Rossendale driver convicted of refusing to take blind passenger with guide dog

A CABBIE from Bradford has been convicted of refusing to take a blind passenger with their guide dog.

Shahid Mehboob,of Paternoster Lane, off Great Horton Road, Bradford, who was working for Woods Taxis in Salendine Nook at the time, was caught in July during an operation led by Kirklees Council’s licensing officers along with police officers.

Kirklees magistrates heard that Mehboob, who is licensed by Rossendale Council as a hackney carriage driver, but was operating outside of the district as a private hire driver, was dispatched to pick up a customer from the Cedar Court Hotel at Ainley Top.

When he arrived and saw the guide dog, Mehboob refused to take the passenger saying he was scared of dogs, and even when it was pointed out to him that it was a guide dog, he still said no.

Mehboob did not attend court but in his absence, his solicitor entered a guilty plea for failing to carry out a booking for a disabled person accompanied by an assistance dog.

Magistrates ordered Mehboob to pay a £50 fine, £276 prosecution costs, a £150 court charge and a £20 victim surcharge.


Parts of Newcastle brought to a standstill as taxi drivers stage third go-slow protest

The cabbies are showing their frustration at Newcastle City Council’s decision to scrap the ‘local knowledge’ test for new drivers.

Frustrated taxi drivers staged a third go-slow protest through Newcastle city centre, this time during rush hour.

Cabbies have already twice brought the city centre to a standstill when scores of drivers turned out to show their anger at Newcastle City Council’s decision to scrap the ‘knowledge’ test for new drivers.

The authority got rid of the stringent test, which demands cabbies in the city have in-depth knowledge of the area they cover, earlier this year, arguing that the increased use of apps and sat navs and changes in Government legislation made the traditional exam obsolete.

However, cabbies say the city has now been flooded with inexperienced drivers, and this is not only threatening their livelihood but putting passengers’ safety at risk.

And, during rush our on Friday evening, they vented their frustration once again by driving slowly through the city in convoy.

The route started at Jesmond Road West, went along St Mary’s Place towards the city, down Percy Street and passed the Haymarket, before turning driving back along the route.

In 90 minutes, the cabbies did two or three loops of the route, causing traffic to gridlock and buses to be diverted.

Cabbie Dennis Weedy, who has been in the industry for 40 years, said the protest was not about causing disruption, it was about getting their voices heard and, ultimately, about passenger safety.

He said: “Since the council scrapped the locality test, we have gone from 1,200 Newcastle private hire cars, slowly built up over 20 years, to 1,600 and there’s 600 still pending.

“These lads don’t want to be rich, they just want to be able to earn a living and, since the massive increase in licences, many have seen their income drop by 30%.

“It’s also about passenger safety. Since the locality test has been scrapped, most a relying on sat nav and it’s not safe. I’ve been at the council offices and seen men applying for licences who can’t even speak English!

“It’s ridiculous that Newcastle Council have done this. Many councils in the country, like Leeds, have actually made their locality tests more stringent, rather than scrapping them!”

Cabbie Mark Turnbull, who has been a taxi driver for eight years, said it’s tougher now than he has ever known it.

He said: “Some taxi drivers are having to work 80 or 90 hour weeks to try and get the same income they had.

“In my career as a taxi driver, it’s the worst now than it’s ever been.

“We’re protesting today to save our jobs and also to protect our passengers – some of the new licence holders go the wrong way down one-way streets and down streets with no entry signs, because they’re relying on sat nav and haven’t had to pass a locality test.

“It’s ridiculous.”

Organiser Mark Lillie, a licenced Hackney carriage and private hire driver with North Tyneside Council, who was previously licensed under Newcastle City Council , said the cabbies had held a meeting with the council 10-days-ago.

He said: “We’re going ahead with the protest today as the council have had 10 days to get back to us after the meeting and they haven’t. They haven’t responded to phone calls or emails, so that’s why today is happening.

