Keighley private-hire battle goes to Parliament

At People First Keighley and Craven are, from left, back, Gerry Sutcliffe, Omar Sardar of People First, John Grogan and front, Tom Walsh and Keighley councillor Doreen Lee

A KEIGHLEY battle to win equality for disabled private-hire passengers has gone to Parliament.

An Early Day Motion has been tabled acknowledging the campaign and demanding wheelchair users be charged the same fares as the able-bodied.

The move follows a three-year fight by People First Keighley and Craven for a section of the Equality Act 2010 to be enacted.

“Ministers have the power to enact the clause, which would solve this problem,” said John Grogan, Labour’s Keighley parliamentary candidate. “I fail to see a good reason for further delay. It is simply a matter of basic justice that a wheelchair user should pay the same for a journey, in a vehicle suitable for them, as anybody else.”

He invited Bradford South Labour MP Gerry Sutcliffe to visit the People First Keighley and Craven offices at Springfield Mills in Oakworth Road. They discussed the issue with campaign leader, Tom Walsh.

Afterwards, Mr Walsh, 30, told the Keighley News he was delighted the matter was being raised in Parliament. He said: “Private hire drivers with accessible vehicles were charging double the fare for wheelchair users. That figure is now time-and-a-half but it is still totally wrong.

“The discrimination is still going on and we must put a stop to it. The fact is disabled people should not have to pay any extra.”

Mr Sutcliffe tabled the motion noting the importance of the campaign and calling on government to bring into force section 165 of the Equality Act. “Private hire firms that have vehicles designated as accessible by a local authority must carry passengers in wheelchairs without making an additional charge,” he said.

Research by People First showed many drivers charging double for disabled passengers. Mr Walsh was filmed by the BBC taking undercover taxi trips to expose discriminatory practices.

The controversy centres on the need for wheelchair users to travel in larger, adapted vehicles and the extra time drivers require to transport wheelchair-using customers.

Stuart Hastings, of private hire firm Metro Keighley, said his firm charged the correct fare but added: “Our disabled customers appreciate the additional work required and are happy to voluntarily pay more for the service our drivers provide.”


Fine for minicab driver caught illegally plying for trade in Stone

A STOKE minicab driver caught plying for trade illegally in Stone has been hit with a fine.

Usman Hussain, 23, was caught out as part of a crackdown on rogue minicab drivers by Staffordshire Police and Stafford Borough Council.

Stafford magistrates heard that Hussain, of Argyll Road, Longton, agreed to take a plain clothed policewoman and council officer to a local pub when they approached his Lucky Seven private hire vehicle in Stone’s Station Road. When the vehicle was stopped by a marked police car, Hussain told his passengers to “tell them you booked me from Granvilles”.

Julie Simpson, prosecuting for Stafford Borough Council, said “He also spoke on his radio saying “book me a job from Granvilles.” He then said again to his passengers “Tell them you booked me.”

Hussain admitted plying for hire in an unlicensed vehicle in August. He was given a 12 month conditional discharge and ordered to pay a total of £236.10 costs by Stafford magistrates.

It is illegal for private hire drivers to collect customers in the street or from a minicab rank. They can only pick up passengers that have booked in advance.

Tac Hussain, defending, said: “This is an expensive fare for Mr Hussain. He accepts he was foolish but did not go deliberately plying for hire.
“His documents and vehicle were all in order and he was not initiating or actively seeking a fare.”

Hussain is now likely to go before a licensing panel at Stoke on Trent City Council, to see if he is a fit and proper person to hold a private hire licence, the court was told.

Speaking after the hearing Councillor Frank Finlay, cabinet member for environment and health, said: “We are determined to clamp down on private hire drivers who stick two fingers up at the law by coming into the borough and picking up residents with no prior booking.

“One of our top priorities is the health and wellbeing of our community and this operation aims to protect the public as they are at risk, because these vehicles will not be insured if they are picking up passengers in this way.”


