Taxi driver’s £1,000 bill after losing mobile phone appeal

 

Jason Barnes

A taxi driver has been left with a £1,000 bill after challenging a decision to have his licence suspended for driving while on his mobile phone.

Jason Anthony Barnes, 43, of Kirkbampton, near Carlisle, was seen by a member of the public on November 25 last year, driving through Carlisle city centre while on his phone.

The man complained to Carlisle City Council, telling them Mr Barnes had turned right from Harrington Street into Victoria Place and had failed to see him while he was turning opposite.

He claimed the two vehicles would have collided had he not taken evasive action and that Mr Barnes had not seen him because he was on the phone at the time.

It was alleged that Mr Barnes, who has held a taxi licence since 2002, then continued to use his mobile phone while driving along Georgian Way, Hardwicke Circus and onto Castle Way.

Initially he denied being in the areas stated at the time of the incident, but after the city council licensing officer was informed by the owner of the taxi company that Mr Barnes had been in the area, he recalled doing a drop off at Trinity School.

The taxi driver had his licence suspended at a council regulatory panel meeting on February 12, a decision Mr Barnes appealed.

At the meeting the complainant told the panel he had seen Mr Barnes close up and was holding a mobile phone to his left ear.

He then told the panel he would “not have been able to live with himself” if he had not reported what he had seen.

Mr Barnes’ legal representative said that he was not on his mobile phone but rubbing his head due to suffering a brain injury which left him with two holes in the left side of his head.

His appeal at North Cumbria Magistrate’s Court on May 14 was dismissed and a further appeal at Carlisle Crown Court last Thursday was also dismissed by a judge.

It means the decision to suspend his license for two months was upheld and he will also have to pay the £1,000 in costs to the city council.

Mr Barnes will have to sit and pass a Driving Standards Agency taxi driving test within 13 weeks, and must submit a report from a neurologist consultant to confirm he is fit to drive. The licensing panel also heard about a previous complaint of a similar nature but they had not followed up because the complainant had not taken the report any further.

In the report of the meeting, the panel said “they accepted fully the evidence given by the witness, that Mr Barnes was using his mobile phone whilst driving, and did not find Mr Barnes a credible witness”.

The panel “felt the matter was serious and Mr Barnes had a history of driving offences”.

Mr Barnes was unavailable for comment

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

Minicab forced off road after brick attack by boy in Meir, aged 9

MINICAB drivers are calling for action to stop gangs of youths pelting their cars with stones.

Cabbies are now wary of driving through some areas of Stoke-on-Trent where they have repeatedly become targets for yobs.

In the latest attack, Zaffar Gondar has been left £300 out of pocket after a nine-year-old boy smashed his rear windscreen in Saracen Way, Meir.

The Autocabs driver was on his way to a job when he heard a loud bang from the force of the rubble hitting his car at 9pm on Wednesday.

The 36-year-old, of Chaplin Road, Normacot, said: “I knew it had come from a gang of around 12 children and I managed to get a picture on my mobile phone of the one who threw the stone and I called the police.”

Officers were able to identify the boy before visiting his home but because he is below the age of criminal responsibility he was only given a telling off.

Now Asmann Ulhaq, who runs Longton-based Autocabs, has criticised the police for not getting tougher on troublemakers who could potentially cause a fatal accident.

The 42-year-old, of Lightwood, said: “I understand this particular lad was underage. But why does that mean there are no consequences if he’s smashed in a windscreen?

“Surely the parents should at least be held responsible. Zaffar has lost two days work, there’s a £60 excess for his insurance and the cost of clearing out the glass.

“And what if Zaffar had passengers in the back of his car? They can’t keep getting away with it because someone’s going to get seriously hurt.”
Mr Ulhaq said hotspots for incidents included Dividy Road, Bentilee, Werrington Road, Bucknall, and Meir Square.

He “There’s an incident like this every week and it’s all minicabs across the city. Luckily I’ve only ever been hit by eggs but it’s very alarming when it happens.”

Banaras Hussain, of Longton, manager of Ace Private Hire, agreed the number of attacks seemed to be on the rise.

He said: “This goes on all the time during the holidays. Kids think it’s funny to stand on street corners and aim bricks, eggs or whatever at cars.

They rarely get caught and the drivers end up out of pocket.”

Abdul Rauf, chairman of the Hackney Carriage Association, said he was told about incidents at least once a fortnight.

The 49-year-old, of Shelton, added: “It has been going on for some time now. The children are targeting minicabs and buses. If it happens the drivers communicate with each other to tell them to avoid a certain area.

“It’s obviously very dangerous and something needs to be done before there is a serious accident.”

A Staffordshire Police spokesman said: “Police were called to a report of a minicab being damaged by stones being thrown in Saracen Way, Meir.

“Officers attended and following inquiries a nine-year-old boy was spoken to regarding the incident. Due to his age, he was given a warning about his behaviour and his were parents made aware. Local patrols are aware of the incident and the minicab company have been updated.”