“We’ve found that most people support us, particularly the general public, who we’re also doing this for.”

Mr Lillie also warned there may be more protests to come if the council don’t negotiate.

A Newcastle City Council spokesman said: “We have received more applications for private hire drivers licences since the locality tests were replaced with an interview-type test.

“However, this is for a number of reasons including more drivers from outside of the area wishing to compete for fares in the busy city centre.

“Despite the increase, we continue to vet all applications very carefully as the safety of the travelling public is our highest priority.”


Minicab app labelled ‘seedy backstreet minicab firm’ by senior MP

Private hire firm Uber was today accused of being “a seedy backstreet minicab firm” by a senior MP.

Business Committee chair Iain Wright said a promotion in France offering passengers the chance to book a “hot chick” driver meant Uber was running a “carry on cabbie” service.

The firm has already apologised for the promotion from its Lyon office’s website which began with the question “who said women don’t know how to drive?”

Uber’s UK head of policy Andrew Byrne told MPs today the promotion had been “ill judged” and unrelated to the British operation.

The Uber executive had been called before a hearing of the Business Committee investigating the digital economy.

Mr Wright said to him: “Uber were offering to set up passengers with ‘hot chick’ drivers. You’re just a seedy backstreet minicab firm, aren’t you?

“This is not disruptive technology, this is ‘carry on cabbie’.”

He went on: “In terms of the worst excesses of minicab principles. This is not something we want on the streets of Britain is it.”

Mr Byrne responded: “Certainly what happened in Lyon was a completely ill judged marketing stunt, and is nothing to do with the operations in the UK.”

He explained that the company had over a million customers in London and had created some 20,000 jobs for drivers.

He went on: “That’s something that is really genuinely positive and that is a contribution we’ve made to the city London and we hope to bring to other cities around the UK.”


Outrage at new rules as taxi drivers told to retake tests at their own cost

Every single taxi driver in Gloucester has been told they must retake their driving tests – at their own expense.

New city council rules mean taxi drivers must be retested every ten years.

It is understood some of the rustier drivers have failed the standard exam set by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency.

All hackney carriage and private hire drivers licensed by the authority must take tests by October next year.

It will cost them up to £112 to take the test for wheelchair-accessible vehicles.

Darren Mayer, from Associated Taxis in Barton Street, said most drivers were against the move.

He said: “This is completely unnecessary. I have been driving for 32 years and I’ve never had an accident or claimed on insurance. I’m a safe driver.

“A normal driver can drive until they’re 70 without having to take another test unless they have done something wrong. Does this mean all public service drivers will have to take their driving tests? This just baffles me.”

Gloucester City Council has replaced the Gloucestershire Road Safety Assessment with the DVSA tests to maintain high driving standards.

Cabbies who fail will be suspended until they pass.

Neil Mackie, the sales manager at Andy Cars in Eastgate Street, said some taxi drivers were failing.

He said: “The council has recognised the tests have previously not been good enough and wants to set the bar higher. They are taking a responsible attitude to ensure citizens of Gloucester have a safe journey.”

A meeting will be held today in the city council’s North Warehouse, where many taxi drivers are expected to oppose the plans.

Lisa Jones, Gloucester City Council’s food, licensing and markets manager, said: “We changed our policy following a request from the hackney carriage and private hire trade to replace the Gloucestershire Road Safety Assessment with the DVSA. Many councils require taxi drivers to take some form of test to ensure they meet the standards to deliver an important service to residents safely.”

Read more:

Non-UK taxi drivers face stricter ‘fit and proper person’ tests in Leeds

Prospective taxi drivers in Leeds are to face stricter checks after “safeguarding concerns” were raised about the current process for handing out licences.

Applicants from outside the UK will have to provide more information before they pass the ‘fit and proper person’ test.

It follows the inquiries into the Rotherham grooming scandal, which found that taxis had been used to ferry children around for exploitation.

