Daimler to take stake in UK taxi app Hailo

The Ft reports that Daimler will increase its drive into the world of car booking services by taking a stake in Hailo, the UK taxi app.

The owner of Mercedes-Benz will announce a deal to partner with the service as early as Tuesday, according to people briefed on the matter, write Peter Campbell in London and James Fontanella-Khan in New York.

It already owns MyTaxi, a German company it bought in 2014 that links consumers to nearby taxis.

The deal will be the latest advancement by automakers into ride booking services, which many in the industry believe may be the future of urban transport.

General Motors has made a $500m investment in US group Lyft, Volkswagen has taken a $300m stake in Israeli app Gett, and Toyota has announced an undisclosed investment in Uber.

These deals allow the car makers to develop on-demand services and share technology with the app groups.

They also propel the car groups to the front of the queue to sell vehicles to taxi operators or minicab drivers, in a time when personal ownership is expected to dwindle in city centres – especially among younger people – and be replaced with a greater number of “on demand” services.

The founder of Gett, Shahar Waiser, has predicted that within a decade, half of all journeys made will be using a vehicle summoned by an app.

While services such as Gett and Hailo link consumers with taxi drivers, Uber has its own drivers who do not have to be members of a taxi group.

Hailo, which launched in 2011, has not been without setbacks in its journey so far, and has been seeking a strategic investor for some time.

The company, which has raised around $100m to date, pulled out of the US and Canadian markets in 2014 after saying that strong competition from Uber and Lyft rendered it unprofitable. At the same time, Jay Bregman, co-founder and co-chief executive, left the company.

Its current investors include investment group Accel, Wellington Partners and Sir Richard Branson. The group continues to operate in cities across Europe including London, Madrid, Barcelona and Dublin.

In 2014, the most recent year for which figures are available, Hailo Network Holdings Limited reported a pre-tax loss of £10m.

Hailo and Daimler were not immediately available for comment. The planned investment by Daimler was first reported on the Sky News website.

source: http://www.ft.com/

Minicab driver Assaulted After Teens Fled Without Paying

A private-hire driver has ended up in hospital after being an assaulted in Plymouth.

The 46 year old suffered injuries to his head and face after picking up a group of teenagers from a pub on North Hill.

Police say they tried to run off without paying at Honicknowle Lane and when the driver followed one of the group, he was assaulted.

Officers are urging anyone who saw something in the early hours of Sunday to come forward.

A spokesman from Devon and Cornwall Police said: “Police are appealing for witnesses following an assault on a private-hire driver on Honicknowle Lane, Plymouth, at around 5am on Sunday 24th July.

“A Private-hire First blue Ford Mondeo estate picked up four teenagers near the Carpe Diem pub, North Hill around 4.50am, and drove the group to Honicknowle Lane.

“On arrival at Honicknowle Lane, all four occupants fled the private-hire without paying. The driver followed one of the group who, along with another person, proceeded to assault the private-hire driver.

“The victim, a 46 year old local man, sustained head and facial injuries which required hospital treatment.

“The four occupants of the private-hire are described as a white female aged 16 to 18 with long blonde hair, and three white men, all aged between 16 and 18 and around 5”3 in height.

“One man was of slim build wearing a black baseball cap black jacket and grey bottoms; another was wearing a black baseball cap, wearing a dark top, and carrying a black man bag. The other man wasn’t wearing a cap but was also carrying a black man bag over his shoulder.

“Police are appealing for witnesses to the attack and for any information to help the investigation.”

Anyone with any information is asked to contact the police on 101 or 101@dc.police.uk quoting police crime reference CR/050256/16.

You can also give information anonymously through Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

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

New policy after South Ribble Council taxi licence row

Months after a taxi licensing scandal broke at South Ribble Council, a comprehensive regulation policy has been agreed.

Council members have voted to approve a draft document outlining the council’s policies including a ‘fit and proper person test’, qualifications needed and condition of vehicles.

Previously, the authority’s policy could be found within numerous decisions taken by the General Licensing Committee over previous years.

