East Lancashire taxi drivers to support Rossendale strike

TAXI drivers across East Lancashire say they will support two strikes which have been called by fed-up cabbies in Rossendale this weekend.

Private hire and hackney carriage drivers’ representatives in Burnley and Hyndburn have backed walkouts and will not send taxis into the valley this weekend.

Anger at new licensing and enforcement policies, drawn up by Rossendale Borough Council, has built up over the past 18 months and prompted the industrial action.

The introduction of a new penalty points scheme is a central issue, with drivers fearing their liveliihoods will be placed under threat over ‘minor’ dismeanours.

Now after the codes were rubberstamped by councillors, private hire and hackney carriage drivers are preparing to stage strikes.

Two taxi blackouts have been called – from 7pm on Friday to 7am Saturday and from 7pm on Saturday to 7am on Sunday.

Dave Lawrie, of the Public Protection Association, which speaks on behalf of valley taxi drivers, said 150 of the borough’s 268 drivers had voted for strike action.

Mr Lawrie added: “All private hire and hackney carriage drivers will be out and we will be asking drivers in Burnley and Accrington to support us in this dispute, as we have done with other disagreements there.”

Mohammed Arif, of Hyndburn Taxi Association, added: “It might depend on individual drivers but we would support their action. It is a very harsh regime in Rossendale.”

Burnley Private Hire Association’s spokesman, also called Mohammed Arif, said: “We should be supporting our colleagues and we will attempt to co-operate with them.

“There is so much red tape and it is putting people’s livelihoods at risk.”

Tomorrow Rossendale cabbies will protest outside the borough council’s one stop shop, off James Street, Rawtenstall.

Council leader Coun Tony Swain said: “The drivers have the right to strike – that is their prerogative. But we have introduced this policy for the safety of passengers and drivers, first and foremost.”

Only an 11-month hour postponement of the new codes, for fresh talks, averted similar strike action late last year.

http://www.thisislancashire.co.uk/news/ … le_strike/

Turn-around on plans to make taxi drivers replace old vehicles


MIXED FEELINGS: Dave Atkin, chairman of the local Hackney Carriage Association.

PLANS to ban vehicles more than ten years old from being used as taxis “in the interests of public safety” have been thrown out by council leaders.

North East Lincolnshire Council’s community protection committee voted unanimously not to introduce an upper age limit for either hackney carriage or private hire vehicles.

It is an about-turn for the committee, which in May 2009 announced plans to force taxi vehicles aged more than ten years old off the road – although the clampdown was never implemented.

Licensing officer Adrian Moody told the meeting: “In 2009, the committee resolved not to grant new taxi licences on vehicles older than five years, and not to renew existing licences on vehicles older than ten years in the interests of public safety.

“It was felt that, by implementing age restrictions, the fleet would gain benefits from the continuous improvements in vehicle safety.

“However, the upper age limit was never introduced and the Department for Transport does not recommend specifying upper age limits for vehicles.”

There are currently 62 hackney carriages and 66 private hire vehicles in the borough that are more than a decade old.

And councillors expressed fears that introducing an upper age limit could put drivers who cannot afford to replace older vehicles out of work.

Dave Atkin, chairman of the North East Lincolnshire Hackney Carriage Association, said he had “mixed feelings” about the committee’s decision.

He said: “On the one hand, it is good news. In the current financial climate, not many drivers could afford to replace their vehicles once they reached ten years old.

“But on the other hand, replacing vehicles when they reached a certain age would mean customers would benefit from the safest and most environmentally-friendly vehicles.”

Drivers expressed concerns about current council policy, which states new hackney carriage licences can only be granted for vehicles which are adapted for wheelchair access – and therefore more expensive to buy.

Changes to the rules will be discussed at the next community protection committee.

source: http://www.thisisgrimsby.co.uk/news/

Fuel cost is ‘crippling’ Bristol taxi firms

Taxi drivers in Bristol claim the rising cost of fuel is “crippling” their business.

Shafiq Ahmed, the National Taxi Association spokesman for Bristol, said some of his members were not coping.

The price of unleaded petrol hit a new high at the start of March with an average price of 130p per litre.

Bristol City Council said a recent consultation over a 6% fare rise had not attracted any objections and would be implemented soon.

A spokesperson said it had “responded to requests” for fare rises from the business.

Oil prices have risen about 10% in the past month due to the unrest in the Middle East.

