‘All Jews r same’: Manchester minicab driver slammed over anti-Semitic Facebook comments… but keeps job

A Manchester minicab driver has come under fire after saying ‘all Jews r same’ on the Anti-Israel Facebook page… but has kept his job.

The minicab driver, who MM have chosen not to name, works for Street Cars in Manchester and made the anti-Semitic remark under a post regarding a film viewing on the history of Zionism.

Street Cars has the largest fleet of Private Hire vehicles, executive cars and mini buses in Manchester City Centre and their drivers take Mancunians around the city on a daily basis.

Dave Rich, Deputy Director of communications at the Community Security Trust, which monitors and reports anti-Semitism, told MM: “Any anti-Semitism is unacceptable and anti-Semitism on social media is a big problem.

“Obviously many Jewish passengers would be seriously unhappy being driven around by a minicab driver who held those kinds of views.

“There has been an increase in Anti-Semitism over the summer and we have created a guide on how to deal with it on social media.”

He added: “It should never be ignored and it should always be reported to us, the police and to Facebook and Twitter.”

When contacted about the post by a concerned member of the public, Street Cars issued a statement saying the incident has been ‘addressed’ with the driver.

“Please first let me stress that the personal views of our drivers are not representative of our company,” the statement said.

“This Facebook comment is made from his personal account in his own time which we do not police. If you believe the content to be offensive we would encourage you to notify Facebook who I understand will remove or censor potentially offensive material.

“The driver will be asked to remove any affiliation with StreetCars from his Facebook page so that his views are not linked with our own.

“We apologise for any offence caused to you but again will stress that this comment is in no way representative of Street Cars views.”

After being contacted by MM, Street Cars issued the following statement: “We have taken time over the last 24hours to both investigate the incident and take appropriate action.

“One driver’s actions should not be taken as indicative of the 500 strong fleet of professional and experienced drivers that work for us. Any driver found within the fleet to be discriminatory in the line of duty will have his contract terminated immediately.

“In this instance, the driver’s actions were not directly related to StreetCars but are of serious concern to us. As a result he has been disciplined in accordance to the StreetCars code of conduct which covers acceptable behaviour whilst representing the company. His future conduct will be closely monitored. StreetCars in no way defends the actions of the driver.

“The driver has expressed remorse for the offense he has caused and we would like to pass on his sincere apologies.

“We too apologise for any offence caused but again will stress that this comment is in no way representative of StreetCars views.”

The post highlights the growth in tensions between the two ethnic groups in the city since the conflict erupted in Palestine over the summer, which has led to a number of protests in the city centre.

Tensions between Manchester’s pro-Israeli and Palestinian protesters have also led to a sharp increase in anti-Semitic and racist attacks over the last few months from both sides of the fence.

The Community Security Trust – which lobbies on their behalf of Jewish people and compiles statistics on hate crime – revealed there were 52 anti-semitic attacks across Greater Manchester in July, compare to 96 recorded attacks in the six months prior.

This was a 300% increase on July the previous year, when there were 13.

An attack on members of the Jewish community in July saw car loads of pro Palestine protesters driving Broughton Park shouting fascist slogans and hurling missiles.

In June Anti-Semitic graffiti and swastikas were daubed over gravestones in a Jewish cemetery in Rochdale.

Many of the incidents were online abuse, like Akhbar’s Facebook post, which has since been deleted after the comments, were condemned on the page.

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

Plans to enforce strict dress code for Denbighshire taxi drivers slammed as ‘nitpicking’


Diane Thomas-Mealing of Diane’s Cars, Prestatyn has been told her drivers need to dress smartly.

Prestatyn cab firm owner Diane Thomas-Mealing hits out over proposals which would see items such as baseball caps and mini-skirts banned

Cabbies face a ban on shorts, sports shirts and low cut tops in a dress code clampdown that could see scruffy drivers have their licences revoked.

Denbighshire council has been accused of “nitpicking” after proposing to ban taxi drivers from wearing a list of clothes, including baseball caps and mini-skirts.

Diane Thomas-Mealing, who runs Diane’s Cars in Prestatyn, has hit out at the local authority’s plans to introduce a new and more stringent dress code for cabbies aimed at promoting a good image of the county to visitors.

