Private hire operator loses licence for running taxi business outside district

A district council has revoked the licence of a private hire operator, as well as hackney carriage licences for five of his vehicles, after he was found to be running his taxi business outside of the district.

Ismail Emin, a Chelmsford resident, had been granted the licences by Uttlesford District Council for his business, West End Cars, in October 2015.

Emin listed the business address as a unit in Ongar Road, Great Dunmow, and he provided a letter from the landlord confirming he was a tenant at the address.

However, the council said it had received complaints that West End Cars vehicles were driving around Chelmsford with a Chelmsford telephone number on the side of their vehicles.

A member of Uttlesford’s enforcement team carried out two visits to the Dunmow address to check the record of bookings, but found no signage or any indication of the firm’s presence.

Neighbours also had no knowledge of a taxi business operating from that address.

At a meeting of Uttlesford’s Licensing and Environmental Health Committee last month (23 May), Emin failed to provide any supporting evidence that the business or the taxis were based in Uttlesford.

Cllr Robert Chambers, chairman of the Licensing and Environmental Health Committee, said: “The reason why someone from outside the area would seek a license in Uttlesford is quite clear – Uttlesford has one of the lowest fee structures in the country, and almost certainly in Essex.

“It is the policy of the council not to licence any hackney carriage which will not be predominantly used within Uttlesford. To reinforce this it is the practice of the Council to seek a declaration from the applicant that the vehicle will be predominantly used within the district. In this instance, Mr Emin’s declaration was false. There was no evidence to show that he has run his business within the district, or that any of the hackney carriage vehicles are working here.”

The council said its policy was based on a 2009 High Court case in which the judge said that, when considering applications for licences, councils must have regard to whether the vehicles will be used to ply for hire in the council’s district or whether they will be used predominantly outside of the district. In the latter event the council should refuse to grant a licence.

Cllr Chambers said: “I hope this case sends a strong message to those who fail to meet the licensing conditions that this will not be tolerated and that the council will not hesitate to take the appropriate action.”


Derby City Council ‘granted taxi licences to criminals’, report concludes

CRIMINALS were being granted taxi licences by Derby City Council until as recently as last year, a damning report has found.

Between 2012 and 2015, expert auditors found that councillors on the authority’s Taxi Licensing Sub Committee had allowed licences to people with criminal records who had committed offences including “hate crime, harassment, intimidation and making improper comments to young women”.

In one instance, a taxi driver was granted a licence despite “publishing material threatening or intending to stir up religious/sexual hatred”.

In recent times, the auditors found that the authority had taken steps to “strengthen governance in this area”, including ensuring officers were involved in the decision-making process.

But the experts from Grant Thornton said there was evidence councillors “continue to involve themselves inappropriately in operational matters” around taxis.

The city council granted licences to criminals, the report says

The report also blasts the council for its handling of a recent Government-ordered pay review.

The Derby Telegraph had already reported how the work had cost more than £5 million to date after being beset with problems.

The review had been carried out by a company called Aquarius.

But, back in September 2014, the council’s former chief executive, Adam Wilkinson, revealed that “the previous consultants (Aquarius)” were not able to complete their work due to a “contractual issue”.

Councillor Lisa Eldret, responsible for staff matters at the city council, later revealed Aquarius was using the pay review system of a company called Hay without permission. The Aquarius work is now being redone by Hay at an additional cost of £1.2 million to the taxpayer.

Now, the auditors have said that the council had “asked” Aquarius to use the “Hay-based approach” that led to the problem.

Their report says: “It should have been clear as early as September 2013 that asking a firm other than Hay to apply a Hay-based approach would be problematic.”

The report adds that an allegedly politically-motivated decision by councillors around staff pay arrangements, made in 2013, had “meant extra costs of £3 million”.

It says that “according to officers, it was motivated by a political desire to protect refuse workers” in a bid to prevent them striking before an election, though some councillors denied this.

The council said many of the matters reported occurred some time ago and that it had already made a large number of improvements.

Council leader Ranjit Banwait, said: “I am confident many of the issues reported by our external auditors today are in the past; those issues that are more recent in nature are being reviewed and addressed – robust measures are already in place following an extensive overhaul of our governance.”


