Restaurant owner tells of horror after minicab crashes into Caldon Canal

Recovery staff pull the Toyota Avensis from the Caldon Canal

RESTAURANT owner Jamie Bateman has told of the moment a minicab driver was pulled from the water after his taxi ended up in Caldon canal.

Emergency services were called out to Cheddleton’s Castro’s Restaurant and Lounge at around 10.30pm last night after the vehicle had become almost completely submerged in the neighbouring Caldon Canal.

It appears the vehicle, a Toyota Avensis, was from Newcastle-based Roseville Private Hire.

Owner Jamie Bateman, of Leek, said: “I was in the kitchen at about half 10 when some of the staff came in and told me there was a car in the canal. A local man got into the water and got the driver out before the emergency services arrived and we took him into the office for a cup of tea while he was getting dry.

“I’ve never seen anything like it before, there were flashing lights everywhere like some kind of terrorist attack. It was dark on Friday but I just don’t know how the driver managed to do it.

“Everyone came out to take photographs of what was happening, even other drivers. It was quite amusing really.”

Police, firefighters and ambulance crews attended the scene and spent more than two hours removing the car from the water.

A spokesman from Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service said: “Two pumps from Leek and a pump from Newcastle were called to Cheadle Lane, in Cheddleton, at about 10.40pm on Friday, November 21. Firefighters prepared themselves with wetsuits but the driver of the car was already out of the vehicle on arrival.

“The man was recieving treatment from the ambulance service. Crews left the scene at just after 11pm.”

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Drunken Chell yob left taxi driver needing eight stitches after throwing beer glass at his head

DRUNKEN Nathan Pass left a taxi driver needing eight stitches after he threw a beer glass at his head.

The 20-year-old had been drinking at the Barley Mow in Biddulph when he assaulted Ahmed Hussain.

He picked up the glass and hurled it at his victim, causing it to shatter.

Mr Hussain needed hospital treatment for a deep wound to his ear.

Prosecutor Neil Ahuja told Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court: “Ahmed Hussain was called to the Barley Mow in Biddulph on March .

“He was there to collect a pre-booked fare when two men got into the taxi. It was clear to him that they were not the fare he was waiting for. He told them to get out of the vehicle but they didn’t, so he agreed to take them on their journey anyway.

“When they arrived in Chell Heath he asked for the money. The other male tipped some liquid down the taxi driver’s back and he told them to get out of the car.

“The taxi driver then got out to close the doors of the vehicle and the defendant walked some distance away. He then turned and threw a glass at him and it hit him on the right hand side of his face.

“The taxi driver was bleeding and both men ran from the scene. The driver got back into his taxi and flagged down a passing police car. He sustained a deep wound to his ear and he required eight stitches.

“The victim said the incident left him in fear and is terrified to work.”

Pass, of Petersfield Road, Chell, pleaded guilty to wounding.

Jason Holt, mitigating, said: “This man was 10 metres away from the taxi driver when he threw the glass.

“It was thrown towards him as a demonstration of his annoyance at the time, not to assault him. It was reckless.

“The defendant tells me that he has been collected by this taxi driver since this day without any problem. There have been no further incidents and this shows the taxi driver is still able to work.

“In August last year, the defendant split with his partner and the mother of his child and he’s not seen her since.

“He has gone through a period of going completely off the rails and he is now looking at making positive changes in his life.”

Recorder Roger Evans sentenced Pass to 12 months in a young offenders’ institute.

Recorder Evans said: “There’s an unfortunate pattern of drunkenness and public disorder in your record, but I’m satisfied it is in the lesser category. This was a drunken, yobbish piece of behaviour. Taxi drivers provide a very valuable public service and people who do this sort of thing can only expect to go to prison.”

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Number 2 region National Taxi Association: NOTICE OF REGIONAL MEETING



Dear Sir/Madam


Arrangements have been made for a meeting of the No. 2 Region, and this will take place on Tuesday 2nd December 2014. The venue for the meeting is the Marriott Hotel (Alnwick Room), Queens Parade, Seaburn, Sunderland.

The Marriott Hotel is situated on the sea front at Sunderland, on the A183 Sunderland to South Shields coast road. Enclosed please find a copy of the relevant A-Z map provided by Sunderland Association.

Ample free parking is available within the hotel grounds.

Delegates are requested to assemble from 10.30 a.m. onwards, to enable the meeting to commence at 11.00 a.m. prompt. A buffet lunch has been organised by Sunderland Association and will be served in the restaurant at approximately 12.30 p.m.