Read more: http://www.stokesentinel.co.uk/

Bristol cabbies meet as anger builds over drivers from outside city taking their trade

A MEETING is due to be held this weekend as tensions build between taxi drivers in the city. As the Bristol Post has previously reported, hackney carriage drivers are angry at taxis registered in numerous other districts operating illegally in the city.

Drivers claim that many of these ‘outside’ licence holders actually live in Bristol but have bought a licence from another authority because it is far easier to obtain one with the sole purpose of operating in the city.

In Bristol cab drivers have to pass a local geography test and the rules surrounding MOT tests are also much tougher.

Drivers claim in other authorities it is simply a matter of handing over the cash.

However hackney carriages licensed outside of Bristol and all private hire companies must only pick up fares that have been booked prior to the pick up.

Any of these drivers picking up a fare from off the street is acting illegally and putting themselves and their customer at risk because they are uninsured.

Tim Lloyd, who has been a taxi driver in Bristol City Centre for 16 years, said tensions and resentment are now set to boil over.

Now he says a meeting has been arranged by the Bristol Taxi Association at the Sikh Resource & Community Development Centre in Queen Anne’s Road, Barton Hill, at 3pm on Sunday so drivers can air their grievances.

Mr Lloyd said: “This is a big issue. It’s not just about our livelihoods, it’s about the safety of the public. We don’t blame the public because when they have been out and had a few drinks they just want to get home and will get in anything resembling a taxi. What they don’t realise is that by taking that cab they are uninsured.”

Mr Lloyd said in all the time he has been working as a taxi driver this was the worst he had ever seen it.

“What I see happening in Bristol is nothing short of a scandal,” he said.

“There are people who live in Bristol and for whatever reason can’t get a Bristol licence so go to another authority and buy one to masquerade as a Bristol taxi.

“These guys are operating on a sat-nav – my sat-nav is in my head. No Bristol taxi driver needs a sat-nav.

“The most precious thing to me is my badge. It is my licence to earn and have a livelihood. They have not earned it. Having the badge is a privilege, not a right.”

He added: “It’s a problem now and in 12 months it will be an epidemic. It’s a question of when things come to a tipping point.

“In years gone by we were fearful of being checked and it kept us on our toes. Now they just don’t care.”

Nick Carter, Regulatory Services Manager at Bristol City Council said: “We appreciate the frustration of local drivers and are happy to look at what we can lawfully do about these issues. However it seems the majority of their requests are about nationally set regulations. Even if we could lawfully impose different rules we’d have to look very carefully at if and how such restrictions could realistically be enforced.

“Vehicles cannot legally operate as hackney carriages outside their own area, but it is legal for them to work as pre-booked Private Hire Vehicles wherever they wish.

“Currently councils have no power to apply restrictions which would prevent where they operate as private hires, and even if we did it would always be up to the council which issues the licence to put these in place.”

Read more: http://www.bristolpost.co.uk/

Passenger racially abused Carlisle taxi driver

A taxi passenger has been fined £395 after he admitted racially abusing his driver during a journey.

At Carlisle Magistrates’ Court, Gary Robert Burns, 44, admitted a single charge of the racially aggravated harassment of his victim.

Prosecutor John Moran described how Burns had got into the taxi on the night of July 26 and told the driver where he wanted to go.

But during the journey the defendant became annoyed, saying that the route being taken was not his usual one.

He then began verbally abusing the driver, making racist remarks, Mr Moran told the court.

Once at his destination, Burns refused to get out of the taxi and demanded to know from the driver “where he came from”.

When the driver told him he was from originally from “Bangladesh” and had lived in the the country for the last 28 years, Burns shouted an insult and racist comments.

Burns also remarked that his victim had lived in the UK Too for him to return to his native country.

Burns of Corporation Road, Carlisle, handed magistrates a letter written but the contents were not read out.

He said he did not believe his comments had been racist and had been wrongly interpreted – despite entering a guilty plea to the racially aggravated offence.

Magistrates told Burns that he had to understand why his actions appeared racist, and that the taxi driver had simply been doing his job and should not have been treated as he was on that night.

As well as the fine, Burns was told to pay £85 court costs and a victim surcharge of £39.

After the hearing, Burns was asked outside of court if he would like to explain his behaviour and his only response was to claim that he is not a racist.

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

Perv taxi driver jailed for sex assaults on teen girls in Dover

 

JAILED: Perv Hassan ‘preyed on his young victims’

A LECHEROUS taxi driver who sexually assaulted two teen girls who had been on nights out in Dover has been jailed.

Creepy cabbie Rezgar Hassan, 22, of High Street, Dover, was found guilty by a jury of two counts of sexual assault and sentenced to three years imprisonment on Monday.

Iraqi Hassan, who was also subject of a five-year Sexual Offences Prevention Order and will be on the Sex Offenders’ Register indefinitely, has also been recommended for deportation.

