Taxi driver fined for picking up disabled passenger in Carlisle city centre

A furious taxi driver has vowed to appeal against a parking ticket he was issued while picking up a disabled passenger.

A traffic warden issued Jimmy Shankland a £70 parking ticket as he waited for Jack and Jean Hood outside the post office on Scotch Street, Carlisle city centre, just before 11am on Friday.

Although Mr Shankland, 61, told the warden he was waiting for a disabled customer, his appeals made no difference.

“I have never been so angry and I could feel my heart pumping with anger,” said Mr Shankland, “I have never felt anything like it.”

Mr Hood, 88, is the sole carer for his 85-year-old wife, who is blind and has been in a wheelchair for two and a half years because she has difficulty walking.

The couple, who have been married for 63 years, were so upset by the incident they gave Mr Shankland £20 towards the fine.

Mr Hood said: “I thought it was very, very unfair for him. You couldn’t be there long because we came right down. He was just getting the door open.”

Once or twice a week, the couple, who live at Newlaithes Avenue, Morton, Carlisle, get dropped off at Marks & Spencer and picked up outside the post office by taxis so that they can do their shopping.

“I have never had any bother there before and we go there often,” said Mr Hood.

Mr Shankland has driven taxis in Carlisle for 16 years but said he has never known anything like it. He said you might expect such things to happen in London but not in Carlisle.

He said: “In my mind, in my estimation, [the warden] was discriminating against that disabled person.”

Mr Shankland argued that taxi drivers can wait for disabled passengers on double yellow lines and have a duty to their disabled customer to ensure they do not discriminate against them.

He said: “If I hadn’t picked the customer up, I would have been in breach of my licensing badge, then I’d have been discriminating against a wheelchair user. I would have been suspended with no pay.”

Wayne Casey, the chairman of the Carlisle Taxi Drivers’ Association, supported Mr Shankland.

He said: “I think the driver is entitled to wait as long as it takes to get a customer in and out of a vehicle. There’s a bit of a difference between parking and waiting.”

By law, taxi drivers cannot refuse to give disabled people in wheelchairs a lift or charge them extra.

Mr Shankland said he would be appealing against his ticket to Cumbria County Council.

He was issued a parking ticket last month when he nipped into the bakers for a roll but he paid the fine as he admitted it was his fault for parking on double lines.

A spokesman for the county council said: “The council carries out on-street parking enforcement in order to ensure the smooth flow of traffic and prevent inconsiderate parking.

“In this particular case, if Mr Shankland wishes to challenge the ticket, he can do so through the council’s normal appeals process.

“The council investigates every challenge on its own merits and mitigating circumstances will be taken into account. In instances where the council decides there is no case for a ticket to be cancelled, drivers still have the opportunity to make a further appeal to the independent adjudicator at the Traffic Penalty Tribunal.”

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

‘Extortionate’ licence fees for private hire car drivers

The fee rise comes after a review of charges associated with private hire cars in response to new government legislation.

Under the new system, vehicle licence fees will decrease, but drivers will face paying up to 33 per cent more for a yearly licence.

Manager of Starline Minicabs Malcolm Cannon branded the new fees ‘extortionate’ in a formal objection to the proposals.

He wrote: “As someone who has held a Chichester District Council licence for 28 years, I find this completely unacceptable and will certainly have to consider carefully whether to renew if these huge hikes are implemented. Personally, it looks as though drivers are paying for the reductions given to vehicle operators.”

The cost of renewing a private hire driver’s licence for one year will rise from £85 to £113 effective from May 23.

Drivers can also apply for a three-year licence that costs £285 to renew, an increase of £10 a year.

Cllr Paul Jarvis commented that considered in the face of six-years’ worth of inflation since the last review, the change in fees was a relatively ‘insignificant amount’.

He added that officers had ‘done the best job they could’, adding: “At the end of the day, if they get it wrong, all they simply do is re-adjust these numbers in the future. I think this is perfectly reasonable and fair, and we have to let it run for a certain period.”