I look forward to a good attendance from your Association at Sunderland.  

Yours sincerely,

T.E. Hines.

Regional Secretary.

North East & Cumbria.



Regional Meeting

Number 2 Region

(North East & Cumbria)



Marriot Hotel, Queens Parade, Seaburn, Sunderland


  • Chairman’s Opening Remarks
  • Apologies for Absence
  • Minutes of the last Regional Meeting
  • Matters Arising from the Minutes
  • Regional Director’s Report
  • 2014 Conference Report
  • Local Licensing Issues
  • Financial Report
  • Correspondence
  • Special Items
  • Any Other Business
  • Date, Time & Venue of Next Meeting

Minicab driver and friends jailed for 68 years over rape attack on teacher

6938705977_0d226702c4_oA minicab driver and his three friends have been jailed for a total of 68 years after preying on a young vulnerable teacher in a rape attack a judge blasted as “despicable” “callous” and “inhumane”.

Tamseel Virk, 42, Najeed U-Sajeed, 31, Wakar Akhtar, 21, and Azad Raja, 38, were jailed for 17 years each for conspiring to rape the young woman on a park bench during the evening of May 25 and early hours of May 26, after she was picked up by a minicab driver Virk.

The court heard that the woman – who cannot be named for legal reasons – had been out celebrating a friend’s birthday in Leeds, had been intoxicated when she left.

When she came round, she found Raja was having sex with her – while Akhtar told her he had already had sex with her.

Today, Virk, U-Sajeed and Raja were sentenced at Bradford Crown Court, Akhtar was sentenced but is currently on the run – fleeing the country after giving evidence, the court heard.

His Honour Judge Jonathan Durham Hall QC told the court that the evening had been a joyful occasion to begin but she ended up “coming to her senses on a park bench in another city being raped”.

Describing the victim’s experience as a nightmare Judge Durham Hall told the three men in the dock: “This was totaly despicable, it was utterly callous, it was a degree of inhuman behaviour hard, even for one such as myself inured to evil, to understand.”

During the two-week trial, the court heard that the teacher had drunk a lot, left the party without her bag and was spotted wandering around Leeds train station.

The judge said: “On that day, as was her right, she enjoyed at the birthday party a number of drinks. That is part, gentlemen, of our culture.”

At some point she had got in a minicab to travel to wherever she was staying but had got out again in a confused state, possibly regarding getting her bag back.

It was then, the court heard that Vick spotted her in his cab and “spotted her, accosted her and secured her in the presence of the cab” according to the judge.

Vick then drove the confused woman from Leeds to Bradford, 11 miles away and a destination she didn’t want to go to.

The judge said: “Where she thought she was being taken by you we will never know but she didn’t want to go to Bradford.”

Judge Durham Hall desribed the crime as a humiliating and degrading abduction.


Two minicab drivers prosecuted for refusing guide dog in their private hire cars

Two minicab drivers from Bristol have been prosecuted for refusing to allow a registered blind man to take his guide dog in their cars.

Andrew Goddard of Badgers Walk, Brislington, booked a car to take him and his guide dog, Sammy, to a social event at the Louisiana pub in the city centre.

But two drivers refused to take him to the event in their private hire cars before he was eventually taken to the venue by a third driver.

As a result, Mr Goddard arrived very late for the event, and both he and Sammy got soaking wet.

The incident led the city council’s licensing enforcement team to prosecute the drivers for refusing to convey an assistance dog under the 2010 Equalities Act.

Mr Goddard hopes that by bringing this case to court, it will prevent other people from having to go through the same ordeal.

He said: “I got Sammy in May last year, and he has given me the confidence to go out to social events on my own.

“I don’t have any problem with my normal taxi firm, who are always happy to take my dog, and if it hadn’t have been raining, I would have probably got the bus.

“I am pleased that both drivers were prosecuted, and I hope that by highlighting this issue other people will not have to suffer.”

The first driver, Khader Ahmed Sharif Abdi admitted the charge before Bristol magistrates and was given a conditional discharge, and ordered to pay a contribution to the prosecution costs.

The second driver, Sheikh Omar Mohamed, was found guilty by Bristol magistrates and fined nearly £350.

Assistant Mayor Gus Hoyt said: “Taxis and Private Hire vehicles form an integral part of the transport system in Bristol and are often relied upon by people suffering from visual impairment.

“It is simply not acceptable that drivers don’t comply with their legal obligations by refusing to carry assistance dogs. We are delighted that we have brought these successful convictions, and we hope it sends out a strong message that this is simply not acceptable.”

