Fury as Manchester Airport prayer room closes after fire

Taxi drivers have reacted with anger – claiming around 500 people use the site every week and that it forms a crucial part of their daily routine.
Taxi drivers have reacted with anger – claiming around 500 people use the site every week and that it forms a crucial part of their daily routine.

An islamic prayer room at Manchester Airport which was damaged in a suspected arson attack has been shut – for ‘health and safety’ reasons. The cabin was used by taxi drivers and airport staff for worship but was closed suddenly by airport bosses earlier this week.

Two ceremonial garments inside the room were deliberately set ablaze on September 11 last year – the ninth anniversary of the attacks on New York’s Twin Towers.

Now the centre, on the airport’s taxi feeder park in Ringway Road, has been axed permanently – because chiefs say the building is dangerous and would cost too much to repair. But taxi drivers have reacted with anger – claiming around 500 people use the site every week and that it forms a crucial part of their daily routine.

One driver, a member of the Manchester Airport Taxi Drivers’ Association who are National Taxi Association members, said: “Everyone is furious that we were not consulted. We went to use it as normal and found it was locked up with a sign on the door saying it had been closed.

“Many Muslims go there five times a day to pray – we’ve used it for about a decade and are disgusted that it has shut without warning. We were all very upset when it was set on fire on September 11 and this feels like another kick in the teeth.”

The site is separate from the five prayer rooms in the airport terminals, which are part of the airport’s multi-faith chaplaincy.

Airport bosses say the cabin is unsafe and have told the drivers that they can now use their other prayer rooms.

Detectives said they were uncertain whether the blaze on September 11 last year was ‘religiously or racially motivated’.

An airport spokesman said: “Having had an independent health and safety assessment conducted, we were informed that the building had reached the end of its serviceable life and was beyond repair. We continue to provide other prayer rooms that are easily accessible.”

source: http://menmedia.co.uk/manchestereveningnews/

Taxi Drivers Protest Over Proposed Changes

Taxi drivers in Durham took to the streets in protest yesterday. 60 drivers attended the protest against plans for a shake up in their trade. The County Council is looking at plans to deregulate the service by removing zones and lifting limits on vehicle operation numbers.

Durham City drivers said they fear that there isn’t enough business or space in order to cope with extra vehivles operating and offering services. The council has said a decision on any changes won’t be made until next month, plans were made after a consultation on the future of trade.

Spark FM’s Sam Willey spoke with the chairman of the North East and Cumbria region of the National Taxi association Bob Sneddon, about the protest, this is what he had to say:

 Bob Smedon [0:24]

source: http://sparksunderland.com/2011/02/24/taxi-drivers-protest-over-proposed-changes/

Steep fines for NYC hacks who refuse to take passengers where they want to go

New York City cabbies who refuse to take passengers to the airport or other faraway destinations are about to face increased penalties for their dereliction.

The New York Post reports that incidents of refusal of service, which rank among the most egregious nonviolent offenses a driver can commit, have risen dramatically, prompting the Taxi and Limousine Commission to crack down. The paper reports that from 2009 to 2010, the number of incidences of service refusal jumped from 1,963 to 2,341, a 38 percent increase.

Currently, the penalty for refusing to pick up a passenger ranges from $200 to $350 for a first offense, and $350 to $500 plus a possible 30-day license suspension for a second offense. The new fines would be $500 for a first offense, and $750 and a 30-day suspension for a second offense within 24 months.

Penalties for a third strike will remain the same: a mandatory revocation of the driver’s license for a third offense with a 36-month period.

By way of explaining the stringent new rulings, David Yassky, TLC Commissioner and Chair is quoted as saying:

A core component of taxi service is that the passenger chooses where to go in the five boroughs. Unfortunately, it is getting to be like the bad old days when taxis wouldn’t go to Brooklyn.

In the drivers’ defense, it should be noted that New York City covers 330 square miles. Driving a passenger to the southermost point in Brooklyn, where fares are few and between, can be a costly proposition in lost time and wages. A second factor is driver safety. Being required to drive a passenger to a remote location, especially after dark, could cost a driver his life.

Before the new rulings go into effect, the City Council will need to vote on the fine schedule.

source: http://www.examiner.com/

Stevenage taxi driver guilty of rape


Mahmood will be sentenced on April 1.