A total of nine formal objections to the fee rise were acknowledged from individuals and groups of the 320 drivers licensed with the council. Many comments focussed on the difference in three-year and one-year fees, which officers attributed to admin costs already covered in an application.

At the start of the meeting, chairman Cllr John Ridd said: “When it comes to fees, we are talking about people’s livelihoods, and perhaps not the most well-to-do in our society, but hard working people, for whom every penny counts.”

He went on to add: “We are concerned that the service does continue, as we hope, without disadvantaging any members.”

The fee changes were passed with an agreement to review the fees after one year.

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

Nuneaton and Bedworth taxi drivers fume over 276 per cent charge rise

FUMING taxi drivers across Nuneaton and Bedworth say they have been hit by a ‘staggering’ 276 per cent rise in charges over the past three years.

Incensed by the latest increase by Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough Council, they have written to the Town Hall to object.

It was known that the borough council in its budget setting chose to increase fees and charges across the board but the new taxi driver charge is a step too far according to the Nuneaton and Bedworth Taxi Proprietors Association.

The chair of the association has sent two emails to the local authority to contest the latest rise.

In the first it suggests that the association has, for some time, been seeking a meeting to discuss a request to increase the amount that taxi users have to pay – to no avail.

“As you know we have been requesting a fare rise and would like an emergency meeting to once again try and achieve this objective, especially in the light of the percentage rises being applied to our industry in both fees and wages,” the email states.

In the second email it said: “Our association would like to object to the rise in charges for drivers and vehicles.

“The percentage rise equals a staggering 276 per cent in drivers fees, which seems inexplicable over three years when there has been no change in actual working practices.

“The rise in vehicles we understand more because of increase costs in maintenance wages etc, but unfortunately we have not been allowed to react to ours as unlike yourselves we cannot just increase our charges.”

According to a report, due to be put before the council’s cabinet tonight, the new licence fee for new driver applications has been set at £294 – £94 more than the fee in 2015/16.

The new renewal fees for drivers is £246, which is £46 more than last year’s fee.

Vehicle licence applications are to rise from £154 to £188.

But, according to council officers, the new charges still make the local authority one of the cheapest in the area.

In the report it states:

“The largest increase is in relation to the new driver applications and has resulted in an increase of 38 per cent, equating to a new weekly cost for a hackney carriage/private hire driver licence of £2.70.

“During budget setting for 2015/16, and following a review of the calculation of the costs for the services it became apparent that the council was not recovering the costs of this part of the licensing service, as more officer time was being spent on this area of work due to local demand and national changes. This was addressed through fee increases, last year generating an additional £40,000, and an estimated £30,000 this year.

“Even with the current fee increases it would appear that the fees will be reasonably comparable with other local authorities within the area.”

Read more: http://www.nuneaton-news.co.uk/

South Ribble Council leader faces axe over taxi row

  • South Ribble Council’s leader is facing a vote of no-confidence revolt related to a taxi-licensing investigation
  • Rebel Conservatives say they have grown frustrated with the handling of allegations
  • A motion has been submitted to the chief executive to remove Coun Smith from her position
  • Coun Smith says she will not step down and insists she has done nothing wrong

The embattled leader of South Ribble Council is at the centre of a move to oust her.

Coun Paul Wharton, Tory member for Farington, has submitted a motion to remove Coun Margaret Smith from the position. He claims other rebel Conservatives have also signed the motion, after growing concerned at her handing of the taxi licensing scandal.

Coun Wharton said: “The council has been dragged through enough and I’m trying to protect the integrity that’s left. We have to take this news seriously, it’s not a blip like she keeps saying.”

He added: “I was elected to represent the residents of my ward and I will not sit back complacently and allow the leader to further damage the reputation of our council.”

A month ago a secret report into child sexual exploitation by two taxi drivers was leaked to the press. In it the council was criticised for failing to carry out proper background checks. Since then a new probe has been launched into how a cabbie who tied up a disabled boy had his licence renewed.