Councillor John Rainsbury, committee chairman, said this was the case for 80 per cent of borough councils across the country.

However, following a high-profile investigation into failings of South Ribble’s licensing department – including drivers being given licenses without correct documentation and reports of child sexual exploitation by two taxi drivers – it was “seen as best practice to have a comprehensive policy as it promotes a transparent and consistent approach towards the regulation of the trade”.

Developing a policy was also the number one recommendation made by independent solicitors who reviewed the council’s licensing functions.

Labour Councillor Matthew Tomlinson asked for two amendments to be made to the policy, which were agreed.

The first point related to items of clothing deemed inappropriate for drivers.

He said: “It’s picking out clothing that women might wear and I think that’s casual sexism. Just take it out and say inappropriate clothing, we all know what that means.”

He also suggested adding a requirement that a driver should have a valid driving licence, as there has been a case where a driver did not have permission to drive in the UK.

Coun Warren Bennett suggested reducing the time between health checks from five years to three years, but it was decided that this should go to consultation.

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

Teenagers jailed for knife and meat cleaver attacks on taxi drivers

TEENAGERS who lured taxi drivers into a series of New Year attacks and robberies have been jailed.

Ryan Costello, 18, and Anthony Graham, 19, attempted to rob four separate taxi drivers over two nights starting in the early hours of New Year’s Day.

Bolton Crown Court heard how one of the drivers was so badly hurt that his life has been ruined and the teenagers are regarded as so dangerous that the court imposed an extended sentence for public protection.

Judge Richard Gioserano sentenced Costello to six years and nine months in custody and Graham to seven years and two months. They will each spend an additional three years on licence.

The court heard how the defendants called Royal Taxis in Bury asking for a taxi on what is the busiest night of the year for taxi drivers.

Javed Ahmed picked up the pair from Coronation Road, Radcliffe, taking them on a round trip to get pizza.

But on their return Costello produced a knife which he held to Mr Ahmed’s throat and shouted: “Give me your money, give me everything, give me your phone.”

Craig Macgregor, prosecuting, said: “Mr Ahmed was very scared — he could feel the sharp blade against his throat. He thought he was going to be cut. Then the blade was held to his left cheek.”

The driver managed to escape the car and scream for help, at which point the defendants ran away.

Undeterred, the teenagers then called Royal Peel Cars to Coronation Road at 4.30am and driver Abdul Anjum arrived.

While Graham asked him to open the door, Costello held up an eight inch bladed machete and “brought it down with force” towards Mr Anjum’s head.

The taxi driver was then pulled out of the car by Graham, with Mr Anjum telling the robbers to take his money.

But Graham continued to punch the victim in the head and back, laughing as he rained down blows.

“Graham was saying ‘you should be recording this’ and at this point Costello then used the machete to hit him (Mr Anjum) on his leg just below his knee,” said Mr Macgregor.

The teenagers then stole £350 before running off.

The court heard how Mr Anjum had to have an operation on his leg and, in a statement read out in court said: “I feel like this has destroyed my life. I have lost my independence and I am scared and paranoid.

“I do not trust people any more. I can walk but I have to keep stopping to rest between and it is very painful.

“I am unable to pray because I can’t kneel down and I struggle to get to the mosque. It has had a huge impact on my life.

“This incident has destroyed my plans for the future, I don’t how long it will be before I get better or if I will get better at all.”

In the early hours of the next day the pair targeted another two taxi drivers.

Mohammed Ahmed, from Swiftline Taxis, picked them up at 2.45am on Coronation Road and the court heard how Costello, sat in the back of the vehicle, was bragging about the “attempted murder” of Mr Anjum the previous night.

When the taxi stopped in Coppice Street Costello, said to have been armed with a meat cleaver, and Graham demanded money from Mr Ahmed.

The final victim was Ibrahim Ali who works for Magnum Taxis.

He was called to Mossfield Close in Bury and as the defendants got to the taxi they told him to get his money out.

