Law change provides equal treatment for disabled taxi users

Law change makes it illegal for taxi drivers to discriminate against wheelchair users.

Commons Questions – Taxis: South Yorkshire

Taxis: South Yorkshire

Department for Transport written question – answered on 29th March 2017.

Louise Haigh Shadow Minister (Culture, Media and Sport) (Digital Economy)

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, if he will make an assessment of the specific requirements of South Yorkshire in relation to taxi and private hire licensing; and if he will make a statement.

Andrew Jones Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)

The legislation that provides for licensing of taxi and private hire vehicle (PHV) services is enabling in its nature, giving local licensing authorities the discretion to set standards that they deem to be appropriate. The Department does not therefore undertake assessments of the licensing requirements of individual authorities.

The Government will shortly consult on Statutory Guidance in relation to the protection of children and vulnerable adults when using taxi and PHV services. The adoption of these measures among licensing authorities will be assessed.

Commons Questions – Taxis: Assistance Dogs

Taxis: Assistance Dogs

Department for Transport written question – answered on 29th March 2017.


Roger Godsiff Labour, Birmingham, Hall Green

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps the Government is taking to ensure that assistance dog owners are able to access taxis and minicabs.


Andrew Jones Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)

Drivers of taxis and PHVs must by law carry assistance dogs and cannot charge extra for doing so. It is therefore unacceptable that some drivers continue to discriminate in this way.

We aim to consult later this year on revised best practice for licensing authorities which will include strengthened recommendations relating to authorities’ response to alleged instances of assistance dog refusal.

More problems on the horizon for Uber

Until now, it’s Uber’s corporation tax dodging that has come under public scrutiny. Its VAT liability -not so much. But all that’s about to change.

Uber’s VAT problem arises out of a basic tension in its business model. The Uber brand is all about selling to passengers. The very front page of its website invites passengers to “Ride with Uber.” But its contracts pretend – as the Employment Tribunal found last year – that it is selling not to passengers but instead to drivers. And facing in two directions at once is always going to cause you problems.

And the VAT problem it causes is this: Uber’s contracts says its drivers are supplying passengers with transport services. And the Employment Tribunal agreed that passengers were being supplied with transport services. But it said that the passengers were being supplied with those services not by the drivers but by Uber.

And all of this matters because the drivers are below the VAT threshold. They earn, by and large, less than £83,000 a year and so, if they are supplying transport services to passengers, they don’t have to charge VAT.

But if Uber is supplying transport services to passengers for VAT purposes, well, we know it earns more than £83,000 a year. And so it has to charge VAT. And then something has to give.

The drivers get paid less or fares go up or Uber’s commission falls.

And there’s also a pretty big hit to Uber’s balance sheet. It will owe HMRC very substantial back tax: all the VAT it hasn’t paid over the last four years. And it will very likely owe back taxes not just in the UK but all across Europe.

Now, it’s really HMRC that should be having this fight with Uber. But it’s got a feeble record of taking on the big US tech companies.

And at the Good Law Project – which is bringing this fight – we’re not confident that it’s up for this fight. And so we’re going to take Uber on.

Our director is a Queen’s Counsel, specialising in tax. And we’ve taken formal advice from another Queen’s Counsel, also specialising in tax. And they both reckon Uber should be charging VAT.

So next week we’re going to launch our challenge. Check it out over at The Queen’s Counsel and solicitors who will act in the challenge will do so at very discounted rates.

But Uber is a mighty beast – you don’t need us to tell you that. And so, if we’re going to have this fight, we’ll need all the financial help you can give us.

So please, come on over, sign up for email updates, have a look and if you can – when we launch the case – make a contribution to the costs.


Link to crowdfunding –


source and thanks to our friends at: : London Cab Drivers Club



London Attack

The thoughts and prayers of the National Taxi Association and our membership go out to the victims of todays cowardly attack in our nations capital.

We praise the work of our emergency services and the braveness they showed during this horrific event.




Dec 26

Ayr taxi driver moves in his schoolgirl fare


Taxi driver John Gemmell and his girlfriend

kicks out wife for teenager

A  CONVICTED pervert shacked up with a teenager he met while running her to  SCHOOL  in his taxi.

John Gemmell, 43, split with wife Angela and moved Gemma Lawson into their  marital home just weeks after her 16th birthday.

He had been on a contract to run her from her home in Dundonald, Ayrshire, to  a support centre for kids out of mainstream education for three days a week  since she was aged just 14.

Gemmell was sacked by taxi bosses when they found out Gemma had moved into  his  terraced house.

