TAXI drivers in Henley are asking South Oxfordshire District Council to set their fares in order to make prices fairer.
The district council wants taxi drivers to use meters set by individual operators from June.
But the South Oxfordshire Taxi Drivers’ Association says fares should be fixed by the council in order to prevent smaller companies being disadvantaged.
The cabbies do not currently have to use a meter and many display fare cards showing the minimum fare and the price of each mile thereafter. Companies are able to set their own fares.
About 25 drivers from Henley attended a meeting with the council last week.
Munir Hussain, secretary of the association, said: “We don’t mind using meters but we want the council to fix the charges rather than individual operators setting their own.
“It would lead to more friction between the companies and the drivers on the rank. If there were 10 drivers on the rank that could mean 10 prices and we don’t want that. Most operators want the council to set the prices. There would be more complaints if every private company could set its own price.”
Mr Hussain, of Streamline Executive Cars, used to work in Reading where the council sets the fares and he says the system works well.
Drivers also objected to plans which would mean taxis could only have MOTs carried out at two garages in Didcot.
The association asked for at least one garage to be available in Henley or Reading for the 250 drivers working in Henley.
Since then, the council has said five to seven garages will be made available to drivers but their locations are still to be chosen.
The owner of a private hire vehicle will pay almost £1,000 in court costs after allowing a man who had no driving licence to use his vehicle.
Mohammad Jamil, 48, of Kingsway, Didsbury, gave his vehicle to Muhammad Hashmi, who used a forged private hire licence badge while driving without a DVLA licence or insurance.
Manchester City Council licensing officers, acting on intelligence, uncovered Hashmi’s fraud, before further investigation in collaboration with Greater Manchester Police revealed that he had no licence of any kind.
Jamil admitted to the offence of allowing an unlicensed private hire driver to drive a vehicle under his control. He was handed a conditional discharge at Manchester Magistrates Court on Wednesday 17 October and ordered to pay costs of £977.14.
Hashmi, 36, of Harcourt St, Reddish, pleaded guilty to driving a private hire vehicle with a forged badge, no valid DVLA driving licence or insurance, on 20 June this year. Magistrates sentenced him to 100 hours unpaid work and left him to pay £250 in court costs.
Executive member for the environment, Councillor Nigel Murphy, said: “Jamil’s flagrant negligence and Hashmi’s disregard for passenger safety have been rightly punished. This sends a clear message that offences such as these will be detected and prosecuted by our dedicated officers.”
A CLAMPDOWN on cab companies forcing their drivers to break licensing rules has been launched by Oxford City Council.
The council’s licensing team leader Julian Alison said the local authority would prosecute private hire firms that make employees ply for trade.
Private hire vehicles must be booked in advance and are not allowed to ‘ply for hire’, which means they can’t queue in a rank or be flagged down in the street.
But Mr Alison said he believed many firms were telling their drivers to flout the rules.
He said: “We have a number of licence-holders who will listen to what the operators say because they want to keep their jobs.
“All the operators want is bums on seats, they don’t care about the individual drivers.
“We have seen examples of private hire drivers turning up at hotels, having removed their stickers and pretending to be exempt vehicles.”
Mr Alison told a meeting of the council’s general purposes licensing committee that enforcement officers would target companies on the wrong side of the law.
He said: “You should expect to see the operators up in front of you in future.”
Committee chairman Colin Cook, below, praised officers and said the council’s tougher new policy on law-breakers had been successful.
He said: “My feeling is we have said ‘cheerio’ to far more people than we used to. I think it’s working.”
Green group leader David Williams also expressed concerns about unsafe vehicles being used and people with poor eyesight being drivers.
He said: “We just can’t have the situation of death traps being driven around and we can’t have the situation of drivers who can only see 25 metres in front of them. This committee and the officers are the guardians of public safety.”
But private hire driver Khalil Ahmed said: “I’m not aware of any companies which ask drivers to break the rules, but I assume if Mr Alison is talking about this then he has evidence and will deal with it, which I have no problem with.
“I have worked with the firm 101 and I’m now with Royal and I can’t imagine either of them would flout the rules.
“Drivers are aware of the terms and conditions of their licences and I have no sympathy for drivers who break them.
“Regardless of whether they had been told to do it, they should be prosecuted. If a company told me to violate my licence, I wouldn’t do it.”
A taxi carrying a passenger holding a 10ft (3m) wooden pole has been stopped by police in Essex.
The black cab was one of 194 vehicles pulled over by the force during a road safety campaign in Basildon.
A spokesperson said the method of transport for the length of stair banister was “incredibly dangerous” and risked harming other people.
The driver of the taxi was given a £60 fixed penalty notice and three points on his licence.
The police spokesperson said: “The woman could easily have lost her grip on the pole and it could have struck a pedestrian, cyclist or gone through the windscreen of an approaching vehicle on the other side of the road.”