Mr Ali called the police and both youths were found at a flat in the street, where police retrieved a hunting knife with an eight inch blade and a meat cleaver.

A phone was also recovered which had been used to call all four taxis.

Costello, of Coronation Road, Radcliffe and Graham, of Mossfield Close, Bury, both pleaded guilty to conspiracy to rob and wounding with intent.

The court heard how both defendants had taken a cocktail of drink and drugs when the offences were committed.

Mark Friend defending Costello said: “He is still haunted by what he did and it’s clear that the defendant has had a very difficult start in life.”

Michael Lea, defending Graham said: “He has had a troubled childhood and a troubled family background.

“He had taken a cocktail of drink and drugs which is no excuse, but that’s the position that he was in.”

Passing sentence on the teenagers, Judge Richard Gioserano said: “You, Ryan Costello, issued a merciless attack on a defenceless man, you attacked him before he had the chance to say that you could take his money.

“He was a man at night working alone providing a public service and he was outnumbered and defenceless and it had a devastating effect on his life.

“It was not an isolated attack and instead you repeatedly lured in other taxi drivers to attack them.

“One night’s violence was not enough to you two and you moved on to your next victim, leaving the last victim to live with what you did to him for the rest of his life.

“Both of you pose a significant risk of serious harm to the public.”

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

View sought on council’s new taxi policy

A consultation on the draft policy was given the go-ahead this week by councillors at Licensing Committee. It will run until 22 August.

The council is responsible for licensing hackney carriage and private hire vehicles and their associated proprietors and operators throughout the city.

The aim of the proposed policy is to give a clear statement on how the council will work with operators to protect the public and the environment and deliver a professional, respected and easy to access taxi service for all.

One of the most important elements of the proposed new policy is the objective to license only low emissions taxi vehicles by 2026.

Air quality is poor in a number of locations in the city where there is a concentration of emissions from buses, taxis and service vehicles.

The council’s Air Quality Action Plan last year identified reducing emissions from taxis and buses as one key policy to help improve air quality here.

Incentives to encourage the take-up of low emission taxis, in order to help meet the proposed 2026 targets that are under consideration in the proposed new policy, include:

  • A discount or exemption on fees for drivers of ‘Low Emission Taxis’ (petrol electric hybrids) or ‘Ultra-Low Emission Taxis’ (fully electric);
  • Extending the maximum age limit allowed for taxis if they are fully electric or petrol/electric hybrids;
  • Creating an electric taxi-only rank;
  • Providing a number of taxi-only charging points.

Other initiatives under consideration in the proposed policy include:

 

  • Making training in safeguarding and disability awareness mandatory for all taxi licence holders;
  • A review of the current medical examination requirements for licensed drivers;
  • Prohibiting the use of e-cigarettes or similar devices in taxis.

The current policy, which has been updated from time to time, has been in place since October 2011 and is now due for review.

Cllr Gerri Bird, Chair of Licensing Committee, said: “For a number of residents of the city, as well as people doing business here or visiting, the taxi trade provides an important service.

“It’s the council’s job to provide a taxi service that’s safe, accessible to all and meets demand.

“Low emission taxis are less polluting and have lower operating costs, so it is right that we look at encouraging their take-up by the taxi trade.

“Our draft policy sets out the high standards we expect and I would encourage everyone to take this opportunity to have their say on the future operation of this important city transport service.”

Residents, visitors, taxi operators and others can take part in the consultation which will be published at: https://www.cambridge.gov.uk/consultations/tell-us-what-you-think-of-our-revised-taxi-licensing-policy .

Consultation letters to taxi operators and other stakeholders will also be sent out and a trade forum held.

All comments will be taken into account in preparing the final policy and the results of the consultation will be discussed by councillors at the next Licensing Committee on 17 October.

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

Nov 05

Bournemouth’s taxi marshals to go in row over funding


WELCOMED DECISION: Taxi driver Paul Sondheim

TAXI marshals are set to disappear from Bournemouth’s streets by Christmas, after plans to cover their cost by increasing cab fares were rejected.