Mr Ahmed said because of rising prices it was becoming increasingly difficult to afford to run a taxi.

“Some of our members are going out of business. They just can’t afford to run their vehicles,” he said.

“We’ve done our best to absorb those costs as best we can because we understand that our customer base is going through hardship because of the recession.”

A consultation on the fare rise closed on Tuesday and the council said it had received no objections or comments.

Court: Guide dog fine hit for Peterborough Private Hire firm

ANOTHER city Private Hire firm has been punished after overcharging a blind woman for bringing her guide dog into the cab.

Private hire firm Towncars will have to fork out a total of £565 after charging grandmother Yvonne Saint-John an extra £1 for bringing her guide dog Quaid (2) into the private hire car.

This was on top of her £8 agreed fare from Peterborough city centre to her home in Glinton on September 23.

It came after Miss Saint-John had been overcharged by another private hire firm, Eagle Cars, on three separate occasions in August and September last year.

Miss Saint-John said she hopes the two cases will raise awareness in the city’s private hire industry about how they treat the disabled.

She said: “I just want the state of play to be the same for everybody.

“It’s not just these two firms, I have called several private hire firms in the city asking for a car, only to hear the price increases markedly when I tell them I will be bringing my guide dog.

“In some cases it’s small, but one firm quoted me £8 without the dog, and £12.80 with the dog.

“I won’t be using the firms that overcharged me again.

“However, with Towncars I have to say that the driver did not want to charge me the extra pound, that order came from the office.”

Towncars proprietor Shakeel Rehman did not attend Peterborough Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday but was found guilty in his absence for failing to comply with a duty to carry a guide dog and was fined £200.

He was also fined £100 for failing to keep records correctly as per the licence agreement with Peterborough City Council, after a council investigation found that comprehensive details of Miss Saint-John’s request were not taken down.

He was also ordered to pay £250 costs and a £15 victim surcharge.

Cllr Peter Hiller, the city council’s cabinet member for housing, neighbourhoods and planning, said it is important the city’s licensed providers adhere to the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, which protects disabled passengers from having to pay extra fees to bring guide dogs in taxis.

He said: “This is the second similar case in a week and again sends a strong message that the city council takes complaints made against private hire companies seriously.

“These equality acts are there to ensure that every single person is entitled to the same standard of service and, in this case, at the same price, regardless of their personal circumstances.

“It is also important that private hire companies keep appropriate records such as the name of the customer, quoted prices, pick up address and destination.”

Eagle Cars were brought before Peterborough Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday, February 22, and fined £435 for unfairly overcharging Miss Saint-John and ordered to pay £450 costs and a £15 surcharge.

Caroline Weston, Guide Dogs’ senior public affairs officer, said: “Guide dogs provide freedom and independence to thousands of blind and partially sighted people every year.

“But that independence is taken away when they are denied access to public facilities like taxis.”

Towncars were not available to comment.

source: http://www.peterboroughtoday.co.uk/news/

Councillor charged with taxi touting

A SUSPENDED councillor has been charged with illegal taxi touting and driving with no insurance in London.

Balwinder Singh Dhillon was arrested in the City of London on Saturday (Feb 26) in an undercover police crackdown on taxi touts in the Smithfield area on suspicion of picking up illegal fares and was subsequently charged.

Cllr Dhillon said: “I can’t really comment but I am disputing it, so it will all become clear in court.

“I have instructed my solicitor and barrister and this will be defended very vigorously.”

Cllr Dhillon will appear at the City of London Magistrates’ Court on Monday (March 7)

source; http://www.sloughobserver.co.uk/news/

Three less scumbags

Three jailed for attack on Boro Taxis cabbie

THREE men who planned and launched a bone-breaking attack and robbery of a taxi driver have been jailed for a total of 12 years.

Boro Taxis cabbie Nazar Mahfooz was grabbed round the throat and beaten after he took three passengers from Stockton High Street to Old Road, Billingham.

His three drunken assailants Shane Thomas and cousins Wayne and Michael Parker were jailed for four years each at Teesside Crown Court.

After the 38-year-old driver stopped, Wayne Parker grabbed him around the neck from behind. Front seat passenger Thomas punched him.

Michael Parker then got out of the back seat, ran to the restrained driver and started going through his pockets.

He took £70 from the motorist, and £20 from the driver’s door pocket, prosecutor Sarah Mallett said yesterday.