Wembley minicab driver found guilty of killing former teacher of chef Heston Blumenthal

Kugannesan Balasubramaniam is facing jail (Pic credit: Central news)

A minicab driver from Wembley who killed a teacher after smashing into the back of his car has been found guilty of causing his death by careless driving.

Kugannesan Balasubramaniam, 31, Longley Avenue, collided into the classic sports car driven by Nick Sennett so hard it ‘folded like a penknife’ on the A40 Westway.

Mr Sennett, who was 58-year-old and taught economics at Latymer Upper School in Hammersmith, died at the scene on January 15 this year.

Southwark Crown Court heard Balasubramaniam, had been speeding at 48mph on the 40mph road and had worked for 90 hours in the previous seven days for the minicab company One to One.

The short-sighted driver also failed a basic number plate-reading eye test when officers attended the scene.

Balasubramaniam had denied a single charge of causing death by dangerous driving and was convicted by the alternative charge of causing death by careless driving.

He will be sentenced on January 15.

Warning him he faces jail, Judge Jeffrey Pegden QC told Balasubramaniam: “You should understand that the law makes it clear that a custodial sentence is likely but as you are a man of previous good character I order a pre-sentence report for that day.’

Mr Sennett was a former teacher of chef Heston Blumenthal OBE who attended the £15,700-a-year school.

Paying tribute to him shortly after his death, he said: “What made Nick stand out was his very calm, playful banter. He was one of those teachers you could be very comfortable around. He was really lovable, really funny, chilled out.”





A district council may make byelaws, in respect of hackney carriages for all or any of the following purposes:

(1) for regulating the conduct of the proprietors and drivers of such vehicles in their several employments, and for determining whether such drivers should wear any and what badges, and for regulating the hours within which they may exercise their calling5;
(2) for regulating the manner in which the number of each carriage, corresponding with the number of its licence, is to be displayed6;
(3) for regulating the number of persons to be carried by such hackney carriages, and in what manner such number is to be shown on such carriage, and what number of horses or other animals is to draw the same, and the placing of check strings to the carriages, and the holding of the same by the driver, and how such hackney carriages are to be furnished or provided;
(4) for fixing the stands of such hackney carriages and the distance which they may be compelled to take passengers not exceeding the prescribed distance;
(5) for fixing the rates or fares, as well for time as distance, to be paid for such hackney carriages within the “prescribed distance,” and for securing the due publication of such fares;
(6) for securing the safe custody and redelivery of any property accidentally left in such vehicles, and for fixing the charges to be made in respect of it.

12 s 68; Town Police Clauses Act 1889 s 6. As to the conduct of proprietors and drivers see Blackpool Local Board of Health v Bennett (1859) 4 H & N 127 (plying for hire at forbidden place); Mackenzie v Somerville (1900) 3 F 4, Ct of Sess (loitering); Murphy v Neilson (1901) 3 F 77, Ct of Sess (loitering); Derham v Strickland (1911) 104 LT 820, DC (touting); Dunning v Maher (1912) 106 LT 846, DC (provision of taximeter lamps). 

People have sometimes questioned the validity of certain byelaws. The following test should always be applied.

Validity of byelaws generally.

Four elements are essential to the validity of a byelaw:

(1) it must be within the powers of the local authority which makes it;

(2) it must not be repugnant to the law of England;

(3) it must be certain and positive in its terms; and

(4) it must be reasonable.

If a byelaw can be divided into separate and distinct parts it may be upheld in part even, if the rest is bad.

A byelaw ceases to be operative upon the repeal of the statute under which it was made unless it is preserved by the repealing statute.

A byelaw which has not been enforced for a long period may nevertheless be relied on in civil proceedings.

Meaning of ‘byelaw’.