Celtic FC Foundation donate £7,000 to Glasgow Taxi Outing

CELTIC FC Foundation has today donated £7,000 to this year’s Glasgow Taxis´ Outing Fund for Sick Children, continuing the club’s long-standing support of the annual charity event.

Former Hoops favourite, Tosh McKinlay handed over the cheque to help fund the trip for at least 300 deserving kids on the Celtic Way.

It brings the contribution by the club to the Glasgow Taxis’ Outing Fund to nearly £140,000 over the last 18 years.

Established in 1945, the Glasgow Taxis´ Outing Fund aims to provide a day of excitement and fun for children with special needs.

This year’s event takes place on Wednesday, June 15, and will see a colourful convoy of cabs once again make the traditional journey from the West End of Glasgow to Troon in Ayrshire, where the children will enjoy a fun-packed day.

Celtic Chief Executive Peter Lawwell said: “We are absolutely delighted to continue our support of the taxis outing for yet another year. This is a great annual occasion for the city, bringing great fun to children who really deserve our support”.

“The money Celtic has donated and the effort and hard work of so many people, has meant thousands of children and their families receiving much needed help. Everyone who makes this event so special deserves enormous credit”.

“Celtic was formed in 1888 to help to help people in need and we are pleased that today, the objective of making a positive difference to the lives of others remains such an important part of the club. We hope everyone involved in Wednesday’s event enjoys a great day out.”

Tosh McKinlay said: “I was lucky enough to see them off from the Kelvin Way last year in their 70th year, so it’s great to take part again. For Celtic FC Foundation to put in another £7,000 is a fantastic gesture and it’s great to promote that.”

Jim Buchanan, chairperson of the Glasgow Taxis’ Outing Fund, said: “We can’t thank the people and all the fans who have donated through Celtic FC Foundation enough. It’s fantastic and we really appreciate it and all they have done for us over the years.

“The outing is one of the first days that everybody thinks about.This is the really big charity we have in the taxi trade and everyone that attends the event speaks about it all the time.

“All the taxi drivers always want to know when the date is for next year, ask questions about it and it’s the only thing a lot of them speak about.

“Sometimes it’s difficult to determine who the real kids are – the ones in the front or the ones in the back!

“They work hard and a lot of them make a huge effort to do up their taxi with balloons and in the past we have had things like spaceships and tennis courts. They take their cab off the road for two or three days and work on it, they think it’s worthwhile and so do we.

“We aim for around 150 drivers and we have volunteers and charitable donations from people like Celtic. There are so many people involved all-year round, but on the day there could be up to 220 volunteers from different backgrounds distributing the food to the kids. The support we get is fantastic.”

Davie Hodgson, a taxi driver based out of Castlemilk, said: “My first outing was 24 years ago this year. We absolutely love it. It’s a humbling day. We are all Glasgow taxi drivers and it’s a day where we can give something back to the city – and it’s one day where everyone likes taxi drivers!

“It’s cracking day and a lot of the boys put in a lot of effort with dressing up, and this year we are going as The Magnificent Seven.

“It’s the one day of the year when the drivers can just act like weans. You see them all on the Kelvin Way leaping about like lunatics. It’s terrific and I would never miss it.

“It means a lot to the kids and it’s nice to give something back. We work up in Castlemilk and all the boys are all buzzing. They all have the cowboy outfits already and tomorrow they will start turning up with them even though the event is on Wednesday!”


Newcastle under Lyme council officer suspended over taxi licensing allegations

A COUNCIL licensing officer has been suspended following allegations against the staff member.

Newcastle Borough Council has taken the action while an internal investigation into the issue takes place.

It is understood that the allegations against the officer relate to the borough council’s issuing of licences to taxi drivers.

A borough council spokesman said: “We can confirm that a member of staff has been suspended while an investigation takes place.

“As this is still under way it would be inappropriate for us to comment further.”

Read more:

New immigration requirements will impose ‘very heavy burdens’ on licensing authorities, says expert

Out – Law .com reports…..

Local licensing authorities will face substantial administrative burdens once new immigration laws come into force, an expert has said.06 Jun 2016

The 2016 Immigration Act, which obtained Royal Assent last month, will lead to a number of amendments to the Scottish alcohol, late night catering and taxi and private hire licensing regimes, according to licensing law expert Audrey Ferrie of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind These amendments are not yet in force and the date for the changes to come into force is to be appointed.

