Council probe after woman claims taxi driver tried to defecate in Blackburn alleyway

BLACKBURN with Darwen Council has launched an investigation after a woman claimed a taxi driver attempted to defecate in an alleyway outside her home.

Erica McHugh, of Wellington Road, Mill Hill, said she was ‘disgusted’ after witnessing a male driver leave his car and remove his trousers before squatting down in view of her living room window.

The firm which Miss McHugh claimed the driver worked for said it had reviewed its records and found there was no case to answer.

Miss McHugh, 40, said she was watching television with her boyfriend Gary Round, 40, when they noticed a man loitering outside at around 1.40am on Monday.

She said: “We could hear the car’s engine running and see the lights. I got up to look because it was quite late and he was pacing up and down the street as if he was on the phone.

“Across from the house there is a ginnel and next thing he pulled his pants down and squatted down. I banged on the window at least 10 times to try to get his attention but he just ignored me.

“Eventually my boyfriend ran out of the house and shouted at him while I rang the taxi company.”

The couple said they could not take note of the car’s registration plate because it was too dark.

Miss McHugh added: “It’s not the sort of thing you expect to see outside your front door. It was disgusting. I’m just grateful he didn’t have time to follow through with it. I’ve complained to the council and they said they would be back in touch.

“I rang up the firm as it was happening and they just laughed at me. When I rang back again, he said the driver had been spoken to, but that isn’t good enough. They didn’t take me seriously”.

The complaints manager at the company in question said she had found no evidence that any of its drivers were in the area at the time Miss McHugh claims the incident happened.

She said: “Our drivers deny all knowledge of this. They are very experienced and I believe them. We run a very professional ship here and there is no evidence that one of our taxis was involved at all. There are dozens of drivers in Blackburn with Darwen.

“I have spoken to the phone operator who took the call and he thought it was a hoax call. He did laugh but there was no malice intended and he has apologised.”

A spokesman for the council’s licensing department said: “I can confirm we have received a complaint and we will investigate before we can comment any further.”


Minicab driver waved sex toy at undercover police woman


Jamil Iqbal

A minicab driver who produced a sex toy and waved it towards an undercover police officer posing as a passenger has been given a suspended prison sentence.

Jamil Iqbal (41), of Humphrey Street, Brierfield, was jailed for 16 months, suspended for two years, after admitting attempted sexual assault at Burnley Crown Court.

The father-of-six, who has since surrendered his taxi licence and is now working as a part-time takeaway delivery driver, was also made the subject of a two-year supervision order and a 10-year sexual offences prevention order.

Mr Mark Stuart (prosecuting) said police had deployed undercover officers in relation to information received and one of these, named only as Nicky, called Victor’s Taxis in Brierfield from the Oaks Hotel in the early hours of December 7th last year.

Iqbal arrived in a car bearing the logo of another firm. but told Nicky he was from Victor’s.

He began asking her deeply personal questions and the pair exchanged mobile telephone numbers.

Nine days later, Nicky called Iqbal again from a restaurant in Cliviger and asked for a “two drop” taxi for herself and a colleague, Sarah.

Iqbal turned up, this time in an unmarked taxi, and picked the officers up, dropping Nicky off in Brierfield and then setting off towards Barrowford with Sarah.

He again asked the officer the same personal questions, unsuccessfully tried to get her into the front seat with him and then produced a sex toy which he waved towards her.

After he dropped her off, officers in support stopped Iqbal and arrested him. In interview, he suggested that it was as much the women who had instigated talk about sex, but declined to comment further when told they were undercover officers.

Mr Aftab Anwar (defending) said Iqbal had pleaded guilty to the offence at the first opportunity and asked the court to give him credit for that.

“The pre-sentence report clearly demonstrates he is deeply remorseful and knows he has done wrong.

“He had been a taxi driver for 12 years and has worked in factories where there were women workers and nothing like this has happened before,” he said.

“He has already been punished by losing his job and I would ask that any prison sentence is suspended.”

Judge Beverley Lunt, in passing sentence, said: “Women in particular trust taxi drivers and are entitled to feel safe when they get in a taxi.

“These undercover officers may have saved some innocent victim from being subject to a serious sexual assault or an extremely unpleasant incident.

“There is no explanation offered as to why you acted in the way you did and while the offence is serious, I can suspend an immediate custodial sentence,”

Iqbal was also banned from holding any kind of public service vehicle licence in the future.


Southampton taxi bosses are calling for more to be done to keep drivers safe after two were attacked within 48 hours

TAXI drivers in Hampshire have been urged to be vigilant after two drivers were allegedly attacked within 48 hours of each other.