A report to Leeds City Council’s licensing committee said there was a “need to proceed quickly due to safeguarding concerns”.

The committee heard more than eight out of 10 Leeds taxi drivers come from Pakistan.

At the moment, decisions are often made on the basis of ‘certificates of good character’ from the applicant’s country of origin, which can be unreliable.

The report said: “Supporting references are generally vague with none or little meaningful information relevant to the responsibilities of the role applied for. It is often the case that the authors of such references have a personal, community or business interest in supplying a favourable reference.”

Under the new proposals, non-UK applicants may be asked to supply character references from a UK professional and a statutory declaration from a solicitor supporting the application as well as information on their criminal record in other countries.

Coun Brian Selby said: “If we don’t have a strong policy and something goes wrong, all hell will be let loose upon us.”

Des Broster, head of taxi licensing, said: “The purpose of this is to say public safety is paramount.”

Read more:

Jan 28

Taxi drivers and passengers slam Coventry council over provision for disabled

City taxi association accuses council of failing to extend their fleet to include wheelchair-friendly cabs

Taxi drivers and passengers in Coventry have united in their criticism of the city council claiming that they are discriminating against disabled people.

They accuse city chiefs of failing to extend their fleet to include wheelchair-friendly cabs, saying the current batch of taxis are too small to carry disabled passengers and their wheelchair safely.

Campaigners say that the Department for Transport estimates that as many as 5,300 wheelchair users in Coventry are adversely affected by the current taxi licensing policy.

The council told the Telegraph they are currently reviewing their taxi policy with a final decision expected in the next month or so.

But the Coventry Taxi Association has criticised the council’s delays in making a decision, after they commissioned a study last year by Jacobs Consultants to look in to the issue.

Chairman Tommy Sandhu said: “Taxi drivers want to offer the best possible service to residents and visitors in the city.

“This means disabled people too, but everyone in the business knows that the traditional black cabs just aren’t suitable for many wheelchair users. We’ve been telling the council this for years now but they just seem determined to avoid ever making a meaningful decision.”

His words were echoed by Coventry mum Nicky Ward, whose 14-year-old son Keaton is a wheelchair user, who remains frustrated by the ongoing delay.

She said: “Coping with disability brings a host of additional challenges and expense for families, but Keaton and I still try to live as full a life as possible.

“In theory, taxis should be the ideal way for us to get out and about.

“But unfortunately we can’t fit Keaton and his wheelchair in the existing local cabs, so taxis are off the agenda for us, until the council does something to address this issue.”

The issue had been due to be discussed at a council cabinet meeting last Tuesday but ended up being pulled from the agenda.

Coun Rachel Lancaster, cabinet member for public services, said: “I’m disappointed that we had to pull the report. Unfortunately we have had further legal representation which we need to take time to consider.


Jan 28

Man jailed for hammer attack on Leigh taxi driver

Gareth Wilson was jailed at Liverpool Crown Court

 YOUNG man who battered a taxi driver over the head with a hammer just two weeks after being freed from jail has been put back behind bars.

Sentencing 26-year-old Gareth Wilson today, Monday, Judge Brian Lewis said that his “selfish, vicious behaviour” has impacted on the lives of his victim and his family but fortunately the injuries were not more serious.

“It is lucky you did not fracture his skull,” he said.

Liverpool Crown Court heard that at about 10pm on April 28 taxi driver Mark Burgess was sent to a flat in Tamar Grove in Leigh.

While he was waiting Wilson walked over to the driver’s open window carrying a young girl and asked him to turn his engine off as it was frightening his daughter, said Gerry Baxter, prosecuting.

Wilson became agitated and when Mr Burgess tried to drive off he “dropped” the child and attacked Mr Burgess until he was able to open the door with such force that Wilson fell over.

“The defendant got up and attacked him through the open door hitting him in the face and knocking his glasses off. Mr Burgess got out, trying to push him away,” said Mr Baxter.