The shocking revelations emerged as he appeared at Ayr Sheriff Court last  week  after being found guilty of making sexual comments to two girls aged as  young as eight.

A source said: “Everyone who knows him is sickened.

“Gemma moved in just after she turned 16.

“John insists that she was 16 before they got together but that is beside the  point, he obviously got to know her through the taxi driving — it’s not  right.  John and Angela have a six-year-old together and this has ripped the  family  apart.”

A former colleague — who didn’t want to be named — said: “Angela was going on  about them having a relationship but nobody could believe he would be that  stupid.

“Gemmell denied it but didn’t do enough to satisfy the boss and was sacked.

“Obviously the boss was worried about losing the contract for the schools — we  are working with kids and it is an absolute no-no.

“About three weeks later Gemma was found in his house.”

The former workmate added: “This was only a few weeks after he stopped  running  her to school. It seems there was a lot of talk going between them on  the  internet — it’s totally inappropriate.”

Gemmell, accompanied by Gemma, was at court last week for sentencing but it  was deferred until next year for reports.

After the hearing he declined to comment.

But Gemma said: “At the end of the day we are adults, it doesn’t matter how  we  met.

“I was 16 — that makes me an adult.”

Gemmell has been placed on the sex offenders register.

Gemma’s mum Samantha refused to comment.

Read more:

Dec 25

Merry Christmas

To all members & website subscribers


Dec 24

Calderdale Council takes 10-year-old taxis off the road

A Map

TAXIS older than 10 years have been refused a licence.

Calderdale Council this week rejected applications from three private hire  vehicles.

The council told the taxi drivers they need to ensure that their vehicles are  maintained “to the highest standard” if they want to continue running them  beyond 10 years old.

Members of Calderdale Council’s Licensing and Regulatory Committee said none  of the vehicles were deemed to be in a suitable condition and all of the  applications to renew licences were refused.

Clr Pat Allen, chairman of Calderdale’s Licensing and Regulatory Committee,  said: “The whole committee wants to make it clear that the safety of the public  is absolutely paramount and we expect very high standards.

“These are difficult times for all businesses and the council recognised this  when it changed its policy so that private hire vehicle proprietors did not need  to change their vehicles once the cars reached 10 years old.

“But our main priority is the safety and the comfort of the public and we  will only allow proprietors to extend their licences beyond the vehicle’s 10th  anniversary if they are in the very best condition.”

In 2008 the Licensing and Regulatory Committee changed its policy so that a  vehicle could continue to be licensed beyond the maximum age of 10 years,  provided the vehicle was able to pass the Council’s mechanical test.

Read More

Dec 23

Ray Mallon broke rules in Middlesbrough taxis row

Ray Mallon

RAY MALLON brought his office into disrepute in the way he dealt with issues  relating to Middlesbrough’s taxis, a watchdog has ruled.

The Standards Board for England found three breaches of its code of conduct  after investigating complaints over how the mayor handled a row over the  borough’s trade.

But the board has ruled no sanctions should be applied.

And it cleared Mr Mallon over secretly-recorded conversations with Boro Cars  boss Mohammed Bashir, in which the mayor made an insulting reference regarding  the sex life of a female council official.

That is because the Standards Board concluded he was acting as a private  individual at the time.

The Standards Board upheld complaints that Mr Mallon:

Brought his office or authority into disrepute, and

Failed to declare a personal interest when required to do so on two separate  occasions.

But the watchdog dismissed allegations that he:

Failed to treat others with respect;

Compromised the impartiality of council officers, and

Used his position improperly to confer an advantage.

A report found the relationship between Mr Mallon and Mr Bashir had been that  of “close associate”.

It was at Mr Bashir’s request that the mayor became personally involved in  matters relating to the borough’s taxi trade – particularly in trying to resolve  a row between Boro Cars and the local hackney carriage trade over access to  Morrisons at Berwick Hills.

The report states Mr Mallon’s involvement gave Mr Bashir access to senior  officers he might not otherwise have had without that “close association”.

But it adds there was no evidence to suggest Mr Mallon tried to influence  officers into making a particular decision or favour one side over another  during the period.

The Standards Board found the mayor breached the Code when he failed to  declare an interest in the taxi trade during two Executive meetings.

But the report states he was “consistently open” in referencing his  association with Mr Bashir in the first – and that the “sheer chaos” surrounding  the second made it understandable he did not do so.

“The ethical standards officer took into account that Mr Mallon accepted he  should have declared an interest on both occasions,” the board added.

