Carmarthen taxi firm owner guilty of driving cab unlicensed

Steve Dunn

A CARMARTHEN taxi firm owner has been found guilty of driving one of his cabs whilst being unlicensed.

Stephen Paul Dunn, of Steve’s Taxis in Carmarthen, was convicted in his absence at Carmarthen Magistrates Court and was fined £400.

Mr Dunn was licensed as a taxi driver by Carmarthenshire County Council until March 2013.

Carmarthen Magistrates Court heard that the council received a report claiming Mr Dunn had been seen driving a Hackney Carriage on May 24 2013.

As well as hand-delivering a letter to him, council officers verbally informed him that as he was no longer a licensed driver, he could not drive a Hackney Carriage vehicle at any time and if he did so, could face prosecution.

However, on June 12, Mr Dunn was seen by a council licensing officer at Lesneven Bridge, Carmarthen, driving a Hackney Carriage with a passenger in the vehicle.

He was prosecuted by the county council for an offence under Section 47 of the Town Police Clauses Act 1847.

The case came before magistrates in January 2014, but having failed to appear he was convicted in absence. However, Mr Dunn later successfully applied to the court to have his case re-heard, saying that he had not received a summons, and pleaded not guilty.

The case was re-heard on October 10 when he again failed to appear. He was convicted in his absence and fined £400. Magistrates also ordered him to pay prosecution costs of £858.67 and a victim surcharge of £40.

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

The Daily Mirror reports: Cabbie wars: Minicab driver in ‘first ever’ conviction for touting

Convicted: Sohail Masood was taken to court for taxi touting

The Daily Mirror reports that Sohail Masood put on a yellow high-vis jacket with ‘Book a Cab Here’ on the back and approached people at a train station, ahead of waiting black cab drivers

A minicab driver has been convicted of touting for passengers in what is believed to be the first case of its kind.

Sohail Masood, 34, put on a yellow high-vis jacket with ‘Book a Cab Here’ on the back and approached people at a train station, ahead of waiting black cab drivers.

A court heard he had already clashed with rival drivers outside the rail station in Milton Keynes, Bucks., on a previous occasion before he was arrested.

Masood, who owns Northants-based ‘Starline Cabs’, was found guilty of soliciting people for private vehicle hire.

It is believed to be the first time the Crown Prosecution Service has managed to secure a conviction for the charge, commonly known as ‘taxi touting.’

Dad-of-two Masood, from Milton Keynes, told the city’s magistrates: “The first time there was an incident between myself and taxi drivers there.

“The black cab drivers were not very happy about it. They were shouting and me and pushing me to try to stop me from what I was doing.

“I stayed calm and did not retaliate. I was just doing my job.”

He said on that occasion police attended and calmed the situation down and told him to move on to diffuse the situation.

Masood insisted that he did not approach anyone and only booked ‘taxis’ for customers to him who approached him – as the council had told him he could legally do.

But prosecutor Matthew Knight said: “You wore a high visibility jacket that said, book your cab here’.

“Which means that your actions were enticing people to come to you and book their ‘taxi’ with your company.”

Shiraz Rustom, defending, said Masood was a reputable businessman of good character.

He said: “Mr Masood faces losing his livelihood for something he made the effort to make several checks on about whether he would be breaking any laws. He believed his actions were within the law.”

Masood was given an absolute discharge, meaning he faces no punishment because the magistrates said he had tried to find out if he would be acting within the law.

He was ordered to pay £150 court costs.

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

Taxi fares expected to soar across Chester

TAXI fares are expected to soar across Chester, putting the city’s pub and restaurant trade under more pressure.

Hackney black cab drivers have asked for permission from Cheshire West and Chester Council (CWAC) to boost prices by 12.5 per cent.

And private taxi companies are likely to follow suit, with one company boss saying the extra costs imposed on drivers by the council will have to be passed on to the customer.

CWAC has vowed to launch a public consultation to see if it should allow such a large fare hike.

Frank Marnell, chair of Chester Pub Watch and landlord at the Watergate Inn, said: “This is a real concern. Fare increases across the board will undoubtedly stop people going out to the pub as much. Many of my regular customers get a cab back to Blacon for about a fiver. If this goes through then I can see them cutting down their visits.”