The council and its leader have been criticised for failing to make the report public.

“I was elected to represent the residents of my ward and I will not sit back complacently and allow the leader to further damage the reputation of our council.”

Coun Paul Wharton

But Coun Smith says that she has done nothing wrong and still enjoys the confidence of the people of South Ribble.

She said: “I have been a councillor for 33 years, I have been a cabinet member, group leader and mayor and the people that come up to me say that they think I am doing a good job. What Councillor Wharton is asking me to do is something I cannot do, as the report [into the taxi licensing issues] will go to the chair of the scrutiny committee, not to me.

“I have done my very best to make sure that we have conducted ourselves as best we can in the circumstances, but there are protocols that must be followed.

“We still have members of staff who are suspended and they deserve a fair hearing.”

The motion has been received by council chief executive Mike Nuttall, who must now decide when a vote will be held on the matter. If a majority vote against Coun Smith, she will be removed from her position with immediate effect.

Coun Wharton’s decision to enter the motion comes after he received a phone call telling him he was suspended from the local Conservative group.

After challenging Coun John Rainsbury – party chief whip – over a lack of formal notification, he said he then received an email saying the matter was being considered by Conservative Party HQ.

Coun Wharton said: “I’m disappointed and upset about it because I’ve worked very hard for my residents and the party. I believe it’s completely personal because I’ve put my head above the trenches.”

Coun Rainsbury said it was a private group issue and all he could say was that Coun Wharton was “fully aware of his position”.

Coun Wharton said the reason he was given for his suspension was that he voted against a cabinet appointment last Wednesday.

In the same meeting three rising stars of the cabinet – brought to inject some youthful energy – departed amid bitter recriminations over the taxi licensing issue.

Two, Michael Green and Caroline Moon, refused to continue – claiming their positions had become “untenable” due to false opposition claims of a cover-up.

The third, Warren Bennett, was removed by Coun Smith just 48 hours after leaving his job as her deputy.

Labour Coun Claire Hamilton supported the motion. She said: “After last Wednesday’s meeting of the council, I felt I had no alternative.

“The Leader simply doesn’t seem to have grasped the enormity of what has happened.”

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

 

 

Nationwide drive for new taxi laws

A SURVIVORS’ group which helped tighten taxi rules in Rotherham after the child sex scandal wants stricter laws across the UK.

The Rotherham CSE Steering Group is writing to all councils in the country, urging them to take a similar stance with licensing.

New rules imposed by commissioner Mary Ney mean the majority of the borough’s cabs will need cameras and audio kit by July 6.

And “Katie”, a member of the steering group which advised RMBC, said: “We are now putting together a national plan to help prevent and reduce CSE.

“Part of our plan will be covering licensing policies, including taxis to make it safer for all passengers and drivers.

“We are contacting all councils throughout the UK to put our suggestions in place as we feel this can reduce all forms of crime.”

The steering group was consulted by Rotherham Borough Council on licensing changes explored after the Jay report highlighted the “prominent” role of taxis in CSE.

Now members — aiming to be heard by other authorities — have held meetings with Kirklees Council in Huddersfield, North Yorkshire County Council and spoken at a multi-agency event in Durham.

On Wednesday, they met Sheffield Council officials and group member “Jessica” said: “We’ve had some positive responses.

“I think they need to have stricter taxi licensing.

“Some drivers who are not happy about the cameras are moving to Sheffield or Barnsley for their plates but still operating in Rotherham.

“Why are people going to these lengths? The cameras are not going to be for child sexual exploitation, it could be an assault of a driver, anything.

“The main thing that we were fighting for with taxis is CCTV and audio. This is not just a problem for Rotherham, so it’s something we wanted to put in the national plan.”

RMBC’s new policy means all journeys must be video recorded, with audio activated when the passenger is a child or vulnerable adult. Drivers are unable to access footage.

The steering group has called for further measures to be introduced, including glass separating minicab drivers from passengers, a ban on under-16s in the front seat and enhanced DBS checks on drivers.