Mr Mahfooz struggled free and got out of the car. Wayne Parker then punched him to the head and he fell to the floor.

All three men fled down an alleyway, at which they had asked the taxi driver to stop.

After the robbery at about 10.30pm on November 25 last year, Mr Mahfooz underwent surgery for facial fracturing.

Thomas, 28, of Edwards Street, Stockton; Michael Parker, 23, of Cumbernauld Road, Thornaby; and Wayne Parker, 33, of Howard Walk, Billingham, all admitted robbery.

All had previous convictions for assault – but nothing as serious as the robbery.

Duncan McReddie, representing Michael Parker, said he got involved spontaneously and alcohol rendered him incapable of planning anything.

He said Michael was of “limited intelligence”, his defence mechanism a show of “studied indifference”, his previous assaults were old and he was last in custody as a juvenile.

Robin Turton, defending Wayne Parker, said he felt remorse for the harm and distress he caused.

He said the dad was skilled but was hampered by chronic depression and turned to drink after his partner left him.

Peter Wishlade, for Thomas, said he had an unhappy childhood, was “a young man with substantial problems” but he’d use his time inside well.

The judge, Recorder Martin Bethel QC said he would not send the men away indefinitely as dangerous offenders, but jailed each for four years.

He said it was a serious night-time robbery on a vulnerable victim.

He added: “The taxi driver sustained unpleasant injuries including a fracture to his face, and one wonders whether he will be able to drive taxis late at night again.

“There was a degree of pre-planning, although I don’t suggest it was particularly sophisticated.”

source: http://www.gazettelive.co.uk/news/teesside-news/

Cabbie’s licence on the line after undeclared ban

TORBAY councillors will consider taking away a cabbie’s livelihood after he failed to inform them that he had been banned from driving.

Gabor Tardi, from Hungary, is alleged to have received 15 points for four offences, including running a red light, having no insurance, and driving without due care and attention.

Torbay Council said the traffic offences earned him a six-month ban but he did not tell the council of his disqualification.

The allegations come after Torbay Council revoked Ryan Ford’s cabbie licence in February because of repeated parking offences.

Members of the council’s licensing sub-committee will debate Mr Tardi’s matter this Thursday at Torquay Town Hall.

A report by Craig Noble, Torbay Council’s licensing enforcement officer, states: “I am now led to believe that Mr Tardi has his DVLA driver’s licence back and has restarted work as a Hackney Carriage driver.

“Under Torbay Council policy, Mr Tardi was duty-bound to inform us of his driving ban. He did not inform us.

“As a banned driver he should have surrendered his Hackney Carriage driver licence, and he would not have been able to reapply for this licence until a minimum period of 12 months had passed after he has completed his driving ban.

“I have spoken to Mr Tardi regarding his alleged driving ban. He stated that he had nine points on his licence when he picked up three further points and a fine for driving without due care and attention following an accident.

“He was subsequently banned for six months for getting 12 points on his licence. At the time he had three points on his Hungarian driving licence for going through a red light in 2006.

“Also, in 2007, he picked up six points and a fine for driving with no insurance. The car was seized and crushed.

“Then, in February 2010, he picked up a further three points and a £150 fine for going through a red light.

“This was not taken to court until January 18, 2011, as the police had trouble contacting him because he had changed address. So, in total, he has received 15 points since 2006.”

The report states that Torbay Council has three options — to warn Mr Tardi about future conduct, to suspend him, or to revoke his Hackney Carriage driver licence.

It adds: “Consideration needs to be given as to whether Mr Tardi remains a fit and proper person.

“Torbay Council’s current Taxi Policy would suggest that Mr Tardi’s Hackney Carriage driver licence should be revoked for several reasons.

“Namely, the nature of the offences that led to the disqualification, the fact that he has been disqualified, and the fact that he failed to inform Torbay Council’s licensing department of that disqualification, as required to do.”

source: http://www.thisissouthdevon.co.uk/news/

Neath Port Talbot Council cuts will plunge transport for disabled kids into ‘chaos’


“Instead they are creating a cutthroat situation because everybody will be fighting for their livelihoods. It’s going to create mayhem.”

A TAXI boss claims school transport for disabled children will be plunged into chaos because Neath Port Talbot Council is so determined to drive down costs.