Chester Licensed Hackney Association has also proposed increasing waiting time charges by 50 per cent, from £10 per hour to £15.

The council says it chose to launch a consultation after hearing that opinion was split on the scale of the proposed fare increase.

Paul Shepherd, director of Chester Radio Taxis – and also a member of the Association – said a lot of members felt it was too high.

He said: “I accept that they have not had a pay rise in the last four years and need a pay rise of some description but just not to this level. I just think it’s unfair for the local residents.”

But Richard Barker, chairman of the licensed Hackney Association stressed that a 12.5 per cent meant a £4.10 fare would only go up to £4.40 and £4.40 up to £5.30.

“It’s not extortionate,” he said. “We are far behind most of the rest of the UK on waiting time, we are just playing catch-up.”

Mr Barker said that his association had managed to speak to 112 hackney drivers – of which 88 favoured the rise.

Mark Williams, director of private hire firm Abbey Taxis, told the Leader private companies had no choice other than to boost fares, due to new rules imposed by CWAC which meant drivers had to complete an advanced driving course, and had to buy newer cars that were less than 42 months old.

He said drivers used to be able to start work within four to six weeks at a basic cost of around £400, but now it took between three and six months and £800.

“From a driver’s point of view they need to recoup that money and I’m afraid it will have to be passed on in fares,” he said. “I feel bad for the customers but this is down to the local authority.”

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

Taxi and mini-cab firms at loggerheads over new bus-lanes proposal

Taxi and mini-cab firms at loggerheads over new bus-lanes proposal in Hanley

Mini-cab firms are to be given a one-year trial where they will be able to use some bus lanes in Hanley.

Private hire drivers say their inability to use the 23 bus lanes in Stoke-On-Trent denies them access to certain areas, and prevents them from taking the most direct route to destinations. Currently only Hackney carriages have permission.

Mr Parvez Khan, boss of ‘City Cabs 2000 Stoke’ said:

“At the moment, the main disadvantage is for the people of Stoke-On-Trent. We can’t drop them where they want to be dropped for example, we can’t go drop people right outside the health clinic.

“We have more than 1200 mini-cabs in this city compared to 200 licensed ‘Hackney carriages’ so you can see how unfair the system is and it needs to be dealt with.”

The chairman of the Hackney Carriages Association who would only give his first name of Mohammed, warned the council that by letting mini-cabs use the bus lanes, chaos would ensue.

He said: “With 1200 mini-cabs across Stoke-On-Trent, the bus-lanes will be absolutely blocked during rush-hour. It’s a bad idea and I totally reject it.”

Members of the city council’s renewal overview and scrutiny committee carried reviewed the notion and passed it. They have now forwarded it to the Highways agency, who will decide where and when it will be implemented.

Councillor Jack Brereton, who is on the scrutiny committee for the city council, believes that the local economy is being harmed by the inability of mini-cabs to drive in bus-lanes.

He said: “ It’s very evident that many local people depend on mini-cab companies to get them around. Mini-cab services are being stopped from going directly next to the Potteries centre and many other places which is clearly damaging the local economy.”

“There are no buses in the night, so why not let mini-cabs use them?”

Mr Khan, boss of City Cabs has accused the council of double standards and believes that this step should’ve been taken much sooner.

He said: “This situation doesn’t makes sense to me, mini-cabs are used 16 million times a year in this city, we should be able to use the bus lanes like Hackney carriages.”

source: http://staffslive.co.uk/

Commons Questions

John Cryer (Leyton and Wanstead, Labour)

What steps he is taking to improve passenger safety in taxis and private hire vehicles.

 

 

Robert Goodwill (Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport); Scarborough and Whitby, Conservative)

The Government’s principal role in relation to taxis and private hire vehicles is to ensure that the legislative framework and the guidance to licensing authorities are fit for purpose. Our best practice guidance for licensing authorities stresses the importance of adequate safety checks and enforcement to ensure that these services are safe.

 

John Cryer (Leyton and Wanstead, Labour)

But the Government are also planning to allow taxi operators to subcontract calls to other taxi operators without consent. What implications will that have for safety, especially for women?