Jessica said: “People in our group like to put their ideas forward, but we’re all at different stages, so not everyone’s ready or feels strong enough to do meetings or conferences.

“At our art therapy group we have about 20 people but it’s a smaller core who are involved in the national plan.

“I’ve made friends in the steering group with people who I now speak to every single day.

“We want to tackle CSE from every angle, but that will take years to do.”

Rotherham drivers whose renewal date falls after July 6 have until they submit a new application to install the required equipment.

RMBC says this affects 150 of 780 vehicles.

The steering group can be contacted on RSG1400@mail.com.

source: http://rotherhamadvertiser.co.uk/

Apr 04

Minicab driver found with skunk haul in boot

Cannabis minicab: The Chrysler which police found laden with drugs

A MINICAB driver has been jailed for three years after police caught him with more than £30,000 of cannabis in the boot of his car.

Krzysztof Plaza, of Leopold Road, Edmonton, was stopped by officers on July 21 2011 after he left a lock-up in Orbital Business Park, in Argon Road, Upper Edmonton.

During a search of his Chrysler Voyager minicab the officers found a large holdall in the boot with 12 large pillows of skunk and a number of self-seal bags. The lock-up contained another six pillows of the skunk and two large bags of amphetamine of above-average purity. There were also three barrels of caffeine, a known cutting agent.

In total 12kg of cannabis were recovered with a street value of more than £33,000 and three kilos of amphetamine worth £22,000.

Plaza was charged with possession with intent to supply drugs. At Wood Green Crown Court on October 14, he admitted one count of possession with intent to supply and was found guilty of two other counts.

He said he was offered money to collect items from a lock-up and deliver to a place to be confirmed, but denied knowing what was in the lock-up or in his boot. He was sentenced last month to three years for the two counts he was convicted of, and two years, to run concurrently, for the charge he pleaded guilty to.

source: http://www.northlondon-today.co.uk/

Apr 04

Epping Forest joins 19th Century

TAXI drivers have welcomed plans to install meters and minimum fares in the district’s cabs.

The introduction of standard tariffs is due to be agreed on by Epping Forest District Council’s licensing committee later this month, after 150 taxi drivers of the 200 consulted said they agreed on the move.

Azid Sanu, 34, of the Epping Forest Taxi Association, said: “We think meters are a good thing.

“There are people out there who charge high fares and there are people who charge ridiculously low fares.

“It causes a lot of confusion, because if a passenger pays one fair one day and the next it’s doubled, as far as they’re concerned, they’re being ripped off.

“If the fair was regulated, everyone would charge the same.”

He said he had been in disputes with passengers over pay and had been forced to drive to police stations in the past when they had become aggressive.

“I hate doing that and would rather not,” he added. “It’s better for everybody if the fare is regulated.”

He said fitting meters would bring the district into line with neighbouring areas, including Redbridge, Harlow and Chelmsford.

Fellow driver Jamie Goodman, 30, said: “It’s about time. It’s better for the public, because they’ll be charged the same amount.

“A cab right now could take you from Epping to Loughton and the driver could charge you what they liked and you wouldn’t have a leg to stand on.”

He added that the standard fares would stop larger taxi firms under-cutting self-employed drivers.

“You have to make the fares realistic, with the price of fuel and insurance,” he said. “They (the council) will have to make sure they’re fair.”

The committee will also be reporting on the results of a consultation on where taxi ranks should be in the district at its next meeting, which will take place on April 11.

source: http://www.guardian-series.co.uk/

Apr 04

Taxi Marshalls for Falmouth

MARSHALLS will be patrolling Falmouth’s main taxi rank for the first time this weekend to try and bring an end to the late-night violence that has plagued The Moor in recent months.

The scheme will see security guards wearing hi-visibility vests stationed at the rank between 11.30pm and 3.30am on both Friday and Saturday nights.

