorries cause more emissions.”

The European emissions standards dramatically cut the amount of gases like carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, hydrocarbons and particles coming from a vehicle’s exhaust.

David Trace, managing director of Taxifirst, which operates private hire cars and black cabs in the city, said most of his newer vehicles already complied with the higher standards.

“We’ve all got to do our bit,” he said.

“The taxi trade is doing quite well at the moment and the build-up to Christmas was superb.

“The new regulations have been coming for quite a while. You can drive behind some vehicles and see smoke billowing out of their exhaust.

“These rules are for the benefit of people breathing Plymouth’s air.”

 

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

Dec 30

Illegal private-hire drivers fined after Leicester crackdown

Illegal PH 'rank' in London (pic courtesy of the Anderson Shelter)

Four   unlicensed private-hire drivers have been fined for picking up passengers.

The men were caught during a city council and police crackdown on illegal taxi drivers in the Hotel Street area of the city centre.

They were all private hire drivers who are not insured to pick up passengers, unless they have booked the taxi in advance.

The men all admitted driving, standing or plying for hire when their vehicles were not licensed as hackney carriages on May 6. They also pleaded guilty to driving without third party insurance.

Bharat Bharwad (46) of Galleywood Drive, Beaumont Leys, Leicester, was fined a total of £330 and ordered to pay £566.40 costs and a £15 victim surcharge.

He received six penalty points on his driving licence.

Nicki Agalamanye, for Leicester City Council, said he admitted the offence but said it was debatable whether the fare was pre-booked.

Tamas Etebar (31), of Yew Tree Drive, Braunstone Frith, Leicester, was fined £375, with a £15 surcharge and £264 costs.

He received seven penalty points on his licence.

He told the court the passengers just jumped in this car after he dropped off another fare.

Ahmad Fawad Faizi (29), of Severn Street, Highfields, Leicester,  was fined £375, and ordered to pay £15 surcharge and £264 costs, with seven penalty points added to his licence.

Mohamed Pasha (45), of Halstead Street, Spinney Hills, Leicester was fined £240, ordered to pay £15 surcharge and £264 costs, with seven penalty points on his licence.

source: Leicester Mercury

Dec 29

One strike and your out for Birmingham minicabs

MINICAB drivers caught plying for hire on Birmingham’s streets face losing  their license for a first offence following a meeting of city licensing  chiefs.

The zero-tolerance policy has been adopted in a bid to improve the safety of  passengers and protect trade for Birmingham’s army of legitimate black cab  drivers.

And it follows the failure of a trial six-months suspension of licence to cut  the numbers of minicabs illegally picking up passengers on the road.

Minicabs, officially known as private hire cars, must be pre-booked with a  cab firm’s office, and cannot pick up people from the roadside.

Cabs doing this are not covered by insurance, while passengers are routinely  warned not to get in cars they have not booked for safety reasons. Black Cabs,  or Hackney Carriages, are the only vehicles allowed to pick up fares in this  way.

In the year before the trial 37 drivers were caught plying for hire, but  despite the threat of six months suspension the total rose to 87 cases.

Licensing officials believe these cases are the just the ‘tip of the  iceberg’, with many hundreds going undetected. So the licensing committee has  now voted to revoke the license for a first offence.

Coun Bruce Lines (Con, Bartley Green), who chaired an investigation into the  issue, said: “The new policy seems to be draconian, but it has been developed in  full consultation with Birmingham taxi drivers.

“Plying for hire is still a major problem and the current policy just isn’t  working to deal with it. A stronger deterrent is needed.”

According to a survey on the council’s website, 76 per cent of respondents,  both public and taxi drivers, were in favour of the zero-tolerance approach.

But Coun Majid Mahmood (Lab, Hodge Hill) was opposed to the upgrade. He said: “It seems unduly harsh for a first offence. Everyone is capable of making a  mistake and deserves a second chance. I think a six month suspension was  adequate and what is needed is more enforcement.

“We could be putting more and more drivers on the dole at a time when  unemployment is already high,” he added.

Read More http://www.birminghammail.net/

Birmingham Mail Dec 22  2011

Dec 29

Private Hire Car ploughs down bank, and closes Hampstead High Street for 5 hours

A Private-Hire driver took a turn for the worse on Thursday, closing Hampstead High Street for five hours on one of the busiest shopping days of the year.