Alun Gwernan-Jones, regional manager for the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association, welcomed the tough stance from the licensing department.

He said: “Guide Dog Owners depend on their dogs for independence, and they, and any other assistance dog users, need to have confidence that no Bristol taxis will refuse them access.”

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May 26

Taxi driver and restaurant worker charged over Stansted passenger plane scare

TWO men are to appear in court tomorrow (Monday) charged with endangering an aircraft which was diverted to Stansted Airport under RAF fighter jet escort.

Taxi driver Tayyab Subhani, 30, and restaurant worker Mohammed Safdar, 41, both from Nelson in Lancashire, will appear before Chelmsford magistrates in the morning.

They will remain in police custody until their court appearance.

They were among 308 passengers and 14 crew on board Pakistan International Airlines flight PK709 from Lahore on Friday when the pilots issued a distress code signalling an emergency about 10 minutes before it was due to land at Manchester.

Essex Police were notified at 1.20pm that a threat had been made to the safety of the aircraft, a Boeing 777. It was diverted to Stansted under escort from Typhoon fighter jets which had been scrambled from RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire.

The plane landed at 2.15pm and taxied to a safe location in the segregated north side of the airport, well away from the main terminal building, where armed police went on board and arrested and removed two suspects on suspicion of endangerment of an aircraft.

The rest of the passengers disembarked under police escort after being told to leave their possessions behind. They were placed on coaches and taken to the terminal for debriefing. They were allowed back onto the aircraft with their luggage at around midnight to continue their journey after officers working with the airport authorities had checked the airliner.

Essex County Fire and Rescue Service despatched six crews from Stansted, Dunmow, Leaden Roding and Harlow – including a specialist high-mobility, off-road vehicle as well as a foam tender – to the airport.

The airport, which was sold earlier this year by BAA to Manchester Airports Group (MAG), remained fully operational throughout the incident.

Stansted is the UK’s designated airport for hijack and other high-security incidents because aircraft can be easily isolated on the north side, away from the main terminal.

Over the past 30 years, staff there have established a good reputation for dealing with such occurrences and carry out regular drills.

In February 2000, an Afghan airliner carrying more than 150 passengers was hijacked during an internal flight and then flown to Stansted. The stand-off ended after four days of negotiations, with the safe release of all the hostages.

In August 1996, six Iraqi nationals claiming they were seeking refuge from Saddam Hussein’s regime took control of a Sudanese A130 Airbus, carrying 197 passengers and crew, on a flight between Khartoum and Amman in Jordan. The jet was then flown to Stansted, where negotiators again prevented a violent end to the hijack.

In 1982, an Air Tanzania Boeing 737 with 99 passengers on board was hijacked and taken first to Nairobi, then Jeddah in Saudi Arabia, followed by the Greek capital, Athens, before finally touching down at Stansted, where the incident was ended after 26 hours of negotiations.


May 26

Boris blasted over air stats

BORIS Johnson’s strategy on clean air has been slammed after a report indicated that new taxis are polluting the air more than older models.

Remote Sensing of NO2 exhaust emissions from Road Vehicles, produced by the Environmental research group at Kings College London, and funded by Defra, claims that new taxis produce more than twice the amount of deadly fumes that old cabs do.

Mr Johnson refused to license any taxis older than 15 years old in 2012 – forcing cab drivers to pay up to £40,000 for new vehicles.

But the Kings report reads: “There is a clear indication that absolute levels of NO2 emissions from taxis manufactured since around 2008 have been increasing. This is true for the LTI TX4, and the Mercedes Vito models.

“Given the intensity of taxi operations in the centre of London, the increase in levels of NO2 emissions from the newer taxi fleet is a matter of concern for local air quality management in general, and NO2 limit values in particular.”

Environmental campaigner David Davis has been campaigning since 2008 for improvements to air quality in London.

He said: “I’m extremely relieved that a reliable entity like Defra has admitted that the Mayor’s strategy on clear air has failed.

“I feel outraged that this has been allowed to continue because thousands of people are dying.”

Commenting on the report’s findings, its author David Carslaw stressed that the benefits of old and new taxis was complex and location dependent, but he added: “In one sense the newer taxis are worse than the older ones – for NO2, even when taking account of the fact they emit half the total NOx.”

Mr Johnson is legally responsible for introducing measures to tackle London’s poor air quality, which is responsible for the deaths of more than 4,000 Londoners – many in East London – each year.

The Mayor’s office was unavailable for comment at the time of going to press.