A byelaw has been said to be an ordinance affecting the public, or some portion of the public, imposed by some authority clothed with statutory powers, ordering something to be done or not to be done, and accompanied by some sanction or penalty for its non-observance. Further, it involves the consequence that, if validly made, it has the force of law within the sphere of its legitimate operation. Byelaws are instruments in the nature of local enactments and are thus within the definition of local statutory provisions, whether made under a public general or a local Act.

Byelaws must not be repugnant to the general law.

A byelaw is invalid if it is repugnant to the general law of England. It is not bad merely because it deals with something with which the general law does not deal, or because it makes unlawful something which the general law does not make unlawful, or if it adds something which is not inconsistent with the general law, but it must not, expressly or by necessary implication, profess to alter the general law by making something unlawful which the general law makes lawful, or vice versa, or by adding something inconsistent with the provisions of a statute creating the same offence, or by depriving a defendant of a defence he would have under the general law. A byelaw adds something to the general law, but it must not be contrary to or inconsistent with it.

A byelaw is not necessarily inconsistent with the general law merely because it is more stringent or more detailed in its demands. Where a statute requires in an offence a particular element, that element must, it seems, be present also in a corresponding offence under byelaws, and a penalty imposed by statute for an offence may not be increased by byelaw.

Cab drivers urged to take precautions to ensure their safety

Police officers in Ayrshire are cracking down on taxi robberies in the run up to the busiest weekend of the year.

Following two incidents in the past week when drivers were robbed of their takings, police officers have been visiting around 200 taxi drivers across Ayrshire with crime prevention advice in a bid to keep them safe and secure over the pre-Christmas weekend.

Both drivers in the recent robberies saw three-figure sums of money stolen from them but also felt badly shaken by their ordeals, particularly as one was threatened by knifepoint.

All this week, officers have been carrying out their Festive Taxi Safety and Prevention Initiative by talking to taxi companies, advising taxi marshals, engaging with cab drivers and bus companies on important crime prevention advice. In addition, divisional road policing units will be stopping taxi drivers and providing them with security advice whilst working.

With more people going out to enjoy the festivities, the number of taxi journeys increase, resulting in greater amounts of cash being handled by taxi firms. This can leave cab drivers more vulnerable to robberies if they keep large sums of cash in their vehicle.

Drivers have been urged to radio in to their base if they feel at risk of robbery or assault, which will be relayed to the police immediately. There will also be a heavier police presence at taxi stances in the key towns of Kilmarnock, Ayr and Irvine.

Chief Superintendent Gillian MacDonald, Divisional Commander at ‘U’ Division, said,

“This is a particularly busy time of year for taxi drivers, who will experience an increase in the number of journeys they make and hence the amount of cash they handle in any one night. The last weekend before Christmas is always a busy time for taxi firms but my officers have been engaging with taxi companies, marshals and drivers to provide guidance and advice in relation to keeping themselves and their cash safe.

“I would urge drivers to be vigilant and to avoid any passengers who may be acting suspiciously and call the police immediately if you feel you are at all at risk.”

Due to being a cash handling businesses, police are urging taxi drivers to take some sensible precautions when handling money:

• Don’t keep large amounts of money in your vehicle and bank regularly

• If banking is not possible make arrangements to store money securely on you or in a secure part of your vehicle

• Keep valuables out of site and don’t leave them in full view when vehicle is unattended

• Make sure colleagues are aware of your position

• If you have any suspicions don’t pick up the customer and contact police on 101 or 999 in an emergency

• Keep a mobile phone on you and ensure that it is charged

• Park in a well-lit and busy area between pick-ups

• If you are victim of a theft, robbery or other crime, do not further endanger your wellbeing, for example, in an attempt to retain your money

• Use the car horn to attract attention, if safe to do so

• Try and preserve items that may have been touched by those responsible, such as paper

• Ensure that police are contacted without delay

• If possible inform your colleagues via your taxi radio, providing descriptions of those involved

• If you see anyone that have been responsible for robbing a colleague do not challenge them. Inform police and monitor where they go, if safe to do so

Bill McIntosh, the General Secretary of the Scottish Taxi Federation, said:

“To rob taxi drivers at this time of year, particularly when their earnings are being relied upon to provide gifts for their own children and families, is reprehensible. It is only the lowest of the low who would prey on anyone like this, let alone taxi drivers, who are only trying to provide a much-needed service to their local communities.