In the first incident a driver was reported to have been knocked unconscious in a late-night attack, while two days later a man was allegedly stabbed outside Southampton Central Railway Station.

Now, the head of the Southampton Hackney Association wants more focus on the safety of drivers in the city.

Chairman Ian Hall argued that not enough attention is paid to the difficulties taxi drivers face.

He has worked in the trade for 33 years and vividly remembers when a taxi driver in Southampton was murdered in 1986.

He said: “What concerns me, which I think concerns a lot of drivers, is that in the last 22 years there have been 65 drivers murdered in this country. It’s a particularly dangerous job at night.

“The majority of customers are absolutely fine and we do a good job at getting people home safely.

“It’s all sorts of different people we are picking up and anyone that’s getting into the car could be going through a marriage break-up or having a hard time at work, but that doesn’t give them the right to hit people.

“It can be a bit of a volatile job but this is a good city to live and work in.

“Drivers need to be a bit careful but they are anyway.”

In relation to the incident near the railway station, Nicholas Jeffrey, 27, of no fixed address, appeared in court facing charges of wounding with intent and possessing a knife in a public place.

Police investigating the Swaythling incident confirmed that they had identified a man they wanted to speak after a taxi driver was found unconscious by a colleague.

The 28-year-old victim was assaulted and left unconscious at the junction of Mansbridge Road and Howard Close.

He was found by a fellow taxi driver and taken to Southampton General Hospital, but was not seriously injured.

Anyone with information on the incident is asked to contact Hampshire Constabulary on 101.


Mansfield man attacked taxi driver after refusing to pay soiling charge

A Mansfield man who vandalised a taxi and attacked its driver after refusing to pay a clean up charge when he was sick on the back seat has escaped a jail sentence.

Michael Francis Gallen, 49 of Portland Street, was found guilty of assault by beating and causing criminal damage in the incident on 5th January.

He appeared at Mansfield Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday for sentencing following his trial in August.

The court was told Gallen (49), had been among four people picked up by the ABC taxi at 1.45am at the Sunnydale pub at Mansfield Woodhouse.

Gallen had sat behind the front passenger seat and as the taxi began its journey he had vomited in the rear.

The taxi driver had stopped and told him he would be charged for soiling the vehicle.

Father of two Gallen who was the worse for drink, swore at the driver and said he was not going to pay, despite his fellow passengers apologising for his behaviour.

Gallen had then opened the rear taxi door and had taken hold of the roof handle, pulling it off.

He had taken money out of his pockets, repeating that he was not going to pay anything.

The driver then sensed his door being opened and the defendant he only knew at the time as ‘Mick’, punched him several times in the head and broke the taxi’s wiper stalk.

Gallen who initially denied the offence, said he could remember nothing about the incident.

He was sentenced to a 12 months Community Penalty with 100 hours unpaid work, ordered to pay £50 compensation to the taxi firm and £125 to the driver, with £620 costs and a victim surcharge.

The chairman of the Magistrates told him he had been lucky not to have been jailed.



Taxi driver’s £1,000 bill after losing mobile phone appeal


Jason Barnes

A taxi driver has been left with a £1,000 bill after challenging a decision to have his licence suspended for driving while on his mobile phone.

Jason Anthony Barnes, 43, of Kirkbampton, near Carlisle, was seen by a member of the public on November 25 last year, driving through Carlisle city centre while on his phone.

The man complained to Carlisle City Council, telling them Mr Barnes had turned right from Harrington Street into Victoria Place and had failed to see him while he was turning opposite.

He claimed the two vehicles would have collided had he not taken evasive action and that Mr Barnes had not seen him because he was on the phone at the time.

It was alleged that Mr Barnes, who has held a taxi licence since 2002, then continued to use his mobile phone while driving along Georgian Way, Hardwicke Circus and onto Castle Way.

Initially he denied being in the areas stated at the time of the incident, but after the city council licensing officer was informed by the owner of the taxi company that Mr Barnes had been in the area, he recalled doing a drop off at Trinity School.

The taxi driver had his licence suspended at a council regulatory panel meeting on February 12, a decision Mr Barnes appealed.

At the meeting the complainant told the panel he had seen Mr Barnes close up and was holding a mobile phone to his left ear.

He then told the panel he would “not have been able to live with himself” if he had not reported what he had seen.

Mr Barnes’ legal representative said that he was not on his mobile phone but rubbing his head due to suffering a brain injury which left him with two holes in the left side of his head.