New rules requiring licensing authorities to ensure that applicants have the right to work in the UK before granting a taxi or private hire licence are included in the Immigration Act, and will apply throughout the UK. The new alcohol-related requirements in the Act will only apply in England and Wales, although draft regulations (12-page / 125KB PDF) have been published which would extend the same requirements to Scotland.

“From an initial reading, the draft regulations appear to impose a very heavy burden on already stretched local authorities for, at best, an uncertain return – they would have to notify the Secretary of State of virtually ever application for a new licence, transfer or review,” said Ferrie.

“Is it likely that holders of premises licences or even personal licence holders will be illegal workers? Possibly a few – but I would have thought that it was more likely that there would be issues affecting those working behind the scenes. However, they would not be caught by the regulations as drafted,” she said.

The Immigration Act, which received Royal Assent on 12 May, further strengthens the immigration rules and makes it more difficult for people who have no right to be in the UK to live or work in the country. It creates a new criminal offence of illegal working, and makes it easier to prosecute those who repeatedly hire illegal workers or who repeatedly fail to carry out right to rent checks on prospective tenants and do not evict those found to be in the UK illegally.

Licensing authorities will be subject to new requirements to check the immigration status of applicants for taxi or private hire licences, and will not be permitted to issue licences for a period any longer than the length of that individual’s permission to live and work in the UK. The legislation also adds immigration offences to the grounds on which a licensing authority can revoke a licence.

The legislation also gives the home secretary the status of ‘responsible authority’ for the purposes of the 2003 Licensing Act, the main licensing law applicable in England and Wales. It prevents individuals from applying for a premises licence or a personal licence under that Act unless they have the right to work in the UK. Once again, immigration offences are added to the list of relevant grounds on which a licensing authority can revoke a licence, while immigration officers are also given rights of entry to licensed premises.

The regulations that would extend similar provisions to Scotland through amendments to the 2005 Licensing (Scotland) Act are currently in draft form. Ferrie said that the Home Office had stressed that it was “keen to continue working on the development of proposals”.


Apr 05

How did this Private-Hire driver avoid jail for assaults on teenage girls?

PRIVATE hire driver sexually assaulted two teenage girls he was driving home in separate attacks in the back of his cab.

Asif Bashir avoided jail and was sentenced to 300 hours of community service after being found guilty by a jury of the sickening assaults.

The parents of the victims today branded the decision not to jail Bashir as “absolutely disgusting”, adding that their daughters had been traumatised by their ordeals.

Bashir, 43, of Groathill Loan in Drylaw, was caught by police after the teenagers reported the assaults, which took place just over a year apart, and he was put on trial for both crimes together.

In the first attack on November 8, 2009, Bashir had picked up the 19-year-old victim in George Street after she enjoyed a night out and had taken her home to the Haymarket area when he pounced.

He fondled the girl before touching her private parts through her clothing then carrying out a sexual assault. On November 20 the following year, Bashir was driving another 19-year-old girl home from Edinburgh to Inverkeithing when he assaulted her outside her home, fondling her breasts and private parts through her clothes.

After watching Bashir escape a jail sentence at Dunfermline Sheriff Court yesterday, the mother of the first victim said: “It’s absolutely disgusting that he was not jailed. My daughter had to move away from Edinburgh because she was so traumatised by what happened.

“There could be other victims out there, and society needs to be protected from him. My daughter also had to come to court and describe what happened to her.”

The father of the second victim said: “He started molesting [my daughter] right outside our front door. When she came in she was crying hysterically.

“It took about half an hour to calm her down and find out what happened then we contacted police.

“They traced Bashir and found this was the second girl who had suffered pretty much exactly the same offence. He’s a sexual predator and it’s a disgrace he was not jailed.”

Bashir’s defence agent said her client continued to protest his innocence. She added that Bashir, who was been in a relationship with his partner for 13 years, had lost any chance of employment as a private hire driver, and was now working as a lorry driver instead.

Sheriff Craig McSherry said Bashir’s decision to maintain his innocence when “two young women with no connection to each other, who did not know one other, came to court with very similar stories” as “bizarre”. Sheriff McSherry said Bashir had been facing two years in prison but took into account he was a first offender.