A lack of funding means the marshals will no longer be able to patrol the town’s busy Horseshoe Common rank, where they currently try and prevent trouble breaking out between night-time drinkers.

Licensing officers had suggested increasing taxi fees to enable the £1,000 a month marshal service to continue, which would have meant higher fares for customers.

But this sparked protests from taxi drivers and councillors on Bournemouth’s licensing committee ruled against the idea.

Cllr Andrew Morgan, chair of the committee, said: “We felt that it would an unreasonable burden on the taxi trade.

“Drivers are finding it tough enough at the moment without any extra fee to pay for the taxi marshals.

“It would have discriminated between private hire and Hackney carriages and it would have meant that someone leaving a party in Strouden Park, for example, would have had to pay extra to fund marshals at Horseshoe Common when they were not going anywhere near the town centre.”

Driver Paul Sondheim welcomed the decision: “It was ridiculous for them to even contemplate putting an extra fee on our fares when we are in the middle of a recession.

“This is a policing matter, not a matter for taxi drivers. We already pay enough money to the town hall.”

And John Tye, chair of the Bournemouth Taxi Trade Association, agreed: “I’m pleased the board recognised that this is not a taxi trade problem but is about crowd control, public order and public safety.”

Councillors also discussed the possible reopening of St Peter’s Road and Fir Vale Road to try and reduce the pressure on the Horseshoe Common taxi rank.

Their recommendation that this should be considered will go before the next cabinet meeting.

source: Daily Echo

Nov 05

New livery for Tendring’s taxi fleet


Colin Bennett, of the Tendring District Taxi Association

TAXIS in Tendring look set to be painted a uniform colour, despite opposition from drivers.

Councillors voted on Tuesday to accept a range of proposals to improve the service in the district.

Among the 14 points was a decision that all taxis will have a standard design and colour to make them easily identifiable.

Other proposals include:

• Enhanced tests and interviews for new drivers

• Minimum dress code

• CCTV allowed in cars

Colin Bennett, of Tendring District Taxi Association, said: ”We are in favour of the scheme except the uniform colour for cars.

“That’s the only stumbling block as it costs money, and if drivers want to go out other than for work it would cost several hundred pounds to get magnetic plates to cover it up.”

Jose Powell, who chaired the committee meeting, said: “We hope it will bring Tendring up to scratch with other places, and make it a little bit more respectable and more uniform.”

source: http://www.clactonandfrintongazette.co.uk/news/localnews/9340248.New_livery_for_Tendring_s_taxi_fleet/

Nov 05

Private hire driver ‘had weapons’ the night of Birmingham riots

A PRIVATE hire driver was caught with his face covered and found to have weapons in his car on one of the nights of the Birmingham riots.

On a separate occasion, another private hire cabbie was alleged to have sexually assaulted a female passenger.

Both men have had their private hire licences suspended until the court proceedings have finished.

Details of the two allegations were given to the city council’s licensing committee which is responsible for issuing private hire and Hackney Carriage licences.

Chris Neville, head of licensing, told councillors police stopped a private hire driver on August 8 – the second night of rioting – in Lawley Middleway, Bordesley. His face was “fully covered” and police found in his car a metal bar and a kitchen knife with a 12-inch blade.

He was charged with possessing an offensive weapon and a sharply pointed article.

Mr Neville said on August 8 in a separate incident, his officers were told by police that a female passenger alleged that a cabbie had sexually assualted her.

Court proceedings are ongoing against both men and until these are resolved, their private hire licences had been suspended, he said. A third driver also had his licence suspended after he collapsed and suffered a fit while attending an appointment at the licensing office on September 27.

He will have to undergo a medical before it is given back to him.

Mr Neville said officials acted quickly in the case of all three men as “the interests of public safety are paramount”.

Councillors were also told that during August, 11 private hire drivers went before magistrates accused of illegally plying for hire.

Only black cabs, Hackney Carriages, are allowed to pick up fares in the street. All private hire passengers have to be pre-booked.