“I would urge all taxi drivers to take advice from the police, keep alert at all times and keep cash and change out of sight. It would be good advice to drop off your takings at regular intervals so that you don’t carry large amounts of cash at any one time. If any of your passengers are acting suspiciously, use your radio to call for assistance and get your radio base to contact police. If you are concerned with behaviour of any intended passengers, don’t take them in the taxi and contact the police straight away. Do not put your own safety at risk under any circumstances.”

• Around 1840 hours on Wednesday 10 December, a 51 year-old taxi driver was dropping off a passenger on Warrix Avenue in Irvine when the same passenger then presented a knife and demanded the driver’s money. The lone suspect is described as a white man with a local accent aged in his late teens. He is described as being slim built and was wearing a light-coloured hooded top.

• At 0110 hours on Thursday 11 December, a 55 year old taxi driver was dropping off a fare in North Hamilton Street, Kilmarnock when the male attempted to defraud him. The taxi driver challenged him regarding this and the male produced what appeared to be a weapon. A 25 year old male has since been arrested in relation to this.

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Jun 17

Burton taxi firms anger at licence fee hikes

TAXI firms across Burton have reacted angrily after it was agreed to hike licence fees by almost 50 per cent.

One taxi company said the move by East Staffordshire Borough Council was like ‘trying to get blood from a stone’.

The licensing committee at the borough council has agreed the setting of licensing fees and charges for 2013/14 and included are ‘significant’ increases to the cost of renewing taxi licences.

The fee for renewing licenses for private hire and hackney carriage drivers will rise from £95.70 to £145 annually – an increase of £49.30.

Councillors on the committee were given the option of phasing the rise in over three years, but decided rather to make the increase immediately.

Amjab Hussain, from 57 Taxis, told the Mail: “The driver’s are quite furious – they are really angry.

“The increases are not just five or 10 per cent but nearly 50 per cent.

“Obviously they have to make some money so it will have to go on to the customer.”

Mohammed Hussain, from Branston Taxis, said: “If they could have made it over three years it would not have been so bad but just to do it one go is really, really unfair.

“I think the public will have to pay which will not go down well.”

Mimtiaz Talib, from Station Taxis, said he was ‘appalled’ and disgusted’.

He said: “Obviously people are just pleased to have their jobs the way things are going but they (the council) are just pushing us right to the wall.”

A report to the committee said that no changes would have meant taxpayers having to subsidise the fees by £27,000 per year.

Chairman Councillor Jacqui Jones said: “The licensing committee expressed a majority view that the fees and charges as proposed is the preferred approach.

“The committee considered it inappropriate for all ESBC council tax payers to subsidise these fees by £27,000 per year.”


Jun 17

‘They just gave him a slap on the wrist’

A TAXI driver who says he was left on crutches after being reversed into by a fellow cabbie claims he only consented to community resolution as it was presented as “the only option”.

Arron Grattin, 22, suffered leg injuries after a territory dispute with another taxi driver led to the collision on Bank Street in Braintree in the early hours of May 5.

He claims the Maldon-registered car reversed into him three times as he stood behind the vehicle following an argument over a passenger pick-up in Chelmsford, which has left him considering quitting the taxi business once and for all.

But Arron, from Chelmsford, was only offered a written apology from his attacker, an outcome that has left him disillusioned. “Unfortunately it seemed to be the only option as there was a lack of evidence to take it to court,” he said.

“All he wrote was ‘I’m sorry’. I don’t see how it can be a good idea as it teaches people to commit crimes and that nothing will happen to them if they do. It was his first offence and so they just gave him a slap on the wrist.”