The 4×4 vehicle went down a grassy bank after attempting a three-point-turn in narrow, one-way Greenhill, opposite Gap clothes shop, and crashed into a parked Volkswagen.

Witness Charlie Bard, a ­photographer from Belsize Park, said: “It happened at about 11am but it wasn’t cleared up until 3pm. There were lots of people standing around with their phones out saying, ‘how did this happen?’.”

Two fire engines and a rescue unit were sent after reports of a driver being trapped in the car but no one involved suffered injuries.

A fire brigade spokesman said the High Street was closed in both directions, adding: “We were called at 10.54am and attended because a person was thought to be trapped, but when we got there they were not.”

source: http://www.camdennewjournal.com/

Dec 29

Shots fired at cabbie after attempted stick-up

A TAXI driver was held at gunpoint in Farnborough late on Christmas Day, police have said.

Hampshire police are appealing for witnesses following the attempted robbery of the 65-year-old taxi driver.

The attempted hold-up happened shortly after midnight on Hazel Avenue.

The driver was attending an address on the street, and had his window rolled down slightly as he waited.

After 10 minutes he felt a gun being pushed through his window and a man demanded money.

The taxi driver drove away immediately, but heard shots fired, one of which may have struck him.

The driver has received an injury to his face, and it is believed the weapon was an air gun.

Police have issued a description of the suspect.

He is described as a white man, aged in his late teens to early 20s, 5ft 10ins to 6ft tall, medium to athletic build, and was wearing a thick grey duffle coat.

Detective Constable Andy Sullivan said: “We are appealing for any information about this incident and in particular if you saw anyone using a public telephone outside the Londis shop, in Giffard Drive, Farnborough, shortly before midnight.

“We are also appealing for anyone who heard gunshots in Hazel Avenue or saw anyone acting suspiciously there.”

Anyone who has information should contact PC Sullivan on 101, or contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Alternatively, information can be given online at www.hampshire.police.uk/internet/contact/message_officer.htm

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

Dec 29

Bournemouth drivers targeted by tyre slash vandals

FACING REPAIRS: Derek Heritage, of United Taxis

TAXI drivers have been left reeling after their cars were targeted by vandals in Bournemouth over the busy Christmas weekend.

It is thought around 30 vehicles in total, from various taxi companies, had their tyres slashed around the Charminster area overnight on Christmas Day into Boxing Day.

Derek Heritage, marketing manager at United Taxis, said: “Certainly ourselves and Mobile Taxis were targeted.

“All of our drivers are self-employed. It’s a chronic time for it to happen to us.

“Frankly it’s not against any particular company I don’t think.

“One driver spent Christmas Day with his family and came out to earn some money on Boxing Day and found eight tyres on two cars slashed.”

One driver, who asked not to be named for fear of being targeted again, said similar incidents had happened in the same area around six months ago.

He added that the cost of replacing the tyres on the two cars that he runs was “crippling” alongside other running expenses.

Another driver, Steve Huggins, who works for Mobile Taxis, had all four of his tyres slashed.

He said: “I was hoping to work Boxing Day and I couldn’t, and of course it cut me right out of earning whatever money was around and it’s cost me £280 on four new tyres.

“I couldn’t work for two days because I had to wait for the tyre places to open. You worry whether it’s going to happen again – at £280 a time, where do you put your car?”

Sgt Len Vickery, from Dorset Police, said: “Some of the taxis had all four of their tyres damaged. This ultimately rendered the vehicles  useless until the repairs were carried out, thereby affecting the livelihoods of the owner-drivers.”

Anyone with details is asked to contact police on 101, quoting incident 60 of December 26.

source: http://www.thisisdorset.net/news/

Dec 29

Terrified taxi driver says he feared violent mob were trying to kill him during Cardiff attack

 

Kibria Shah

A taxi driver has spoken of the terrifying moment a violent group of youths  set upon his cab as he went to pick up a fare.

Kibria Shah, 44, said he thought the mob would kill him after they  swarmed around his cab on a Cardiff street – trying to get into the car, kicking  and punching to smash the windscreen.

Yesterday, Cardiff Hackney Carriage Association warned that similar reported  incidents are making Tremorfa a “no-go” area for cabbies – and has already  issued advice to its drivers to be vigilant in the area.

Mr Shah, 44, a taxi driver for eight years in Cardiff, said he was now  nervous about leaving the house and his family had begged him not to work at  night.

He had been asked by a private hire taxi firm to go to Dunsmuir Road to pick  up a fare just after midnight on Tuesday, when the group descended on the  car.