Illegally plying for hire invalidates their insurance, so the 11 drivers were also prosecuted for this. Mr Neville said the 11 were all fined between £130 and £465 plus costs, and had points on their licences.

source: http://www.birminghammail.net/news/top-stories/2011/11/03/private-hire-driver-had-weapons-the-night-of-birmingham-riots-97319-29710121/#ixzz1cp9iJXG3

Nov 05

Gruff justice for cab driver?

A circuit court at Fiapre near Sunyani has remanded a 22 year-old taxi driver into Prison custody for stealing six live goats at Odumase in Sunyani West District.

Kwasi Isaac pleaded not guilty to a charge of stealing and will re-appear before the court on Nov 9, 2011.

Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Mawuno Ngnebge prosecuting told the court presided by Mr. Benjamin Osei that the complainant in the case was a Police officer stationed at the Brong Ahafo Regional Police Headquarters in Sunyani whilst the accused lives at Abesim near Sunyani.

He said on October 29th this year the Police Officer had information that a driver of a taxi cab with registration number AS 2353T was heading towards a remote village in Tain near Odumase to steal animals.

The prosecutor said the Officer quickly moved to the village, Kwame-Broni Krom near Odumase at about 0100 hours and spotted the accused in his taxi cab.

The Police Officer stopped him but he refused and sped-off and as he pursued him the driver abandoned his vehicle and dashed into the bush.

ASP Ngnegbe said the Officer, however, managed to arrest him and sent him to where the cab was parked and upon a search six live goats were found tied inside the car.

He said the accused and the goats were sent to the Police Station and was charged with the offence after interrogation.

The court ordered the goats be given to the complainant for safe keeping and would be used as exhibits.

source: ghana news agency/

Nov 04

CHERWELL Council in court over taxi driver’s licence

CHERWELL District Council was at the High Court on Wednesday in its campaign to ensure a taxi driver is stripped of his licence after he admitted assaulting his wife.

Father-of-three Naveed Anwar, 30, had been a cabbie for six years when, in March 2009, he pleaded guilty to attacking his wife, Samir, and was handed a community sentence.

And when he revealed the conviction to the district council in September 2009, it refused to renew his Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Vehicle licenses, saying he was not “a fit and proper person” to drive around the paying public.

However, in January last year, Cherwell was left furious when Banbury Magistrates’ Court upheld Mr Anwar’s appeal, and restored his licences, after hearing of the dire financial consequences for his children and wife, with whom he is now reconciled.

The council has refused to accept the magistrates’ ruling – saying an important point of principle is at stake – and challenged their decision at London’s High Court.

Council barrister Tom Horder said it was every local authority’s primary duty to ensure the safety of cab passengers. The loss of Mr Anwar’s livelihood, and the consequences for his young family, were simply “irrelevant” to the issue of whether he was fit to drive a taxi.

However, Tim Boswell, defending Mr Anwar, said the magistrates were right to find that the attack on his wife was an “isolated offence”. A domestic argument, the court heard, had “got out of hand” and the couple are now back together and there have been no similar problems since.

He pointed to the evidence of the chairman of the Taxi Association, Mr Sikander Hayat, that to strip Mr Anwar of his livelihood would be “a punishment beyond the crime”.

Judge Bidder QC reserved his decision on the council’s appeal, saying he would give his ruling as soon as possible.

source: http://www.oxfordtimes.co.uk/news/9343976.Council_in_court_over_taxi_driver_s_licence/

Nov 04

Wrong way taxi driver ‘pressured by passenger’

A TAXI driver who drove the wrong direction along a one-way street to pacify a raging commuter who was late for work has been fined for flouting the rules of the road.

Zalal Abdul, 38, of Brookfield, Woking, was just five days into his new job behind the wheel when he caved into pressure from the angry customer, who ordered him to deliberately drive the wrong way down a road outside Woking Railway Station for fear he would miss his train.

Abdul, who admitted failing to comply with a no entry sign when he appeared at South West Surrey Magistrates’ Court in Guildford on Tuesday, claimed he felt pressurised to comply with the passenger on the morning of May 13.