The standards officer also looked at complaints surrounding the  secretly-taped telephone conversations. It cleared Mr Mallon of breaching the  code by:

Making disrespectful comments about a female council officer;

Lying about having apologised to that council officer, and

Making unsubstantiated comments relating to illegal charging by Asian taxi  drivers and referred to taxi drivers as “thick”.

“The ethical standards officer found Mr Mallon had apologised to the council  officer for the comments that were subsequently published in the press,” the  report adds.

“As such, he did not lie about the matter.”

The Standards Board found the comments were part of a private conversation  and that Mr Mallon was not acting in his official capacity as mayor at the  time.

The investigating officer took into account his right to a private life and  found that, in the conversations, he had not been conducting the business of the  authority.

The views expressed were Mr Mallon’s private opinions, she ruled.

But she also found that the mayor had brought his office into disrepute over  actively seeking to assist Mr Bashir in a court case against the council as he  came under “pressure” to try to get the dispute resolved.

“While she considered Mr Mallon lacked judgment in this regard, she does not  doubt that his intentions were to get the taxi dispute resolved in a fair and  equitable manner,” adds the report. “The ethical standards officer has decided  no further action needs to be taken.”

Mr Mallon today told the Gazette that his interventions were “well-intentioned” and that he found it “ironic” he was found to have been in  breach of the Code for “attempting to assist one of the complainants”.

“The fact that they (the Standards Board) feel there is no need for further  action confirms that these were technical breaches,” added the mayor.

“Had they not been, there is little doubt I would have faced a full  hearing.

“I hope this judgment now draws a line under this chapter and we can move  forward for the good of the town and its taxpayers.”

Nobody from Boro Cars was available for comment today.

Read More

Dec 23

‘No’ to licence for cab driver

A former professional footballer was involved in  inappropriate conversation with  15-year-olds  who he was taking to school.

Keith Mercer, 56, who played as a striker for Blackpool and Watford, lost  his appeal against a decision to withdraw his taxi driver’s licence.

Mercer of Arundel Drive, Poulton, drove for a company which had a contract to take children to and from schools.

Mercer’s licence was withdrawn following a complaint about his conduct.

It was said that during one trip to St Annes he showed three 15-year-old boys an inappropriate mobile phone message.

He then had a conversation with the young passengers concerning a sexual practice.

Trevor Colebourne, who represented Wyre Council, the taxi licensing authority, said one of the boys mentioned what had happened to his parents who then complained to the school headteacher.

This resulted in a formal complaint to the taxi company.

Mr Colebourne said drivers of the company had to undergo the highest level of criminal records scrutiny before being allowed to carry unaccompanied youngsters.

He  said some of the youngsters had learning difficulties which made them vulnerable.

Mr Colebourne added: “The  nub of this case is Mr Mercer is not a  fit and proper person to be driving  young boys around and discussing such topics.”

Representing himself Mercer said he had been a taxi driver for 16 years after his football career ended.

He told the magistrates: “I am being picked on by Wyre Council. I did not show the boys anything on my mobile phone. However I do admit sharing a joke with them.”

“You cannot have boys of this age in your cab for hours at a time without talking to them.”

“I feel I am being persecuted for one error – a joke.

“These boys use far worse language than I do.”

He added: “All I want to do is clear my name.”

Magistrates ordered Mercer to pay £400 costs.


Dec 23

16 out of 28 Swansea taxis defective

Over 130 taxis were stopped checked during a joint police and local authority operation in Cardiff and Swansea city centres.

Officers from the South Wales Police Commercial Vehicle Unit, in conjunction with local authority Taxi Licensing Officers, have been conducting safety checks on taxis during the last fortnight to ensure vehicles are fit to escort passengers over the busy festive season.

Chief Superintendent Cliff Filer, the Force Head of Specialist Operations, said: “It is a cause for concern that 16 out of the 28 taxis stop-checked in Swansea city centre were issued with immediate prohibitions for having defective vehicles.

“These prohibitions ranged from defective lights, to defective tyres where cord and ply were exposed, and tread well below the legal limit.

“Last year’s winter weather caused hazardous driving conditions, and with the heavy rainfall this year, it is imperative that we, together with our partners within Local Authority licensing team, do what we can to ensure the roadworthiness of our communities’ cabs.”

The checks in the Welsh cities included lights, tyres, first aid kits and fire extinguishers, and the drivers authenticated by checking their licence badges.

In Cardiff, 23 drivers were issued with deferred suspensions, requiring them to make prompt repairs to defects on their vehicles.

22 verbal warnings were also issued, including warnings for drivers who failed to appropriately display their identification.