“I was driving to find out the number, then all of sudden there was a big  group, of about 15 boys and girls – and a man of about 35, too,” the  father-of-three said.

“They were coming towards me, and then I locked my doors and windows – they  were trying to open the doors.

“I couldn’t get out because there were vehicles on the pavement, and they  were trying to get in the car, but they couldn’t, so they jumped on my bonnet  and started kicking and punching everything.

“There was a boy that jumped on the bonnet and started kicking the  windscreen.

“I was really shocked – I didn’t know what to do. I thought they had come to  rob me. I thought they were trying to kill me. It was a terrifying  experience.”

He estimates £1,500 worth of damage was done to his cab, meaning he cannot  work until the bodywork damage is repaired. He also says he could lose up to  half his income, as he won’t be able to work nights.

But he said: “You ask any driver, they would be terrified to go to  Tremorfa.”

Mathab Khan, chairman of the Cardiff Hackney Carriage Association, said he  had heard of a similar incident where a driver was attacked and robbed in the  area.

He said he was “disappointed” that the police had taken an hour to come to Mr  Shah’s home after the incident, rather than come to the scene, and said that  there had been similar, reported incidents from drivers in the area.

“It is not a confirmed report, I’ve just been told about it,” Mr Khan said. “But we happen to have these problems in that area quite often. Either the  punter will run off without paying, or when we are passing, there could be a  bottle or bricks thrown at the car.

“This is commonplace. Drivers actually find that quite a task to go round the  Tremorfa area and come back safe without a damaged vehicle. A lot of drivers  find it frightening to go round that area.”

“We don’t want to discriminate against the nice people, the good people that  live in the area. The majority are good, law-abiding people.

“But those that are attacking vehicles, though in the minority, are making it  very difficult for our drivers to work in the area.”

A spokeswoman for South Wales Police confirmed it was investigating an  incident of criminal damage to a taxi on Dunsmuir Road and that officers had  attended “as soon as possible” to take details from the driver.

She said that officers were looking to trace the boy that had run up the  bonnet of the vehicle before kicking the windscreen in particular, and those  with him.

He was described as white and wearing a white hooded top ran up the bonnet of  the vehicle, kicked the windscreen causing it to crack and ran off.

She added: “The victim has been updated in relation to the investigation and  every effort is being made to trace the individual responsible and those with  him.

“Taxi drivers have a challenging job at times and we appreciate the work they  do.

“This kind of behaviour is completely unacceptable and we ask anyone with  information to contact South Wales Police.”

Anyone with information on the incident should call police on 101 or  Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111

Read More http://www.walesonline.co.uk/

Dec 28

Little done to close down illegal taxi firms operating in Wisbech

Adverts in Wisbech offering taxi services which are unlicenced.

Exclusive from Cambs Times

FIVE years after Fenland District Council promised a clampdown on illegal taxis operating out of Wisbech, little has been done to close them down.

In fact evidence shows there are a growing number of ‘firms’ cultivating the Eastern European population of Wisbech and offering cut price deals for airport trips.

Dozens of adverts are littered across the town displaying adverts for the illegal firms and no effort is being made to close them down.

Councillor Dave Patrick, chairman of Wisbech and District Hackney Carriage Drivers Association, said: “They have operated for years but when we complained the council says it is not prepared to jeopardise their officers’ safety and take enforcement action.

Adverts in Wisbech offering taxi services which are unlicenced.

“The council is well aware of these adverts but has done nothing. You see them hovering around outside Asda as well as taking people to airports.

“It seems the council is more interested in alleged overcharging of people by 19p rather than people being carried in uninsured vehicles where no driver has undergone a Criminal Record Bureau check.

“If they had an accident they would not be able to claim.”

A council spokesman said: “To combat any problem of unlicensed taxi drivers we rely on evidence being produced. So we are grateful that these notices have been brought to our attention.

“We will now seek to contact those responsible for posting the notices so that we can investigate fully. We will explain to them that any taxi driver has to be properly licensed and help them with any paperwork.

“We will also make it clear to them what the penalties are if they are caught operating without a licence. If necessary, we will take the appropriate enforcement action.

“We encourage anyone who is aware of individuals operating an unlicensed taxi service to supply us with any evidence they may have.”

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

Dec 28

Taxis in Uttlesford are the first in county to get CCTV

CCTV Camera

Taxis in Uttlesford will be the first in Essex to be fitted with CCTV, ensuring greater safety for passengers and drivers alike.