Bashir was placed on supervision for two years, given 300 hours of community service, ordered to pay each victim £750 in compensation, and placed on the sex offender’s register.


Parents demand tougher sentence for sex attack driver

THE parents of two teenage girls who were sexually assaulted by a private hire driver in the back of his cab are campaigning to have his sentence increased after he avoided jail over the attacks.

Asif Bashir, 43, was given 300 hours of community service after being found guilty by a jury of carrying out the separate attacks a year apart.

Now the victim’s parents have filed submissions to the procurator fiscal urging an appeal be lodged against his sentence on the grounds of “undue leniency”. Both families have sent letters to the fiscal’s office highlighting Bashir’s failure to show any remorse and the lack of justice for the victims as they called for a prison term to be imposed.

Bashir, of Groathill Loan, Drylaw, was sentenced at Dunfermline Sheriff Court on Wednesday when Sheriff Craig McSherry told him he had faced two years in prison.

Instead, Bashir – who the sheriff noted was a first offender – was placed on supervision for two years and ordered to pay each victim £750 in compensation, as well as being placed on the sex offenders register.

The mother of the first victim said the compensation order had left the victims feeling they were “selling themselves” after showing the “bravery” to report the attacks to police and give intimate evidence during the trial.

She said: “Part of his defence plea was that he could no longer be a private hire driver, but he’s now a lorry driver so I don’t see how that makes the public any safer.

“The sheriff has been too lenient in this case, so we hope this appeal goes ahead. We had 48 hours to make our submission and now we have to hope that action is taken.”

The father of the second victim said that the “traumatic and degrading experience” suffered by the victims had been forgotten, while the impact on Bashir’s family had been given priority.

Before sentencing, Bashir’s defence agent spoke about her client’s partner of 13 years, who was “very concerned about the effect it will have on his and her life”.

The victim’s father said: “I was extremely upset that, in passing sentence, the sheriff can take into account possible effects on Mr Bashir’s family but did not hear of the effects this has had on the girls and their families.

“It seems that part of the reason he has avoided jail was the fact he was a first offender, but he committed two very similar crimes a year apart and was tried for them together. The second offence meant he was a repeat offender and it shows an established pattern of behaviour.

“He continues to maintain his innocence and has therefore shown no remorse for his crimes. That makes him a continued risk because, although he will be under supervision, there will be no structure in place to alter his behaviour.

“I feel that Bashir should have received a jail term and we believe that the fiscal should lodge an appeal.”

In the first attack on November 8, 2009, Bashir picked up the 19-year-old victim in George Street and had taken her home to the Haymarket area when he pounced.

He fondled the girl before touching her private parts through her clothing and then carried out a sexual assault.

On November 20 the following year, Bashir was driving another 19-year-old girl home from Edinburgh to Fife when he assaulted her outside her home, fondling her breasts and private parts through her clothes.

A Crown Office spokesman said that no-one was available to comment on the case.

Apr 05

Halton Council to discuss changes to age limits on taxis

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OLDER vehicles could soon be used by Halton’s taxi firms.

The council’s regulatory committee meets on Tuesday when it will decide whether or not to lift a ban on the use of Hackney carriages and private hire cars being used as taxis if they are over a certain age.

At present, saloon and estate cars can be no older than eight years old, wheelchair-compliant multi-purpose vehicles can be no older than 12, while purpose-built taxis can be no older than 16 years old.

But a report to the board claims concerns have been raised by firms over the cost of replacing cars once the imposed age limit is reached.

The report said: “Replacing a licensed vehicle on attaining current age limits could, in the current time of austerity, be punitive to the proprietor and place unreasonable financial and/or personal pressures on licence holders.”

But it warned: “Removing the condition in its entirety could lower the standards achieved in the borough since age restrictions were established, to the detriment of the service to which the public are entitled.”

The committee will consider the following options:

Take no action.

Revoke the current conditions relating to age.

Modify the current conditions for a restricted period.

Introduce further qualifying conditions to maintain the status quo while still assisting licence holders.


Apr 05

Blackburn licensed vehicles stopped in safety crackdown

HALF of all taxis stopped by police in a safety crackdown were too dangerous to be on the road.