Chief Superintendent Filer added: “We regularly run taxi safety operations and it is unacceptable that some drivers are still failing to adequately maintain their vehicles.

“These are professional drivers, and ensuring the safety and roadworthiness of their vehicles must be paramount. Defective vehicles put themselves, their passengers and other road users in danger.

“We had a really warm response from the public during the operation, and work will continue throughout the force area with our partners including the taxi drivers associations in the New Year.”


Dec 23

Ex-convict launches bid to get taxi licence back

A CONVICTED cocaine dealer has launched a bid to keep his taxi licence.

David Crawford, 45, has taken his appeal against Barrow Borough Council’s decision to strip him of his licence to the crown court.

The council ruled he was unfit to drive a taxi as he has not been free of serious criminal conviction for a period of three to five years. The period is at the council’s discretion.

Mr Crawford was jailed in June 2008 after being found with two half-gram wraps of cocaine and £685 of cash at the King Alfred Pub on Walney in July of the previous year.

He was found guilty of possession with intent to supply cocaine, and released from prison in July 2009.

Mr Crawford was granted a taxi licence in September this year and began driving for A1 Taxis in Barrow.  However Barrow Borough Council chose to revoke his licence at a meeting of the licensing committee on November 3 after officers raised concerns about his past. Mr Crawford appealed and his case was heard by Furness Magistrates’ Court on December 6. The district judge upheld the council’s decision, but Mr Crawford  has now taken his case to the crown court, and can continue driving until the process is completed.

A taxi driver contacted the Evening Mail anonymously to express concern at Mr Crawford being able to continue driving.

The driver said: “Maybe Mr Crawford is a reformed character. If so, then he should understand that the rule is there for him to show and prove to society that this is the case.”

But Mr Crawford told the Evening Mail that he believed he was eligible to reapply for a licence from June this year, and this is why he is fighting his case.

He said: “I’ve got it in black and white that my three years expired in June and that’s why I reapplied.”

Chief environmental health officer at Barrow Borough, Council Gary Ormondroyd, confirmed that although the council revoked Mr Crawford’s licence, he would continue to be able to serve as a driver until his appeal had been heard by the crown court. He said: “The bottom line is he had his licence revoked by us at the committee meeting in November.

“He was instructed he has a right to appeal to the crown court (following the district judges’ ruling) and he has exercised this right.”

Mr Crawford left A1 this week after an unrelated disagreement.

Paul Brereton, owner of A1 taxis, confirmed Mr Crawford had left the company.

He said:“We took the decision this week, but not on the grounds of licensing.”

Mr Crawford said: “I’m now left in a position where I have no job during the Christmas period.

“I am trying to get a taxi sorted but I don’t think it’s going to happen.

“I have done my time for the stupid things I have done in the past. But I have got everything against me.”

A spokesman for Preston Crown Court said a date had not yet been set for the appeal hearing.


Dec 23

Police issue warning as third of checked Bradford taxis are found to be unroadworthy

Taxis in Bradford

Police have vowed to take tough action against private hire and taxi drivers whose vehicles are unsafe after several were suspended from duty for having tyres with insufficient tread.

Nine drivers were immediately suspended – almost 30 per cent – after police and Bradford Council licensing officers checked 33 private hire and hackney carriage vehicles in the Tong and Wyke area.

The checks were carried out last weekend ahead of the busiest time of the year for the trade. The suspensions were mainly for having tyres with insufficient tread. Others were suspended for not  carrying the correct paperwork in their vehicles.

Six advisory notices were issued, requiring defects to be rectified within a certain amount of time.

Four endorsable fixed penalty notices, with three penalty points and a £60 fine, were issued for having tyres with insufficient tread.

Sergeant Brian Watson, of the Tong and Wyke Neighbourhood Policing Team, said: “It is important that we ensure all vehicles in Bradford are fully roadworthy and legally fit to be travelling.

“This is a particularly poignant message at a time of year when conditions can often be difficult to negotiate.

“In this latest joint operation with Bradford Council Hackney Licensing Officers, we focused on private hire and hackney carriage vehicles.

“Officers noticed that many of the cars stopped had insufficient tyre tread and a number of drivers were immediately suspended from duty.

In Bradford all Hackney Carriages are white vehicles with a green stripe on the front doors. Fares do not need to be pre-booked.

Private hire minicabs can be any suitable vehicles, but must display registration badges. They can only carry passengers who have booked fares in advance through the firm’s office.