 

 

Robert Goodwill (Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport); Scarborough and Whitby, Conservative)

All the taxis will have been licensed, albeit by a neighbouring authority. I cannot see the difference between getting into a minicab in York to go to Scarborough, so I am being driven around Scarborough in a York minicab, and a firm in Scarborough ordering a York cab for me because it is so busy owing to the success of our resort.

 

Julian Smith (Skipton and Ripon, Conservative)

I urge the Government to look one more time at the provisions in the Deregulation Bill, which is currently before the Lords. In northern towns such as Skipton, taxis have been a key part of the problem of child sexual exploitation.

 

Robert Goodwill (Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport); Scarborough and Whitby, Conservative)

It is up to licensing authorities to carry out all the necessary checks. If people who are not the designated driver are driving vehicles, it is a matter for enforcement. The changes that the Government propose would make no difference to that.

Apr 22

Murder on Tothill Street (first published May 2012)

carlisle7Article originally published 12 May 2012 – a number of the predictions made were eerily prophetic

 

On May 10, fourteen months after the investigation began, the Law Commission presented the nation with their ‘provisional’ views on the taxi and private hire trades – in reality, it was a capitulation to the traditional aggressors: the minicab empires.

It should be remembered that there are three main issues, the rest are superfluous due in many parts to them being interconnected. The first, underlines the surrender, the allowing of private hire vehicles to work across district borders.

The L.C. call for cross border hiring’s to be legalised, appears to be innocent enough, mildly describing a situation where a PH Operators vehicle breaks down with passenger in another area. Current law specifically prohibits the operator from contacting another operator (in a different area), they presumably envisage the passing on of bookings as a measure to protect the public. After a few more pages, that credulousness is cast aside as the prejudice comes to the fore – operators would be permitted to use vehicles and drivers licensed anywhere, a complete deviation from the rationale.

At the outset of the consultation, the L.C. suggested they would be working on a blank canvas approach to taxi and private-hire law. Yet within months, the L.C. not only decided to retain a two-tier licensing system, it decided to permit cross border hiring, thus following a consistent line of legalising previously illegal activities.

The L.C. place great emphasis on national standards, although this emphasis does not extend to advising what standards they have in mind, but there is emphasis nevertheless. The L.C. allude to DSA driving tests, group 2 medicals and enhanced CRB checks, in respect of drivers, stuff that most of us have anyway, yet like true snake oil salesmen, great play is made of the magic elixir of standards.

Rather foolishly even some in the Hackney carriage trade are seemingly supporting these standards, although they appear to have little concept of what they may actually entail. Again, the duplicitous nature of the cab trade comes becomes apparent – attempting to set standards on a trade they regularly show nothing but utter contempt towards.

Public safety is of obvious concern, hence the national standards, it is instructive to note the L.C. chose to mention the case of John Worboys – ‘The black cab rapist’ – the unpalatable fact the L.C. appear to miss is that Worboys would have been granted a license under any licensing regime in the country – they similarly neglect to advise of systematic failings within the metropolitan police, this would ordinarily seem too bizarre to neglect to mention – although the L.C. choice to cite Worboys as a ‘black cab’ driver is quite revealing, showing partiality. A balanced document would have perhaps mentioned the plethora of both licensed and unlicensed minicab drivers who have been convicted of horrific offences over the years.

Obviously, the worry of the taxi trade is the national standards for private hire maybe piecemeal, to this end the concern is perhaps justifiable – however it does smack of duplicity – whilst the taxi trade want national private hire standards, they want no such national governance of their own industry. Such inconsistency will no doubt be highlighted when the consultation closes.

The only person permitted to change the envisaged national regulations will be the Secretary of State – as the regulations are national they will naturally cover the entire country – be this central London or the Lake District – it is astounding to comprehend the L.C. would seemingly believe the profit margins of the likes of Addison Lee are comparable to Bert’s taxis of Mungrisdale – which of course would suggest the new standards will need to be of a quality to encompass both John and Bert.

The rationale behind the national standard is that if the Lake District has the same standards as London, with licenses at the same cost – then a person wouldn’t need to travel to avoid localised licensing regimes.

No one can know how much influence of private hire operators are imparted into the consultation, and backed by the DfT and government, we are likely to never know, but the apparent slant is there for all to read.