A taxi driver has been found guilty of raping a 19-year-old woman in his cab.

Tariq Mahmood, 48, of Archer Road, Stevenage, was found guilty at Luton Crown Court on Thursday of the assault in Ripon Road, Stevenage, in the early hours of October 31, 2009.

The jury heard how he had picked the woman up from Stevenage Leisure Park, but stopped en route to her home and assaulted her. She fled the cab after the attack and called police.

“This case has been particularly traumatic and very stressful for the victim who has been incredibly brave in the lead up and throughout this court case,” said Det Insp Steve Keating from Herts Constabulary sexual offence investigation team.

“We hope that she will now be able to put this behind her and move forward with her life.”

He added that Mahmood may have attacked other women and called on anyone with information to come forward.

“The case does date back to October 2009 and we are appealing to anyone who may feel they may have also been a victim of assault by this man. If you think you may have information, please get in touch by calling 0845 33 00 222. All calls will be treated with the strictest confidence.”

Stevenage Chief Inspector Richard Liversidge added: “This was clearly a very traumatic incident for the victim, particularly as the offence was committed by someone who was entrusted by the community. It must be remembered that these offences are not common in Stevenage, but I would always ask members of the public to report any concerns.”

Mahmood, who was at the time licensed by Stevenage Borough Council, had his licence revoked while awaiting trial.

He will be sentenced on April 1.

source: http://www.thecomet.net/news/

Robbers slash taxi driver’s throat and leave him lying in street

A TAXI driver who was held at knifepoint by robbers has spoken of his relief after late-night bin men came to his rescue.

Grandfather Thomas Newton’s throat was slashed and his head was cut during a scuffle with two men in his cab on Monday night.

Despite his injuries, the 66-year-old refused to hand over his takings and the thieves fled with his mobile phone.

Speaking exclusively to the Daily Echo, Mr Newton said: “There was no-one else about and if the dustcart hadn’t arrived I dread to think what could have happened. I may owe my life to the bin collectors who gave chase.”

The father-of-four’s terrifying ordeal began after he picked up two men at a taxi rank on Meyrick Road, Bournemouth.

The pair asked to be taken to Boscombe and when the cab pulled up in Adeline Road, one restrained Mr Newton, threatening him and demanding money.

He said: “The one sitting behind me put his arm around my throat. I tried to press my emergency button and phone for help but they were having none of it.

“They said: ‘We want all your money’ but I refused to hand it over, not realising that they had a knife. I managed to tumble out of the cab and was lying in the road when the men in the dustcart gave chase.

“One noticed that one of the robbers had a knife. I didn’t realised I’d been injured until I put my hand to my throat and it was covered in blood.”

Mr Newton, who lives in Bournemouth, needed hospital treatment, receiving three stitches to his neck wound.

He has not worked since but is planning to work a shift tonight. He said: “It’s made me nervous and I keep looking over my shoulder. When you work in the taxi trade you are always aware that this sort of thing can happen but when it happens to you it makes you a bit wary.

“I want these men caught and also want to make other taxi drivers aware of the very real dangers they face.”

Both robbers are white, in their late 20s or early 30s and were wearing brown puffa-style jackets with fluffy hoods.

DC Phillip Read from Bournemouth CID described the 9.18pm attack as “cowardly and shocking”, adding: “I am appealing for witnesses and anyone with any information about those responsible to contact me as soon as possible.

“It may be that someone saw these two men either getting into a taxi in the Lansdowne area or running away towards Grosvenor Road.”

• Detectives can be contacted on 01202 222222, quoting incident number 21:448

source:

http://www.bournemouthecho.co.uk/news/

Notice of Regional meeting regions 5 & 6 NTA (The North West inc Staffs)

All Regional Officers                                                                         

National Taxi Association                                                

22nd February 2011          

E-mail:   secretary@national-taxi-association.co.uk

Dear Sir/Madam

NOTICE OF REGIONAL MEETING

Arrangements have been made for a meeting of No’s 5 & 6 Region’s, and this will take place on Wednesday 2nd  March 2011. The venue for the meeting is;

CAB SOLUTIONS LTD, 27-29 MAINE ROAD M14 4FS MANCHESTER , LANCASHIRE

I’m sure you all have ‘google’ or ‘Sat Nav’s’ so I won’t trouble you with directions!