In the early hours of January 27, 2013, Hassan was driving a taxi in Market Square when he accepted a fare from a 19-year-old and her two friends, Canterbury Crown Court heard.

The victim sat in the front seat of the taxi and during the course of the journey, felt Hassan put his hand on her leg. It was then that he inappropriately touched her.

Upon exiting the taxi, the victim told her friends and the following day she reported it to police.

Hassan was arrested and he was later picked out in an identity parade.

In a second incident, in the early hours of March 10, 2013, a 17-year-old girl was waiting at the train station at Dover Priory.

Hassan was again in his taxi and approached the teenager, offering her a lift home to Folkestone for free.

He told her to sit in the back seat with a cover over her as he had another passenger to collect. Once that person had been dropped off, she got in the front seat.

Hassan told her to recline her seat and then started asking intimate questions. He told her if she showed him her breasts, he would let her go.

He then pulled her top down and inappropriately touched her before allowing the girl to get out.

Investigating officer, PC Natasha Russell of Kent Police, said: “It was clear when investigating these two individual reports that Hassan had preyed on his young victims, taking full advantage of their vulnerability.

“After having been on a night out in the town, both victims did the right thing by getting a taxi home. They expected the taxi to be a place of safety, but instead Hassan took full advantage of his position.

“I would like to personally thank both victims for showing courage and bravery and coming forward to report what had happened to them.

“The sentencing reflects the seriousness of the crime and should serve as a warning that neither Kent Police nor the courts will accept this type of behaviour.”

Read more: http://www.dover-express.co.uk/

 

Mar 18

Taxi Drivers in Manchester protest illegal plying

picture: MEN

Hundreds of Hackney Carriage drivers converged in Manchester City centre today in protest amid claims minicabs are illegally taking work

They staged a go-slow protest as they headed in convoy from Manchester airport to Albert Square ahead of a council licensing committee meeting this morning

The drivers claim minicabs have been illegally picking up passengers on the city’s streets without bookings being made in advance.

Gholam Mustapha, the drivers’ spokesman, called on Manchester council to take action.

He said: “Private hire cars can only accept fares that are pre-booked through their office. When they pick up passengers off the street, they commit offences formally known as illegal plying for hire and touting and it means that the driver’s insurance is invalid.

“We want the council officers to do regular undercover ‘test purchase’ operations to check if private hire drivers are illegally plying for hire. Such operations are regularly undertaken in Birmingham, Liverpool and Stockport.”

Gholam Mustapha’s words to Manchester City Council

Madam Chairman, Councillors, ladies and gentlemen, and colleagues.

My name is Gholam Mustapha, I have been a taxi driver for 35 years, I am the secretary of the Airport Taxi Association but today also have the full support of the trade unions, and taxi associations.

Due to time considerations I have condensed my speech but have compiled folders to read at your leisure. I respectfully request that you do as they contain the full speech and other materials which support my case.

I will speak on two issues, both of great concern to all taxi drivers in Manchester – as demonstrated by the numbers here today, they are the high level of illegal plying for hire or pirating, and allowing Private Hire to falsely advertise themselves as taxis.

These issues have contributed to a significant reduced income for all taxi drivers.

Why should you be concerned with taxi drivers’ earnings? Academic papers on the subject quote many reasons, I will pick one, less takings lead to longer working hours causing driver fatigue, this is a real risk as tragically demonstrated in the Selby rail crash which caused 10 deaths.

On the first issue, the enforcement of plying for hire is woefully inadequate

17 years ago Rachel Thacker was brutally raped and murdered by a bogus private hire driver, the then Manchester City Council spokesman said that they valued public safety very highly and would leave no stone unturned to ensure that this would never happen again.

Well since the murder of Rachel Thacker, the amount of pirating that goes on has increased considerably it would seem that to simply warning people of the dangers involved in getting into unbooked vehicles and enforcement officers observing in the hope of catching an offender do not discourage this and are time and cost consuming and lead to appeals in Court.

We are told by licensing that PH drivers waiting outside clubs are not necessarily committing an offence; it is their intentions that matter. Why not test those intentions?

A private hire car or an unlicensed car that is sat outside a club and when approached tells the customer that she has to phone “his company on this number first” to book, then immediately says “right I can take you now” is no safer than no booking at all. Who is to say that the driver works for that particular company at all? He could be a criminal intent on rape or robbery.

Like Amine Kacem who disguised his car as a private hire car with yellow stickers, parked outside a club on Sackville Street and brutally assaulted and twice raped the woman who got into the car.

There has not been a test purchase operation since the murder of Rachel Thacker, yet a FOI request showed that GMP recorded 109 sexual assaults with a “taxi” connection, Merseyside police recorded only 22. Of the core cities Liverpool has the highest number of prosecutions for plying for hire, due to a monthly test purchase operation, the figures suggest a correlation between an effective enforcement deterrent and the number of sexual crimes reported.

It is common knowledge that when sexual assaults do happen, it is when a woman has got into a car without a booking, most of these attacks are by licensed drivers.

