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.”

Curfew on Duncombe Place taxi rank could be scrapped

Curfew on popular city centre taxi rank could be scrapped

ROUND-THE-CLOCK opening could return to a taxi rank in the heart of York after its operation was scaled back.

A review of York’s taxi arrangements by a City of York Council task group has recommended bringing the rank at Duncombe Place back into 24-hour use for a year-long trial following a campaign by drivers.

The rank is currently only allowed to open between 7.30am and 10pm. The curfew was introduced amid fears about anti-ocial behaviour in the area and noise from passenger queues disturbing guests at the nearby Dean Court Hotel.

The council’s taxi licensing policy group now says anti-crime measures, including better lighting, cutting back bushes and shrubbery in the neighbouring gardens and an alcohol ban, had dealt with many of those issues. Its members also said Duncombe Place was a “popular” rank for late-night revellers and theatre-goers, and taxis already regularly picked up customers from the street after being flagged down.

The group’s recommendations also include encouraging the inclusion of taxi ranks within major developments such as York’s community stadium, and producing a map of the current ranks’ opening times to boost awareness.

They will now go before the council’s community safety overview and scrutiny committee for further consideration.

Following the restriction on Duncombe Place’s opening times, 180 drivers signed a petition calling for it to be allowed to operate overnight, saying it was the safest rank in the city.

A report by officers which went before a meeting of the task group yesterday said: “The task group acknowledged the council’s efforts to improve the area adjacent to the rank location and the improvements to street lighting around the memorial gardens.

“They also noted there was little evidence to substantiate that the use of the rank gives rise to noise disturbance. They recognise that a hackney carriage can pick up passengers in any street and can be flagged down when not already booked, irrespective of the operation of the rank.”


Fine for taxi drivers who help the elderly

TAXI drivers have been fined for dropping elderly women off at the door to their local cafés for their daily cuppa.

Pearl Penhall gets a lift each day to Snax Cafe in Bedminster’s East Street which is now closed to through vehicles.

Cabbie John Shamis was given a ticket for using the street to drive the 73-year-old to the front of the cafV rather than making her walk round the corner from Warden Street with her zimmer frame.

Pensioner Mrs Penhall, who lives in a block of flats in Ashton, told the Evening Post she couldn’t walk from the end of the road and didn’t want to give up her daily routine.

The elderly lady uses the taxi company as a lifeline to get out of her flat and is well known by the drivers, who take time to help her and other elderly passengers out of their cars and escort them to the door of the café.

“We’ve been bringing elderly and disabled people down this stretch for years,” Mr Shamis told the Post. “I was taking this young lady Pearl down and the officer wasn’t interested and hit me with a £30 fine.”

Mr Shamis, from Bedminster, is not alone.

He told the Post three of his colleagues had also been fined in the past six weeks for the same thing – dropping elderly or disabled clients as close as they could to their destination.

The shopping street in Bedminster is now closed to cars, with only buses and cyclists allowed to use the road as a cut-through to avoid a detour around Malago Road.

“I said I’m not cutting through but he wasn’t interested,” Mr Shamis explained.

The 25-year-old cabbie for Club Cars said he paid the subsequent fine because “to appeal it would have cost more money”.

“That officer should have looked and seen I had a disabled passenger,” he added.

“It is restricted to service vehicles and buses, but as far as we’re concerned we are just servicing the community.”

A council spokesman confirmed to the Post there is a ‘prohibition of driving order’ in force in East Street between 7am and 7pm which only allows buses and pedal cycles to travel through, “so any taxis driving along to drop off passengers will be penalised”.

“There are various side roads which would mean that a driver could drop the passenger very close to where they needed to go without transgressing the order,” he said.

But he confirmed traffic enforcement officers have room for discretion.

“It would be down to individual circumstances,” he added.


Taxis banned from parking at Ucas during Cheltenham Festival

FEARS of traffic chaos during the Cheltenham Festival have been raised after it emerged taxi drivers will not be allowed to use a popular pick-up point.

Bosses at the Universities and Colleges Admission Service (Ucas) have withdrawn their site after a race-goer assaulted a security guard.

Residents say the Ucas decision will put a major strain on surrounding roads during the four-day event.

In recent years, pre-booked taxis have been allowed to wait for customers in the entrance to Ucas in New Barn Lane.

But Ucas spokesman Darren Barker said the arrangement resulted in a security guard being assaulted during a race meeting in late 2009.