Their role will be to monitor behaviour in the area, chat with people waiting for taxis, address any unwanted behaviour and report more serious matters directly to the police through the town radio system.

The service has been introduced after an increase in incidents of violent anti-social behaviour in the area.

Inspector Mark Richards of Falmouth police said: “Most people recognise that Falmouth is busier now much later into the night than it used to be.

“Sometimes those out visiting the town put themselves in a position where they can become victims through the amount of alcohol they have consumed.

“This service isn’t a knee jerk reaction to an increase in incidents but a measured response to a change in behaviour nationally.

“It is one of the many ways we can work as a community to keep Falmouth a top destination for an evening or night out.

“Almost all of the pubs, clubs and restaurants in the town have recognised this and have put up money to ensure their customers stay safe using the area around the taxi rank and The Moor.”

John Richards, managing director of Infinitus Security, who will be providing the guards, added: “I have personally selected the trained staff to take on this unique role.

“I have made it clear to my team that this is a customer service role, there to improve the feel of a night out in town.

“We do not have the powers of the police and will only ever intervene to protect a person or property from serious harm.

“We hope to provide a welcome focal point for people as they wend their way safely home.”

The scheme will run continuously throughout the year with a review at 3 months by the partnership to ensure that its objectives are being met and to tailor the service if needed.

The scheme has been backed by taxi drivers, University College Falmouth and the University of Exeter, local pubs, clubs and businesses and Falmouth Town Council.

Tom Arrington, chair of the Falmouth Taxi Association added, “Support from local businesses has been outstanding and highlights the common aim to continue to make Falmouth a good night out for a huge diversity of people.

“The scheme has been put in place to actively encourage people to use the taxi rank, and the Moor area, and to feel safe while doing so.”

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

Apr 03

Pivotal taxi case ends in conviction

A High Court decision that makes it clear that taxi drivers who pick up fares outside of the area they are licensed in are invalidating their insurance has led to a Newcastle driver being convicted.

Frederick Roy Page, a hackney carriage driver from Cowgate, Newcastle, pleaded guilty to driving without valid insurance during a re-hearing at Gateshead Magistrates on March 6.

Mr Page had first been before magistrates in the town on May 20 2011 to face charges of illegally plying for hire and of operating without valid insurance. He pleaded not guilty to both charges and following trial was convicted of illegally plying for hire, but not for operating without valid insurance. Magistrates handed him a 12 month conditional discharge and ordered him to pay £120 costs.

Following the court result, Gateshead Council chose to appeal the decision on insurance. On February 13, the High Court agreed to overturn the previous decision and refer the case back to Gateshead Magistrates for a re-hearing.

At the re-hearing, Mr Page pleaded guilty to driving without valid insurance. He was handed six penalty points on his driving licence, a £125 fine and ordered to pay a £15 victim surcharge.

Mr Page was originally caught during a routine test purchase operation staged by Gateshead Council licensing officers in October 2010. Despite being a Newcastle licensed hackney carriage, Mr Page picked up a fare in Gateshead. The law clearly states that hackney carriages (taxis) are not permitted to pick up fares outside of their licensed area without a booking.

Gateshead Council head of development and public protection, Anneliese Hutchinson, said: “This case is an important one for everyone who lives in, works in, or visits Gateshead and sends out a very clear message to taxi drivers. Hackney carriages are only permitted to pick up in the area they are licensed for, if they do not they are invalidating their insurance – a fact now clarified by the High Court.

“This is about the safety of passengers, if they are travelling in a taxi they need to know that it has insurance that would cover them in the unlikely event of an accident. Taxi drivers must take personal responsibility for the safety of their passengers, driving without valid insurance is simply not acceptable.

source: http://www.gateshead.gov.uk/

Apr 03

Petrol and Diesel – 16 p per Gallon Fuel Tax Rise – Help Us Stop It!