His appeal at North Cumbria Magistrate’s Court on May 14 was dismissed and a further appeal at Carlisle Crown Court last Thursday was also dismissed by a judge.

It means the decision to suspend his license for two months was upheld and he will also have to pay the £1,000 in costs to the city council.

Mr Barnes will have to sit and pass a Driving Standards Agency taxi driving test within 13 weeks, and must submit a report from a neurologist consultant to confirm he is fit to drive. The licensing panel also heard about a previous complaint of a similar nature but they had not followed up because the complainant had not taken the report any further.

In the report of the meeting, the panel said “they accepted fully the evidence given by the witness, that Mr Barnes was using his mobile phone whilst driving, and did not find Mr Barnes a credible witness”.

The panel “felt the matter was serious and Mr Barnes had a history of driving offences”.

Mr Barnes was unavailable for comment


Mar 19

Crackdown on ‘taxi’ licences at Temple Meads

THE city council teamed up with the police to launch a crackdown on taxi licensing.

Officers suspended ten drivers after checking the safety of Hackney Carriages and private hire cars at Temple Meads on Saturday.

Staff from Revenue and Custom were also there to check if drivers were working legally.

Ian Wilkinson, of the licensing department, who carried out the exercise, said: “All the defects were ones obvious to any competent driver and so their failure was pretty disappointing.

”As usual the agencies found the exercise very worthwhile”.

Of the 62 vehicles checked, 40 were licensed for private hire use, and the remainder as Hackney carriages. Most of the vehicles were found to be compliant with legal requirements, but ten were not

(7 of which were private hire vehicles), and the licences were suspended with immediate effect until the necessary remedial work was carried out.

Police issued one fixed penalty notice for a tyre offence and several others for lighting offences.

Councillor Fi Hance, chairwoman of the public safety and protection comittee at the council, said: “We were pleased that in most cases the vehicles examined were in good condition, as no prior announcement of the checks had been made.

“However, the amount of defects showed that we must be vigilant to make sure passengers are travelling in safe vehicles.”

“We would like to thank drivers for their patience during the stop checks and assure them that operations like this make the roads of Bristol safer for passengers and other drivers.

“The majority of taxis in Bristol are legal and safe and these operations are welcomed by responsible members of the taxi trade.

“Licensed Hackney Carriages and Private Hire Vehicles play an important role in Bristol, especially in relation to the night time economy, but we need to send out a clear message we will not tolerate any breaches of licensing conditions that could have a negative impact on public safety.”

Read more:

Mar 19

Jail for cabbie who beat passenger unconscious

1169843644Taxi driver who left a passenger unconscious after a brutal attack has been jailed for four years.

Ronald Bell, 60, was caught on CCTV punching Lee Jackson to the ground before kicking and stamping him unconscious after he thought was making off without paying his fare.

The savage assault left Mr Jackson, a self-employed bathroom fitter, needing more than three months off work with a broken collarbone and facing surgery to fully repair the injury.

He also suffered a black eye, with bruising and abrasions across his body.

At Newcastle Crown Court yesterday Bell, of Trinity Walk, South Shields, was jailed for four years.

Judge Penny Moreland told him: “Your position is aggravated by the fact you are a taxi driver, people trust you to take them home safely.

“The passengers you take home often are in drink and you have a responsibility not to take advantage of that.

“I accept the trigger for this was fear of losing the fare at a time of financial stress.”

The court heard Mr Jackson had been on a night out in South Shields and had asked Bell, a taxi driver of 20 years experience, to stop at a cashpoint near his home in Whitburn so he could take out the £11 fare last May.

CCTV footage from Northguards in the town captured Bell getting out of his people carrier and launching the violence.

Kevin Wardlaw, prosecuting, said: “After the single blow which caused Mr Jackson to fall, the crown say there is five to six kicks to his upper body followed by seven, possibly eight, stamps.”

Mr Jackson told police he was in the “foetal position” trying to protect himself from the violence but eventually lost consciousness.

He said in a victim impact statement: “What makes it worse is he’s a taxi driver who should be responsible for the welfare of his passengers.

“He left me unconscious in the street.”

Peter Schofield, defending, said Bell has worked in the taxi trade for 20 years without incident and has lost his job and home as a result of what he did.

Mr Schofield said: “it was the defendant’s belief he was in fact losing a fare, once again.

“He, for some unexplained reason, reacted in this way which is out of character.”

Mr Schofield said Bell “simply snapped” while working under pressure and is deeply ashamed and sincerely apologetic.