Neath Port Talbot Taxi Proprietors Association secretary Bob Hoyles has accused the authority of spending £1 million on a new “cutthroat” tendering process he says will end up saving the authority £1 million.

Mr Hoyles said the council had brought in a specialist company to create a website for transport providers to bid for contracts for special needs children and adults with learning difficulties.

He said the new system had been explained during a meeting at the Towers Hotel, attended by 120 bus and taxi firms.

“As long as you are registered with the website you can apply,” said Mr Hoyles.

“They put the contracts on the website and you put in your bid. Once all the bids are in it goes to auction and you are given the chance to reduce your bid.

“I’ve got four contracts. I’ll have to bid for every contract, just to be certain of getting work for my employees. They may offer me 100 contracts but I couldn’t run them.

“It’s going to cause chaos but I’ve got to maximise my chances, and so have the other 120 operators.”

Mr Hoyles said existing contracts expired on May 27. There were about 350 runs a day, each with a driver and escort, so theoretically 700 people could lose their jobs as there was nothing to stop firms from outside the county bidding for work.

Cutthroat

“How can the council justify spending £1 million to save £1 million? There is no gain. All it needs to do is get someone from the trade to come in, sit down and put school runs together.

“Instead they are creating a cutthroat situation because everybody will be fighting for their livelihoods. It’s going to create mayhem.”

A Neath Port Talbot spokeswoman said: “It has been a longstanding objective of the council to achieve substantial savings in the area of home to school transport while maintaining and improving services.

“The council is committed to providing equal opportunities and assistance to all transport providers wishing to bid.”

source: http://www.thisissouthwales.co.uk/news/

Blind woman with guide dog sues taxi firm after being made to pay extra

A blind woman, Yvonne Saint-John, has won compensation after a taxi company charged her extra for travelling with her guide dog.

Yvonne was told her labrador Quaid might leave hairs on the cars’ seats, leading to a clean-up cost.

The grandmother was overcharged three times, including one journey when she was told to pay an extra £2.50 on top of a £7.50 fare.

Mrs Saint-John, who works as a volunteer helping other disabled people, said: ‘I rely on my guide dog to get from A to B and to have a social life. He is my lifeline and it’s not fair to be charged extra.

‘It had never happened before. My dog hardly moves once he is in the cab to drop any hairs, so it was ridiculous to charge me more.’

She reported the company, Eagle Cars in Peterborough, to council officers.

The cab firm was taken to court and told to pay £900 compensation and costs. Mrs Saint-John, of nearby Glinton, said: ‘I’m delighted with the outcome and hope other taxi firms will take this on board.

‘I thought twice about speaking out as I did not want to be further victimised but I feel this sends a strong message to other disabled people.’

Eagle Cars said its management had changed and it did not want to comment.

Disability discrimination laws ban extra fees for guide dogs.

source: http://www.metro.co.uk/news/

Taxi fees could go up to cover costs

Karl Morrissey at the taxi rank in Wellingborough town centre
Karl Morrissey at the taxi rank in Wellingborough town centre

Taxi drivers say fees for their passengers may have to rise to help them offset the rising cost of their annual taxi licence fee.

Cabbies in Wellingborough say they are annoyed about proposals to increase their plate charge to £187.80.

The charge was £80 in 2009 and rose to £136 last year.

Taxi driver Karl Morrissey said the proposed increase is far beyond the rate of inflation and would squeeze drivers’ incomes at a time of recession.

He said despite drivers wanting to keep prices frozen for customers they had asked Wellingborough Council to increase the start-up rate of a journey by 20p to help offset the price rises.

The start-up rate is the amount on the meter when a journey begins.

Mr Morrissey, of The Dale, Wellingborough, said: “We have asked the council to put up the start-up rate of a journey by 20p. We haven’t had an increase in two years.

“Times are hard and the taxi drivers in Wellingborough are trying to keep their prices down.

“Takings aren’t going up at all because fuel is going up.

“We are just suffering at the moment and the council is trying to make it worse.

“The drivers are not happy. They are saying they don’t want to pay it but if it goes up, we have got no choice.”

Wellingborough Council’s chief executive Joe Hubbard said: “The basis for the proposed increase was to bring our vehicle licence fees more in line with the average – our previous fee being considerably below the local average of £191.”

He said the letter from the drivers would be considered before a decision was made.

source: http://www.northantset.co.uk/news/l