Describing the incident, prosecutor Zeltia Carrera said: “The statement provided by PC Brown of Surrey Police states the offence took place at 9.10am, the officer was in Station Approach and saw the driver go the wrong way down a one-way street.”

After dropping off his fare at Woking Railway Station, the driver was promptly pulled over by police and quickly admitted his mistake.

“He said: ‘I know I shouldn’t have done it, the passenger was late and told me to drive there,’” added Miss Carrera.

Abdul refused a fixed penalty notice at the roadside in May for fear extra penalty points would add to the six he received in October 2008 for driving without insurance and leave him without a licence and a chance to earn a living.

Pleading for leniency from the bench, Abdul, who was representing himself in court, claimed he needed to keep his licence to support his wife and two-year-old son.

Explaining the incident, he said: “I saw the no-entry sign and I knew I couldn’t enter. As soon as I went to drop him he was screaming, ‘I don’t you dare because I’m already late.’”

The defendant explained that the taxi had already been forced to take a longer route because of the closure of Elm Bridge in Kingfield, further antagonising the passenger.

He added: “Other cars started beeping me from behind so I went [down the one-way street] and he was gone and he didn’t pay me. That’s when the police saw me and I started trying to explain.”

Chairman of the magistrates Patrick Jordan warned Abdul: “We are going to deal with this by means of the three penalty points on your licence.

“We have listened to what you have said and we can appreciate the difficulty you found yourself in, being shouted at by a customer.Nonetheless being a taxi driver is a very important job – you are a professional driver and you must drive to your best professional skills.”

Now working in a takeaway restaurant, Abdul was also ordered to pay a fine of £60, court costs of £60 and a surcharge of £15. Mr Jordan added: “If you go back to driving a taxi we expect the highest professional standards.”

source: OMG this guy’s mad

Nov 03

Thurrock Taxi association fumes as cabbie is banned

THURROCK Council has moved to quash fears that checks on taxi drivers have not been carried out properly for nine years.

Thurrock Licensed Drivers Association wrote to the council last week expressing “grave concerns” about DVLA and Criminal Records Bureau checks on badge holders in the borough.

The association said checks may not have been carried out properly between 2000 and 2009, because a taxi driver, whose driving licence was suspended after a speeding conviction in 2000, was still able to renew her licence with the council.

A Thurrock Council spokesman said this was a one off case.

He said: “Between 2000 and 2009 Thurrock Council licensed about 400 taxi drivers, all of whom had both a DVLA and CRB check carried out on them.

“These records were held manually and the council recognises that, in this case, an error was made. This was addressed as soon as it was realised.”

He added: “An audit was completed to confirm the accuracy of all the other drivers’ records”

Linda Butler, the driver in question, was fined for speeding in 2000. She paid the fine and thought nothing more of it, until she was stopped for a routine check by police in 2009. Ms Butler was shocked to be told her licence was suspended as she hadn’t handed it in to get the points added.

But she had encountered no problems when she renewed her badge with Thurrock Council.

Thurrock Council decided to revoke Ms Butler’s badge and recommended she should not reapply until June 2013.

Thurrock Licensed Drivers’ Association’s John O’donaghue fumed: “The councillors’ decision to reject the reinstatement of Ms Butler’s badge is a disgrace.

“Our colleague, who received what amounts no more than a parking fine, has been deprived of a basic human right to work.”

source: http://www.thurrockgazette.co.uk/news/9339395.Taxi_association_fumes_as_cabbie_is_banned/

Nov 03

Leeds and Bradford Airport taxi rank cost shock

Councillors are demanding to know more after the estimated cost of a taxi rank at Leeds-Bradford Airport increased more than ten-fold to £905,000.

Initial estimates for the scheme in Whitehouse Lane were about £80,000, with the taxi trade willing to contribute towards the cost.

Acting on the instructions of senior councillors, council officials drew up a detailed design layout for the rank, which was presented to the executive board last month – and which put the cost at £905,000.