Arron says he now suffers pain in his legs when driving which means he has had to reduce his hours, and has even considered a different career.

“I may have to give up my driving job altogether as the position leaves my legs really aching. And all he had to do was apologise.”

An Essex Police spokesman said: “Police received a report of a verbal argument in Bank Street, Braintree, which happened at 3am on Sunday, May 5.

“Following police inquiries, a 22-year-old male taxi driver from Braintree was satisfied that the incident was resolved without prosecution. As a result a 35-year-old male taxi driver from Maldon has agreed to apologise through a community resolution.

“A victim has to agree before a community resolution is used and it gives them control over a situation. It avoids locking them into a formal and sometimes unwanted and lengthy criminal justice process and requires the offender to face up to their wrongdoing, either by way of apology or through reparation.

“Community resolutions are just one of a number of out of court disposals used by officers; it allows a level of discretion that is used in line with both national and local procedural guidance.”

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Jun 15

Rookie cabbies take up to seven goes to acquire Knowledge

ROOKIE taxi drivers in Scunthorpe are taking up to seven attempts to answer some simple questions correctly in their bid to gain The Knowledge, it has been revealed.

Since 2009, applicants for new cab licences have had to pass an hour-long test to prove their knowledge of local routes, the law and driving skills before they are given badges.

Questions set by North Lincolnshire include: “What are taxi ranks for?” and “Where is Scunthorpe police station?”

Exam-sitters also have to select the best route for fares on a variety of sample journeys, including from Doncaster Road to Birkdale Road and Derby Road.

A council spokeswoman said: “The Knowledge test for hackney carriage drivers is split into three parts – local routes (part one), legislation (part two) and road craft (part three).

“Seventy people have completed the test since it was introduced in June 2002.

“Applicants have to pay an initial fee of £27.50 and can have up to three retests. They can pay the same again if they didn’t manage to pass in order to take the test again.”

The exam-setters have revealed 55 candidates passed the road craft section at the first attempt.

But when it came to the knowledge of local routes, only 14 passed the first time – and one sitter had five more attempts before passing.

Only 12 passed the law section first time – and it took one candidate seven attempts.

The Knowledge came as a result of demands by North Lincolnshire taxi operators to restrict the issue of licences with a view to stopping out-of-town cabbies stealing trade.

Kuljinder Juj, the chairman of the Scunthorpe and District Taxi Association, said: “The number of first and second failures is good news and proves the tests are effective. The Knowledge is a deterrent to cowboy operators. It is also improving quality of service.

“The number of unlicensed operators in the town has gone down since The Knowledge was introduced”.

Read more:

Jun 15

Court may seize assets of drugs gang minicab pair

Leslie Palmer

A minicab boss and his son may have their assets seized after they helped a £1million drugs gang hide their profits.

Leslie Palmer and his son Jonathan were part of a gang which flooded Plymouth and the South West with drugs including cocaine, amphetamines and ecstasy brought into the area by couriers from Manchester.

They ran the Silverline private-hire firm in Plymouth and helped move money around for the gang, which was led by infamous drug dealer Blake Donellan, who was jailed for 15 years in 2011.

The pair now face a five-day hearing at Exeter Crown Court in which assets including more than £1 million worth of property and a trust fund in the Isle of Man could be seized.

Leslie, aged 68, of Saltash Road, Plymouth, and Jonathan, aged 24, of Mannamead Road, Plymouth, were jailed for three and eight years respectively at Plymouth Crown Court on December 23 2011.

Jonathan admitted money laundering and his father was found guilty by a jury and is still trying to appeal the verdict, Exeter Crown Court was told.

Judge Francis Gilbert, QC, who has been appointed the Recorder of Exeter since hearing the original case in Plymouth, adjourned the case for a contested hearing under the Proceeds of Crime Act later this year.

The case has to be resolved within two years of the original hearing and is likely to take a week.