To back up their fixation with cross border, the L.C. informs of envisaged new powers for local licensing officers over vehicles from other districts. This is all part of the overt plan, a person can still obtain a license elsewhere, the national standards will be the exact same nationwide anyway, they surmise it must surely follow that licensing departments will need the power to check the vehicles and drivers from these areas, thus firmly backing up the cross border scenario.

The L.C. appears to view the expansion of large PH into other areas as a good thing, one where mere fundamentals such as localised regulation shouldn’t prohibit expansion. They selectively appear to forget Dr Darryl Biggar’s thoughts on how taxi monopolies emerge, although, in a manner we have become accustomed, they quote the poor chap to death when his words suit their purpose. It naturally doesn’t appear to concern them locals have developed both taxi and private hire policies and standards over an extended period of time.

The L.C. alludes to private-hire driver pseudo employment, but don’t seemingly have the courage to even suggest this matter should be reviewed by the HMRC. Of course, they’re view would (and still may be) very useful, as theories go empires are generally built through the blood, sweat and tears of others, minicab drivers, those low paid, family tax credit claiming serfs, never get the acclaim they truly deserve. Notably, the L.C. seemingly fails to recognise why the turnover of drivers in the minicab industry is alarmingly high – with the profits of minicab companies even higher.

Of course the L.C. is truly balanced in their views, as much as they seemingly love minicab proprietors, they detest taxis with equal measure. Local authority regulatory control of taxi numbers was a key target from the outset. I am sure most of you, like myself wonder why a body whose job it is to review the law would feel the need to be involved in economic theory.

The L.C. plans for the taxi trade revolve around taxi delimitation, there is little of consequence about the effects, although they seemingly are aware to impose deregulation overnight would create ‘market distortion’ – in layman’s terms they mean anarchy.

They don’t feel able to comment on taxi rank provision – no doubt they gave it a great deal of thought – the same type of thought most of us give the first coffee of the day, one would suspect – one that involves multi agencies such as coffee, milk, water and sugar, plus the limitation of space due to the size of the cup. Due to things like that – ranks were, as you might expect – ignored.

That too makes good sense. As the L.C. are still going to permit cross border hackney carriages – if you can recall a few paragraphs above, they naturally need licensing departments to regulate vehicles they do not license.

The maximum national standards for private hire will be minimum standards for taxis – to this end there will be still localised regulation – just not regulation permitting local authorities to limit taxi numbers. Intimating the envisaged more austere licensing regime for taxis than private hire, although doubtless we will be given some feigned response implying the opposite.

Whilst the L.C. appear to trust local authorities to enforce their new laws, this trust does not extend, as mentioned above, to one where they are able to control taxi numbers. One could be mistaken for believing with such a grandiose title as ‘Law Commission’ they would realise that under certain conditions the law can be just plain stupid. Even the L.C. should recognise that places such as Liverpool, Cardiff and Sheffield were re-regulated due to police advising local authorities that they were spending too much of their time moving on taxis from fouled cab ranks – than doing what they’re paid for – which is presumably catching proper criminals. Unless the law has some type of escape mechanism to allow for local authority action – it is patently ridiculous.

Another illustration of the ambiguities of the L.C. is the lack of clarity in respect of licensing fees. It was acknowledged by Mr. Christopher Symonds QC in Newcastle CC v Berwick DC [HC QBD] 2008.

“One of the reasons why Berwick have received numerous applications for licences from outside their area is undoubtedly the fact that the cost of the licence in Berwick- upon-Tweed is less than in many other areas including Newcastle upon Tyne.”

The L.C. moots the idea of a national licensing fee, nothing substantive, just a punt into the main field of the consultation. The national fee would presumably be set by the Secretary of State for Transport.

The other mooted idea (these people can moot with the best of us) is to vary the costs of enforcement locally. The thought occurs that this is nothing more than fudge; it would still lead to ‘honey-pot’ areas charging greater fees as the cost of enforcement still has a bearing. The alternative would be for some type of licensing poll tax, where all areas pay for the enforcement of the ‘honey pots’, this would be highly controversial, in effect a licensee from the Lake district would be burdened with the cost of enforcement in London. The simple fact the L.C. haven’t seemingly thought about how enforcement will be funded is in itself quite astonishing.