Faced with forking out such a large sum at a time when the council is having to cut services, the board decided not to go ahead with the project.

Now the council’s regeneration scrutiny board is to examine how such a high cost was arrived at, with the figures being presented to its next meeting. In 2008, the airport let a contract to a private hire company and since then taxis have not been allowed to “rank up” on airport land.

Councillors have criticised the arrangement and pressed for a rank to be provided close to the airport, although council officers have questioned the suitability of allowing taxis to queue in Whitehouse Lane.

Coun Bernard Atha (Lab, Kirkstall) described the increase in the estimated cost as “breathtaking” and said the figures should be presented to the scrutiny board and, if necessary, forwarded to an independent engineer for assessment.

Coun Atha said: “How can such an enormous jump in costs be justified?

“I want to see a record of all discussions between the airport, officers and councillors. The airport is opposed to a rank but we represent the people, not the airport.”

Martin Farrington, the council’s acting director of city development, said the original estimate was based on a “desktop” costing which he acknowledged had been wrong “by a significant magnitude”.

The detailed design layout and costing given to the executive board said the rank would cost a minimum of £515,000 including professional fees and the diversion of public utility equipment. It said additional excavation and the disposal of contaminated materials could add a further £325,000, while optional landscaping and customer waiting facility costs would be £65,000.

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

Nov 03

Taxis must have meters installed from April next year, Fenland councillors decide

METERS are set to be displayed in Fenland’s taxis from April next year after councillors today approved a new policy.

Fenland District Council’s licensing committee ratified a revised Hackney Carriage and Private Hire policy during its meeting at Fenland Hall.

The revised policy was drawn up following a 12-week consultation with taxi firms and drivers, which closed on Monday last week.

It will now be sent to Cabinet for final approval with a motion that, if it’s agreed, it should come into force on April 1 next year.

The draft policy included in a report to councillors said: “All Hackney Carriage vehicles licensed or to be licensed shall have a taximeter fitted.

“Each taximeter shall be tested by one of the council’s approved testing centres in order to establish that the meter does not produce a fare in excess of the maximums prescribed in the current Hackney Carriage Fare Tariff approved by the council.”

The meter “shall be placed in a safe position and so far as possible so that all letters and figures on the face thereof shall be at all times plainly visible to any persons being conveyed in the carriage.

“For that purpose, the letter and figures shall be capable of being suitably illuminated during the period of hiring.”

Licensing officers or police officers will be able to inspect the meter “at all reasonable times” and if they are not satisfied with its accuracy the vehicle license could be suspended until is returned to a satisfactory state.

The report added: “If the officer or constable is not so satisfied within two months of the initial inspection, the Hackney Carriage Licence shall be deemed revoked.”

The decision has, however, left many taxi drivers fearing that people will not use taxis because they will be too expensive.

Fenland councillor Dave Patrick, who is also chairman of the Wisbech and District Hackney Carriage Drivers Association, said: “I believe the implementation of meters will cause severe damage to the trade because people will not know what they are going to pay for their trip.

“Our view is that it will drive people away from using the trade because it will push prices up locally – we have set prices for certain trips which are lower than the rate set by the council and in many cases we undercharge passengers.”

He also said that some drivers may turn down jobs because the cost of travelling to collection points and from drop-off points.

“For example, if someone calls a Wisbech firm wanting to travel from Upwell to Outwell a driver won’t travel all that way to earn what could be the minimum rate,” he said. “It will cost more to fuel your car.” (Drivers must charge £3.31 for the first 1.4 miles of a journey).

Cllr Patrick said the association is considering petitioning the public about the council’s decision. A decision on whether to petition will be taken within the next 24 hours.

He said: “We believe that the public will strongly support the present way we operate.”

source: http://www.wisbechstandard.co.uk/news/taxis_must_have_meters_installed_from_april_next_year_fenland_councillors_decide_1_1116753

Nov 02

Driver Attacks

Taxi driver attacked in bid to avoid fare

A Milford Haven man, who smashed a taxi window and attacked the driver to dodge paying the fare, has been given 18 months of community work.