The scheme, initially in 15 taxis and private hire vehicles from eight fleets operating in the district, sees video and audio equipment installed which monitors both the front and rear of the vehicle.

It is a joint venture between Uttlesford District Council, Essex Police, Essex Fire and Rescue and the Uttlesford Licensed Operators and Drivers Association, which work together as the Quality Taxi Partnership. Funding for the scheme, totalling £10,000, was provided by Essex County Council.

Cllr Robert Chambers, Uttlesford District Council Cabinet Member for Finance and Administration, is the council’s lead member for licensing matters. He said: “This is an excellent example of partnership working that will bring a real difference to people in the district. Uttlesford has the lowest crime rate of any Essex district and initiatives such as this can only help make it even safer.”

Barry Drinkwater, Chairman of trade body the Uttlesford Licensed Operators and Drivers Association, said: “‘We are very grateful to Essex County Council for their generous funding – taxi drivers who have signed up to the scheme have not had to pay anything towards the purchase or installation of CCTV in their vehicles.

“It’s great that our leading taxi operators in and around Saffron Walden, Great Dunmow, and Stansted Mountfitchet all appreciate the potential benefits.  One operator reported that last weekend his new CCTV helped him not lose his fare when a group of passengers threatened to run off.”

Chief Inspector Alyson Wilson, from Essex Police, said: “Essex Police is strongly in favour of this initiative, and we believe the benefits are potentially substantial for both drivers and passengers.

“For the driver, CCTV provides a massive deterrent against the risk of a passenger making off without paying his fare, or even of being robbed or assaulted.

“In addition, because CCTV provides an objective record of events, it protects both drivers and passengers from any malicious claims of inappropriate or criminal behaviour.”

Councillor Tracey Chapman

Essex County Councillor Tracey Chapman, Cabinet Member for Highways and Transportation, added: “Following requests from taxi drivers in Uttlesford, I am pleased that we have been able to financially contribute towards the installation of CCTV cameras. The Uttlesford Quality Taxi Partnership is the first in the county to benefit from this funding and I hope the installation will reassure drivers and passengers about their personal safety.”

The Uttlesford Quality Taxi Partnership was set up in 2009 to help the relevant authorities, agencies and members of the trade work together more closely and improve standards.

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

Dec 27

It’s a free-for-all at taxi rank, say cabbies

Mark Everitt – calling for a taxi queuing system

FIGHTS are breaking out at a train station as passengers chaotically compete to get cabs.

Taxi drivers say the lack of a queuing system at Wickford railway station is putting them and their customers in danger.

Up to 200 train passengers usually exit the station at once during the rush hour and about ten of them typically require taxis, so hailing a cab in the busy street outside is a free-for-all.

There is no designated queuing area, so some times people form their own disorderly queues while others wait further along the street to be picked up.

Now cabbies are calling for improvements to be made, but say they aren’t getting anywhere.

Taxi driver Mark Everitt, 50, from Wickford, said: “I’ve seen violent fights and had someone banging on my car door, because they’d formed a queue and accused me of picking up a queue jumper.

“One driver had his cab dented when a fight broke out over whose cab it was.

“We’re put in an awkward position because we don’t know who to pick up and elderly people get pushed to the back.

“The customers fight with each other and get angry with us. It’s absolute chaos.

“There’s going to be a nasty accident if a queuing system isn’t brought in.”

The 70 cabbies who use the station want crowd control fencing and a “queue here” sign installed to create a designated pick-up spot, plus shelter for customers waiting for cabs and signs showing  the station has a Hackney taxi rank.

The drivers each pay £300 annually to National Express, which runs the station, for permits to use the rank.

They claim they don’t see where their money goes and want to discuss their ideas for investment with the rail company, but have been demanding a meeting for more than a year without success.

Taxi driver Jason Stammers, 39, who represents 35 Wickford cabbies with Mr Everitt on the Basildon Hackney Proprietors Association, said: “We can’t see where  our money goes. It wouldn’t cost much to put fences, a pole and a shelter up, which would make such a difference.”

A spokeswoman for National Express East Anglia said: “We note the issues raised by the taxi drivers using Wickford station and we will be pleased to discuss these matters with them and look forward  to a positive dialogue.

“The fee paid by taxi drivers to operate from the station taxi rank represents good value at less than £1 a day.”

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

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