Bell had admitted causing grievous bodily harm with intent at an earlier hearing.


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Mar 18

Dudley minicab drivers issue strike action threat

Dozens of minicab drivers are threatening industrial action including strikes and slow driving after councillors refused a change in policy over car colours.

Minicab drivers in Dudley say they are disappointed by the decision to throw out their calls for the single white colour scheme for private hire cars to be abolished.

They claim the policy is squeezing their incomes as white cars have become more expensive due to the popularity of the colour with celebrities. Members of Dudley Private Hire and Taxi Association are holding a meeting tonight where a vote will be taken deciding whether they want to pursue action.

The association is already taking legal advice to see if they can mount a challenge.

Group chairman Shaz Saleem said: “There are the majority of our members who have been asking for a strike but at the moment we are keeping our options open. We are now taking legal advice and we are going to hold a meeting when members can discuss the way forward. I’m not a fan of strikes and protests like slow driving but we’ll have a vote at the meeting and go from there.

“But we can’t rule anything out. If that is what our members want then so be it.

More than 1,000 drivers and customers had signed a petition calling for the rules to be changed. But councillors on Dudley Council’s taxis committee voted by a narrow margin of five to four to reject the proposal amid safety fears.

Mr Saleem, who is managing director at Sedgley-based Beacon Taxis and Express Taxis, in Halesowen, added white cars can cost up to £2,000 extra, forcing some drivers to pay for re-sprays on other cars to comply.

A report compiled for Dudley Council’s taxis committee by the authority’s director of corporate resources, Philip Tart, said: “Over the years there have been several serious incidents involving passengers being sexually assaulted, injured and other criminal offences where the Police have been able to identify the vehicle as a Dudley licensed vehicle by the colour.”


Mar 18

Scarborough Council looks at allowing ‘horse taxis’

Horse-drawn taxis could ferry passengers along Scarborough’s seafront under new proposals set to be heard by councillors.

Members of Scarborough Council’s licensing committee will today discuss proposals from two different individuals seeking to operate vehicles.

One hopes to operate along the seafront, the other in the National Park.

The horses would function as hackney carriages, but with Scarborough Council’s finite amount of licences already handed out, councillors will discuss ways that they can assist those seeking to operate the horse ‘taxis’.

Some of the options set to be looked at by the council include uncapping the number of licences handed out, with the limit currently set at 105 licences. The council could also suggest allowing applications for non-motorised vehicles only, or to continue restricting numbers.

However, it is not possible for Scarborough Council to grant ‘special’ licences that restricts use to horses only, meaning that a licence holder could theoretically apply to change from operating a horse to a car during their licensing period, although the council would be able to reject a subsequent application.


Mar 18

Taxi Drivers in Manchester protest illegal plying

picture: MEN

Hundreds of Hackney Carriage drivers converged in Manchester City centre today in protest amid claims minicabs are illegally taking work

They staged a go-slow protest as they headed in convoy from Manchester airport to Albert Square ahead of a council licensing committee meeting this morning

The drivers claim minicabs have been illegally picking up passengers on the city’s streets without bookings being made in advance.

Gholam Mustapha, the drivers’ spokesman, called on Manchester council to take action.

He said: “Private hire cars can only accept fares that are pre-booked through their office. When they pick up passengers off the street, they commit offences formally known as illegal plying for hire and touting and it means that the driver’s insurance is invalid.

“We want the council officers to do regular undercover ‘test purchase’ operations to check if private hire drivers are illegally plying for hire. Such operations are regularly undertaken in Birmingham, Liverpool and Stockport.”

Gholam Mustapha’s words to Manchester City Council

Madam Chairman, Councillors, ladies and gentlemen, and colleagues.

My name is Gholam Mustapha, I have been a taxi driver for 35 years, I am the secretary of the Airport Taxi Association but today also have the full support of the trade unions, and taxi associations.

Due to time considerations I have condensed my speech but have compiled folders to read at your leisure. I respectfully request that you do as they contain the full speech and other materials which support my case.

I will speak on two issues, both of great concern to all taxi drivers in Manchester – as demonstrated by the numbers here today, they are the high level of illegal plying for hire or pirating, and allowing Private Hire to falsely advertise themselves as taxis.

These issues have contributed to a significant reduced income for all taxi drivers.

Why should you be concerned with taxi drivers’ earnings? Academic papers on the subject quote many reasons, I will pick one, less takings lead to longer working hours causing driver fatigue, this is a real risk as tragically demonstrated in the Selby rail crash which caused 10 deaths.