Councillors will consider the proposal at a committee meeting on Wednesday, and if they support the move Denbighshire Council will then begin formal consultation with licensed drivers.

If the dress code is eventually enforced any cabbies who fail to adhere to it would be hit with “penalty points” – a system put in place by the authority to regulate and raise the standards of drivers and taxi firms.

Diane believes operators should be allowed to police their own staff, saying she would send one of her drivers home if they turned up for work dressed inappropriately.

“This sounds like nitpicking to me”, she said. “The council isn’t in touch with the real world.

“These are the things people wear every day. I agree with the ban on hoodies, especially if they’re worn with the hood up – it’s an awful look.”

She added: “But will my husband not be able to wear his darts shirt now because it’s a sports shirt? It cost him £70 and is comfy. They’re telling people how to dress.

“You can get so many of these penalty points for different things now it’s putting people off driving. If the dress code goes ahead then we’ll have to conform, we’ll have no choice.”

The report put forward for members to consider next week states: “A revised dress code has for some time been discussed due to safety concerns and the impression left with visitors and residents to the county when inappropriate clothing is worn.

“A balance must be found between drivers presenting a good image for the county without impacting on an individual’s freedom to wear clothes that are not prescriptive.”

Though the code will not be a condition of the drivers’ licences, breaches will result in penalty points under the council’s regulatory scheme. The number of points given to drivers can range from three to 20 depending on the severity of the alleged breach.

When a licence holder accumulates 20 or more penalty points in a two-year period the issue is referred to the licensing committee, who can suspend, revoke or refuse to renew a licence.

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

Piece of minicab driver’s scalp bitten off by cocaine-addled passenger


Blake Brown, of Ampulla Road, Croxteth, has been sentenced to four years in jail for biting off part of a minicab driver’s scalp

Part of a taxi driver’s scalp was bitten off and left lying on the floor after a horrific attack from a passenger.

Private hire driver Daniel Smith was responding to a call for a pick up at the Suites Hotel, on Riblers Lane, Knowsley when he was attacked by criminal Blake Brown on May 26.

Anthony O’Donoghue, prosecuting, told Liverpool Crown Court how Brown, who was fresh out of prison after serving time for dangerous driving, asked Mr Smith, 58, if he could take him to Croxteth and he agreed.

But during the journey he became concerned Brown, 28, was drunk and may try to run off without paying.

When they got to Croxteth he noticed Brown had fallen asleep but when he went to wake him Brown, of Ampulla Road, Croxteth, punched him in the head.

A struggle followed as Mr Smith was driving the taxi, trying to find a police station, and Brown then grabbed him round the neck and sunk his teeth into his head, ripping free a chunk of scalp which he spat on the floor.

He ran off but was caught by police and Mr Smith identified him as his attacker.

The court heard that he suffered a 4cm by 5cm wound which required a skin graft to close and has yet to properly heal.

Mr Smith said he had suffered a loss of earnings and no longer felt safe working as a taxi driver.

Julian Nutter, defending, said Brown had been high on drink and cocaine during the attack, saying: “The man who did this terrible thing was transformed, mutated into something wholly different from his natural state.

“He’s deeply ashamed of what he has done.”

He said that Brown, who, pleaded guilty to causing grievous bodily harm, had told him: “I was out of order and I have to take what’s coming to me.”

The court heard Brown had previous convictions for possession of cannabis, being drunk and disorderly, possession of a bladed article and making an explosive substance with intent to endanger property.

Judge Mark Brown jailed him for four and a half years, saying: “(The punch) was a wholly unprovoked and unjustified assault.

“Understandably Mr Smith’s reaction was to press the panic button on his taxi and endeavour to take you to the nearest police station.

“During that journey you punched him again and there was a struggle that was taking place as the taxi was moving.

“You grabbed Mr Smith around the neck and then bit him to the top of the head.

“In doing so you bit part of his scalp.

“The result was the part of the scalp was on the floor of the taxi.

“On any view this is a very serious matter.”

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

Sefton minicab drivers may no longer face ‘knowledge’ test

Minicab drivers at some of Sefton’s biggest firms may be allowed to carry passengers without taking the traditional “Knowledge” test.