Mr Simon Laws, QC, prosecuting, said there were complicated issues including the status of an Isle of Man-based trust and property worth more than £1 million.

During the original case the jury heard how £20,000 cash was found by police in Jonathan Palmer’s car after it was stopped close to a known drugs den.

His father went to Charles Cross police station within hours to demand the money back, signing a declaration that it was the float for his taxi business.

Detectives noted the serial numbers of the notes and within days a courier was intercepted at Exeter Service Station taking £37,500 cash North from Plymouth to Manchester.

An examination showed that 362 banknotes, amounting to almost £5,000 of the cash, came from the money which police had returned to Leslie Palmer.

Leslie Palmer has since changed his defence team and will be represented at both his appeal and the confiscation hearing by Martin Meeke, QC, while his son will be represented by Adam Morgan.

Blake Donellan, aged 28, of Downs View, Bude, was jailed for 15 years at the original hearing where henchman Dean Martin, aged 40, of Stonehouse was jailed for eight years.

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Jun 14

New rules aim to tackle spiralling taxi numbers in Worcester

RANK OUTSIDER: Queueing taxis are a common sight in Worcester.

NEW rules governing taxi drivers are coming into force in Worcester – following concern the number of cabs has “spiralled to unprecedented” levels.

The number of taxis licensed on city streets has hit 288, an 18 per cent surge in just one year.

Worcester City Council has revealed plans to try and manage it – and from the autumn will only be accepting applications from drivers with new vehicles.

At the moment people can ask for a licence as long as the vehicle is under three years old, as opposed to a new one which can cost anywhere from £17,000 to £30,000.

The ruling would also apply to current taxi drivers with vehicles where the age limits expire, which is set at 10 or 12 years depending on the model.

Members of the city’s licensing committee said they had “no idea” how the drivers make a living.

Councillor Paul Denham, the chairman, said: “The whole purpose of this is to achieve a reduction in hackney carriages – they are simply clogging up the city at all times of day and night, it seems.

“Doing nothing is not a sensible option otherwise all we’ll get is what we have now, with people fighting for space.”

There are 229 hackney carriages licensed in Worcester and 59 private hire cabs, with a council report warning their numbers have spiralled to “unprecedented” levels.

Under the the new rules, which are subject to a 12-week consultation with drivers, new incentives will also be introduced to encourage more of them to switch to private hire cars.

The age limit of private hire vehicles is being increased from eight years to 10, and a £50 fee for each car scrapped.

Unlike hackney carriages, private hire drivers are not allowed to pick customers up from ranks or tout for customers on the street, and must rely on pre-booking only.

The council has refused to put an actual cap on overall numbers due to fears it could face legal challenges from irate drivers.

One way to reduce the risk of court action is to do a survey of “demand” for taxis, but it has been ruled out for the time being because of the costs involved.

The new changes will need to be voted on by full council by November once the licensing committee has looked at the consultation feedback.

The report even warns that the policy might result in a rush of applications from would-be drivers trying to beat the autumn deadline, but councillors hope it will cull the overall number in the long run.

Mohammed Ali, from Worcester Taxi Drivers Association, said: “I first started 10 years ago and we all know there’s too many taxis – I have no idea why it wasn’t stopped long before now.”


Jun 14

Minicab driver fined for not properly securing disabled passenger

Shaukat Ali (45), of Harris Street, Peterborough, appeared at Peterborough Magistrates’ Court yesterday (Wednesday, June 12) accused of failing to take the necessary steps to ensure a passenger is carried in safety and reasonable comfort, an offence under the 2010 Equality Act.

He denied the offence.

The court heard from two support workers representing the disabled passenger about the incident on September 26, 2012.

The support workers were accompanying the passenger and two others on a journey to the PHAB Club (Physically Handicapped and Able Bodied Club) in Bretton.

On booking the private hire vehicle, Ali arrived in a specialist vehicle fitted with a tail lift as requested by the passenger.