On the first issue, the enforcement of plying for hire is woefully inadequate

17 years ago Rachel Thacker was brutally raped and murdered by a bogus private hire driver, the then Manchester City Council spokesman said that they valued public safety very highly and would leave no stone unturned to ensure that this would never happen again.

Well since the murder of Rachel Thacker, the amount of pirating that goes on has increased considerably it would seem that to simply warning people of the dangers involved in getting into unbooked vehicles and enforcement officers observing in the hope of catching an offender do not discourage this and are time and cost consuming and lead to appeals in Court.

We are told by licensing that PH drivers waiting outside clubs are not necessarily committing an offence; it is their intentions that matter. Why not test those intentions?

A private hire car or an unlicensed car that is sat outside a club and when approached tells the customer that she has to phone “his company on this number first” to book, then immediately says “right I can take you now” is no safer than no booking at all. Who is to say that the driver works for that particular company at all? He could be a criminal intent on rape or robbery.

Like Amine Kacem who disguised his car as a private hire car with yellow stickers, parked outside a club on Sackville Street and brutally assaulted and twice raped the woman who got into the car.

There has not been a test purchase operation since the murder of Rachel Thacker, yet a FOI request showed that GMP recorded 109 sexual assaults with a “taxi” connection, Merseyside police recorded only 22. Of the core cities Liverpool has the highest number of prosecutions for plying for hire, due to a monthly test purchase operation, the figures suggest a correlation between an effective enforcement deterrent and the number of sexual crimes reported.

It is common knowledge that when sexual assaults do happen, it is when a woman has got into a car without a booking, most of these attacks are by licensed drivers.

When challenged on pirating by taxi drivers, private hire drivers can resort to violence. Recently a taxi driver was hit with a hammer by a PH driver, he was very lucky not to have been killed

A licensing officer said that when they had been out checking on cars waiting outside city centre bars, all appeared to have a booking on the data head. It didn’t seem to occur that the bookings might be bogus.

When I was on private hire, 32 years ago, the radio operator would often tell the drivers to go and park outside clubs and he would put bogus bookings down for them.

How can I be 100% sure that illegal plying for hire is so rife? Well we have all even done 2 cab jobs with unbooked PH cars.

An individual who is prepared to commit the criminal offence of plying for hire is not a law-abiding citizen and may well be prepared to commit serious crimes if opportunities arise. He is fully aware that there is no record of a booking and is unlikely to be traced especially if the passenger is under the influence of drink or drugs

We request test purchase operations by the licensing unit, these are cost effective use of resources as used by many Councils, Birmingham a comparable city recorded 14 times as many convictions as Manchester, many of these were achieved using the Nottingham vs. Woodings approach meaning that officers did not even have to undertake a journey, they asked only two questions of the driver “are you free?” and how much to..?”

My second point is about the Terms and Conditions for Private Hire Operators

Section 19B states

Advertising other than on private hire vehicles – no notice, sign or advertisement seeking to advertise or promote the business of a private hire operator wherever it is displayed shall consist of or include the words taxi or cab, whether in the singular or plural, or any words or devices which give any indication that the service to which the notice, sign or advertisement relates is that which can only be provided by a licensed hackney carriage……….. Unless the words private hire are also displayed with equal prominence.

The last line seem to have been added to the sentence and changes the whole meaning to suggest that a private hire operator may falsely imply that he is offering the services of a hackney carriage as long as he has the words private hire displayed in equal prominence.

It also means that private hire vehicles are not allowed to call themselves taxi’s but, the operators can say that they provide a “taxi” service.
Where is the sense in that?

This is a particular problem at Manchester airport where the operator’s office is strategically placed adjacent to the taxi rank and is emblazoned with the words “TAXI PRIVATE HIRE PAY HERE” in a deliberate ploy to mislead customers, many of them foreign visitors, to believe that they have to pay at this office for the British iconic black cabs they can see and want to hire, the operator of course does not inform them of the true situation in fact he offers no refunds without the customer writing to head office.

Passengers have actually paid Arrow cars and then got into a black cab only to produce the receipt at the end of the journey; this shows that the passengers are confused by the signage. If it is the intention to offer a private hire alternative to a taxi, the definition of which I am about to come to, then why not make that difference absolutely clear .

What is a taxi?

I have a letter from The Department for Transport . Paragraph 4 reads “your subsequent e-mail asked for the legal definition of a “taxi”……“A taxi is a vehicle licensed under Section 37 Of The Town Police Clauses Act 1847….”