Sefton council’s licensing committee will decide on Monday whether to keep or scrap the controversial Knowledge Test which all new minicab drivers in the borough must pass.

Bootle-based private hire firm Delta has put forward a proposal calling for the test to be scrapped, in light of recommendations made by the Law Commission.

Their report states that “private hire services should only be subject to national standards. Licensing authorities should no longer have the power to impose local conditions.”

Within its submission Delta said it believes the “current test is nothing more than a memory test and out of date” and that “computer aided and satellite navigation has totally transformed the industry since the knowledge test was introduced 22 years ago.”

The test, which is conducted by the council, involves new driver applicants having to answer 20 questions on local landmarks and licensing and driving rules, selected from a list of 60 questions, as well as six route questions selected from a list of 40 routes.

Paul McLaughlin, Delta company secretary, said: “In all honesty it is no more than a memory test, which has absolutely no bearing on a driver’s ability to navigate.

“You memorise the routes in advance and regurgitate them back onto a piece of paper. It is a tick-box exercise which has zero practical benefits for drivers or customers.”

Wayne Casey from South Sefton Hackney Carriage Drivers Association said he believed the ability to find places in a driver’s chosen working area is a reasonable expectation,

He said: “Failure to have or acquire this knowledge is to deny the fundamental function of hiring a vehicle and driver as a minicab.

“The tests were introduced many years ago by Sefton Metropolitan Borough Council and seem common sense now.”

He also said how an informed choice, based on local knowledge, is still needed when using a sat nav as they usually give a choice of routes.

Tommy McIntyre from Unite the Union’s minicab section said: “The proposals (by Delta) seem ludicrous to say the least, that modern technology can replace the in-depth knowledge both private hire and Hackney drivers should have to perform their duties to the travelling public’s expectation.”

In a statement he said he believed an in-depth knowledge was beneficial to the local community who expect a professional who knows where they are going.

He added: “Modern technology indeed is an asset to the Hackney and private hire driver, but is in no way a substitute for the driver’s base topographical knowledge.”

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

E-cigarettes set to be banned from taxis

SMOKING electronic cigarettes in taxis in the Ribble Valley could be banned under plans to be discussed today.

The borough licensing committee will consider the proposal to alter the standard conditions for private hire and hackney carriage vehicles.

If the idea is approved a driver shall ‘not smoke in the vehicle or permit any passenger to smoke in the vehicle, which for the avoidable of doubt shall include smoking or using electronic cigarette or any other vapour-producing smoking device’.

The idea was first discussed in March after the council received a query from a taxi driver over whether the existing smoking ban included electronic cigarettes.

The council’s conditions for taxi drivers simply state that they must ‘not smoke in the vehicle or permit any passenger to smoke in the vehicle’, with no mention of e-cigarettes.

Smoking is defined in the 2006 Health Act as ‘smoking tobacco or anything which contains tobacco’ and being ‘in possession of lit tobacco’.

The council said it received three responses from taxi firms during the consultation period which were all in favour of the plan.

Sajjad Asghar, owner of Clitheroe Taxis, said: “This plan has been a long time in the coming.

“I think that it’s a brilliant idea because some drivers find it difficult to tell if the passenger is smoking a real or an e-cigarette.

“This sort of ban would help to kick people’s habit as well which is good for the whole community.

“I welcome this idea even if it only makes the smallest difference.”

In April, the council’s head of legal and democratic services, Diane Rice, wrote to all drivers and licence holders to consult them on the proposed changes.

Clitheroe Town councillor Simon O’Rourke said: “I think that it’s a good idea and it will help taxi firms a lot.

“I also think that more work needs to be done into the affects of e-cigarettes especially into their long-term effects.”

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

Mar 22

Seat dealership agrees taxi deal for hundreds of Toledos

Seat dealership Pulman, in Sunderland, has sold 240 recently launched Toledos to  one of the UK’s largest specialist vehicle suppliers to the taxi and minicab trades.

The Taxi Centre, with headquarters in Paisley, Scotland, spotted the car’s onward supply potential at a special business preview held by Pulman at St James’s Park football ground.