For reasons explained in chapter 12 of the consultation the L.C. remains convinced changes need made due to technology. They appear to miss the point that how a booking is made is of little consequence, be this by carrier pigeon, telephone, iphone ‘apps’ or twitter feeds, it is clearly more important that the person receiving the booking is licensed. To all intents and purposes, this is already the case, the person receiving the booking is already licensed, thus the technology part of the document is nothing more than the proverbial ‘red herring’ and duplicitous in the extreme.

Due to column inches I must now finish this article, but there’ll be more, I can guarantee it.

The Reiver

Apr 22

Dundee taxi drivers threaten action over rank spaces

Unite union Secretary Chris Elder.

Taxi drivers have threatened to hold “rolling protests” in Dundee over rank spaces.

The cabbies claim there are not enough city centre bays and the problem is costing them hires. Some cars have been parking at bus stops because there is not enough room in the ranks.

Rising tensions between bus and taxi drivers has seen city centre stand-offs, prompting police to launch a crackdown. More than 50 cautions have been issued and some drivers have been hauled before the licensing board.

Taxi drivers have called on the council to create more rank space for their cars so that they do not have to break the rules — but the council has so far refused, only agreeing to carry out a consultation of Dundee’s 600 taxi drivers.

Trade unionists are due to meet next week to discuss rank space and they have warned that there could be demonstrations.

Chris Elder, pictured, of the Unite union taxi branch, said: “We are to hold a branch meeting on May 1 to discuss with members what action is to be taken regarding the lack of provision of taxi ranks in the city.

“Operators and drivers are being threatened with losing their livelihoods because they have to park up on loading bays and bus stops to ply for hire.

“As the council has stated that we will not be getting any more taxi ranks, the union feel that they have no other option but to take action, whether it be rolling protests or a demonstration outside the city council.

“Hopefully we will also get support from all the other taxi owner/operators as this situation is affecting every taxi driver in the city.”

A spokesman for Dundee City Council said: “A survey is being carried out to determine if there is any significant demand for taxis which is unmet.

“Part of the demand survey involves observations at ranks to see how long passengers are waiting for a taxi and how long cars are waiting for a fare.

“The result will be reported to the licensing committee on June 27.”

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

Apr 22

Unfit taxi driver loses licence after court backs council

Magistrates have backed a decision to revoke a Scarborough taxi driver’s licence after deeming him “not a fit and proper person” to hold one.

In January Scarborough Council’s licensing sub-committee decided to rescind the dual driver’s licence issued to Beeline Cabs driver Barry Douthwaite, after hearing details of a string of offences and breaches committed by him.

Mr Douthwaite appealed to Scarborough Magistrates’ Court against the decision and the case went to trial.

Magistrates found in the council’s favour, confirming Mr Douthwaite was “not a fit and proper person” to hold the licence and that the “safety of the travelling public was of paramount importance”.

The court heard Mr Douthwaite had accrued convictions for careless driving after a member of the public was knocked down for failing to stop at a traffic collision, failing to report a traffic collision, several speeding offences and disregarding traffic lights. He had also failed to report details of the offence and conviction to Scarborough Council, as required by the conditions of his licence.

Magistrates were also told he had been abusive to council officers, breached the authority’s taxi and private hire policy on numerous occasions, had reversed 80 yards up a one-way street at 20mph and received excessive points on his driving licence.

Scarborough Council’s head of environmental services, Andy Skelton, said: “We’re pleased our decision to revoke Mr Douthwaite’s licence has been fully endorsed.

“Licensed operators and their private hire drivers must take notice of this decision. The good reputation that the vast majority of licensed drivers have in relation to their high standard of driving and professionalism is being adversely affected by a minority of irresponsible drivers and a lack of supervision by some licensed operators.

“Licences will be revoked where evidence shows the holder is ‘not a fit and proper person’ or where the safety of the travelling public is not being prioritised.”

Magistrates ordered Mr Douthwaite to pay £1,000 costs to the council.

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

Apr 21

£50,000 cost order after Lancaster taxi sign court case

A taxi driver who took Lancaster City Council to court over the word “taxi” printed on her vehicle has lost her case.

Elleran Willcock has been ordered to pay £52,500 in court costs after a judge ruled she was wrong in objecting to the council’s request to remove the word.

But Elleran’s partner Peter Hobart said the couple were now hoping to appeal against the decision, after getting support from the National Private Hire Association, who said they would be taking the matter on.