When challenged on pirating by taxi drivers, private hire drivers can resort to violence. Recently a taxi driver was hit with a hammer by a PH driver, he was very lucky not to have been killed

A licensing officer said that when they had been out checking on cars waiting outside city centre bars, all appeared to have a booking on the data head. It didn’t seem to occur that the bookings might be bogus.

When I was on private hire, 32 years ago, the radio operator would often tell the drivers to go and park outside clubs and he would put bogus bookings down for them.

How can I be 100% sure that illegal plying for hire is so rife? Well we have all even done 2 cab jobs with unbooked PH cars.

An individual who is prepared to commit the criminal offence of plying for hire is not a law-abiding citizen and may well be prepared to commit serious crimes if opportunities arise. He is fully aware that there is no record of a booking and is unlikely to be traced especially if the passenger is under the influence of drink or drugs

We request test purchase operations by the licensing unit, these are cost effective use of resources as used by many Councils, Birmingham a comparable city recorded 14 times as many convictions as Manchester, many of these were achieved using the Nottingham vs. Woodings approach meaning that officers did not even have to undertake a journey, they asked only two questions of the driver “are you free?” and how much to..?”

My second point is about the Terms and Conditions for Private Hire Operators

Section 19B states

Advertising other than on private hire vehicles – no notice, sign or advertisement seeking to advertise or promote the business of a private hire operator wherever it is displayed shall consist of or include the words taxi or cab, whether in the singular or plural, or any words or devices which give any indication that the service to which the notice, sign or advertisement relates is that which can only be provided by a licensed hackney carriage……….. Unless the words private hire are also displayed with equal prominence.

The last line seem to have been added to the sentence and changes the whole meaning to suggest that a private hire operator may falsely imply that he is offering the services of a hackney carriage as long as he has the words private hire displayed in equal prominence.

It also means that private hire vehicles are not allowed to call themselves taxi’s but, the operators can say that they provide a “taxi” service.
Where is the sense in that?

This is a particular problem at Manchester airport where the operator’s office is strategically placed adjacent to the taxi rank and is emblazoned with the words “TAXI PRIVATE HIRE PAY HERE” in a deliberate ploy to mislead customers, many of them foreign visitors, to believe that they have to pay at this office for the British iconic black cabs they can see and want to hire, the operator of course does not inform them of the true situation in fact he offers no refunds without the customer writing to head office.

Passengers have actually paid Arrow cars and then got into a black cab only to produce the receipt at the end of the journey; this shows that the passengers are confused by the signage. If it is the intention to offer a private hire alternative to a taxi, the definition of which I am about to come to, then why not make that difference absolutely clear .

What is a taxi?

I have a letter from The Department for Transport . Paragraph 4 reads “your subsequent e-mail asked for the legal definition of a “taxi”……“A taxi is a vehicle licensed under Section 37 Of The Town Police Clauses Act 1847….”

This is a hackney carriage Act, so “a taxi is a hackney carriage”.

The Miscellaneous Provisions Act defines a private hire vehicle as “a motor vehicle constructed or adapted to seat fewer than nine passengers, other than a hackney carriage”

Substituting the word taxi for hackney carriage it becomes clear that a private hire vehicle is;

“A motor vehicle constructed or adapted to seat fewer than nine passengers, other than a taxi”
Therefore there cannot be a “private hire taxi” or a “taxi private hire”.

Mr. James Button licensing solicitor agrees in this book that taxi is not a generic word as this legal definition of taxi has been consistently used in every Act since the 1980 Road Transport Act. It is clearly the wish of parliament (and of Manchester City Council) that there be a distinction between hackney carriages and private hire vehicles and it has become customary in statutes, among government departments, and on the council’s own website, to refer to hackney carriages as taxis; this corresponds to the international usage of the word “taxi” to refer to a vehicle that is available for public hire.

In summary the trade requests just two things today; that the licensing unit carry out regular test purchase plying for hire operations and that the words “unless the words private hire are also displayed with equal prominence.” are removed from Section 19b we respectfully ask that you consider these two points as a matter of urgency.

I invite all of you to come with me on a tour to see for yourselves what is actually going on and how the taxi drivers of Manchester are willing to work with the city council to achieve a safer city and I would be happy to report back any changes after 6 months or so.

I thank you for your time.

Mar 18

The Coming of Age?

The Coming of Age?

by

Wayne Casey

The views expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the National Taxi Association

 

In a time of universal deceit – telling the truth is a revolutionary act.

George Orwell

 

The Department for Transport (DFT) state the following in their Best Practice Guidance in respect of vehicle age limits;

 

“Age Limits: It is perfectly possible for an older vehicle to be in good condition. So the setting of an age limit beyond which a local authority will not license vehicles may be arbitrary and inappropriate. But a greater frequency of testing may be appropriate for older vehicles – for example, twice-yearly tests for vehicles more than five years old.”