“A woman came out and joined in the attack on him dragging him away from the car which enabled the defendant to get into the driver’s seat and he tried to start the car.”

The victim managed to pull Wilson from the car and he disappeared into the flats, returning with a hard rubber mallet that he used to hit Mr Burgess with while the female was holding him.

Mr Burgess managed to wrestle the hammer from him before Wilson ran off.

His injuries included a four and a half inch gash to the left side of his head. In a victim impact statement Mr Burgess said that he was off work for a week and he has also grown his hair and wears a hat because of the scarring to his head, said Mr Baxter.

Wilson, of Glebe Street, Leigh, pleaded guilty to wounding with intent and was jailed for six years and ten months.

Natalia Cornwall, defending, said that Wilson was on licence from a sentence for burglary and other offences at the time.

He was remorseful for his behaviour which occurred while he was intoxicated. His record shows that Wilson, who was brought up in care, is dishonest but not usually violent.


Jan 28

Rise in taxi fares ‘would be a disaster’, claims Workington cabbie

Ray Cottier

A taxi driver has warned that a forced fares increase could spell disaster for the already troubled trade.

Speaking ahead of a meeting this week where Allerdale councillors could decide to put the fares up on hackney vehicles, Ray Cottier said it would be a bad move.

The council has been consulting with taxi drivers about what changes, if any, should be brought in. Only four traders have replied to the authority – all of them backing a price hike.

But self-employed Mr Cottier, who says that the majority of taxis in Workington want the fare to remain the same, said that there is a constant fall in the number of customers and he fears if people are asked to pay even more, they will boycott taxis.

“I’ve been asking around town – some are for it but more are against,” he said. “The recession has hit Workington and is hitting taxis very hard. A lot of people who would get taxis in the past are now getting busses or walking.

“I am losing custom. On Friday morning between 10am and 11.30am I had one customer and that is really bad. Each day I am getting less and less.

“The regular people who used taxis are not getting in and are just walking past,” added Mr Cottier.

Those in the trade who want an increase have said that it needs to be brought in to “keep up with all the other constantly rising costs,” including licence fees, fuel and vehicle maintenance.

The last time fares were increased in Allerdale was June 2010, which saw it rise from £2.60 to £2.90 for the first mile.

But for the past three years it has been frozen.

Allerdale reviews the table of fares on an annual basis, after consulting with local firms. Any changes to the fares will come into force on April 1, provided no objections are received.

At Wednesday’s Licensing Committee, councillors will review the hackney carriage fares and can recommend to either keep them at the current level, or make changes.


Jan 28

Station taxi chaos warning

SCOTLAND’S capital city could descend into traffic chaos due to train station anti-terrorism barriers when thousands of rugby fans pour into Edinburgh for the Calcutta Cup.

Taxi drivers have warned Waverley train station’s new security barriers will create a traffic jam around the area.

A huge travelling support is expected when Scotland host England in the Calcutta Cup at Murrayfield in a fortnight – with the station a prime port for their arrival.

The new barriers have drawn criticism since their installation last Monday, with taxis forced to queue all the way up Waverley Bridge while waiting their turn to enter the station. Network Rail drafted in two stewards to manually operate the new barriers as the automatic 30-second wait between the barriers closing and reopening caused major tailbacks.

Raymond Davidson, ­secretary of the Edinburgh Taxi Association, believes there will be further disruption ahead of the 5pm kick-off on February 8.

He said: “Those barriers will be properly put to the test that weekend. I would hope that Network Rail have thought of this because there could be chaos.”

Station bosses, however, insisted they were “confident” the new system will withstand the big rugby crowds.

A Network Rail ­spokesman said: “We are confident the system will provide a good service for passengers while also helping to meet our need to enhance security and improve the station environment.”