Officers said that 11 of the 22 stopped in Blackburn were temporarily taken off the road due to ‘serious defects’.

They included broken lights, illegal tyres and hazardous electrical systems.

An additional three were given seven days to rectify more minor defects.

Three vehicles were taken off the road completely after they were found to be a danger to passengers and other road users.

Officers also visited pubs in the Roe Lee area after residents complained about taxis causing obstructions while waiting for customers to leave the pubs.

Sgt Jon Cisco, who ran the operation in Blackburn, said: “Most taxis are operated and driven properly and by drivers who take great care of their passengers.

“Unfortunately there are some who are less stringent in their standards and it is these who we are targeting.

“The taxi industry is a large employer and provider of an important service. The majority of drivers stick to the rules but those that don’t bring the industry into disrepute and endanger the public.

“This operation is all about safety, both for the driver and their passengers.”

Chris Allen, head of public protection for Blackburn with Darwen Council, said: “These results are quite shocking and show the importance of on-the-spot checks.

“Almost half were taken off the road until the defects were repaired and three were stopped completely.

“Safety is paramount and drivers need to understand they have a duty to ensure their vehicles are kept in correct working order.”

The operation followed a serious crackdown in Accrington when police checked 24 taxis during a five-hour road side safety operation in Eagle Street.

Of those tested, four were temporarily taken off the road for various defects.

Several drivers were warned about failing to comply with their licence, such as not wearing ID badges and failing to carry the correct safety equipment.

Twelve drivers were given Fixed Penalty Notices for offences including illegal tyres, failing to wear a seatbelt and using a mobile phone while driving.


Apr 05

Atishoo! Atishoo! Cheddar’s ancient market cross falls down!

A taxi driver who crashed into Cheddar’s ancient market cross says he is devastated by what has happened.

Mati Levy, of Rodney Stoke, has been a taxi driver in the Cheddar Valley for five years without a blemish to his name. He said at 4.10am on Saturday, March 31, he was driving back from Bristol Airport when he violently sneezed as he approached the centre of Cheddar at around 25mph.

The convulsion made him lose control of his VW Transporter and he had a coming together with the Grade II listed monument.

The delicate building partly collapsed onto the taxi – but the vehicle’s air bags did not deploy due to the comparatively low speed it struck.

“I was devastated,” said Mr Levy. “When I got home I sobbed. It would be the last building I would want to damage.

“All I can say is sorry to the people of Cheddar and the area. And extend my apologies to the motorists and everyone who will be caught up in the traffic jams as a result.”

Mr Levy was breathalised by police at the scene but the constabulary said there were no charges to answer. Somerset Highways immediately took charge of the scene following the crash making the structure safe and setting up three way traffic lights.

They said: “The work was carried out in partnership and consultation with Cheddar Parish Council who own the Cross which is a scheduled monument.

“Any further work to repair the cross will be the responsibility of the parish council but the county council’s engineers and heritage officers will be on hand to assist in any way they can.

“The temporary traffic lights will have to remain in place to keep traffic safely away from the damaged structure until repairs can be carried out. This will take some time owing to the severity of the damage and complexity of the repairs needed.”

The leader of the parish council, Lyn Goodfellow, who was one of the first on the scene and said it was tragic. She said: “The market cross is an iconic building. It must be repaired and protected as it is so precious.”

Also on hand was parish councillor Andy Bosley who is responsible for highways issues in the village. He was adamant the stones should not leave the community as he was concerned they could be damaged.

Mr Bosley said he hoped a stonemason could be contracted soon and a safety compound set up to protect the building while the work was carried out as had happened before. In 1999 the cross was damaged by vandals while a year later it was hit by a car causing considerable damage and a lengthy dispute over insurance.

The Grade II listed building is beloved of teenagers as a hang-out spot in the village and was originally designed as an shop or market for market gardeners and for dairy produce.

Its core dates from the 15th century although it has an octagonal shelter that was added later and replaced in 1834.

Mr Levy has admitted responsibility and has contacted his insurance company who will deal with the accident as a straight forward claim. He said he is taking two weeks off work as he was in a state of shock. Nobody was hurt in the accident and no other vehicles were involved.