Bryan Rowland, the association’s general secretary said he was shocked by Judge David Waksman QC’s ruling at the High Court in Manchester on Thursday, and has demanded a full copy of his decision.

He added: “She bought the car with the signage on it, and the council licensed it seven times, then out of the blue they say ‘you’ve got it wrong, get it off’.

“It’s obscene behaviour. If they’re going to suddenly change things, surely they have a requirement to tell people properly.”

It is claimed the powers the council used to order the removal were incorrect.

Mr Hobart said: “This makes a total mockery of democracy. We’ve done nothing wrong and it should never have come this far.

“There should be some kind of middle ground we can work towards with the council.”

City council chief executive Mark Cullinan said: “I agree this matter need never have gone to court.

“The council tried on numerous occasions to get this matter settled in advance of court but the claimant insisted on going to court.”

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

Apr 21

Preston driver calls for action over cab engines left idling

Fumes: Black cabs queuing in the ranks in Preston city centre. Many drivers leave their engines switched on

A taxi driver is calling for action to be taken over drivers leaving their engines running whilst in the rank.

Hackney carriage driver Michael Apicella believes a blanket ban should be introduced throughout the summer months to stop cab drivers leaving their engines idling.

Mr Apicella who has been a driver in the city for nearly a decade and is hugely concerned about the impacts of the carbon monoxide coming from the cabs in the rank.

He is worried about the impact on the health of the drivers parked behind the cabs that leave their engines on, the public and the environment.

Mr Apicella said: “This has been an issue for me for a long time.

“I have got an uncle who works in Glasgow as a hackney carriage driver and there is a complete ban on leaving engines idling.

“In the summer on a Saturday night if the ranks moving quickly and you don’t want to switch the engine off I can understand that.

“But on a Monday afternoon or a Friday night when the ranks aren’t moving then it is different.”

The cab driver wants Preston Council to take action. At the moment the council issues guidance on idling, but said they would consider a ban, if they were asked.

Mr Apicella added: “It must be against health and safety it has got to be.

“If I can stop one person getting health issues then it has made a difference.

“I really do think in this day and age [it should be changed].

“It is down to awareness.”

The council’s taxi policy currently states: “Emissions from licensed vehicles could be reduced further by encouraging better maintenance of vehicles and by switching off engines when stationary or idling, particularly at ranks. It is, however, proposed that this aspect be tackled through education and promotion.”

A spokesman for the council said: “As you can see the policy promotes the switching off of engines when ranking but does not make it a licence condition nor is it included in the hackney carriage byelaws so we do not enforce this practice.

“As for blanket ban, the council have not been asked to consider this, but would do so if the request came from the Hackney Carriage Drivers Association.”

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

Apr 21

Fears for safety at taxi rank

Taxi drivers protest in Dalton Square on Friday.

A demonstration was held in Dalton Square last week in protest against a“ridiculous” decision to move the city’s taxi rank there.

Hackney cab drivers have reacted with frustration and anger after the county council decided to relocate the rank for two years while sewer works take place at the bus station.

Drivers say there have been five collisions on the cobbled area of Dalton Square in less than a week, and fares have plummeted because “no-one wants to get a taxi from Dalton Square”.

They also say that no risk assessment has been carried out for the new rank, and that the signage is inadequate.

Taxi driver Kevin Chamberlain said: “There just aren’t enough spaces there and it’s only a matter of time before someone gets seriously hurt.

“They’ve put us in totally the wrong place.

“Everyone in the trade is in agreement that we should have been moved somewhere closer to the bus station.

“Enough is enough, the whole thing is just ridiculous.”

Ward coun Dave Brookes said: “We’ve struggled to find another site that’s suitable. “It’s very difficult, but if what is there is dangerous, then county would be wise to think again.”

Coun Jonathan Dixon, who was at the demonstration on Friday to talk to drivers said: “It’s very chaotic.

“There’s a problem here that the county and city councils need to look at.”

Mr Chamberlain said the company he is part of, OneACab, had rented the Butterfield Street car park near the bus station, so that his disabled passengers could still get a taxi there. But the city council said the move would need planning permission before it considered whether it should be designated as a rank, and has asked the company to move back to Dalton Square.