Jan 27

Crawley taxi driver accused of sex attack on woman in back of his cab

A TAXI driver has appeared in court to face two charges of sexual assault and one of theft.

Abdul Karim, of Edinburgh House, in Holyrood Place, Broadfield, is accused of sexually assaulting a woman in Burgess Hill on August 15 last year.

On the same day he is accused of stealing an iPhone.

He is also accused of sexually assaulting another woman in Haywards Heath on August 30.

Karim, 32, pleaded not guilty to all the charges.

Sally Leggett, prosecuting, told Crawley Magistrates’ Court last Wednesday (January 15) that one of the alleged offences took place in the back of Karim’s taxi.

Both alleged victims were described as “young”.

Deputy District Judge Nicholas Easterman committed the case to crown court and released Karim on unconditional bail.

He is due to appear at Lewes Crown Court on February 13 for another hearing.
Read more:

Jan 27

Driver dies after taxi hits wall in Portsmouth

A TAXI driver has died after his car crashed into a wall in Portsmouth.


Police were called to the T-junction of Cobden Avenue and Chesterfield Road in Baffins at around 6pm after reports of a male taxi driver leaving the road and driving into a garden wall.

The junction was cordoned off while police investigated but a spokesman for Hampshire Constabulary said they believe the accident was caused after the driver had a medical episode.

A spokesman said: ‘Police were called to Cobden Avenue after a vehicle collided with a house.

‘The crash is being fully investigated.

‘Unfortunately a man has died from the incident and the family are being made aware at this moment in time.

‘Nobody from inside the house was injured.’

Aaron Reid, who lives on the corner of Cobden Avenue, called the emergency services.

The 27-year-old said: ‘I was in the bathroom and I heard this massive crash.

‘I went outside and saw the taxi in the front garden of the house opposite.

‘There was smoke all over the street.

‘I called the emergency services while other people tried to help the driver.’



Jan 24

Courts fine Liverpool hackney taxi’s targeting Sefton’s streets

FIGURES reveal a shock rise in the number of hackney carriages with Liverpool licences caught plying for hire in Sefton.

Statistics gathered through a joint police and taxi licensing unit operation were sent before Sefton Council’s licensing and regulatory committee on Tuesday.

The results show that the number of Liverpool licensed hackney carriage drivers among the taxi drivers brought before the courts increased from 66% in 2011/2012 to 80% in 2012/2013.

Ex-hackney cab driver, and Conservative Cambridge Ward councillor, Tony Crabtree said the figures and statistics reflect just how desperate the taxi trade is.

He added: “Once you go out of your own area, you are not supposed to have your ‘for hire’ sign on if you are a hackney. But there will be some that just forget to turn it off and have been caught that way.

“Then some of these cabs will be deliberately competing, or plying for hire, in Sefton.”

John Whiteside, the boss of Southport’s Yellow Tops Taxis told the Visiter that he does not see many Liverpool cabs in the Southport area and that it is the south of the borough that is most affected.

He added: “Because it is Sefton as a whole, it might be that these drivers are getting caught coming over the boundary to Bootle.

“My drivers have not said many Liverpool cabs are coming up here. I know we get Bootle taxis up here at the weekend because our economy is better, but they are allowed to work the ranks here.”

The statistics also showed that the number of Sefton private hire drivers caught illegally plying for hire has decreased from 25% to 8% of the cases prosecuted. Knowsley drivers now account for 12%.

Private hire taxis are only permitted to take fares that have been booked with a firm, otherwise they are not insured.

David Moorhouse, a driver with Quick Cars, said that in 2005 he was fined £715 and received six points on his licence after picking up a non-booked fare in an undercover operation.

He added: “Money is money, of course I wanted to earn the fare.

“They looked like a respectable couple, so I let them jump in quick and took them to Ormskirk. They paid me and no one said a word.

“The next day I found out I had actually picked up two undercover community police officers – and I was taken to court and fined.