Dec 22

Plymouth driver faces jail after being found guilty of killing pensioner on crossing

A TAXI driver dubbed “an amber gambler” killed a Plymouth pensioner on a pedestrian crossing, a jury has ruled.

Now Andrew Bates is facing almost certain jail after being found guilty of causing death by dangerous driving.

    1. Andrew Bates


Gordon Hollister, pictured left, aged 76 and known to his family and friends as Peter, died on December 13 last year when he was hit by Bates’ private-hire cab near the Woolwell roundabout on a pedestrian-controlled crossing he used often.

In her closing speech, prosecutor Jo Martin told the jury of six men and six woman: “He (Bates) was an amber gambler; he was taking a chance.

“The light changed to red and he kept on going.

“It was a deliberate decision by him to overtake and go through the lights, and tragedy was the result.”

Bates, aged 44 and of Warwick Orchard Close, Honicknowle, had denied the charge and a lesser alternative of causing death by careless  driving. He showed no reaction as the verdict was returned, but there were gasps from the back of the court where his supporters and relatives of Mr Hollister were sitting in the public gallery.

Judge Francis Gilbert QC told Bates he would sentence him on January 20 following a report from the Probation Service.

He granted him unconditional bail but imposed an interim driving ban and warned: “It is all but inevitable that you will receive an immediate custodial sentence.”

He also asked Miss Martin to tell the jury about Bates’ previous driving convictions.

These included contravening a pedestrian crossing while stationary in 2008, speeding at 40mph in a 30mph limit and 74mph in a 50mph limit and having his taxi licence withdrawn for vehicle defects.

During the trial, the jury heard that Bates drove through a red light in his eight-seater Ford Tourneo after accelerating to overtake a cement mixer as he saw Mr Hollister poised to cross the road.

The pensioner, from Southway, was crossing a two-lane stretch of Tavistock Road following a visit to the nearby Tesco superstore at around 10.45am when the accident happened.

Despite attempts by paramedics and witnesses, he died at Derriford Hospital later that morning.

The jury heard from several eye-witnesses and was also shown graphic photographs of the crash scene.

Bates, the only defence witness, told the court he was “almost sure” the traffic lights were green.

He said he was not in a hurry and claimed Mr Hollister failed to look before stepping out in front of him.

Bates told the jury he was devastated and would do anything to be able to turn the clock back.

Outside the court, Mr Hollister’s younger brother Des told The Herald he agreed with the verdict and thought Bates should be jailed.

“I am not vindictive, but people make mistakes and unfortunately they have to pay,” he said.

“He made a mistake and it cost me a brother.”

Mr Hollister said it had been a long wait for justice, but praised the work of two police officers: family liaison officer MPc Steve Chaplin and officer in the case MPc Abigail Bedson.

MPc Bedson said: “We are satisfied that the jury has reached the correct verdict.

“A year of hard work has gone into this case.

“The people of Plymouth should be able to use the roads and crossings without fear.”


Dec 21

Drivers robbed in Brighton & Ipswich

Brighton taxi driver robbed in his car

A taxi driver was attacked and robbed by two customers.

The two men put the driver in a headlock before taking his float and a set of keys in Davey Drive, Hollingdean, at about 7.30pm on Tuesday.

The Brighton and Hove Streamline taxi driver had just dropped a fare off in Sandhurst Avenue when the two men hailed him down near the junction with Warren Road.

As he turned into Southmount Road he was attacked before the pair ran off.

Detective Sergeant Chris Sherwell from Brighton and Hove CID said: “This was a very worrying encounter for the taxi driver who was going about his normal business. We are keen to trace the suspects and would urge people to please come forward who may know the identity of the suspects.”

The suspects are described as white, between 5ft9 and 6ft, in their 20s with dark short hair.

One was described as thin with a slim face whilst the other was stocky with a fuller face and was wearing a white long sleeved top.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Sussex Police on 101 quoting serial 1377 of 20/12 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.

Ipswich: Appeal after taxi driver is robbed at knifepoint

lets hope

A TAXI driver was robbed at knifepoint in the early hours of yesterday morning.

The incident happened in Bishop’s Hill, Ipswich, at around 4.50am while the taxi driver was sat in his car.

Three men approached the taxi and two got in while the other stood next to it.

The pair who got into the car threatened the driver with a knife and stole cash, a PDA, a sat nav and a mobile phone before hitting him over the head and running off into nearby bushes.

The taxi driver then drove off to find help having suffered facial injuries.

All three men were wearing dark clothing and had their faces covered.

Officers are keen to speak to anyone who may have seen the three men in the area before or after the robbery.

Anyone with information should call Ipswich CID on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

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