He said: “There was an unfortunate incident when a member of our security staff was assaulted by a race-goer who was waiting for a taxi.

“It was too late to cancel the arrangement in time for last year’s Cheltenham Festival.

“However, this year taxis won’t be allowed to park in our main entrance.”

Prestbury parish councillor Richard Fuller said drivers would be forced to find other places to wait for punters.

“I foresee a major problem in residential areas,” he said. “Ucas acting as a pick-up point has been a big help in the past. Taxi drivers are now going to look for an alternative place to park.”

Yesterday, Cheltenham Borough Council was unable to comment on whether it would be conducting more parking patrols during race week. However, Mr Fuller said: “We have a good relationship with the borough council.

“They took action during the autumn meeting at the racecourse and we hope they will do the same in March so our streets are kept clear of cars.”

Prestbury Parish Council has preempted problems with race-goers spilling onto the streets carrying alcohol.

Racecourse bosses pledged to take preventative action.

Cheltenham Racecourse communications manager Andy Clifton said: “We have an excellent relationship with Prestbury Parish Council.

“Following a recent meeting we have agreed to remind customers not to take drinks off our property when they leave. We will include a message in the race card, signs on the exit routes and make an announcement at the course each day.”


Brighton Station taxi rank to close for three months

Taxi drivers are predicting a “spring time of chaos” after being told the rank at Brighton Station will be closed for up to three months.

Cabbies, who pay £410 a year to use the rank, said they were only given a week’s warning that it will close during improvement works.

Southern Rail, which manages the station, is repainting the canopy as part of a £140,000 programme.

However taxi drivers are furious only eight spaces will be provided for them at the back of the station and say the work will leave them out of pocket.

A Southern spokesman said: “We apologise for any inconvenience caused to passengers while the work takes place but we are sure that the end result will be well worth any inconvenience caused.

“The canopy stretches across the entire face of the station and covers the taxi rank.

“To ensure the safety of passengers, taxi drivers and workmen, the taxi drivers are required to vacate the rank from next Monday for the duration of the job. They have been offered an alternative site at the rear of the station where a number of parking bays have been allocated exclusively for their use.”


Montreal cabbie fined for decorating taxi with personal, religious items

Arieh Perecowicz

A Montreal cabbie learned on Thursday that his taxi isn’t a vehicle for freedom of expression and religion.

Arieh Perecowicz lost his court challenge against Montreal taxi authorities who fined him for filling his cab with an assortment of personal and religious objects.

Mr. Perecowicz, who’s driven a cab for over four decades, had decorated his dashboard and other parts of his taxi with family photos, a Canadian flag, and articles of his Jewish faith.

But a municipal court judge ruled that Mr. Perecowicz was guilty of violating city bylaws and fined him a total of about $1,000.

Mr. Perecowicz said he will appeal and is ready to take the case as far as the Supreme Court. He says it’s unfair that he cannot display his Jewish prayer scroll in his cab, while a crucifix hangs over the speaker’s chair in Quebec’s National Assembly.

The case is the latest flare-up in Quebec in the debate over the display of religion in public spaces.

Mr. Perecowicz decided to take on the Montreal taxi bureau on the basis of his charter rights. He received a series of tickets for a total of $1,400 from the Bureau du taxi.

The taxi agency countered that inspectors were merely applying municipal regulations, which stipulate that cabs in Montreal should carry no items unrelated to the operation of the taxis.

Mr. Perecowicz said Thursday he was disappointed with the ruling, and that in some 45 years driving the streets of Montreal, he never received any complaints from customers about his taxi’s interior décor.

Shropshire taxi drivers’ anger over blanket fares

Taxi drivers across Shropshire have reacted angrily to new blanket fares which have been welcomed by councillors – in a development billed as the first battle of a long war.

Moves to bring in a unified fare structure and overhaul licenses of all Hackney carriages in Shropshire were backed by the council’s strategic licensing committee yesterday and will come into force if backed by Shropshire council’s cabinet next month.

But the steps to bring about a “common set of conditions” have been met with fierce opposition from cab drivers who claim the zones need to remain to protect the unique conditions of each area.

Under the proposals, five operating areas based on the former borough and district councils would be abolished in favour of one zone.

The new fee card will be introduced on March 5 – providing no representations are made to the committee in the next 14 days.


(Illegal) Taxi driver slammed by judge

Found guilty: Bangladeshi-born Zamal Uddin, who required an interpreter in court, grabbed a passenger's breasts

An unlicensed taxi driver who had not learned English despite living in Britain for 20 years has been criticised by a judge for failing to ‘integrate’.