The Taxi Centre is poised to buy up to another 500 Toledos by the end of this year. A further 250 are set to be sold by Pulman Seat, with another raft of sales generated by other Seat dealers

Steph Barker, Pulman fleet sales executive, said: “This order is a massive vote of confidence in the new Toledo, the Seat brand and Pulman Seat.”

Allan McGinness, sales director at The Taxi Centre, said: “We chose the Toledo for its great value, quality and space and Pulman Seat because of its highly professional and friendly service.

“We’ve enjoyed working with Seat UK to redevelop the specification to make it suitable for the taxi market. The vehicle will be supplied exclusively by the Taxi Centre for delivery throughout the UK. It’s the perfect taxi. It’s the right price and right size and has credibility.”

Deliveries for the initial order of 240 cars started this month, and one of the first customers, Dean Taxis from Gateshead, has added 10 Toledos to its fleet of almost 300 cars.

The Toledos sold to The Taxi Centre are a taxi-specific limited edition SX model. The specification includes Bluetooth, air conditioning, third rear head restraint, immobiliser and remote central locking, start/stop system and full size spare wheel.

The Seat Toledo, which was launched last December and starts at £12,495.

source: http://www.am-online.com/

Mar 22

Minicab driver’s fury over recharging problems in East Cleveland

MINICAB driver Albert Wilson wants changes at an East Cleveland plug-in facility.

Sprightly Albert, 84, says when he goes to recharge his vehicle at the South View car park in Loftus he often can’t get near the plug-in point as cars are parked in adjacent bays.

He claims he often has to position his Minicab on a nearby grass verge to enable the lead and plug to reach his vehicle to recharge it at the Redcar and Cleveland Council-run site.

Dad-of-four and grandad-of-nine Albert, who’s been a Minicab driver for 56 years, says the solution is simple.

He said: “The council has installed a sign more than 10 feet high which people can’t read easily saying electric vehicle recharging point.

Commonsense says what’s needed is a parking bay painted and designated only for use by electric vehicle owners for recharging.

“I’ve repeatedly asked the council to do this, but nothing’s happened.

“There is only one correctly marked-out council area for electric recharging and that’s at Guisborough off Rectory Lane.
“At Marske, on Windy Hill Lane, the situation is the same as at Loftus.”

Albert, of Coronation Road, Loftus, is a private hire Minicab driver who operates a Toyota Prius electric and petrol hybrid for four passengers.
He bought the vehicle as he’s a committed environmentalist and, when his electric motor is operating, his emissions are zero.

He said: “I’ve had the vehicle since October and they cost about £35,000. But the Government gives all electric car owners £5,000 towards the cost of buying a new vehicle. The borough council should be promoting this green energy scheme in the same way.”

Helen McLuckie, Cabinet member for highways, said: “We’ll shortly be marking the car park surface ‘electric vehicles only’ at the front of the bays.” She said there was “currently no provision in law to allow the council to reserve parking spaces for charging of electric vehicles.” But they were looking at introducing a legal order to create designated electric spaces borough-wide.

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

Mar 22

Minicab driver jailed for 2011 fatal collision in Bloomsbury

A minicab driver who hit and killed a motorcyclist after he drove through a red light in Bloomsbury in 2011 has been jailed.

Mr Muhibur Rahman, aged 51, (DOB 19/09/1959) of Malcolmson House, Aylesford Street, SW1 appeared on bail at Blackfriars Crown Court On Monday 11th March 2013 where he was sentenced to 15 months imprisonment for causing the death of 52-year-old Mr Anthony McKeith by careless driving on 15th July 2011.

Rahman, who had pleaded guilty to the offence at the beginning of a scheduled trial at the court on 15 January, was also disqualified from driving for three years and will also be required to take an extended re-test.

The sentencing follows an investigation by officers from the Metropolitan Police Service’s Road Death Investigation Unit (RDIU) for north-west London.

On 15 July 2011 police were called at approx. 21:15hrs to reports of a collision between a Yamaha motorcycle and a Toyota Previa in Tavistock Square, at the junction with Bedford Way WC1.