 

Considering the above, it is rather strange the cab trade around the country find themselves very often having to scrap perfectly good vehicles due to local authorities introducing age policies. Indeed, the Law Commission (LC) in last year’s riveting read appeared somewhat confused about age limits when they wrote the following , at 4.58 they stated;

 

“Age limits can operate as a proxy for governing the overall quality of a vehicle. It is more likely that an older vehicle may have mechanical failings, have damage associated with wear and tear, and be less environmentally friendly. A locality wishing to project a new and modern image of its public transport may regard its taxi and private hire vehicle fleets as a part of that strategy. However, an older vehicle may be well-maintained and in good working order. Department for Transport guidance suggests that the setting of an age limit may be arbitrary and inappropriate, although it may be appropriate to require more frequent testing for older vehicles.”

 

I am not too sure about the mechanical knowledge of the LC. As a wild and unqualified guess, I would say that whilst they may know a lot about the law – they know practically zero about the internal combustion engine and vehicle mechanics. It is therefore a worry that the LC presumes age limits actually govern the quality of a vehicle without any further qualification. They additionally add, older vehicles may have mechanical failings, quite, I suppose they are unaware of the recalls made to LTC vehicles due to a steering box problem that effectively bankrupted the company last year, or perhaps the great TX fires of 2008 – or indeed the 2.77 million Toyota’s that were recalled worldwide last year. Perhaps they actually meant older vehicles may have mechanical failings and may not have mechanical failings – a bit like every vehicle.

 

A simple google search will tell anyone with a computer the various recalls manufacturers have made – and looking through the list there have been lots – no manufacturer seems aloof – be they Rolls Royce or Peugeot, the Ford Mondeo has been subject to 20 recalls over a 10-year period.

 

Naturally, and as alluded to by the DFT, if a local authority has a decent testing regime there is little reason for a older vehicle to be mechanically less sound than a newer vehicle. Yet the LC appear to contradict themselves at 4.58 by stating “A locality wishing to project a new and modern image of its public transport may regard its taxi and private hire vehicle fleets as a part of that strategy” whilst adding in the next sentence “an older vehicle may be well-maintained and in good working order”. They go on to advise about the DFT advice.

 

The acknowledgement by the LC that a local authority may wish for its taxi and private hire fleets to project a new and modern image is something the cab trade is very aware, this projection has very little to do with the safe carriage of passengers, emission controls, Uncle Tom Cobley and all. If we consider the age of many buses used in public transport each day to carry passengers, with a local authority having no control over the age of a bus – it would seem the projection of “a new and modern image” only applies, as usual, to taxi and private hire.

 

It could be stated with a hint of sarcasm, the anticipated projection of the modern image falls down quite quickly, when the modern image includes antique buses and boarded up shops.

 

Most right-minded people would consider “A locality wishing to project a new and modern image” to be an “irrelevant consideration”. In a broadly similar way to how Mr Justice Beatson found Newport Councils consideration of the Ryder Cup irrelevent in Morris, R (on the application of) v Newport City Council [2009] EWHC 3051 (Admin) (27 November 2009).

 

The LC last year described the following in respect of taxi quantity controls at 15:50 ;

 

“Quantity restrictions, discussed in detail in Chapter 9, are a blunt instrument.”

 

If quantity controls are a blunt instrument – what exactly are age limits? It is quite a paradox, the LC will seemingly close its eyes to restrictions on business in respect of vehicle age limits – yet follow the Chicago school doctrine when it comes down to limiting taxi numbers.

 

NTA members (Gods chosen people), were told by Richard Percival of the LC in Scarborough in 2011;

 

“A general point here is that this whole deregulatory move is based on the idea that, by and large, open competition in a capitalist economy is the best way of  delivering goods and services.”

 

In effect what the LC appear to be suggesting is that everyone should have the opportunity to play cab owner, it’s just that if you want toplay – you should really have a few quid.

 

It would appear all that age limits actually achieve are a greater debt for the driver – a servitude is paid to a finance company, in some cases companies with foreign workers help arrange finance, this type of servitude is indentured. The vehicle – certainly a saloon vehicle – is worth a minimal amount once it retires to the big taxi graveyard in the sky. Harsh age restrictions ensure the cycle of debt is continual. Arguably, keeping a vehicle beyond an extended finance agreement almost certainly results in higher repair costs – therefore a fine balance needs struck between a running cost over new vehicle / new finance agreement scenario. -Either guarantees a driver has to work Victorian hours to avoid repossession – especially in those areas that are deregulated.

 

The occasional justification for age policies are based rather loosely around emissions – the theory is that older vehicles emit more pollution than newer ones. In order to justify emission policies the DfT advise in their guidance at 39;

 

 Local licensing authorities, in discussion with those responsible for environmental health issues, will wish to consider how far their vehicle licensing policies can and should support any local environmental policies that the local authority may have adopted. This will be of particular importance in designated Air Quality Management Areas (AQMAs), Local authorities may, for example, wish to consider setting vehicle emissions standards for taxis and PHVs. However, local authorities would need to carefully and thoroughly assess the impact of introducing such a policy; for example, the effect on the supply of taxis and PHVs in the area would be an important consideration in deciding the standards, if any, to be set. They should also bear in mind the need to ensure that the benefits of any policies outweigh the costs (in whatever form).