Prior to undertaking the journey, both carers saw Ali had not restrained the passenger’s wheelchair.

Both stated that when challenged, Ali said he did not need to secure the wheelchair, as it was an electric one.

In order for a wheel chair dependant passenger to be transported safely, the wheelchair should be restrained and the passenger wear an additional seat belt.

The carers refused to allow the journey to be undertaken until Ali fitted the belts.

During the journey one of the carers noticed Ali had only restrained the chair and not the passenger.

On highlighting the safety issue, she stated Ali ignored her and continued driving.

As the vehicle negotiated a roundabout, the passenger’s wheelchair began to move, forcing the support worker to remove her own seat belt and attempt to restrain the chair.

She informed Ali of the potentially dangerous issue and alleged she was ignored.

On reaching the destination, she stated that Ali then manhandled the wheelchair causing noticeable distress to the passenger, who had to be assisted with calming techniques, before she could leave the vehicle.

While giving evidence, Ali alleged that the support workers were lying and had conspired against him because he had been rude to them during the journey.

He alleged one of the carers had undone the wheelchair restraints herself.

Ali was found guilty of the offence, fined £250 and ordered to pay £400 in costs and a £15 victim surcharge.

A decision is to be made concerning Ali’s private hire badge.

Adrian Day, licensing manager for Peterborough City Council, said: “This case should serve as a warning to taxi and private hire drivers in Peterborough that they must respect the needs of every member of our community.

“The Equality Act is there to ensure that every single person is entitled to the same standard of service and, in this case, regardless of their personal circumstances.

“This decision sends a strong message that the city council takes complaints made against the trade seriously and will investigate every incident reported to us – taking action where it is found that a driver or company isn’t providing the service that is legally required.

“The council requires taxi and private hire drivers to maintain exemplary standards and it is essential that the public has confidence in the quality of service provided. We have a responsibility to ensure that public expectations are fulfilled.”


Jun 14

Pervert minicab driver Terence Collins “filmed girls in his taxi”

Pervert minicab driver Terence Collins “filmed girls in his taxi”

A PERVERTED minicab driver awaiting sentence for two rapes had filmed other women who had travelled in his taxi, it has been claimed.

Following his trial, Terence Collins, 59, was convicted of raping a 14-year-old girl after forcing her to get into his vehicle and raping a 20-year-old woman two years later. Both were forced to relive their terrifying ordeals at Bournemouth Crown Court.

Speaking after the guilty verdicts, John Tye, Bournemouth Taxi Trades Association chairman, said: “We are sickened by the abhorrent actions of a lone private hire driver. As far as we are concerned no sentence can be too severe.”

He praised Collins’ victims courage, adding: “The rotten apple in a barrel of 1,000 licensed hackney carriage and private hire drivers in Bournemouth is still one too many.”

Mr Tye told the Daily Echo how other taxi drivers had been concerned by Collins’ behaviour for three years. He claimed that Collins had been taking “improper and wholly unsuitable images” of young women and uploading them to a social networking site.

In a deputation to a council licensing board on June 2, 2011 Mr Tye voiced his concerns about recording equipment in vehicles. Subsequently members decided that images from in-car cameras could only be available to the council and Dorset police, with unauthorised recording equipment banned from cabs.

Mr Tye said: “We feel that the trade has to be even more vigilant and that vulnerable young women should be made more aware of potential dangers.”

He claimed CCTV footage from Collins’ cab had been lost by the council but a spokeswoman said: “We have no record of receiving any footage.”

She added that Collins’ had been granted a private hire licence in 2002 which had been suspended on March 12 last year following concerns by the police. It was revoked on May 3 last year.


Jun 13

Maidenhead: More licences blamed for Ludlow Road taxi driver dispute

Tensions between taxi drivers and householders on a quiet residential street are threatening to reach boiling point – and drivers say the problem will only get worse.