“This day and age money is tight and all the drivers want or need to make money. If someone flags me, at the end of the day I am taxi and I will go and pick them up.”


Jan 24

Commons Questions

Mary Creagh (Shadow Secretary of State for Transport; Wakefield, Labour)

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make an estimate of the cost to the public use of the Law Commission review of taxis and private hire vehicles over the life of the review.



Stephen Hammond (The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport; Wimbledon, Conservative)

The quantifiable cost of the project to the Law Commission between July 2011 and 15 January 2014 is £345,800. This includes staff costs, travel costs and other expense and the cost of publications. The staff costs are those of the lawyers and research assistants working on the project. The figure does not include salary costs of other staff, nor of the Commissioner responsible, which are not separately recorded.

In addition, four officials within the Department for Transport have been involved in the review to varying degrees, resulting in a cost to the public purse of around £15,000.

Jan 22

TfL proposes axing subsidised mini cab service

Transport for London has proposed axing the Capital Call subsidised mini cab service in a bid to save £470,000 per year and avoid duplicating the service offered by the “more popular” Taxicard scheme.

Capital Call was set up in 2003 to provide low-cost mini cab journeys to disabled residents in ten boroughs where the number of taxi cabs was lower than in other parts of London.

However TfL says an increase in taxi numbers means the service is no longer needed and “unnecessarily duplicates” the Taxicard and Dial-a-Ride schemes.

Garrett Emmerson, TfL Surface Transport Chief Operating Officer, said: “This proposal reflects both changes to the subsidised travel schemes and the way in which people are using these services.

“Significantly fewer people are now using Capital Call, which effectively duplicates the Taxicard scheme which now includes minicabs as well as taxis. 

“Together, Taxicard and Dial-a-Ride would continue to ensure that mobility impaired Londoners have access to two services that ensure they can get around the city.”

TfL has launched a public consultation on its proposal which can be accessed online and says it’s writing to every registered Capital Call member to ask for their views.

A decision will be made on a borough by borough basis in summer 2014.


Jan 22

Taxi drivers asked to get on board campaign against abuse

TAXI drivers are being asked to get on board with a campaign which aims to raise awareness of hate crimes.

Stickers promoting Stop Hate UK’s 24-hour victim support service are being distributed among the taxi driver community throughout January.

Bearing the strapline ‘Hate hurts – abuse doesn’t travel in this vehicle’, it is hoped drivers will put the stickers in their taxis to help promote the service and encourage more victims to report hate crime.

Christine Ford, equality and diversity manager for Slough Borough Council, said: “We know that taxi drivers sometimes witness hate crime during the course of their working days and nights, and can also be victims themselves.

“We’re trying to enlist their help in spreading the word that hate crime doesn’t have to be tolerated and will be taken seriously if reported.”

Hate crimes are motivated by prejudice or hatred of disability, race, religion, sexual orientation or gender. They can include name calling, harassing emails and texts, spitting, physical assault and criminal damage.

Officials say most victims do not report incidents to the police.

Cllr Sohail Munawar, commissioner for social and economic inclusion with a responsibility for community safety, added: “Lots of people put up with abuse because they don’t feel comfortable getting the police involved or they don’t think it’ll be treated seriously. The Stop Hate service is fantastic because it gives people somewhere to turn without involving the authorities unless victims request it.

“We ask taxi drivers to help us support local people and say ‘no’ to hate by displaying the stickers in their vehicles.”

Stop Hate UK is a national charity which provides independent and confidential support to people affected by hate crime. It offers a free 24-hour reporting service and advice line that allows people to talk about their experiences and be referred to other support agencies if they wish to.

Contact the Stop Hate UK 24-hour helpline on 0800 138 1625, text 07717 989 025 or email

or visit website

For people who are deaf, or have speech or hearing impairments, text relay: 18001 0800 138 1625.

Victims can also call police on 101, or dial 999 in an emergency.


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