Dear FairFuelUK Supporter
Petrol and diesel have dominated the news headlines over the last few days. This email update is to let you know our take on the situation and to ask you for a little help.
Here is how we see it:
  1. The real ‘fuel crisis’ is not the current particular dispute between the tanker drivers and their employers. Important as it is to see this dispute resolved fairly and quickly, the real ‘fuel crisis’ is the scandalously high price that families and businesses are having to pay for petrol & diesel. This will be made worse by the fact that the Government waived through in the Budget another 16p a gallon in fuel taxes to hit us all this summer.
  2. The reaction to the possible disruption to fuel supplies has surely showed the Government one thing …. PETROL & DIESEL ARE ABSOLUTELY VITAL TO FAMILIES, BUSINESSES AND THE ENTIRE ECONOMY. Our argument is that forcing up prices by increasing fuel duty is hurting families, damaging business and holding back growth. All our polling shows that fuel tax is the nation’s number 1 priority and recent figures have showed that Britain’s economy is hardly growing at all. The Government is investing hundreds of millions of pounds in ‘job creation’ to fight unemployment. As well as truly understanding the suffering that high petrol & diesel prices are causing, they need to listen to our research which clearly shows that CUTTING FUEL DUTY is the most effective way of creating jobs and boosting growth. If you have not done so already, please see the evidence at http://fairfueluk.com/cebr.html
Some people have asked why FairFuelUK doesn’t support the idea of hauliers and farmers ‘blockading’ refineries and stopping the flow of fuel to protest about high prices. Please go to this link for a review of the Campaign’s position.
Over the next few weeks, we will be fighting in Parliament to see the 16p a gallon increase, waived through in the Budget speech, scrapped and to make the Government see that it should be cutting fuel duty, not raising it!
We need your help to give us the power to make the politicians listen. We are fortunate to be supported by the RAC, the Road Haulage Association, the Freight Transport Association and The Fuelcard Company. On top of that, we have over 235,000 individual supporters like you. That figure of 235,000 is impressive – but it needs to be so much higher! This is where we need your help. There are 30 million motorists in the country. We need to spread the word to those millions of potential supporters that they don’t need to go and ‘blockade’. What they need to do is sign up to www.fairfueluk.com so that the Government realise they are facing a massive and growing movement of public opinion.
Please, as a matter of urgency do these three simple things:
1. Please ask everyone you know to sign up to www.fairfueluk.com – every extra signup (it’s free and only takes a few seconds) really does make our argument more powerful. There’s a simple copy and paste email below that you can send to your address book.
2. Help us spread word of the campaign by a powerful showing of our ‘CUT FUEL DUTY NOW’ sticker campaign. You can order them here http://fairfueluk.com/sticker___donations.html
3. Please post your experiences and comments on our blog at http://fairfueluk.com/quentins_blog.php so that we can see how the price of petrol & diesel are affecting you.
We had some success last year defeating over 9p per litre of rises in fuel duty. We were hugely disappointed that the chancellor ignored our calls in the recent Budget but with your help and support, the fight goes on!
Kind regards,
The FairFuelUK Team

Apr 03

Warning for future mayor over breach

DEPUTY Lord Mayor Majid Khan failed to reveal he personally knew a taxi firm boss before ruling on his licence application.

A standards committee issued a formal warning after the Labour city councillor, who is due to become Lord Mayor in May, breached the members’ code of conduct by failing to declare an interest.

Councillors are required by law to declare an interest before meetings if their personal involvement with a business, person or topic of debate could influence decisions.

Javid Ahktar, owner of City Centre Taxis, in Tunstall, claimed to have known Mr Khan socially for up to 20 years before they came face-to-face at a meeting of the licensing and registration panel.

He said Mr Khan also visited his taxi base, on High Street, “at least” five times to canvass for votes in the run-up to elections in May 2010 – although he pledged support for a rival.

Mr Ahktar, of Park Terrace, Tunstall, applied to be exempt from displaying private hire plates so he could use his own car for executive hire.

He failed to attend yesterday’s meeting, but in a written statement he said he was “chuffed” to see Mr Khan on the licensing panel as he thought the application “would be agreed without any problem as they knew me”.