This is a hackney carriage Act, so “a taxi is a hackney carriage”.

The Miscellaneous Provisions Act defines a private hire vehicle as “a motor vehicle constructed or adapted to seat fewer than nine passengers, other than a hackney carriage”

Substituting the word taxi for hackney carriage it becomes clear that a private hire vehicle is;

“A motor vehicle constructed or adapted to seat fewer than nine passengers, other than a taxi”
Therefore there cannot be a “private hire taxi” or a “taxi private hire”.

Mr. James Button licensing solicitor agrees in this book that taxi is not a generic word as this legal definition of taxi has been consistently used in every Act since the 1980 Road Transport Act. It is clearly the wish of parliament (and of Manchester City Council) that there be a distinction between hackney carriages and private hire vehicles and it has become customary in statutes, among government departments, and on the council’s own website, to refer to hackney carriages as taxis; this corresponds to the international usage of the word “taxi” to refer to a vehicle that is available for public hire.

In summary the trade requests just two things today; that the licensing unit carry out regular test purchase plying for hire operations and that the words “unless the words private hire are also displayed with equal prominence.” are removed from Section 19b we respectfully ask that you consider these two points as a matter of urgency.

I invite all of you to come with me on a tour to see for yourselves what is actually going on and how the taxi drivers of Manchester are willing to work with the city council to achieve a safer city and I would be happy to report back any changes after 6 months or so.

I thank you for your time.

Mar 18

The Coming of Age?

The Coming of Age?


Wayne Casey

The views expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the National Taxi Association


In a time of universal deceit – telling the truth is a revolutionary act.

George Orwell


The Department for Transport (DFT) state the following in their Best Practice Guidance in respect of vehicle age limits;


“Age Limits: It is perfectly possible for an older vehicle to be in good condition. So the setting of an age limit beyond which a local authority will not license vehicles may be arbitrary and inappropriate. But a greater frequency of testing may be appropriate for older vehicles – for example, twice-yearly tests for vehicles more than five years old.”


Considering the above, it is rather strange the cab trade around the country find themselves very often having to scrap perfectly good vehicles due to local authorities introducing age policies. Indeed, the Law Commission (LC) in last year’s riveting read appeared somewhat confused about age limits when they wrote the following , at 4.58 they stated;


“Age limits can operate as a proxy for governing the overall quality of a vehicle. It is more likely that an older vehicle may have mechanical failings, have damage associated with wear and tear, and be less environmentally friendly. A locality wishing to project a new and modern image of its public transport may regard its taxi and private hire vehicle fleets as a part of that strategy. However, an older vehicle may be well-maintained and in good working order. Department for Transport guidance suggests that the setting of an age limit may be arbitrary and inappropriate, although it may be appropriate to require more frequent testing for older vehicles.”


I am not too sure about the mechanical knowledge of the LC. As a wild and unqualified guess, I would say that whilst they may know a lot about the law – they know practically zero about the internal combustion engine and vehicle mechanics. It is therefore a worry that the LC presumes age limits actually govern the quality of a vehicle without any further qualification. They additionally add, older vehicles may have mechanical failings, quite, I suppose they are unaware of the recalls made to LTC vehicles due to a steering box problem that effectively bankrupted the company last year, or perhaps the great TX fires of 2008 – or indeed the 2.77 million Toyota’s that were recalled worldwide last year. Perhaps they actually meant older vehicles may have mechanical failings and may not have mechanical failings – a bit like every vehicle.


A simple google search will tell anyone with a computer the various recalls manufacturers have made – and looking through the list there have been lots – no manufacturer seems aloof – be they Rolls Royce or Peugeot, the Ford Mondeo has been subject to 20 recalls over a 10-year period.


Naturally, and as alluded to by the DFT, if a local authority has a decent testing regime there is little reason for a older vehicle to be mechanically less sound than a newer vehicle. Yet the LC appear to contradict themselves at 4.58 by stating “A locality wishing to project a new and modern image of its public transport may regard its taxi and private hire vehicle fleets as a part of that strategy” whilst adding in the next sentence “an older vehicle may be well-maintained and in good working order”. They go on to advise about the DFT advice.


The acknowledgement by the LC that a local authority may wish for its taxi and private hire fleets to project a new and modern image is something the cab trade is very aware, this projection has very little to do with the safe carriage of passengers, emission controls, Uncle Tom Cobley and all. If we consider the age of many buses used in public transport each day to carry passengers, with a local authority having no control over the age of a bus – it would seem the projection of “a new and modern image” only applies, as usual, to taxi and private hire.