Newer diesel cars emitting more NO2, study finds

A Defra-funded study of exhaust emissions in London suggests that newer types of diesel cars emit higher proportions of nitrogen dioxide than older diesel vehicles

Nitrogen dioxide makes up a greater proportion of pollutants emitted from newer types of diesel cars in comparison to older diesel technologies, a Defra report has found.

Comparing data collected in summer 2012 with information from past Defra studies of vehicle emissions, the report also found that nitrogen oxide emissions from petrol cars have fallen over the last 20 years. Furthermore, only very low proportions of emissions from petrol cars were found to consist of nitrogen dioxide.

According to the report, ‘Road sensing of NO2 exhaust emissions from road vehicles’, nitrogen dioxide from diesel cars has increased overall from a 10-15% proportion of nitrogen oxide emissions for Euro 3 standard vehicles or older to an average of almost 30% for newer Euro 4 or 5 vehicles.

Nitrogen oxide is made up of both nitric oxide and nitrogen dioxide. However, nitrogen dioxide is considered to have the greater impact on human health.

Published this week (May 20), the study states that unlike petrol cars, nitrogen oxide emissions from diesel cars peaked around the year 2000 but has overall shown little change during the last 20 years.

However, the proportion of harmful nitrogen dioxide in nitrogen oxides has increased over this period, although the study also emphasises that there are differences between pollutants emitted from different diesel technology manufacturers.

The report states: ‘It is clear that some manufacturers adopt emission control approaches that result in a considerably lower nitrogen dioxide/nitrogen oxide fraction than others. These results indicate there would be scope for significant reductions in nitrogen dioxide emissions if the lower emitting technologies were more widely adopted.’

In the study, lead authors David Carslaw of King’s College London and Newcastle University’s Glyn Rhys-Tyler summarise the key findings from a series of measurements taken during the summer of 2012. These measurements were taken by directly monitoring vehicle emissions from exhaust using a remote sensing detector provided by the University of Denver.

According to the report, the direct measurement of nitrogen dioxide has not previously been possible using other remote sensing detector (RSD) equipment available in the UK.

The project, which aimed to quantify emissions of nitrogen oxides from urban road vehicles, was funded by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) with assistance from the City of London Corporation and Ealing borough council.

However, while the study focused in particular on nitrogen oxides, measurements were also taken of carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, ammonia, sulphur dioxide and particulates.

Taxis and buses

The study also found that in general, London taxis manufactured before 2000 emitted twice the nitrogen oxide per unit of fuel consumed in comparison to taxis manufactured after 2000.

In order to mitigate the level of air pollution from taxis, the report concludes that ‘the Mayor’s

proposals for a new taxi capable of zero emission (at tailpipe) operation is the most effective way of delivering comprehensive reductions in all taxi emissions’.

The study also looked at Transport for London (TfL) buses fitted with selective catalytic reduction (SCR) systems, which have been designed to pass Euro emissions standards rather than being optimised for urban situations – such as low speed and low engine temperature.

However, the study states: ‘There is little evidence that original equipment manufacturer SCR fitted to buses, including hybrid buses, appreciably reduces total nitrogen oxides during urban driving.’

Monitoring equipment

The report states that the remote sensing detector equipment approach of directly monitoring vehicle emissions ‘has proved to be extremely valuable’.

As a result, the study recommends that this kind of direct monitoring system is deployed in the UK more frequently, as it claims that it provides more detailed vehicle technology information.

It adds: ‘Such information would serve two main purposes: the identification of the most effective emissions control technologies to reduce nitrogen dioxide, and the information needed for emission inventories to calculate robust emission estimates.’

It also recommends that the system is used to monitor the emissions reducing technology retrofitted to 900 London buses in order to ‘help confirm the emissions characteristics of these vehicles’.

The four survey sites selected for the survey were Aldersgate Street and Queen Victoria Street in the City of London and Greenford Road and Target Roundabout in Ealing.

A total of approximately 93,000 observations were made during the surveys, resulting in a usable sample of approximately 68,000 data records.

The report is available on the Defra website.


May 26

Windsor clubgoer raped in ‘black taxi cab’

A TEENAGER was raped in the early hours of this morning in Windsor after a night out.

The 19-year-old left Liquid nightclub, in William Street, just before 3am today to search for a taxi when she was approached by two men in Victoria Street claiming they were driving a taxi.

The victim got into their car in Alexandra Road and when it set off, she was sexually assaulted inside the vehicle.

She managed to escape when the car stopped and ran off.