Parking is available at the premises.

Delegates are requested to assemble from 10.30 a.m. onwards, to enable the meeting to commence at 11.00 a.m. prompt. A buffet lunch has been organised by Cab Solutions and will be served at approximately 12.30 p.m.

Looking forward to a good attendance from your Association,

Yours sincerely,

Wayne Casey

NTA Administration Officer

NATIONAL TAXI ASSOCIATION

REGIONAL MEETING

NUMBER 5 & 6 REGION

(The North West)

 WEDNESDAY 2ND MARCH 2011

CAB SOLUTIONS LTD

27-29 MAINE ROAD

MANCHESTER  

M14 4FS

 

AGENDA 

  • Chairman’s Opening Remarks
  • Apologies for Absence
  • Minutes of the last Regional Meeting
  • Matters Arising from the Minutes
  • Regional Director’s Report
  • Local Licensing Issues
  • Transport Select Committee
  • NTA Conference
  • Correspondence
  • Financial Report
  • Special Items
  • Any Other Business
  • Date, Time & Venue of Next Meeting

NTA region 2 (North East & Cumbria)

Number Two Region

National Taxi Association

Dear Sir/Madam

NOTICE OF REGIONAL MEETING

Arrangements have been made for a meeting of the No. 2 Region, and this will take place on Tuesday 1st March 2011. The venue for the meeting is The Plough Inn, Mountsett, Dipton, Burnopfield, County Durham NE16 6BA.

The Plough Inn is situated beside the Mountsett Crematorium, which is on the A692 (Front Street) between Burnopfield and Dipton. Enclosed please find the relevant page from the Tyne & Wear A-Z book.

Ample free parking is available at the premises.

Delegates are requested to assemble from 10.30 a.m. onwards, to enable the meeting to commence at 11.00 a.m. prompt. A buffet lunch has been organised by Derwentside Taxi Association and will be served at approximately 12.30 p.m.

Looking forward to a good attendance from your Association at Derwentside,

Yours sincerely,

T.E. Hines.

Regional Secretary.

North East & Cumbria.

AGENDA

  • Chairman’s Opening Remarks
  • Apologies for Absence
  • Minutes of the last Regional Meeting
  • Matters Arising from the Minutes
  • Regional Director’s Report
  • Local Licensing Issues
  • Transport Select Committee
  • NTA Conference
  • Correspondence
  • Financial Report
  • Special Items
  • Any Other Business
  • Date, Time & Venue of Next Meeting

Taxis create city gridlock over new rules

DURHAM City was reduced to gridlock for two hours yesterday lunchtime, as taxi drivers staged a go slow protest against controversial new rules for the trade.

More than 50 cabbies joined a slow-moving convoy around the city centre to show their anger at plans to allow unlimited numbers of taxis to operate.

Sounding their horns, they drove from the Durham Light Infantry Museum, over Milburngate Bridge and past County Hall, headquarters of Durham County Council.

 

Council chiefs want to create a deregulated, single hackney carriage zone, allowing unlimited numbers of vehicles to operate anywhere in County Durham, and impose an all-white colour scheme.

Taxi leaders have threatened legal action over the proposals and, after yesterday’s action, warned there could be more to come – potentially during school term and at peak times.

Adrian Fets, chairman of Durham Independent Taxi Association, said: “This is just a taster of what’s to come.

“This is what it’s like with a few extra taxis in the city centre.

They haven’t got a clue what it’s going to be like with 1,000 taxis.

“It’s going to be gridlock.

Nobody’s going to be able to get moved.”

Council chiefs say the changes would create a more consistent, open, fairer and cleaner taxi service.

Terry Collins, the council’s corporate director for neighbourhood services, said: “We must reiterate that no decision has been taken yet on zoning or colour issues relating to taxis.

“Proposed changes will be discussed by members at a council meeting on March 23.”

There are currently seven taxi zones in County Durham and limits on vehicle numbers in Durham City and Chesterle- Street.

All-white colour policies exist in Chester-le-Street and Wear Valley, although drivers say they are not enforced.

