Taxi drivers in Cambridge will have a smart dress code from April 1 – and have been told not to wear garish shirts or jeans.
New rules on ‘what not to wear’ will come into force on April Fools’ Day with 167 Hackney cab drivers in the city told to ditch scruffy clothes and get smart.
The fashion edict issued by Cambridge City Licensed Taxis covers drivers who are allowed to pick up fares at the city’s train station.
Members of the group’s committee have told taxi drivers to wear smart trousers – and that jeans are not acceptable.
They are allowed to sport any kind of smart shirt with a collar except paisley shirts or multi-coloured Hawaiian shirts.
But Karl Stamper, a former member of the association’s committee, who is often seen sporting loud shirts, says the edict is misguided.
He said: “I think telling us what to wear is a bit much. It should be more focused on the drivers who are smelly and scruffy.
“It doesn’t really matter what they’re wearing as long as they are clean and look smart.
“The shirts I wear may not be to everyone’s taste and I have no problem wearing something different.”
Glenn Hall, chairman of the association, said: “We are asking drivers to enhance their appearance by not wearing jeans but to wear smart trousers and shirts with a collar and not polo-neck shirts or T-shirts.
“They can wear any colour shirt they like but not Hawaiian shirts or shirts with the English, Welsh or Scottish flags.”
He added: “We have had a lot of opposition to it but some drivers do look a bit scruffy and we hope they will smarten up, which will create a good image of Cambridge for people living here and visitors.
“We’ll have to wait and see how many comply.
“We chose April Fools’ Day just because it is the start of the financial year.”
PERSISTANT shoddy parking has lost a cabbie his livelihood after Torbay Council ran out of patience.
Taxi-driver Ryan Ford was left in shock after councillors took the unprecedented action of revoking his licence after he ignored a series of warnings.
Mr Ford was called to a meeting of the council’s licensing sub-committee after complaints about his dangerous parking.
Committee members were told that there had been complaints from police and members of the public about taxis parking inappropriately.
It was said that taxi-drivers, including Mr Ford, were sent letters warning them about obstructing traffic, and he later had his licence suspended for seven days.
Members also heard that Mr Ford, who lives in Torquay, had sworn at a parking enforcement officer who was photographing his car when it was badly parked at a rank.
It was said that Mr Ford had been photographed on a number of occasions parking poorly at taxi ranks.
On one occasion, while parked at the roundabout rank at the bottom of Torquay’s Union Street, he was said to have left the back end of his black Vauxhall hanging out on the road for six minutes.
Mr Ford, 29, told the committee: “After receiving the letter I took it upon myself to adhere to the regulations. I certainly didn’t swear at the parking enforcement officer.
“The pictures don’t prove that I’m stationary. They don’t tell the whole story, and there’s no video footage to support the claims.
“I feel that there’s a personal vendetta against me. I’m being harshly dealt with. In terms of the six-minute incident, I agree that I could have driven around the block and come back. I can’t afford to be suspended.”
Councillors debated the matter for half an hour before returning to tell Mr Ford he had lost his hackney licence.
Mr Ford, who has been driving a taxi for five years, was visibly stunned after the meeting.
He told the Herald Express: “I was in total shock when they announced that my licence was being revoked.
“I don’t understand what’s gone on. I don’t see how it can happen. Their recommendation was a 28-day suspension.
“I was going to appeal against the suspension, and I will certainly appeal against this ban. The Taxi Association said they’ve never heard of this happening before.
“It seems I should be able to work until my appeal has been dealt with, but the council are saying I can’t.
“I enjoy my job and I’ve got nothing else lined up. I’ll have to start looking for another job, but in the current climate there’s nothing around.”
A plan for Reading Borough Council to generate more money has caused concern among Reading taxi drivers.
The proposals put together by financial consultant Deloitte is intended to raise £1 million in revenue for the council in the coming year.
There are a series of proposals including organising commercial waste collection like a business, hanging advertising banners on lampposts and selling off council property.
But a plan to recover the full cost of running the service which licenses taxis by charging the drivers more and by issuing more licences has worried the cabbies.
The report to the cabinet suggested the £260 annual charge to taxi drivers could go up by 13 per cent a year until 2014 to recover the actual cost of the licensing service.
It also said the Department of Transport did not consider imposing restrictions on the number of licences issued as “best practice”, acknowledging that while there was a demand from would-be taxi drivers for more licences there was “not any unmet demand from a passenger perspective”.
Asif Rashid, who chairs Reading Taxi Drivers’ Association, spoke to the cabinet last Monday of the “harsh economic climate”.
He insisted now was not the time to issue more Hackney carriage licences saying the ranks were already overcrowded.