Police are investigating the report.

Detective Inspector Andy Howard said: “We are in the early stages of this investigation, but I want to assure the public that everything is being done to locate and arrest these offenders.

“Officers will be out on patrol in the centre of Windsor tonight and I urge anyone with any concerns to approach one of our officers.”

The two men are described as Asian while the car was a large, black, cab-style vehicle with five seats.

Dep Insp Howard also warned people in the wake of the attack to only use licensed taxis.

He added: “I also want to take this opportunity to urge people to only use licensed taxis. Where possible, book with a licensed taxi company in advance or if that is not possible, remember you can always ask for proof that a vehicle or driver is licensed.

“A licensed vehicle will display a licence plate on the rear of the vehicle and an internal licence plate with the licensing authority. A licensed driver will carry an identity badge with their licence number and licensing authority on it.

“I would urge people not to get into any vehicles that are touted to them and only to use a pre booked taxi or one from a taxi rank.

“Incidents like this are extremely rare but if you have any concerns, do not hesitate to contact police on 101.”

Anyone with any information about the incident are urged to contact PC Vickie-Jean Duffty on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.


May 25

Dad blasts Taunton taxi firm for refusing to pick up him and dead dog

Donald Budge is upset the taxi firm refused to let him in one of its cars with his dead dog, Puppy.

PENSIONER says he was left heartbroken when a taxi firm refused to take him to bury his dog.

Donald Budge says A1 Ace Taxi Services wouldn’t let him and his dog, Puppy, which had just been put down by a vet, in one of its cars.

Mr Budge, 69, of Creechbarrow Road in Taunton, was trying to take the little Jack Russell to his daughter’s house at West Buckland to bury her.

He said: “I can’t believe what happened – it’s not right. She was only a little dog and she was wrapped up. The whole thing broke my heart.

“It’s the worst thing in the world losing a pet, and this made it worse.”

Mr Budge claims the driver turned up at his house and refused to take him to his daughter’s home, leaving him to rely on a favour from a friend later in the evening.

“The driver turned up and said ‘I’m not taking that,’” Mr Budge said.

“They ought to be ashamed of themselves with some of the people they take in their cars.

“They pick up drunken people and all sorts, but won’t take me and my dog.

“I got there in the end. My friend had to drop me off, but it was about 1½ hours later, and he couldn’t believe it either.”

Mike Davis, a director at A1 Ace Taxi Services, said the driver was within his rights to refuse the fare.

He said: “Under Hackney Carriage conditions we’re not obliged to take animals alive or dead.

“We rely on customers telling us if they have pets, and Mr Budge did not inform us on the phone.

“The next job could have been to a supermarket and we have to consider whether this would have been reasonable.

“We have to consider other customers, which is what we did in this case.”


May 24

Cabbie turf war breaks out in Chelmsford

A CHELMSFORD taxi driver who claims he was reversed into by a fellow cabbie over a territory dispute is furious after police chose not to prosecute.

Driver Arron Grattin caught the Maldon-registered taxi picking up a group of revellers from Duke Street, Chelmsford, in the early hours of May 5, despite it being unlicensed to work in the area.

Arron is still on crutches after being run over by a Maldon taxi driver.

As both cars dropped off the large group of passengers on Bank Street, Braintree, at 2am he decided to confront the man in his cab.

“As soon as I dropped my group off I saw the other car drop his passengers round the corner,” explained Arron, 22, from Braintree. “I went over to him and asked why he was taking fares from Chelmsford when he is not allowed.

“He got annoyed and wanted to drive off, so he reversed his car and hit me three times.

“Now I’m on crutches and I can’t really work because the impact has damaged the nerves in my knee.”

The injured 22-year-old then says he waited 90 minutes for police after reporting the incident, but claims no officers arrived.

“I called back after an hour and they said they were really sorry but there was nothing they could do,” added Arron, who pays £400 per year for his taxi licence.

“I was not going to wait any longer for an ambulance so I tried to get into my cab and drive, but I had to stop and order one because it was too painful.

“When I got to the hospital they said to rest it out as long as possible, it has affected my livelihood.”

He is outraged that police have dealt with the matter through neighbourhood or community resolution, an approach where the officer decides if criminals and their victims can agree to resolve an offence without the need for a prosecution.

From May 2010 to June last year, Essex Police dealt with 6,386 crimes using Neighbourhood Resolution.

Many of the crimes relate to common assault, shoplifting and criminal damage. However, more serious offences such as blackmail, grievous bodily harm and death threats have also been dealt with in this way.