Residents in Ludlow Road in Maidenhead are becoming increasingly fed up with the number of drivers who block the road at peak times as they wait to pick up commuters from Maidenhead Station, but cabbies say the growing number of taxis being issued with licences by the Royal Borough is leaving them with little choice but to wait at the oversubscribed rank.

Mohammad Yasin, who represents the Royal Borough Taxi Association, said: “They are ruining our livelihoods. I feel sorry for all the residents. We are not here by choice. We are here because we have nowhere to go.”

One dispute over blocked access led to the police being called on Thursday, and while residents expressed some sympathy, the issue is still seen as a nuisance.

“It’s a bit of a pain. We have sometimes counted 25 taxis on the road,” said Harriet Ash, 24.

“I can totally see there’s a lot of problems for them, but it’s a bit unfair that it’s on our road.”

Cllr Carwyn Cox, cabinet member for environmental services, said: “We are looking at the Ludlow Road situation very closely and are negotiating to provide off-road parking spaces for the drivers. If this doesn’t work and the drivers are still causing problems, we may look at moving them elsewhere.”


Jun 13

Rossendale taxi drivers in strike threat

Drivers Peter Durkin, Khalil Hussain, Zahid Younis, Derek German, David Lowrie and Colin Durkin in Bacup

TAXI drivers in Rossendale are threatening to go on strike if the council does not agree to change its licensing policy.

The 230 members of Rossendale Taxi Association are concerned that their personal information could get into ‘the wrong hands’ if new regulations are carried.

Rossendale Council’s licensing committee passed a motion allowing a private company to carry out taxi drivers’ Criminal Record Bureau and DVLA checks.

This allows the firm to hold their names, addresses, dates of birth and other private details.

David Lawrie, chairman of the Rossendale Taxi Association, has called the ruling a ‘very dangerous thing’ and said his group would take strike action if the decision was not quashed over the DVLA checks.

However, Coun Sean Serridge, deputy leader of the council and cabinet member for customers, legal and licensing, said using private companies to issue checks was routine procedure.

A meeting was held between the borough authority and taxi chiefs yesterday to prevent a strike.

Before the talks, Mr Lawrie said: “All the taxi drivers in the borough will be going on strike if the council don’t back down on this very dangerous thing.

“We will be forced to give our personal details over to a company who could share them with whoever they want. They could get into the wrong hands and our members are very concerned about it.

“It is a cost-cutting measure by the council, but these are corners that shouldn’t be cut.”

Coun Serridge said: “Most government agencies use companies to perform these checks. For instance, many councils in Lancashire use Capita to process their CRB checks.

“The council will not allow people’s private information to go into the hands of companies who could misuse them.

“It is perfectly legal and safe.”

If the ruling goes ahead, the changes will be brought in on August 1. It has not yet been disclosed which company will be contracted to manage the process.


Jun 13

Edinburgh Annual Taxi Outing 2013

The 67TH Edinburgh Taxi Trade Children’s Outing took place yesterday.  This is an outing organised and funded by taxi drivers and offers a day out to the beach for children with special needs, life-limiting conditions and terminal illnesses.

The taxis are all decorated with balloons or decked out as floats. They assembled at the ice rink car park at Murrayfield Stadium where judging and presentation of prizes took place for best float taxi, best balloon taxi, best fancy dressed driver and best fancy dressed child.

The taxis then left Murrayfield at 10 o’clock heading under police escort through the city and along the coast to Yellowcraigs beach for a fun-filled afternoon before heading home about 4pm.

Organisers representative, Keith Bell said:- “A few weeks ago, Tom Gilzean’s electric wheelchair and stolen and vandalised and as Tom had fundraised for the cause over the years, they were going to donate funds to replace it.”

“However PoppyScotland stepped in to organise this, so we decided to invite Tom along for the day.  He was collected from his house by our Chairman, Alex Lyons, and then when we got to Murrayfield, we surprised him with his own Rolls-Royce for the journey down to Yellowcraigs and back.”


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