The application was unanimously turned down at the meeting in November 2010, prompting Mr Ahktar to make a complaint and ring Mr Khan’s mobile to berate him.

Mr Khan said visiting the taxi base in the run-up to the election, accompanied by councillor Bagh Ali, and sharing a drink with Mr Ahktar.

He said he wanted the support of Mr Ahktar, his family and some of his 100 drivers.

But he denied knowing the taxi boss for years, and said he did not know him well enough to declare an interest.

Clare Clarke, the council’s deputy monitoring officer, said: “The question is would such a meeting, or meetings, come within the definition of a personal interest? My view is that it would.

“Councillor Khan had, on his own version of events, visited the taxi base owned by Mr Ahktar on three or four occasions.

“On one of these, he sat down and shared a drink with him.

“It is my view that a member of the public would consider that councillor Khan might be prepared to favour Mr Ahktar when dealing with a matter that affected him. The fact he did not support the application is irrelevant; the breach had already taken place.”

Mr Khan told the committee: “My decision was based on the fact that the person was not more than an acquaintance to me or a family member.

“All I can say is sorry for making that wrong judgment based on the information that was given to me.”

Mr Khan, who quit the panel after the complaint was made, won a seat in Tunstall, but stood successfully in Etruria and Hanley in 2011.

Joan Carr, the panel’s independent chairman, told him: “The sanctions will be a formal censure, confirmed in writing, and you will participate in training with the monitoring officer and myself on registering an interest – with particular emphasis on public perception.”

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

Apr 03

New taxi is worth hailing

A prototype of the Nissan NV 200

NEW YORK — In a cab and your cellphone just died? No problem. Just plug it in.

New cabs hitting the streets of New York City next year will have charging ports for riders’ electronics. They’ll also have more leg room, a large skylight roof to gaze at the city skyscrapers and even odor-reducing and anti-microbial fabric to help deal with, well, you know, anything you might smell in the backseat of a cab.

A prototype of the Nissan NV200 will be unveiled Tuesday. The model was selected from among three finalists in a city competition.

With a boxy shape and painted a brighter yellow than the city’s current taxis, the cab offers a different experience for riders — starting with a flat, hump-less floor that makes shifting from one side to the other a simple task.

City Taxi and Limousine Commissioner David Yassky said busy New Yorkers looking to get from point A to point B would find plenty to appreciate about the rides that get them there.

“New Yorkers are pragmatic but they also appreciate quality. This is a higher-quality taxi ride than what they’re getting today,” he said Monday.

The doors on the vehicles slide open, so no more risk of hitting a passing bicycle messenger, and they’ll all come with a navigation system, so no more getting lost in the outer boroughs. There are floor lights, to help find anything that may have fallen to the floor, as well as overhead lights for reading. Luggage can go into the cargo space in the rear.

The Nissan van, which beat out proposals from Ford Motor Co. and Turkey’s Karsan, will be phased in beginning in October 2013 as older taxis age out of service. All current taxis, including the city’s hybrid cabs, will be off the streets by 2018. Nissan spokesman Steven Oldham said the company would be undertaking a pilot program with the Nissan Leaf electric car to see if it would be feasible to make the taxis electric in the coming years.

The vehicles will sell for about $29,000, and will come with the partitions included, Yassky said. Meters and the medallions will be the responsibilities of the buyers.

source: : http://www.timesunion.com/business/

 

Apr 03

Taxi spy-cams under review in Southampton

Taxi spy-cams under review

A REVIEW of compulsory spy cameras in taxis has been launched by councillors after a judge said the policy was “not lawful” but ruled he couldn’t overturn it.

Taxi boss Kevin May launched a legal challenge after the council three years ago brought in conditions requiring cameras to be fitted to new and replacement taxis and private hire cars.

About 450 of the 1,000 cars in Southampton have the cameras fitted, which record images and all conversations and cannot be switched off by drivers. They cost up to £700 each, of which cabbies have to pay about £300.