It could be stated with a hint of sarcasm, the anticipated projection of the modern image falls down quite quickly, when the modern image includes antique buses and boarded up shops.


Most right-minded people would consider “A locality wishing to project a new and modern image” to be an “irrelevant consideration”. In a broadly similar way to how Mr Justice Beatson found Newport Councils consideration of the Ryder Cup irrelevent in Morris, R (on the application of) v Newport City Council [2009] EWHC 3051 (Admin) (27 November 2009).


The LC last year described the following in respect of taxi quantity controls at 15:50 ;


“Quantity restrictions, discussed in detail in Chapter 9, are a blunt instrument.”


If quantity controls are a blunt instrument – what exactly are age limits? It is quite a paradox, the LC will seemingly close its eyes to restrictions on business in respect of vehicle age limits – yet follow the Chicago school doctrine when it comes down to limiting taxi numbers.


NTA members (Gods chosen people), were told by Richard Percival of the LC in Scarborough in 2011;


“A general point here is that this whole deregulatory move is based on the idea that, by and large, open competition in a capitalist economy is the best way of  delivering goods and services.”


In effect what the LC appear to be suggesting is that everyone should have the opportunity to play cab owner, it’s just that if you want toplay – you should really have a few quid.


It would appear all that age limits actually achieve are a greater debt for the driver – a servitude is paid to a finance company, in some cases companies with foreign workers help arrange finance, this type of servitude is indentured. The vehicle – certainly a saloon vehicle – is worth a minimal amount once it retires to the big taxi graveyard in the sky. Harsh age restrictions ensure the cycle of debt is continual. Arguably, keeping a vehicle beyond an extended finance agreement almost certainly results in higher repair costs – therefore a fine balance needs struck between a running cost over new vehicle / new finance agreement scenario. -Either guarantees a driver has to work Victorian hours to avoid repossession – especially in those areas that are deregulated.


The occasional justification for age policies are based rather loosely around emissions – the theory is that older vehicles emit more pollution than newer ones. In order to justify emission policies the DfT advise in their guidance at 39;


 Local licensing authorities, in discussion with those responsible for environmental health issues, will wish to consider how far their vehicle licensing policies can and should support any local environmental policies that the local authority may have adopted. This will be of particular importance in designated Air Quality Management Areas (AQMAs), Local authorities may, for example, wish to consider setting vehicle emissions standards for taxis and PHVs. However, local authorities would need to carefully and thoroughly assess the impact of introducing such a policy; for example, the effect on the supply of taxis and PHVs in the area would be an important consideration in deciding the standards, if any, to be set. They should also bear in mind the need to ensure that the benefits of any policies outweigh the costs (in whatever form).


It would appear even the DfT are slightly sceptical about the overall impact of emissions controls in respect of taxis. Indeed, whilst a local authority can, given justifiable evidence, introduce AQMA, they can, given supporting evidence, also revoke AQMA.  The Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) state on their website;


“Pollutant concentrations may vary significantly from one year to the next, due to the influence of meteorological conditions”.


If a local authority decides to invoke an AQMA, it may therefore only be a short term measure and may be due to “meteorological conditions” – it would therefore seem unreasonable and indeed, unnecessary, for taxis to be included given the potential for the limited time span for the original justification (for the age limit). At the time of writing, 111 AQMA’s have been revoked.


Further to the above, a rather mad friend of mine actually licensed a Toyota Prius as a taxi – as many of you will know – these environmentally friendly vehicles emit very little by the way of emissions  – presumably this is because drivers spend more time pushing than driving them. Twisted humour aside, it appears quite mad for a local authority to introduce an age policy based upon emissions and still include such vehicles as part of the overall policy.


I feel we need to return to the policy justification because in my view, if the LC are right (and they seemingly condone), a council introducing age limits because they like shiny new vehicles, then such a policy just isn’t right – indeed its actually perverse. It plays to the ego of councillors whom like the Emperors of Rome decide upon fate – except for the fact they are more or less deciding a person must tie themselves to the world of finance to become a cab owner within their area and in most cases without any true idea of what they will earn.

Mar 18

Maidstone taxi drivers ‘banned from wearing Hawaiian shirts’

Magnum PI

You’d think what they wear is irrelevant as long as they get you where you want to go safely.

But taxi drivers could be banned from wearing certain clothing – and there’s a distinctly summer theme to the list.

Out will go Hawaiian shirts, vests, crop tops and mini-skirts if a council’s attempt to smarten the images of its cabbies gets the green light.