Taxi driver John Aldred said: “They should have moved us to Church Street in the first place.

“We’ve had nothing but problems with the city council’s licensing department for the last three years, it’s time something was done.”

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

Apr 21

Wolverhampton taxi drivers to threaten council boss with strike

Taxi drivers in Wolverhampton will confront the city council’s leader as they threaten to strike over a lack of ranks and plans to license older vehicles.

They say there was ‘no progress’ in a meeting with licensing bosses on Thursday so will instead take their complaints to Councillor Roger Lawrence.

And if they cannot come to an agreement the drivers will take a vote on striking at peak weekend times. Drivers claim there are already too many taxis in the city – and they fear allowing older vehicles will make the situation worse. Two groups representing taxi drivers will attend a meeting at the civic centre in the morning.

And they insist that if they do not find a compromise they will strike. The groups say they are prepared to strike on Friday and Saturday nights. It comes after more than 100 drivers staged a go-slow last August. They are organising a meeting with Councillor Lawrence over the coming week.

Chairman of Wolverhampton Taxi Owners’ Association, Parminder Sekhon, said the meeting on Thursday left him ‘feeling like we are banging our heads against a brick wall’.

He added: “If we don’t get any progress from the meeting with Roger Lawrence we will take a vote from the drivers.” Mohammed Khurshid, hairman of the Wolverhampton Hackney Carriage Drivers’ Association, said many drivers were struggling to make ends meet with rising fuel costs and greater competition for trade.

Colin Parr, Wolverhampton City Council’s licensing manager, said: “We have listened and worked closely with the trade, taking into account their concerns while drawing up a plan that will help us stimulate the growth of taxis in Wolverhampton to meet increasing demand – particularly in the city centre at busy weekend nights.”

source: http://www.expressandstar.com/

Apr 20

Calls in Rugby to put CCTV in all taxis

TAXIS in the borough could all be fitted with CCTV cameras in a crackdown on crime.

Rugby Hackney Owners Drivers Association (RHODA) has appealed to borough council licensing bosses to make it mandatory for taxis to carry recording equipment.

It would apply to both hackney carriages and private taxis and would cost between £500 and £1,000 to install in each car.

A few of the borough’s taxis already have CCTV installed, but council chiefs want to see them in all 166 licensed cabs.

The Government’s Department for Transport supports the use of CCTV in taxis, although has not yet made it compulsory.

A report to the borough council’s licensing committee said: “Whilst CCTV can assist in the prevention of crime and disorder and can be a useful tool when investigating offences, the issue of making CCTV compulsory in licensed vehicles must be carefully considered.

“The public must have confidence surveillance is appropriate and proportionate. There must also be appropriate privacy safeguards about data protection.

“There is a risk images taken in a licensed hackney or private hire vehicle may be misused by drivers or operators.”

It would be up to the taxi’s owner to ensure the system used did not breach data protection laws, and signs would have to be put up informing passengers they were being recorded.

Where crimes were committed, police would have the power to seize and view CCTV footage as part of an investigation.

Audio recording would not be permitted as it is deemed to pose a greater risk where data protection laws are concerned.

A consultation on the proposal will now be launched, taking in the views of taxi drivers, the public, police and others before it goes ahead.

The report said: “The consultation exercise will provide the licensed trade with an opportunity to make their views known and will ensure that the whole process is fair and transparent.”

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

Apr 20

Birmingham cab driver plans to demand upfront fares blocked by council

Fears vulnerable people would be left stranded if passengers had to hand over fare at start of journey to prevent ‘bilking’

Council chiefs have refused a bid by city cabbies to allow them to demand passengers hand over fares upfront – to prevent them ‘doing a runner’.

Birmingham and Solihull Taxi Alliance (BASTA) wanted to introduce signs, bearing the council logo, in both black cabs and private hire vehicles to stop the crime known as bilking.

But members of the city council’s licensing and public protection committee said the move would leave vulnerable people stranded if they could not afford to pay up front.

Coun Lynda Clinton (Lab, Tyburn), said: “I have grave concerns about people paying up front, I think it will leave people isolated and vulnerable.

“There could be old people or even children that are in a taxi and have no cash and want someone to pay for them on their behalf at the end of their journey.