The city council insists they are needed for the safety of drivers and passengers.

But Mr May argued the recordings breached his human rights.

He has been backed by privacy watchdogs and the Information Commissioner, who said the capture of the recordings was “excessive and disproportionate, and therefore unfair”.

A crown court judge ruled he had no jurisdiction to overturn the camera policy but added that if he had he would have found it was “not lawful”.

He said the recording of every conversation was “invasive”, “disproportionate” and a “violation” of Article 8 of the Human Rights Act, the right to privacy.

Mr May has threatened to go to the High Court for a judicial review if councillors don’t amend the policy.

Councillors are launching a 12- week consultation on the taxicam policy before deciding whether to change it. But they refused to suspend the policy in the meantime at the request of cabbies.

source: http://www.dailyecho.co.uk/news/9627511

Apr 02

Smoggy taxi marshal trial will not be continued

A BID to reconsider a decision to continue a trial taxi marshal scheme has been rejected.

The taxi marshals operate at peak times at weekends in Wilson Street, in Middlesbrough.

Recently Julia Rostron, executive councillor for community safety, agreed to continue the trial while efforts continued to find a permanent solution to issues of hackney carriages and private hire vehicles using Wilson Street.

But Councillor Michael Hudson led a call-in of the decision because the decision to extend the trial of taxi marshals was “unfair towards the private hire trade and fails to consider public safety and fails to consider the other options”.

The call-in was considered by the council’s Overview and Scrutiny Board.

Cllr Hudson was accompanied by solicitor John Ellwood who told the Overview and Scrutiny Board that a consultant’s report commissioned by the council had recommended against taxi marshals being used in Wilson Street.

It said marshals should be used on super-ranks to be established elsewhere in the town.

Mr Ellwood said that closing some hackney carriage ranks on Wilson Street and moving them elsehwere and having taxi marshals in those locations was a solution.

Private hire vehicles would then be able to pick up and drop off passengers in Wilson Street.

Councillor Rostron said: “My decision to extend the trial period was made after considering all the facts and looking at all the correspondence we received, particularly from the police. More people were in favour of taxi marshals than were opposed to them.

“Public order and safety has improved since the taxi marshals were introduced. We are looking to find a permanent solution and we are giving ourselves more time to find that permanent solution.”

The Overview and Scrutiny Board rejected the call to refer the issue back to Cllr Rostron for further consideration.

Councillor Jan Brunton, chairman of the Overview and Scrutiny Board said: “The executive councillor had lots of information and the decision has been made on that. In the interests of public safety I agree with the decision that was taken.”

Read More http://www.gazettelive.co.uk/news/

Apr 02

Taxi drivers in North Yorkshire to help tackle crime

Anything we can do to improve the safety of cab drivers and reduce the number of violent assaults on cab drivers should be welcomed with open arms."

Taxi drivers in North Yorkshire are being asked to join a scheme to help tackle crime in the area.

Taxi Watch will give drivers across Scarborough, Filey and Whitby direct contact with the borough council’s CCTV operation to report incidents.

Taxi drivers will be able to become the “eyes and ears of the town” raising any concerns they may have.

Brian Hall, a taxi driver, said the scheme would not only ensure the public’s safety but drivers’ too.

The volunteer scheme asks drivers to report any issues they come across, from drunken fighting to concerns over a vulnerable person alone on the street.

Wayne Casey, from the National Taxi Association, said the scheme was a good idea

“Anything the cab and private hire trade can do to help people out is good,” he said.

“Anything we can do to improve the safety of cab drivers and reduce the number of violent assaults on cab drivers should be welcomed with open arms.”

But Nick Pickles, from Big Brother Watch, said: “Taxi drivers are not police officers. If there is a problem in these town centres it needs to get sorted out.

“If we’ve lost control of the streets shouldn’t we be asking why?

“If something happened before cabbies could ring 999, so what we’re doing now is saying rather than just the serious stuff, tell us anything of interest.”

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

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