Flip-flops, sports shorts, clothing that is ‘too colourful’ and anything exposing the midriff is also on the black list.

‘The purpose of a driver’s dress code is to seek a minimum standard of dress that provides a positive image of the Hackney carriage and private hire trade,’ the council’s report states.

‘It must enhance a professional image of licensed drivers and ensure public and driver safety is not compromised.’

‘Acceptable clothing’ includes dress shirts, tops covering the shoulders and footwear that ‘fits around the heel’.

The dress code, which Maidstone borough council is due to vote on this month, has not gone down well in the Kent town.

‘If the council think they can tell me what to wear, they can think again,’ taxi driver Steven Hunt said.

‘In the summer, I’m in shorts and a T-shirt and a pair of sandals that are suitable for driving.

‘I’m not going to be driving about in the sweltering heat in a shirt and tie.’


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Mar 17

South Ribble blitz on ‘out of town’ taxis

A crackdown has been launched on rogue taxis operating without a license.

South Ribble Council has taken the action following concern unlicensed taxis and minicabs from outside the borough were coming into the area touting for trade.

 A joint undercover operation, involving staff from the council, police and special constables, was launched last Friday.

The late-night operation covered five separate locations across the borough and resulted in one Preston taxi driver being caught trading illegally.


The driver’s details were passed to Preston Council, with a view to a prosecution.


Taxis trading without a licence can face enforcement action, including court fines of up to £3,500 per offence, and fines of up to £5,000 for driving uninsured.


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Mar 17

Court jails Newcastle man for attacking cabbie

A West Denton man has pleaded guilty to assault after he attacked a taxi driver in Newcastle city centre

A charity fundraiser attacked a taxi driver after hitting the booze to celebrate completing a sponsored walk.

Bruce Elliott had walked 16 miles to raise money for Meningitis UK after his daughter was struck down by the brain infection.

After completing the fundraising event, Elliott went drinking in Newcastle city centre.

But a successful day turned ugly when he attacked cabbie Mohammed Imran on the way home.

Elliott, 28, of Lordenshaw, West Denton, pleaded guilty to assault and was given 12 weeks prison, suspended for 12 months and must pay £500 compensation to the victim.

Recorder Woolfall told him: “People who drive taxis servicing the public are particularly vulnerable to attacks such as this and require protection.”

The court heard Elliott’s daughter had recovered .


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Mar 16

Speeding minicab driver blames his wife

Minicab driver Ehjaz Yaqub has been jailed after trying to avoid a driving ban by telling police his wife had been speeding in his minicab.

The 33-year-old filled in forms stating his wife was behind the wheel of his Vauxhall Vectra minicab when it was snapped by speed cameras.

Police later arrested Yaqub’s wife on suspicion of perverting the course of justice.

CCTV images then proved Yaqub was actually driving when the cameras were activated.

The father-of-two was yesterday jailed for 10 months – just days after disgraced former MP Chris Huhne and his ex-wife Vicky Pryce were both sent to prison for eight months for perverting the course of justice after swapping speeding points 10 years ago.

Jailing Yaqub, Judge Paul Glenn told Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court: “If you have read the papers or listened to the news you will know offences of this type are topical. They are also prevalent. They strike at the heart of the criminal justice system, and courts take a serious view.

“Your wife was not prosecuted but you jeopardised her liberty. The motive was plainly to avoid losing your driving licence and with it your income. You persistently offended in the same way to avoid criminal responsibility.”

The court heard Yaqub’s minicab was caught speeding through seven cameras between November 2011 and April 2012. Yaqub twice accepted the points – but on other occasions blamed his wife.

Neil Ahuja, prosecuting, said: “Notices were sent requesting details of the driver. He returned them stating he was not the driver but his wife was. Inquiries at the minicab base confirmed the defendant had been working at the time of the offences.”

The court heard Yaqub’s wife was released without charge.

Yaqub, of Beresford Street, Shelton, pleaded guilty to three charges of intending to pervert the course of justice. He was also banned from driving for six months.

Rachel Thompson, mitigating, said Yaqub had a £50,000 debt and was trying to avoid going bankrupt.

She warned the family could lose their house if Yaqub was jailed.

Ms Thompson said: “He ended up working considerable hours to try to obtain that money. In order to do that he did speed on occasions.”

An AA survey of 17,000 drivers suggested around 300,000 motorists have swapped speeding penalty points.

AA president Edmund King said: “Many drivers didn’t realise the severity of swapping penalty points but they do now. There is a harsh punishment for perverting the course of justice.”

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