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

Coventry councillors quizzed in licences investigation

THREE Coventry councillors are facing an investigation into allegations they broke rules after charging firms for advice on how to gain council licences.

The Telegraph has learned city council lawyers are quizzing Conservative councillors Gary Ridley, Andrew Williams and David Smith about their licensing consultancy firm ProLicensing.

A disciplinary committee could now launch a full investigation.

Two of them – Coun Smith and Coun Williams – sit on the council’s licensing committee, which decides on applications for licences from firms including shops, pubs and clubs, and taxi firms.

Coventry-based ProLicensing charges firms fees of at least £350 for advice on applying to councils for licences.

Coun Williams (Bablake) and Coun Ridley (Sherbourne) have now stood down as directors at the company, for which they had shareholdings.

All three face allegations they breached the council’s code of conduct, which is partly designed to prevent a “conflict of interest”, where councillors might use their position for personal gain.

Councillors are not automatically banned from setting up, or being involved in, a business offering advice on council matters.

But strict rules require councillors to declare their business interests in meetings if it could be seen to influence their deliberations or voting.

Minutes of several council and committee meetings, seen by the Telegraph, show no record of them declaring an interest when licensing policy or laws were discussed.

It is also alleged that running a licensing business while sitting on the licensing committee would be seen by the public as inappropriate, thereby “bringing the council into disrepute”.

The code of conduct states: “You must not conduct yourself in a manner which could reasonably be regarded as bringing your office or authority into disrepute.”

If the complaint is upheld, they could face anything from a minor rebuke through a formal censure, to being suspended as councillors.

ProLicensing is run by Coun Smith (Sherbourne), who has been deselected as the Tory candidate in May’s elections and is standing down as a councillor. He has also chaired several meetings of a licensing sub-committee.

There is no evidence ProLicensing’s clients included firms which were applying for licences from Coventry City Council.

The company’s website states it is “the fastest growing Licensing Consultancy in Birmingham, Coventry and Warwickshire.”

It continues: “Specialising in Alcohol and Entertainment licensing, we are a one stop shop for all your licensing needs.

“Our experienced consultants are able to advise and assist you with all aspects of your licensing requirements including applications, hearings, reviews and appeals for premises, personal and taxi licences.”

source:

http://www.coventrytelegraph.net/news/

Castle Point Council criticised for double charging taxi drivers

Castle Point Borough Council double charged licensed taxi drivers for Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) checks.

Castle Point Borough Council double charged licensed taxi drivers for Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) checks, finds Local Government Ombudsman, Anne Seex. In her report, issued today (15 February 2011) she says: “This complaint also raises the issue of injustice to every licensed taxi driver who has paid a CRB fee and a licence fee since 1 January 2004, who is likely to have been overcharged.”

‘Mr Hunter’ (not his real name for legal reasons) is a licensed taxi driver. He complained to the Ombudsman because he thought he had been overcharged for his licence since 2004, in particular that he had been charged twice for the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) check.

In June 2003 the Council decided to charge licensed taxi drivers a separate fee for the CRB check, which had previously been included in the taxi licence fee. In July 2003 the drivers were notified that they would have to pay one fee for their licence and a separate fee for the CRB check.

In December 2003 the Council’s Licensing Committee agreed a percentage increase for licence fares. But the figure on which the percentage increase was based included an amount for the CRB fee which, since July 2003, had been charged separately. And all percentage increases agreed since December 2003 have been based on this baseline figure which wrongly included a CRB fee. This means that since 1 January 2004, when the increase came into account, all licensed drivers who have paid for a CRB check and a licence have been overcharged.

The Ombudsman finds that the Council was at fault for agreeing a fare increase that included an element for a CRB check which the Council had already decided to make a separate charge for. The Council says this was an informed decision to cover the administrative costs of processing the CRB checks; but there is no evidence that this was considered by the Licensing Committee.

The Ombudsman concludes that Mr Hunter, and other taxi drivers who have paid a licence fee since 1 January 2004, have been overcharged.

She recommends that the Council: 

  • reimburses Mr Hunter with the amount by which he has been overcharged, and
  • takes measures to remedy the injustice caused to other taxi drivers who have paid a licence fee and CRB fee since 1 January 2004.

Report ref no 09 012 990

source: http://www.lgo.org.uk/