Anne Fieldhouse of Arundel House that overlooks the cross was woken from her bed at 4.10am. She said: “One guest heard a screech and then a rumble. I felt it through my body. I leapt up and ran outside. Someone was shouting from the flat above the hairdresser. The driver seemed dazed and shocked. I didn’t call an ambulance but I called the police and the council.”

Mr Levy, 42, is married and has a family and is well known in the valley as a taxi driver. He originally came to England from Israel and worked as a chauffeur in London before moving to the area in 2007.

“All my career I have never had an accident,” he said. “It’s unreal. The last thing I would want to damage is a 500-year-old market cross. We moved to the valley because of its beauty and history. I am so sorry for what has happened.”


Apr 05

Pirates in Derby caught by licensing

TWO private-hire drivers have been caught breaking licensing regulations.

Derby City Council’s licensing team carried out the enforcement exercise following last month’s successful prosecution of three private-hire drivers for failing to comply with private hire rules.

Out of 26 vehicles approached during the exercise on Saturday, two agreed to take a passenger without the journey being pre-booked.

Private hire vehicles must be pre-booked, which can be done either by telephone, e-mail or by going to one of the city’s booking offices.

John Tomlinson, director of environmental and regulatory services, condemned the action of the two drivers.

He said: “It is very disappointing that even after the recent prosecution there are still licensed drivers out there who appear to be perfectly happy to flout the law and put passengers at risk. This is unacceptable.”

Cases are being prepared for taking legal action against the two drivers.


Apr 04

Taxi driver jailed for raping passenger

Edward Chapman, 45, of Romford, was sentenced to seven years in jail at Wood Green Crown Court.

A TAXI driver from Romford has been convicted and jailed for raping his female passenger.

Edward Chapman, 45, of Beauly Way, Romford, appeared on Tuesday 3, April, at Wood Green Crown Court, where he has been sentenced to seven years imprisonment for rape, and will remain on the sex offenders register for the rest of his life.

Following a seven day trial, the court heard how on 12 August, 2011 the female victim, who was in her mid 30s, had been out with friends and flagged down a Hackney carriage in the early hours of the morning in Shoreditch, east London.

The victim had been feeling unwell and asked to be taken to her home address. However when they reached her home in Finchley, Chapman raped the woman in his cab.

Following the crime the victim informed a friend that she had been assaulted by the driver and then told her family what had happened. Police were called and an immediate investigation, led by detectives from Barnet Sapphire, began.

Officers began a detailed search of CCTV were able to identify the cab that had picked up the victim as it had a distinctive ‘Huffington Post’ advertisement on carriage.

Chapman was arrested on 15 August 2011 and later charged with rape.

He was convicted on Tuesday, 3 April after denying the offence.

Detective Sergeant Steve Grainger, of the Barnet Sapphire unit who investigate serious sexual crime, said: “Firstly I would like to thank the victim and her family for their courage and support during the investigation.

“Chapman was a licensed taxi driver who abused his position to take ruthless advantage of this woman. It is only by the bravery of victims that people like Chapman can be stopped.

“We understand that some victims may be worried about reporting serious sexual assaults to police, but I would like to reassure the public that we take all reports seriously and will investigate them thoroughly. We also have specially trained officers who do all they can to support victims no matter what the circumstances are.”

In sentencing on Tuesday, 3 April, His Honour Judge Browne QC, stated: ‘”Black cab drivers have rightly earned a very high reputation as the most reliable drivers round the streets of London and the suburbs. By your conviction today, you have damaged the reputation of back cab drivers generally. There are several obvious aggravating features of your quite disgraceful conduct.

“This rape involves a gross breach of trust by a professional driver to his passenger, taking advantage of a vulnerable passenger, the passenger being a total stranger to you. Without the considerable courage of victims, rape convictions are impossible. The victim of this rape is still affected by her ordeal at your hands. But what emerged about her character was her calmness, her quiet dignity, and her quest for justice, which has been achieved.”


Apr 04

Minicab driver found with skunk haul in boot

Cannabis minicab: The Chrysler which police found laden with drugs

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

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

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

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

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

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


Apr 04

Epping Forest joins 19th Century

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Apr 04

Taxi Marshalls for Falmouth

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Apr 03

Pivotal taxi case ends in conviction

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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