Nine vehicles were seized in the operation on Tuesday – eight for having no insurance and one because the driver did not have an appropriate licence.
Sixty-two vehicles were found to have no MOTs, 52 drivers were not wearing seatbelts and 23 drivers were seen using mobile phones.
Four drivers were stopped for speeding and more than 20 other motoring offences were detected, including 15 cars with illegal tinting.
I write on behalf of the Chairman & Directors of the Association to thank those of you who supported this year’s event playing a large part in making it a success.
Whilst there are too many of you to thank individually, I want to make special reference to those from Sunderland, Scarborough and Plymouth, whose support was (and as ever) truly excellent.
I will be personalising our thanks to our speakers, again, special reference needs made to John Ussher, President of the Irish Taxi Drivers Federation, whom gave us an insight into the life of a cab driver in the Republic of Ireland, alongside the experiences before, during and after taxi deregulation.
It would be negligent of me not to thank colleagues in both Plymouth & Carlisle who donated prizes for the draw at the Chairman’s dinner – the profits of which paid for the recording of the event.
Finally, I think I should mention the staff and management of the conference hotel –whom were polite and courteous – we will have difficulty in sourcing a venue of such similar stature at similar prices for our conference in 2013.
A banned driver was able to take patients to and from hospital after failing to tell his employers he was disqualified.
Mini cab driver Thayagaran Shritharan, 47, lined his pockets between July and August this year despite being disqualified from driving and having no insurance.
The man, who was disqualified from driving for six months at Croydon Magistrates Court last week, was stopped by police on Bishopsford Road, Morden, whilst carrying a passenger on August 8.
Shritharan, of Llanthony Road, Morden, was also ordered to do 250 hours of unpaid work and pay £85 compensation at court on October 15.
It emerged Shritharan had failed to reveal his disqualification to his employer – a company, which contracts out work to a number of licensed private hire drivers.
The company holds contracts which include transporting patients to and from hospital appointments at Sutton Hospital and children to and from school.
Shritharan told police he had only ever undertaken the hospital runs, he had also failed to inform his insurance company of his disqualification – and his insurance was not valid at the time of his arrest because of his disqualification.
Shritharan apologised to police and stated he was in debt. At Croydon Magistrates Court on October 8, Shritharan pleaded guilty to driving whilst disqualified, fraud by false representation and using a vehicle without third party insurance.
THE director of a St Albans minicab firm has been jailed for 10 months after being found guilty last month of money-laundering offences.
Waqar Khan who lives in Luton and was the director of GMC Ltd, which traded as City Cars in St Albans, was charged following an investigation by Herts Police Fraud Squad.
His company had an arrangement with Herts county council to transport two people in Welwyn Garden City, one to school and the other to a day care centre.
By 2008 neither person required the services of City Cars but Khan continued to send invoices to the county council for providing minicabs for journeys which were no longer being undertaken.
The scam continued until 2010 and resulted in a fraudulent payment to Khan which was in excess of £160,000.
During the trial Khan accepted the journeys had not taken place since 2008 but said he was entitled to claim the money because the council had not cancelled the arrangement. The jury rejected his claim and he was found guilty on September 18 at St Albans Crown Court.
Confiscation proceedings will now commence to recover the fraudulently paid money.
TAXIS and private hire vehicles in Hyndburn face a major licensing shake-up next year in a move branded by one operator ‘just another unjustified council burden’.
The new framework will be debated by the borough’s ruling cabinet tomorrow, with a view to implementing it after a 12-week consultation period.
It will be the first time Hyndburn has had a comprehensive policy on how vehicles, and drivers, are licensed, and what checks are made on their safety and suitability.
The scheme will include:
Replacing the current requirement to renew the taxi, or private hire, badge annually with a three-year document n Requiring drivers to undergo a criminal records bureau check on criminal convictions every three years, instead of five
Checking with the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency for undeclared endorsements for driving offences annually, instead of every five years
The introduction of a code of conduct to “promote the council and the professional image of its drivers”
Insisting that newly-licensed hackney cabs are wheelchair friendly n Cutting the current six- month period of grace to renew a licence for a vehicle, or driver, after it has expired to just one week.
Hassan Hussain, of Central Taxis in Accrington, said: “This is ridiculous. It’s just another unjustified council bur-den on the borough’s taxis.
“They do nothing for us. It’s just red tape to make the council money.”
Council deputy lead-er Clare Pritchard said: “This is about doing the right thing. We do not have a proper written policy at the moment. We are bringing together existing pracice into a single clear framework. It is about safety for passengers, drivers and vehicles.
“We have never had a proper policy before and we are going to discuss it and, if approved, go out to consultation.
“It will mean everybody knows where they stand. It will be good for drivers, passengers and vehicles.”
When the new framework is introduced, it will be backed by a new enforcement policy, the report to the borough cabinet adds.