 

It would appear even the DfT are slightly sceptical about the overall impact of emissions controls in respect of taxis. Indeed, whilst a local authority can, given justifiable evidence, introduce AQMA, they can, given supporting evidence, also revoke AQMA.  The Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) state on their website;

 

“Pollutant concentrations may vary significantly from one year to the next, due to the influence of meteorological conditions”.

 

If a local authority decides to invoke an AQMA, it may therefore only be a short term measure and may be due to “meteorological conditions” – it would therefore seem unreasonable and indeed, unnecessary, for taxis to be included given the potential for the limited time span for the original justification (for the age limit). At the time of writing, 111 AQMA’s have been revoked.

 

Further to the above, a rather mad friend of mine actually licensed a Toyota Prius as a taxi – as many of you will know – these environmentally friendly vehicles emit very little by the way of emissions  – presumably this is because drivers spend more time pushing than driving them. Twisted humour aside, it appears quite mad for a local authority to introduce an age policy based upon emissions and still include such vehicles as part of the overall policy.

 

I feel we need to return to the policy justification because in my view, if the LC are right (and they seemingly condone), a council introducing age limits because they like shiny new vehicles, then such a policy just isn’t right – indeed its actually perverse. It plays to the ego of councillors whom like the Emperors of Rome decide upon fate – except for the fact they are more or less deciding a person must tie themselves to the world of finance to become a cab owner within their area and in most cases without any true idea of what they will earn.

Mar 18

Maidstone taxi drivers ‘banned from wearing Hawaiian shirts’

Magnum PI

You’d think what they wear is irrelevant as long as they get you where you want to go safely.

But taxi drivers could be banned from wearing certain clothing – and there’s a distinctly summer theme to the list.

Out will go Hawaiian shirts, vests, crop tops and mini-skirts if a council’s attempt to smarten the images of its cabbies gets the green light.

Flip-flops, sports shorts, clothing that is ‘too colourful’ and anything exposing the midriff is also on the black list.

‘The purpose of a driver’s dress code is to seek a minimum standard of dress that provides a positive image of the Hackney carriage and private hire trade,’ the council’s report states.

‘It must enhance a professional image of licensed drivers and ensure public and driver safety is not compromised.’

‘Acceptable clothing’ includes dress shirts, tops covering the shoulders and footwear that ‘fits around the heel’.

The dress code, which Maidstone borough council is due to vote on this month, has not gone down well in the Kent town.

‘If the council think they can tell me what to wear, they can think again,’ taxi driver Steven Hunt said.

‘In the summer, I’m in shorts and a T-shirt and a pair of sandals that are suitable for driving.

‘I’m not going to be driving about in the sweltering heat in a shirt and tie.’

source: http://metro.co.uk/

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Mar 17

South Ribble blitz on ‘out of town’ taxis

A crackdown has been launched on rogue taxis operating without a license.

South Ribble Council has taken the action following concern unlicensed taxis and minicabs from outside the borough were coming into the area touting for trade.

 A joint undercover operation, involving staff from the council, police and special constables, was launched last Friday.

The late-night operation covered five separate locations across the borough and resulted in one Preston taxi driver being caught trading illegally.

 

The driver’s details were passed to Preston Council, with a view to a prosecution.

 

Taxis trading without a licence can face enforcement action, including court fines of up to £3,500 per offence, and fines of up to £5,000 for driving uninsured.

source: http://www.lep.co.uk/news/

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Mar 17

Court jails Newcastle man for attacking cabbie

A West Denton man has pleaded guilty to assault after he attacked a taxi driver in Newcastle city centre

A charity fundraiser attacked a taxi driver after hitting the booze to celebrate completing a sponsored walk.

Bruce Elliott had walked 16 miles to raise money for Meningitis UK after his daughter was struck down by the brain infection.

After completing the fundraising event, Elliott went drinking in Newcastle city centre.

But a successful day turned ugly when he attacked cabbie Mohammed Imran on the way home.

Elliott, 28, of Lordenshaw, West Denton, pleaded guilty to assault and was given 12 weeks prison, suspended for 12 months and must pay £500 compensation to the victim.

Recorder Woolfall told him: “People who drive taxis servicing the public are particularly vulnerable to attacks such as this and require protection.”

The court heard Elliott’s daughter had recovered .

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

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Mar 16

Speeding minicab driver blames his wife

Minicab driver Ehjaz Yaqub has been jailed after trying to avoid a driving ban by telling police his wife had been speeding in his minicab.

The 33-year-old filled in forms stating his wife was behind the wheel of his Vauxhall Vectra minicab when it was snapped by speed cameras.