“A move like this could see them left stranded without any means of getting home.”

She said she also worried how hackney carriages, who charge on a meter system, would know what fee to charge in advance.
Meanwhile, Coun Tom Kennedy (Lab, Sparkbrook), criticised taxis for not being more transparent about fares.

“There’s another side to this coin,” he said. “There’s rampant use of taxi drivers charging passengers by asking them what they usually pay, which should not be how the system works.

“I would personally like to see private hire vehicles using meters or at least having clear signs about mileage rates, which are as rare as wooden rocking horse shavings.”

Coun Majid Mahmood (Lab, Hodge Hill) suggested drastic measures to force people to pay up. “With central locking, surely passengers can be locked inside the vehicle until the police arrive,” he said.

However Chris Neville, head of licensing, dismissed the suggestion and said it would lead to passengers claiming they had been kidnapped.

Mr Neville said the signs were not necessary, adding: “Hackney carriage drivers who believe a passenger may not have the means to pay the fare or intends to run away at the end of the journey already have the right to ask for payment.”

Mohammed Rashid, chairman of BASTA, said he was disappointed that councillors had not consulted taxi drivers before making the decision.

He added: “We think the signs would make things more official.

“Drivers have problems with customers, particularly groups of lads at night times, who do runners without paying.

“We would only ask for up-front payments on the odd occasion where there is a genuine concern. Drivers would not ask kids, women or OAPs.”

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

Please note the following attachments from the meeting;

2968 HCV Advance Payment Notice

2968 Appendix 1 HCV advance payment

Apr 20

Addison Lee founders get £300m fare as they sell cab firm

RAC owners buy it and plan expansion outside London to M25 and other cities

 

The US private-equity giant Carlyle is planning to expand the minicab company Addison Lee into cities beyond central London after buying the firm in a deal worth close to £300m yesterday.

Founded with one car in Battersea in 1975, father-and-son team John and Liam Griffin sold the business yesterday to the Carlyle Group, which also owns the RAC and the health-food chain Holland & Barrett.

The Griffins and the family of Lenny Foster, who started the minicab empire with them, will share those spoils while retaining a small stake in the business.

It has been quite a rise to fortune for John Griffin as, in the Seventies, he was forced to ditch his apprenticeship as an accountant and turn to mini-cabbing in order to make ends meet and rescue his father’s business.

 

Today, Addison Lee uses a cutting-edge IT system to manage bookings for its 4,500 cars after emerging as the major competitor to London’s black cabs.

Under the terms of the deal, the elder Mr Griffin, John, will remain as chairman and his son as chief executive. Drivers who work for the company do not own shares and so will not get a windfall from the deal.

Liam Griffin said: “We’re very much concentrated in central London, but now we can look at going further afield within the M25, like the suburbs. We’ll look primarily at that area first.”

Carlyle Europe Partners’ managing director, Andrew Burgess, said he was keen to roll out Addison Lee to other cities in the UK which could benefit from the firm’s use of apps and technology that creates such an “efficient dispatch” system.

Internationally, Addison Lee already has burgeoning joint ventures in Paris and New York and the younger Mr Griffin said that Carlyle’s international experience – it has 33 offices around the world – would help Addison Lee make major breakthroughs overseas.

The cabbie is also looking to widen the range of accounts with blue-chip corporates, which should mean it will end up hiring more than the 4,000 cab drivers that Addison Lee employs today.

John Griffin courted controversy last year when he spoke out against London cyclists. He claimed they were to blame for their own injuries on the capital’s busy roads, arguing that they “leap on to a vehicle which offers them no protection except a padded plastic hat”.

He added that people were safer taking taxis as they would be “sitting inside a protected space with impact bars and air bags and paying extortionate amounts of taxes on our vehicle purchase, parking, servicing, insurance and road tax”.

He also argued for compulsory training and insurance for London’s cyclists, who were sufficiently angered to accuse him of “victim blaming”.

The capital for the deal will come from Carlyle Europe Partners III, a €5.4bn (£4.6bn) fund that makes investments in mid-cap and larger companies. Carlyle has $170bn (£111bn) of assets under management across its many funds.

It was advised on the transaction by Deloitte, OC&C and Latham & Watkins.  Addison Lee was advised by Catalyst Corporate Finance.

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

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