“I don’t think that is the best message to send to other people – that you can get away with something as terrible as that if it is your first offence.

“I thought this incident would have been more than enough, but what needs to happen? Does someone need to be killed? It shouldn’t have to get that far.”

Arron, who has been a cabbie for just a year has now arranged a meeting with staff at Chelmsford City Council to discuss how they can do more to assist fellow taxi drivers.

“We want people to realise that if you are licensed in Maldon you do not come to Chelmsford and start nicking our work because your area is not doing so well.

“People who have been doing this job in Chelmsford tell me it has always been the same; it is a free-for-all,” he added.

A police spokesman said: “Police investigated a collision in Bank Street, Braintree, between a car and a pedestrian.

“The incident occurred between 3am and 3.10am on May 5 where a 22-year-old suffered injuries to his leg.

“A 35-year-old driver from Maldon was dealt with by community resolution.”


May 24

Taxi fares to rise by 20p in Hartlepool after request from cabbies

TAXI bosses have defended a planned rise in fares after council chiefs revealed proposals to increase prices.

Hartlepool Borough Council’s licensing committee has approved a request from the town’s hackney carriage trade for an increase of 20p on all journeys.

Only hackney carriages, which in Hartlepool are yellow and can be flagged down or be found at designated ranks, will be affected by the change, and private hire vehicles, which must be pre-booked, will continue on their current tariffs.

The council says the planned move follows a request from the taxi trade, with companies saying there has not been a general rise in fares since 2008 and that even with a 20p rise Hartlepool would remain the third cheapest taxi fares in the country.

Kevin Egan, fleet manager of Streamline taxis, which has 80 hackney carriages, said: “This basically means there is going to be 20p extra on a journey – when the driver puts the meter on at the moment, it starts at £2, but it’s going to be £2.20.

“It’s the same measured mile – there is no extra money per mile.”

He said rises in petrol and diesel prices, repairs and servicing costs were among the reasons for the increase and added: “I think it’s fair, the customer is still getting a good deal, when you start taking the costs of fares in towns like Middlesbrough, Stockton and Newcastle into consideration – all those have higher fares, I think some of them are £2.80 as soon as you get in.”

Self-employed hackney carriage owner/driver Stephen Picton said: “The price of our insurance is going through the roof and we’ve also got the price of fuel going up and down, so it’s justified.

“Our net profits are going down and we are not taking that much home.

“I think 20p isn’t a massive increase, and I don’t think too many people will feel it.

“Everything else has gone up but our taxi fares.”

Ian Harrison, the council’s principal Trading Standards and licensing officer, said: “No-one likes price increases but the council must reflect a balance between allowing licensed taxi drivers to generate a reasonable level of income whilst recognising the pressures on household budgets.

“Taxi drivers provide a valuable service to the town and with Hartlepool remaining the third cheapest in the country, they continue to represent good value for money.”

The proposed increase will be advertised and if there are no objections it will take effect on June 11.

Hackney carriages are required to use a meter to calculate the fare for all journeys in Hartlepool and the level of fare is set by the council.


May 24

Leigh minicab driver’s suspension appeal thrown out

-0430-POLITICS-Justice_-006A PRIVATE hire driver who was suspended from driving has had his appeal thrown out of court.

John Marland, aged 43, of Mill Lane, Leigh, appeared at Wigan Magistrates Court to appeal a decision made in February temporarily banning him from driving a private hire vehicle for two months.

The ban was imposed after Mr Marland failed to tell Wigan Council about previous motoring offences.

After hearing the evidence on May 2, the court upheld the committee’s decision, saying it was satisfied the council had carried out its duties and given sufficient warning.

As a result, Mr Marland will have to pay the council’s £200 costs and the original ban will remain.

Julie Middlehurst, trading standards and licensing manager for Wigan Council, said: “A condition of the private hire drivers’ licence is that they must notify us of any conviction, formal caution or fixed penalty notice within seven days.

“This allows us to consider the seriousness of the offence and to decide whether the matter should be referred to the committee. “On this occasion the driver had received two warning letters relating to incidents in 2009 and 2010, and yet failed on a third occasion to make us aware of his conviction in 2012.”

Clr Paul Prescott, executive chairman of the regulation committee, said: “It is important that we are satisfied our drivers are fit to hold a licence and to enable us to do this, we need to be aware of any convictions that they receive.

“The decision to suspend somebody’s licence is not taken lightly, but we need to be confident that our drivers are suitable. “I’d like to remind all drivers of the condition on their licence.”