Police later arrested Yaqub’s wife on suspicion of perverting the course of justice.

CCTV images then proved Yaqub was actually driving when the cameras were activated.

The father-of-two was yesterday jailed for 10 months – just days after disgraced former MP Chris Huhne and his ex-wife Vicky Pryce were both sent to prison for eight months for perverting the course of justice after swapping speeding points 10 years ago.

Jailing Yaqub, Judge Paul Glenn told Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court: “If you have read the papers or listened to the news you will know offences of this type are topical. They are also prevalent. They strike at the heart of the criminal justice system, and courts take a serious view.

“Your wife was not prosecuted but you jeopardised her liberty. The motive was plainly to avoid losing your driving licence and with it your income. You persistently offended in the same way to avoid criminal responsibility.”

The court heard Yaqub’s minicab was caught speeding through seven cameras between November 2011 and April 2012. Yaqub twice accepted the points – but on other occasions blamed his wife.

Neil Ahuja, prosecuting, said: “Notices were sent requesting details of the driver. He returned them stating he was not the driver but his wife was. Inquiries at the minicab base confirmed the defendant had been working at the time of the offences.”

The court heard Yaqub’s wife was released without charge.

Yaqub, of Beresford Street, Shelton, pleaded guilty to three charges of intending to pervert the course of justice. He was also banned from driving for six months.

Rachel Thompson, mitigating, said Yaqub had a £50,000 debt and was trying to avoid going bankrupt.

She warned the family could lose their house if Yaqub was jailed.

Ms Thompson said: “He ended up working considerable hours to try to obtain that money. In order to do that he did speed on occasions.”

An AA survey of 17,000 drivers suggested around 300,000 motorists have swapped speeding penalty points.

AA president Edmund King said: “Many drivers didn’t realise the severity of swapping penalty points but they do now. There is a harsh punishment for perverting the course of justice.”

Read more: http://www.thisisstaffordshire.co.uk/

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Mar 15

So London takes illegal plying seriously???

Illegal minicab driver is fined £320 after picking up passengers in Tottenham Court Road

A CAR mechanic from Islington was fined £320 and disqualified from driving after illegally acting as a minicab driver without insurance for the fourth time.

Samuel Ntim-Addae, 47, was pulled over by police in Hampstead on February 21 after picking up passengers in Tottenham Court Road. The Upper Holloway father-of-three was fined and disqualified for 56 days at Highbury Corner Magistrates’ Court after pleading guilty on Tuesday.

He had previous convictions from 2004, 2006 and 2007.

source: http://www.islingtontribune.com/

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Mar 15

Wolverhampton pensioner locked up over YouTube abuse

A Wolverhampton pensioner has been jailed after launching a campaign of abuse against a taxi firm and ranting about the city council over the internet.

Stan Long, aged 75, put up flyers across the city making allegations about bosses of Wombourne Taxis as well as solicitors and took to YouTube to publish numerous videos of him criticising various individuals.

His frequent outbursts led to him being hit with a restraining order by Wolverhampton Magistrates’ Court in 2011. But over a period of three months, stretching from October last year to January, he continued the tirades.

Representing himself Long admitted five offences of harassment or breach of a restraining order on conviction and another charge of committing an offence during the operational period of a suspended sentence.

Long said: “You’re making me out to be the guilty party when I am the victim. They’re all crooks. I keep telling you it’s them who should be here not me.”

District Judge Mr Graham Wilkinson jailed Long for two months and ordered him to pay £85 in costs. He told Long: “I am aware that you are representing yourself and that no solicitor will dare represent you through fear they will become the next target. While you have been attending your meetings with probation you have used these sessions to continue your rants.

This court has made a restraining order against you but you have continued to breach it.”

source: http://www.expressandstar.com/

Mar 15

Changes in prospect for Oldham’s licensed trade

OLDHAM taxi firms will in future have to ensure that 75 per cent of their fleet passes a yearly safety check.

The Chronicle reported last week how spot checks found six out of 10 taxis in Oldham have faults.

The move — part of a blitz on vehicle safety by the borough licensing committee — means firms will now have responsibility for their fleet’s mechanical standard. Private-hire operators were previously under no obligation to ensure their vehicles were fit for use.

The changes will now be passed to taxi firms for consultation before details are finalised.

APPLICATIONS for an Oldham Hackney carriage licence will now have to include a new “intended use” element.
The move is an attempt to clamp down on the practice of registering a taxi where costs are lower, then using it in another, more expensive area with tougher restrictions.

The High Court recently said a local authority may refuse to grant a licence where the applicant intends to use the vehicle entirely or mainly in another borough.

Applicants for a licence in Oldham will now have to show their intention to ply for hire in the borough and keep a record of any work they undertake for a private-hire company not licensed by the council.

link to report

source: http://www.oldham-chronicle.co.uk/

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Mar 15

Taxi apps battle for global market

The number of smartphone apps that enable passengers to book taxis have exploded in the last two years. The makers of the most successful apps are now planning rapid global expansions.