He said the taxi drivers had paid £10,000 for a council survey on the subject a year ago and were not due to be surveyed again until 2012.
Issuing more Hackney carriage licences, he added, would lead to “more pollution and more congestion”.
Deputy leader of the council Councillor Kirsten Bayes said: “We understand the very difficult situation that Hackney carriage drivers find themselves in because of fuel costs and the economic situation that is happening.
She added: “The council has a duty to cover its costs in this matter.”
But she reassured the cabbies present the decision would not be made by the cabinet but would be passed for consideration to the licensing committee and the Hackney carriage drivers would be kept fully informed.
Cllr Tony Page criticised the Deloitte report for its emphasis on “charging the council tax payers more” and “flogging off the council assets”.
He said he hoped to see something “more imaginative”. He also asked why the report on taxi licensing only referred to Hackney carriages with no mention of licensed private hire drivers.
Cllr Tom Stanway, lead councillor for culture and sport, said of the limit on the number of licences: “If the limit was removed it would be after consultation with drivers.”
Leader of the council Cllr Andrew Cumpsty reassured the drivers: “Genuinely, this council and this cabinet now believes in consultation.”
FORMER taxi mogul John Preece has revealed that his only regular income is a £60-a-week state pension.
Mr Preece was speaking as he confirmed he had officially launched a £10million legal claim against a bank.
He is blaming Lloyds TSB for him closing his Taxifast company last October, and has lodged a claim in Bristol High Court for alleged breach of contract.
Meanwhile, the former private hire king is living in his house in Portugal with just £60 a week in state pension coming in.
Mr Preece said he has been told he does not qualify for the full amount of pension – because he has not paid enough National Insurance contributions.
But the 68-year-old stressed: “I’m not destitute.”
He said he had “a little bit of income on top of my pension” but it was “different from the several hundred thousand pounds I was getting before”. He said this cash was raised by “realising assets” – in other words, selling things off.
Mr Preece has sold his luxury car, and had “yard sales” to dispose of contents of his house in the US.
That house is also on the market, although Mr Preece expects to make a loss on it.
“I can no longer pay the mortgage,” he said.
A yacht is also up for sale.
Mr Preece’s Plymouth home, valued at £800,000 by one bank, was security for a loan and overdraft, along with personal guarantees of Mr Preece’s.
Mr Preece said his ownership of the house is now under threat and said: “The banks are going for any assets I have in the UK. They have made a move to take my property. They have started proceedings. I will fight that.”
He said: “I’m 68. All I’m getting from the state is £60 a week pension.
“I’m amazed at that. I paid in so much over the years, but they are saying I had not paid enough National Insurance stamps.
“I’m relying on the charity of the few friends I have.
“I’m not destitute, but it’s a struggle.
“I’ve had bigger struggles and at least I have my health,” he said, pointing out that he does not smoke or drink.
“Forty-five years in the business and I have always paid my way.
“I’m realising assets, selling what I can. I have had yard sales in the US. I had a Lincoln Town Car, nearly new. I have sold that.
“I’m living off my assets. I have the boat up for sale.”
Mr Preece said he has “estimated” his claim at £10million because: “It cost millions to built Taxifast up. Taxifast was 22 years old.”
But he stressed the action is “not for me”.
He said he was also seeking the damages for Taxifast drivers who had shares in a workers’ benefit trust, and for Taxifast creditors.
Last autumn, Mr Preece ceased the trading activities of his firms Taxifast Ltd and its parent company Key Cabs Ltd.
At the time he said changes to the way Lloyds TSB financed his companies meant they were struggling to meet the weekly pay bill of their 350 employees and private hire drivers.
He said if he had not closed the companies, there was the possibility creditors would have forced them to be wound up.
The ‘particulars of claim’ he filed at Bristol High Court give further details. It alleges Taxifast changed from an invoice discounting system to a factoring system “under duress”.
Factoring and invoice discounting are similar systems, whereby firms receive cash up-front using sales invoices as collateral.
Invoice discounting involves a business borrowing a percentage of the value of its sales ledger.
Under a factoring arrangement, the business sells its invoices.
Mr Preece alleges this shift resulted in the bank seeking “further unlimited personal guarantees” from him and a huge reduction in the amount of cash paid to Taxifast under the factoring arrangement.
The particulars of claim said this “sudden reduction in cash flow” led to Mr Preece being unable to pay Taxifast wages and therefore having to cease trading.
Mr Preece said there would be two court hearings, one to assess liability and another to decide on the quantity of any damages, if awarded.