May 24

Licensing watchdogs to restrict taxi numbers

MOVE WELCOMED … Paul Pearce, chairman of South Tyneside Hackney Carriage Association.

HIKE in the number of Hackney carriage drivers on South Tyneside roads has been ruled out.

Council bosses recently carried out a survey, questioning more than 600 drivers, customers and local firms, which revealed people in the borough believe they get a high level of service from the existing licensed taxi fleet.

The vast majority of customers – 70 per cent – also said they booked a taxi over the telephone, with just over three per cent picking one up from ranks and one per cent flagging down a cab.

As a result of the findings, members of next week’s South Tyneside Council licensing and regulatory committee will be recommended to continue to restrict the number of Hackney carriage drivers – those taxis that can be hailed or hired from a rank.

That number should be retained at the current level of 239, councillors will be recommended to agree.

A report to the committee, from David Cramond, the council’s corporate director for economic regeneration, said: “Hackney carriages can be flagged down on the public highway or hired at taxi ranks.

“Private vehicles must be pre-booked.

“In essence, the council can only refuse to grant a Hackney carriage licence where it is satisfied there is already a significant number operating within the borough.

“South Tyneside has chosen to operate a restricted system since 1987, with an upper limit now set at 239.

“The results of the survey confirm there is no unmet demand for Hackney carriages within South Tyneside and that taxi usage has steadily declined over the years.”

The report has been generally welcomed by Paul Pearce, chairman of South Tyneside Hackney Carriage Association.

But he has expressed concern over the potential impact of new government equality legislation, which could require as many as 35 per cent of borough vehicles to be wheelchair accessible.

In South Tyneside, 11 per cent – 24 vehicles – meet that criteria.

A report to the committee says the current level of wheelchair accessible vehicles is “sufficient to meet the current need”.

Now, in a bid to address the legislation, it is planned that all borough Hackney carriage licences returned should be re-allocated to a vehicle with wheelchair access or adaptations for passengers requiring other access needs.

The latest moves come soon after the borough’s Hackney Carriage Association was allowed to raise its price tariffs.

That led to the cost of a of a three-mile journey rising from £6 to £7, and a one-mile journey going up from £3 to £3.40.

The committee is to meet on Friday, May 31, from 10am.

Members of the public are welcome to attend.


May 24

Motorists jailed over Liverpool driving license points scam

Motorists paid £100 per point to have them removed from their record

Six-year scheme run at Liverpool Magistrates’ Court charged motorists £100 to rub out penalty point

Liverpool Magistrates Court was at the centre of a six-year scam helping motorists avoid road bans by charging £100 to scrub out each penalty point from their driving licence, a judge was told.

The illegal scheme, operated from Dale Street magistrates’ court, was an open secret in the city’s pubs, a court heard.

Between 2004 and 2010, drivers faced with disqualification paid cash to middlemen, with forms sent from the court to the DVLA in Swansea illegally requesting that convictions be deleted.

At the sentencing of 11 motorists who took advantage of the scheme, Preston Crown Court heard how Liverpool court worker David Kelly denies running the racket.

Jonathan Sandiford, prosecuting, said: “The Crown says that the person responsible for this dishonest scheme was David Kelly, who was a member of staff at Liverpool magistrates’ court.

“Kelly disputes that assertion and the case against him is to be the subject of a trial later in the year.

“The Crown’s case against the defendants before the court today is that they were customers of the dishonest scheme, who paid money to have convictions and penalty points removed from their driving licences.”

The 11 drivers were sentenced for perverting the course of justice yesterday.

Judge Graham Knowles, QC, said: “Somebody was running a corrupt business from Dale Street, bypassing justice after everyone thought it had been done.

“You all knew that there had to be a corrupt official to tamper with your records. There had to be to make the scheme work.

“You knew that the corrupt official had agents in the field meeting you in public houses and wherever else to offer a service, to do a deal and take your cash.”

Taxi driver Gerard Tootle, of Yelverton Road, Anfield, escaped four potential disqualifications by paying for speeding points to be scrubbed from his record over a two-year period.

The 46-year-old was jailed for 16 months.

Judge Knowles agreed that none of the defendants knew the identity of the bogus court worker.

But he said: “You were joining yourselves to a widespread organisation and lining the pockets of a corrupt public official.

“You thought the law did not apply to you and you could buy off justice with corruption.”

Clerical assistant David Kelly denies 34 counts of conspiracy to pervert the course of public justice between 2004 and 2010.