The motorcyclist – Mr Anthony McKeith, aged 52, of Huddlestone Road, London, E7 – received serious head injuries and was taken to the Royal London Hospital, but died in the early hours of the next day.

A post-mortem examination gave the cause of death was multiple injuries.

Rahman stopped at the scene but was not arrested at that time. After the initial investigation Rahman was arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving on 22 September 2011 at Holborn Police Station. After interview Rahman was bailed pending further enquires.

Following over 12 months of investigation officers evidenced that Rahman had contravened a red traffic light at Tavistock Square WC1 causing the collision with Mr McKeith on his motorcycle that lead to his death, and charged him on 23 July 2012 with causing death by dangerous driving. Rahman was bailed to appear at Magistrates’ Court the following month, 10 August 2012.

Rahman pleaded not guilty to this offence and a trial was set for 15 July 2013 but at the beginning of the trial he pleaded guilty to causing death by careless driving and the case was adjourned until 11 March when he was sentenced as above.

Detective Sergeant Chris Osborne, the senior investigation officer from the RDIU said:

“This is a tragic case for all involved. Vehicles jumping red lights have the potential to cause catastrophic collisions with other road users and devastate lives, as has happened to the McKeith family. The length of custodial sentence imposed to Mr Rahman should be a warning to all road users the seriousness and consequences of failing to stop at a red traffic signal.”

Mr McKeith’s sister Frances and wife Lynda released the following statement:

“Almost all of us who drive in London have benefited from the changes in traffic controls over the recent years, which have allowed traffic to run more smoothly and swiftly through our capital city. We must not forget however that these changes come at a cost, which some of us have had to pay because the changes in controls have not changed the behaviours of the majority of drivers. For us, the family and friends of Anthony (Tony) McKeith, we have paid the ultimate price – the loss of our husband, father, brother and friend. Tony was knocked down by a car which raced the lights and knocked him off his motorbike. He died the next day of his injuries. The driver was not a young man but an experienced road user who failed to take into account the changes in the timing of traffic light signals and it is this which killed Tony. There is now very little in the way of time-lag between the changing of the traffic lights at junctions. More now than ever Amber means stop, not stamp on the accelerator to get through before the lights change. Had the driver of the car in Tony’s accident stopped, in recognition of the tiny margin for error now present, instead of trying to beat the lights, Tony would still be with us today. Instead, he is gone, killed needlessly, his wife left devastated and his little girl, just three months old when he died, growing up never knowing the wonderful man who was her father. She was two this weekend – and so like her dad.

“We, Tony’s family and friends, want you to read this and remember it. Every time you come up to a set of changing lights, your decision at that point has the ability to take away a life. Do not let anyone else have to suffer what we have gone through. We will never recover from the consequences of that split second decision and it will remain with us throughout our lives. The man who knocked him off his motorbike is now serving a custodial sentence, his life and the life of his family will also never be the same again. Make sure that you never have to deal with any of this. Just stop.”

source: http://content.met.police.uk/

Mar 22

Red tape threatening town’s jobs, says Crowborough taxi boss

This place actually exists!

JOB seekers are missing out on work in Crowborough because of crippling council red tape, according to a town businessman.

Taxi firm owner Donald Richards claims checks carried out by Wealden and Rother district councils for new drivers take so long it is almost impossible to fill jobs.

The Ashdown Cars boss criticised delays of more than three months which he feared could cripple his business.

He said: “I have got a business here that is offering jobs but I can’t fill them.

“I need another four to six drivers, but the process of getting them licensed now takes eight weeks longer than it used to.”

His frustrations have followed a deal between both councils to share the administration of taxi licensing services.

Previously, new drivers in the area were only authorised by Wealden.

Mr Richards added: “I’m struggling to get anyone and if I lose a driver I can’t replace them.

“We have got people ringing up and complaining they cannot ever get a taxi.”

Richard Parker Harding, head of environmental health for both councils, put the blame elsewhere.

He said: “The paperwork has to be submitted to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency in Swansea.

“Unfortunately we have been experiencing delays of eight to nine weeks for the return of completed submissions, and we are investigating the possibility of using private agencies who offer a dedicated service to speed up DVLA applications.”