With around 22,000 licensed taxis weaving their way across London on any given day, and thousands more unlicensed private hire cars, waving down a cab from the roadside shouldn’t be a difficult task.

But there isn’t a single Londoner who hasn’t at some point had to watch helplessly as a string of taxis pass by full of passengers, or found themselves leaving a pub at eleven o’clock at night without any way of getting home.

Many city dwellers around the world will have had similar experiences.

A number of smartphone app developers have independently considered this problem in the last few years, and spotted a gap in the market – for passengers on the go, who need to find a taxi quickly.

And smartphone owners can now download apps such as Hailo, Get Taxi, Uber or Click-a-taxi to book their ride.

Emerging market

In markets where app booking services are available, only one in twenty journeys is estimated to use the service.

But that proportion is rising quickly as more people buy smartphones, as more taxi apps appear, and as they start to go global.

In London, Hailo is the most successful app exclusively aimed at the drivers and passengers of the capital’s iconic black cabs.

“It’s an app for drivers that customers will also use as a service,” says Russell Hall, one of the three taxi drivers behind Hailo, which launched in November 2011.

Along with three internet entrepreneurs, Hall and fellow cabbies Gary Jackson and Terry Runham designed an app that would give drivers an “extra pair of eyes” in finding their next customer.

The Hailo team worked hard to recruit black cab drivers in London, signing up hundreds of them before the app was offered to the public. So when Londoners started using Hailo, there were already enough drivers using it to make the service viable.

Apps like Hailo use a familiar set of smartphone tools: GPS or cell-tower triangulation to pinpoint a passenger’s location, a secure payment system to enter credit card details (although not all of the apps have integrated payment yet), and a map to show the real-time location of your taxi.

A nice touch with Hailo is that once the system has located your nearest available car, it sends you the name of your driver, his vehicle registration and even his phone number – in case the driver and passenger have problems locating each other, for example.

The minimum charge for a ride with Hailo is five pounds (5.70 euros). The drivers using the system – over 9,000 of them – give Hailo ten percent of each fare booked via the app.

Hailo’s commission does not seem to have deterred drivers.

“I think it’s the best thing to happen to the black cab trade in quite a while,” said cabbie Stephen. He says Hailo has substantially improved his business, but admits that some of the more technophobic drivers will probably never embrace it.

Global network

Hailo and another app, Israel-based Get Taxi, are well established in London, and are now looking much further afield. Hailo has launched in seven cities, while Get Taxi operates in fifteen locations around the world, including Moscow and Tel Aviv.

The makers of these two apps – and others – are eyeing what many see as the holy grail of the taxi market: New York. Reluctant regulators approved taxi booking apps for public use in New York in February, so the rush is now on to meet the demand.

The San Francisco-based app, Uber, has a head start after it ran a pilot scheme in The Big Apple last year.

So far, though, Uber has focused on the higher end of the car hire market rather than the everyday consumer.

When it comes to global expansion, however, the prize for ambition goes to Denmark-based Click-a-Taxi. In February, Click-a-Taxi announced that it had stitched together a virtual network of around 2,000 taxi firms, allowing passengers to book a taxi in any one of 40 countries.

“It would be hard to communicate to the user that this was something that was actually going to happen if we stretched it out over three years,” CEO Soren Halskov Nissen told DW when asked why his company had chosen to expand so rapidly.

Future plans

Both Nissen and Hailo’s Russell Hall say that building up a network of trusted taxi firms takes time. They say it has to be done the old fashioned way: on the phone, and by word of mouth.

Nissen says his team starts by contacting the top hotels in each target city and asking which taxi firm they use.

Once a network is in place, the heart of all of the taxi apps forms around the complex algorithms that are required to track a network of cars and provide the passengers with the quickest pick-up.

Uber’s co-founder Trevor Kalanick and Russell Hall of Hailo are both keen to make maximum use of the data that their apps collect to both improve and expand their services.

Statistics graph on Hailo taxi app

For example, they may want to predict how many more rides will be needed on rainy days in a city like Seattle than on fine days (when customers might be more inclined to walk).

In London, Hall says he wants to use the data to build up a city “heat-map” of where drivers are most likely to find their next fare.

The spread of taxi apps worldwide begs the question of whether one app – on Android, iOS or Blackberry operating systems – will come to dominate globally.

Some analysts believe there will be a period of healthy competition rather than a monopoly by one app.

But the big guns of the online world will most probably try their hand at the game, too, says Matt Simms, a Cambridge-based app developer.

“I would be surprised if Google didn’t try to do something – most likely on their own,” says Simms.

Hall says he would be dismayed if the app he first dreamed up in a pub with his mates several years ago were to lose its identity in the global marketplace.

“Whatever the future holds,” says Hall, “if Hailo stands there as a brand and as a taxi app primarily, then I will be tremendously proud.”

source: http://www.dw.de/

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