Anthony Thomas, aged 22, of Great North Road, was arrested after smashing a taxi window and assaulting the driver to avoid paying the £71 fare that his girlfriend’s sister clocked up.

Thomas was pressured into doing whatever it took to get his girlfriend’s sister out of Milford Haven, where she was involved in a violent argument, the court was told.

David Weale, prosecuting, said that Thomas ordered a taxi to Neyland, armed himself with a piece of wood to frighten the driver, but decided to smash the window.

He said: “Mr Thomas had no intention of paying the fare, so he turned to criminal damage, and armed himself with a weapon.”

Jon Tarrant, defending, said the incident outlined an extreme reaction by Thomas.

He said: “When I asked him why he had done it, he just put his head in his hands.

“There are possible imbalances in the way he judges his relationships, he almost feels like he is trying too hard, or that if he doesn’t do what he’s told, his relationship will fail.

“Mr Thomas’ partner was screaming and hysterical, because she felt that something bad was going to happen to her sister.

“The majority of people would have dealt with the situation, and wouldn’t have taken that extra step.

“There is something in Mr Thomas’ psyche that prompted him to act in the manner that he did.”

Thomas pleaded guilty to assault by beating and to causing criminal damage.

He was given an 18-month community order, including 18 months of community supervision and thinking skills programme, by magistrates.

Magistrates also ordered him to compensate the taxi driver £200 for his vehicle and £100 for his injuries, and pay £60 costs.

source: http://www.milfordmercury.co.uk/news/9329537.Taxi_driver_attacked_in_bid_to_avoid_fare/

Borough Green cabbie beaten by passenger tells of his ordeal

A BOROUGH Green taxi driver who was beaten and left to choke on his own blood drove himself eight miles to safety with smashed glasses and a broken nose.

Edward Bingle, 64, of Highview, Vigo, was allegedly assaulted after driving a customer home from the Vigo Inn, Gravesend Road, Fairseat, on October 8.

Mr Bingle claims his passenger punched him repeatedly in the face and left him unconscious.

“He said he’d had more to drink than usual but he was perfectly friendly,” the driver explained.

“Then during the journey his personality changed completely.

“He started calling me fat, swearing and shouting at me to drive faster.

“I kept going and tried to calm him down but he just got more and more angry.”

When the cab arrived in Tonbridge, the man refused to pay and got out.

Mr Bingle said: “He was shouting through the open window so I picked up my phone hoping he would think I was calling the police.

“He grabbed it and threw it into a tree, shouting ‘you don’t know who you are messing with’.

“Then he reached into the cab and started hitting me.

“It all happened so fast and hurt so much, I can hardly remember it.”

“When I came round I was choking on blood and it was all over my shirt and the side of the car.”

Mr Bingle radioed the Borough Green Taxi Service office to report the incident but was too scared to stay at the scene so drove back.

Controller Donna Derouel called the police and an ambulance.

She said: “I talked to him the whole way.

“His glasses were smashed so he couldn’t see properly and he was really shaken.

“When he arrived he looked like he had gone ten rounds with Mike Tyson.

“He had blood coming out of his nose and mouth – I was scared he was going to have a heart attack.”

Mr Bingle was taken by ambulance to Maidstone Hospital with a loose tooth, a broken nose, cut lip and two black eyes, and kept overnight.

He said: “My face is still really swollen so I have to have an x-ray next week to see if a bone in my cheek is chipped.

Mr Bingle is also suffering psychological effects from the attack. He explained: “I have never felt scared driving my cab before but I feel so vulnerable now – it was so unexpected and violent.”

Investigating police officer Rory Niblock said: “Taxi drivers can be very vulnerable and CCTV is a great way to deter criminals while making drivers and law-abiding passengers feel safer. In this particular case, the investigation is very much ongoing and we are continuing to follow up lines of enquiry.”

source: http://www.thisiskent.co.uk/Borough-Green-cabbie-beaten-passenger-tells/story-13675155-detail/story.html

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