Mr Richards remained sceptical a solution would be found to the delays and said it was damaging his Pleasant View Road business, as customers unable to book cars would stop using it.

He also complained licence fees had been hiked up since services were shared, with spiralling costs creating another barrier for new drivers.

He fumed: “If you got made redundant from a job, could you wait three to four months for your new one to start?”

“I can get a job in a nursing home quicker than I can get a taxi licence.

“This threatens the future of my business and with today’s job problems surely the authorities should be doing more.”

Fears over Crowborough jobs are nothing new. Traders have expressed growing discontent over development restrictions imposed to protect the Ashdown Forest, which they say is stopping growth and deterring new businesses from setting up in the area.

Chamber of Commerce chairman Jeremy Woolger said: “We have written to MPs including Eric Pickles and Charles Hendry requesting discussions about our concerns.”

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

Mar 22

Taxi drivers’ Wrexham shopping centre snub ‘affecting the elderly’

ELDERLY shoppers are having to carry heavy bags across the road because taxis will no longer stop in a shopping centre car park.

A Wrexham councillor said several elderly people had told him their taxi service will not pick them up at Eagles Meadow shopping centre itself any more.

Instead they are having to cross to the road or walk across the footbridge to the closest available pick-up point at the Wynnstay Arms Hotel.

Some taxis are shunning the multi-storey car park at Eagles Meadow since a driver who was dropping off a mother and her two children was given a £70 fine.

Keith White, a driver for Town Cars on King Street, Wrexham, claims the mother was taking her pram from the boot when a parking warden photographed his vehicle and issued him with a £70 fine for “causing an obstruction”.

Milton Keynes-based VINCI Park Services dropped his fine to £40 after he wrote to them, but said: “The signs displayed around the car park where your vehicle was parked clearly set out the terms and conditions, and the consequence of non-compliance.

“You chose to park your vehicle at the Eagles Meadow car park and park your vehicle causing obstruction.”

Now some taxis will not enter the car park, said Ponciau Cllr Paul Pemberton.

“Since the incident I’ve got several elderly people who use the taxi service to Eagles Meadow who have come to me,” he said.

“They do their weekly shop at Marks and Spencer and the taxi would pick them up at the bottom of the lift and take them home.

“But the taxi firm has informed them it will not enter Eagles Meadow any more.

“They have to walk across the road to a car waiting outside the Wynnstay Arms Hotel.

“When you’re 80 years old with heavy bags to carry that’s not easy.

“And the taxi firm can’t pick up on the other side (opposite Debenhams) because there’s a bus stop and double yellow lines.”

He said the people he had spoken to could spend £100 a week at the shopping centre, but may go elsewhere if the situation was not resolved.

“It’s going to harm Eagles Meadow,” he said, “I have emailed the (Wrexham Council) economic development department asking if it would have strong words with Eagles Meadow to talk to VINCI and see if something can be done.

“I’m taken aback by the whole situation. I just think it’s time they listened to a bit of common sense.”

Eagles Meadow manager Kevin Critchley said: “We are in discussions with VINCI who operate and control the car park and are working hard to see if it is possible to find a solution to this matter.”

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

Mar 22

Minicab drivers left disappointed by ‘unfair’ move

Minicab drivers have criticised the changes to the city centre.

Drivers will no longer be able to collect or drop off customers on any of the newly pedestrianised areas, including Stafford Street and Old Hall Street, and will be hit with the £60 fixed penalty fine for using bus lanes.

But Hackney Carriages will continue to use bus lanes, as they are classified as public transport vehicles.

David Shaw, transport manager for Z Cars in Longton, said: “I just can’t believe it. It’s total discrimination in favour of Hackney Carriages.

“The council has just made a decision and that’s it now, we’ll never be allowed to drive in the city centre again. We get a lot of older people who go shopping in Hanley and call us to pick them up with all their heavy bags. We go and pick them up straight from outside Argos, or the shops, and take them home.

“Now people will have to walk to a taxi rank and pay a lot more money to get home. I think it will make people, especially girls on nights out, more vulnerable having to walk through the city centre to find a cab.”

According to statistics gathered by the Law Commission, in 2012 there were 1,084 private hire cars registered in Stoke-on-Trent, and 157 registered hackney carriages.