Court scam an ‘open secret’ in Liverpool

The points scam was “common knowledge” in Liverpool, according to one driver today behind bars.

John Watson, 59, of Alwyn Street, Aigburth, already had nine points on his licence when he was caught driving without insurance in August, 2008 – an offence that has a minimum of six points.

But the next month, the DVLA received forms from Dale Street requesting that two earlier driving offences were removed from his licence, handing him his nine points back.

Detailing Watson’s police interview, Jonathan Sandiford, prosecuting, said: “Watson said it was common knowledge in Liverpool that there was a man who drank in the Kingsman public house [in Aigburth] who could arrange for penalty points to be removed from driving licences for £100 per point.

“Watson said he had paid £900 to have nine points removed – he handed over his licence and a few weeks later the man told him to apply for a duplicate licence.”

Watson was jailed for 10 months.

Relatives Ronald and Ian Ungi were jailed for 10 and six months respectively.

Pub licensee Ian, 46, of Grove Park, Toxteth, had three points on his licence taken off.

Ronald, 51, of Parkhill Road, Toxteth, used the points scam twice.

Terence McFee, 56, of Grafton Street, Toxteth, avoided disqualification through the scam. He was jailed for a year.

Pensioner Robert McLaughlin was on the brink of a road ban when he paid to have points removed in 2010.

The 71-year-old, of Poplar Road, Woolton, was jailed for four months.

New driver David Cole, 27, of Malt Street, Edge Hill, had six points taken off while under a probation period. He was jailed for eight months.

Mum Zeita Kelly, 36, of Birchfield Road, Edge Hill, had three forms sent to the DVLA in a bid to have some of her nine points removed – but all three applications were unsuccessful. She was jailed for four months.

Musician Robert Pollard, 56, of Mullion Road, Croxteth, was jailed for five months after his driving without insurance conviction had been overturned.

Rebecca Mottram, 40, of Courthorpe Road, Walton, escaped a prison term after the judge heard that her son battled leukaemia and required constant support.

Paul Ferraiolo, 36, of Fox Bank Close, Widnes, was also handed a suspended sentence.


May 23

‘I will f***ing destroy you': Bloomberg unleashes threat against taxi tycoon and hints at revenge plans after he steps down as mayor

New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg got into a verbal altercation with a leader of the city’s taxi cab lobby saying that he was going to ‘f***ing destroy’ the group when he leaves office this fall.

Bloomberg has championed a new model of taxi cabs for the City, but that plan recently hit a legal pothole when a state judge sided with the taxi industry in going against his proposed changes.

‘Come January 1st, when I am out of office, I am going to destroy your f***ing industry,’ Bloomberg reportedly said to Gene Freidman, the CEO of the Taxi Club Management.

Mr Freidman represents the city’s taxi drivers, many of whom do not want to be forced to replace their cabs with Bloomberg’s ‘Taxis of Tomorrow’.

The New York Post reports that the tirade occurred on Tuesday night when Bloomberg and Freidman were watching the Knicks basketball game from the private 1879 Club inside Madison Square Garden.

Bloomberg told the paper that he didn’t remember the incident, but Freidman recalled it in very specific detail.

Freidman told The Post that when he approached the mayor, he was greeted with the following: ‘Come January 1st, when I am out of office, I am going to destroy your f***ing industry.’

The threats did not stop there, as Freidman reportedly ‘said, “Whoa, Mr. Mayor, calm down! Why can’t I sit down with you and figure out something that works?” He got back in my face and said, “After January, I am going to destroy all you f***ing guys.”‘

An unidentified witness told The Post: ‘It was like Gene had kidnapped his child. He used the f-word twice.’

Aside from showing his aggression when it comes to taxi design, the alleged rant also gives a possible indication about what Bloomberg will dedicate his time towards when his three terms in Gracie Mansion come to an end this fall.

The taxis were designed to give more space to passengers in the back of the cab, will be outfitted with anti-bacterial vinyl, and have two USB ports available to charge cell phones during the journey.

When he previously spoke about his retirement plans, Bloomberg typically quotes the current day count of how many more days he has left in office, saying that those are his priorities.

Now it seems that he may be planning on spending some time pushing the ‘Taxis of Tomorrow’ onto the streets.

‘This taxi was designed from the inside out and the result is the safest, most comfortable, most passenger-friendly cab to ever ride our streets,’ Bloomberg said to his company’s magazine when the Nissan-designed cabs were displayed in April of last year.

Before the legal roadblock, the cars were scheduled to begin appearing on the streets this fall, though that will inevitably be delayed.

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