A Lloyds TSB spokesman said: “We are aware that Mr Preece intends to lodge a claim but have not received it yet. When we do, we will consider what he has to say.”
One in ten taxis tested in Cornwall has been banned from the road.
Police and safety officials pulled over more than a hundred from Saltash to St Ives.
Among the problems found were worn tyres and frayed seatbelts.
Teams checked vehicles in Saltash, St Austell ,Camborne, Redruth and most recently around Bodmin, Hayle and St Ives.
About fifty percent of those vehicles inspected had minor defects included missing fire extinguishers and first aid kits, and broken light covers.
Roads Policing Inspector at Bodmin Martin Taylor said: “We understand that taxis are a valuable part of the local economy and our job is to make sure they are safe and people have the confidence to leave their own cars at home and use taxis when they have been drinking.
“We will continue making these checks and hope people see this as a positive step to increase their confidence in the licensing and enforcement authorities. Part of our aim is to support the majority of taxi operators who run safe and lawful businesses and we thank them for their compliance”.
FIANNA Fail went after the votes of nearly 20,000 taxi drivers today by promising a moratorium on new licences.
The Herald can reveal that Transport Minister Pat Carey is set to announce a new policy that will freeze the deregulation of taxis.
The party is also prepared to overlook new rules which state that no taxi should be older than nine years.
“It is clear to me that while deregulation of the taxi industry has improved the availability of taxis for customers, it is important that we also have regard to the right of taxi drivers to make a decent living. It is important to strike a balance,” Mr Carey told the Herald.
More than 13,500 licensed taxis pile into Dublin city every day while there are also over 4,000 regional operators.
This is on a par with cities such as New York and London which have populations of 14m and 10m respectively.
Taxi unions have repeatedly protested against deregulation, which has seen taxi numbers soar in recent years.
And today Fianna Fail changed the stance of former Minister Noel Dempsey, who refused to curtail the growing numbers.
Mr Carey has discussed the issue with party leader Micheal Martin and new transport spokesman Billy Kelleher, who both agreed that taximen were being put under “intolerable pressure”.
In an election document to be revealed this evening, they say that the industry has become “oversubscribed” and “this situation has caused real difficulties for those working in the industry”.
The news is likely to be welcomed by existing taxi drivers, especially in the capital where there are nearly three times as many taxis as places on ranks.
Fianna Fail says that it wants to recreate a taxi regime which is “affordable, accessible and provides a quality service”.
“We accept that there have been significant increases in the number of taxis on our roads since deregulation in 2000,” the new policy says.
Mr Carey has written to the National Transport Authority, which manages the regulation of the Small Public Transport Vehicle Sector, to inform it of his party’s position.
In the letter he said that Fianna Fail believes “the introduction of a cap on numbers will make the taxi industry fairer, safer and better equipped to deal with the needs of taxi drivers and the general public alike”.
He also noted that the party will support the suspension of the introduction of the ‘Nine Year Rule’ on the replacement of taxis to July 31, 2012.
“Fianna Fail will implement new legislation to robustly enforce taxi regulation and to increase penalties for those operating illegal taxis,” the new policy document concludes.
SNP Transport Spokesperson, Angus MacNeil MP, today (Friday) warned that soaring fuel prices are hindering economic recovery. Mr MacNeil added that the SNP will make the record high price of fuel a central issue in the forthcoming Scottish election.
Mr MacNeil’s remarks come as the latest AA Fuel Price Report showed that Scotland’s drivers are paying the highest petrol prices in Europe while the cost is falling across the continent.
Last week, the SNP and Plaid Cymru group at Westminster called a vote demanding the immediate introduction of a fuel duty regulator and a rural fuel derogation to ease the pressure of motorists and hauliers. Liberal Democrat and Conservative MPs voted against whilst most Labour Members abstained.
Commenting Mr MacNeil said:
“It’s a national scandal that, in an oil rich country like Scotland, we are paying the highest fuel prices in Europe.
“High prices are hindering economic recovery by driving up bills for hard-pressed households and businesses – particularly the haulage industry.
“The UK Government have the means to stop this highway robbery but Tory and Lib Dem MPs combined to vote against measures to bring down fuel costs whilst Labour abstained en masse.
“Both the Tories and Lib Dems promised to take action but so far noting has happened – and the silence from Labour north of the border shows they are out of touch on this issue.
“What Ministers in London are clearly forgetting is that for many people in Scotland, a car is a necessity and not a luxury. It’s time for real action not warm words.
“If Westminster won’t act then we need to equip the Scottish Parliament with the powers so that it can deliver instead. Fuel prices are a crucial issue for households and businesses, and the SNP will now make them a central issue for the Holyrood elections in May.”