Parv Khan, owner of City Cabs, added: “We take 10,000 calls a week and around 20 per cent of those are for Hanley city centre.

“I have been campaigning for a long time for private hire vehicles to be allowed to use bus lanes but the council refuse to grant us the permission.

“They’re going to have a nightmare on Friday and Saturday nights when everyone pours out of the clubs and needs a cab. There will be more fights, and it’s just plain dangerous.”

But Hackney Carriage drivers have welcomed the changes. Driver Anjad Qurban, from Hanley, said: “It should make things safer. Private hire vehicles are supposed to collect people who have booked them, but some drivers just park up and pick up anyone, which is illegal and unsafe. They also undercut Hackney cabs charges because they don’t have meters.”

Rished Mehmood, from Shelton, added: “I get a lot of people in the back of my cab complaining about the times they were overcharged by a driver, and it’s always because they got into an illegal private hire car.”

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

Mar 21

Several thousand journeys hit by Dial a Ride charges

MORE than seven thousand journeys by elderly people each year in Winsford will be affected by Cheshire West and Chester Council’s (CWAC) decision to start charging for a free mini bus service.

Cheshire Community Development Trust figures show 7,304 trips were made on Dial a Ride last year in the town, and 10,850 in Northwich.

New £3 each way charges for the door to door transport service start on April 1.

The charges follow reduced bus routes throughout Winsford and impending CWAC Hackney Carriage laws expecting cabbies to spend £26,500 on a Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle (WAV).

Age UK and Winsford Taxi Drivers’ Association are calling on CWAC to complete impact assessments on taxi and Dial a Ride changes in light of reduced bus provision.

Dave Edwards from the Winsford Taxi Drivers’ Association (WTDA) said: “It’s absolutely crazy. The council provide a bus pass for pensioners that can’t use busses because the busses don’t exist anymore, and they’re stopping taxi drivers earning a living.

“It’s the withdrawal of services for those members of the community that need it the most.

“This is a council that isn’t listening and that chooses not to find the evidence before taking away services for the vulnerable.

“It’s 1960s paternalistic politics that doesn’t recognise the dignity of disabled people.”

Ken Clemens, CEO of Age UK added: “The changes proposed to the Dial a Ride regulations will not help to address the level of isolation and loneliness experienced by far too many of our older population, especially those whose restricted mobility makes it hard to get about and socialise.

“The impact of the changes to Dial a Ride may well end up costing the local tax payer far more, as people will become isolated, less socially connected, and this in tune will lead to the requirement of more frequent and more expensive interventions, that could lead to even more pressure on our hard pressed acute services.”

CWAC says Dial a Ride changes will save tax payers £165,000 each year and that they corresponded widely before announcing that all newly registered Hackney Carriages throughout Vale Royal will be WAVs by April 2013.

source; http://www.winsfordguardian.co.uk/

Mar 21

Rotherham minicab driver caught illegally plying

A ROTHERHAM private hire driver has been fined for illegally plying for trade.

Akbar Ali was landed with a £490 bill and six penalty points following a joint operation between Rotherham Borough Council’s Community Protection Unit and South Yorkshire Police during which he was found to be picking up passengers illegally in the town centre.

Only official Hackney cabs, which are coloured white in Rotherham and identifiable by the yellow taxi sign on the roof, are insured to pick up passengers when hailed in the street.

Private hire vehicles can be any colour but can only carry passengers who have pre-booked.

Cllr Peter Wootton, chairman of the council’s Licensing Board, said the safety of the public was the board’s main concern.

He added: “Any member of the public who gets into a private hire vehicle without pre-booking should be fully aware that they will not be insured in the event of an accident.

“That is how the industry works and how it is regulated and that is why the Licensing Board will work together with taxi companies to clamp down on this kind of offence for the benefit of public safety.”

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

Mar 21

Call to ban taxis from refusing rural journeys

Cabbies could be banned from refusing to take out-of-towners home.

A call has gone out for a change in the regulations amid fears some taxi drivers simply want to stick to shorter journeys and refuse to pick up fares for rural areas.

Councillors want to ensure party-goers are not left stranded in town during busy times or even dropped off half way home.

Members of the civic government licensing panel raised the issue as part of the Scottish Government’s Consultation on Taxi and Private Hire Car Licensing – proposals for change, document.

Councillor Gill Dykes was concerned for the safety of young men and women who were being refused a lift home.

She said: “It’s too dangerous. We need to stop this practice, particularly if it’s a festive time of year.

“Taxi drivers need to understand that if someone wants to travel out
of town they have to take them home.

“They can’t just drop them off half way and say they’re not going any further.

“We need regulation to prevent this kind of thing from happening.”

Taxi drivers at Munches Street say they’ve seen these types of incidents happen in the trade.

David McCubbin of DM Taxis said: “If taxi drivers aren’t prepared to go out of town people should report it. I take everyone who comes along.

“I think the council is doing the right thing.”

Mr McCubbin added: “Sometimes people want to go out of town but they don’t want to pay the money when they get there.

“As long as they show you they have the money beforehand it’s not a problem.

“It’s not like you can go to the cash machine if it’s a rural area.”

Mark Melbourne of Premier Taxis added: “If someone comes up to you and wants to be taken out the town you do it.

“At the end of the day that’s our job, sometimes the bigger the better.

“There’s not enough jobs in the town to refuse any.”

One cabbie who asked not to be named added: “I know some taxi drivers who do refuse longer journeys.

“If people are too drunk that’s the only time I wouldn’t take them.”

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

Mar 21

Braintree taxi boss angry as attacker is ‘let off’ with a caution

A TAXI firm owner, who claims he was subjected to a vicious two-minute assault in his office, is furious that his attacker escaped with a caution.

John Ahmed says he was beaten up in the early hours of March 3 as he sat behind his desk at cab company Cars 4 U in Braintree.

The 5ft 5in 59-year-old was also punched in the face in the taxi yard after he ran to get help from one of his drivers leaving him badly bruised and frightened.

He says he is “disgusted” that his assailant was let off with a caution and only questioned 12 days after the attack.

The news comes as Essex Police Chief Constable Jim Barker-McCardle said he was “staggered” that a burglar, who ransacked a house in Galleywood, escaped a criminal conviction.

“I’m obviously disgusted,” said married father-of-four Mr Ahmed.

“I have never been assaulted in my life – it was terrifying and humiliating.

“I thought the police were there to protect people – if someone gets assaulted and they do nothing about it, how can we all feel safe?”

Mr Ahmed said his taxi firm, just off Chapel Hill, had received at least six abusive calls from the man during the evening of the incident.

He claims the man was convinced that his company had stolen his mobile phone after he left it in the back of a cab earlier that night.

But Mr Ahmed told him that he did not have his phone and that a different cab firm had actually taken him home that night.

“He then walked 20 minutes to our yard, walked straight into the office and started beating me up,” claimed Mr Ahmed.

Grainy CCTV footage shows the man stride into the taxi yard at 3.52am.

For two minutes Mr Ahmed said he was punched in the head and body as he tried in vain to protect himself.

“It was like being in a boxing ring,” add Mr Ahmed, who has lived in Braintree for 47 years.

Mr Ahmed then said he managed to get up from behind his desk and ran outside to alert his drivers.

CCTV footage shows that the pair emerged at 3.54am where an argument ensued. The film seems to show the man shoving Mr Ahmed four times in the chest before punching him in the head.

Mr Ahmed, who is also the chairman of the Braintree Taxi Association, claims the police only went to question the man 12 days after the incident – but says that only happened after he pestered them with phone calls.

“If one of my drivers gets assaulted what signal does this send them?” said Mr Ahmed.

An Essex Police spokesman told the Chronicle: “Essex Police conducted an investigation into this case and considered all the available information.

“The use of Police Cautions for cases involving assault is a Home Office-recognised method of disposal to deal quickly and simply with less serious offences and to divert offenders from appearing in the criminal courts.

“Before a caution is authorised the offender must admit the offence and consideration must be given to any previous offending history.

“Once a caution is authorised by a police inspector the matter is recorded on the Police National Computer and fingerprints and DNA samples are recorded.

“Essex Police will be making contact with the complainant to discuss this case with him.”

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

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