Bangladeshi-born Zamal Uddin, 44, now faces a jail sentence and deportation for grabbing a passenger’s breasts after she got into his cab in Hoxton, east London.

The 44-year-old, who lives among one of Britain’s biggest Bangladeshi communities in nearby Bethnal Green, was yesterday found guilty of twice sexually assaulting the 26-year-old woman.

Uddin, who required a taxpayer-funded interpreter during the hearing at Snaresbrook Crown Court, was told he would be liable for deportation after he finishes his sentence.

‘The authorities may consider your continued presence here undesirable,’ Judge Timothy King told him.

‘These are serious matters and custody appears to be appropriate in this case,’ said the judge.

‘Also what troubles me, although it’s not something that bears on sentence, [is that] he has been her for nigh on 20 years and he requires an interpreter.

‘I suspect he lives within his own community and has never bothered to learn English.

‘It is highly desirable that those who come to this country from abroad integrate, rather than live isolated within their own community.’

Prosecutor Helen Owen had told the court: ‘The taxi driver picked up a female who was intoxicated and then touched her breasts while she was in the cab.

‘She got out of the cab and he followed her before pushing her against the wall and grabbing her under her clothes.

‘She then screamed and he ran off.’

A day after the attack on October 23 last year, brazen Uddin was caught illegally touting for fares in nearby Dalston.

Uddin, who lived in a council flat after moving to the UK in 1992, admitted two charges of sexual assault and driving while disqualified.
He was remanded in custody pending sentence on February 23.

source: :

Dumfries taxi driver left body in road

The court was told Brown drove off after hitting the man who had been lying in the roadway

A Dumfries taxi driver ran a man over and left his body lying in the street while he went to pick up a fare, a court has heard.

Andrew Brown, 47, admitted leaving the man lying injured in the town’s Newall Terrace to the danger of his life.

He thought he had hit a bag of rubbish but drove off even after finding out it had been a man lying in the road.

He was told to pay £5,000 compensation, given 10 points on his licence and also 300 hours community service.

Dumfries Sheriff Court heard how Brown pulled to a halt last August after striking something in road.

He checked to see what it was but when he found it was a body he drove off to pick up a passenger 10 miles away.

Depute fiscal Pamela Rhodes said it was only on his return from that journey that he went to the police station to report the incident.

Meanwhile, an off-duty policeman had come across David Woodward lying with critical injuries.

An anonymous caller had also phoned emergency services.

Mr Woodward, who had been heading home after being out for a drink, spent several weeks in hospital with multiple fractures and a tear to his spleen.

Brown, of West Riverside Drive, Dumfries, a taxi driver for 30 years with a clean licence, admitted culpably and recklessly leaving the injured man lying on the roadway.

He also admitted failing to report the accident as soon as reasonably practicable afterwards.

The depute fiscal stressed that there was no suggestion that Brown’s driving was at fault.

Crash investigators came to the conclusion that the victim had been lying on the roadway when he was hit.

Suspension completed

Solicitor Gavin Orr also pointed out that there was nothing to suggest that Brown’s driving in this incident was blameworthy in any way.

He said: “The driver had simply panicked after seeing the injured man.

“There were doors opening and people coming out and he believed the victim would be seen right away.

“There was just no rationality about his thoughts as he panicked although blameless.”

He appealed to the sheriff to deal with the case in a way in which his client would not lose his licence having already completed a four-month suspension imposed by the local authority.

Sheriff Kenneth Ross said he took all the factors into account but there was still a “callous disregard” in the way he had driven off.

However, in the circumstances he said he could step back from a custodial sentence.

source: … d-12486062

Driver at city centre taxi rank was three times drink-drive limit

Balwinder Singh

A taxi driver on duty and first in line to pick up passengers at a Wolverhampton city centre rank was three times the drink-drive limit when police spoke to him about ramshackle repairs holding together his cab, a court heard.

Police officers approached Balwinder Singh’s Mercedes Vito while he waited at the front of the rank in Market Street due to concerns over the safety of a sliding door on his cab — being held shut with computer cable. They immediately realised the father-of-two had been drinking.

A breathalyser test found he was almost three times the legal alcohol limit, Mr Roger Bleazard, prosecuting, told Wolverhampton Magistrates Court.

Singh, of Broadstone Close, Goldthorn Park, later refused to supply a second sample and when asked if there was any medical reason he did not wish to provide one he replied: “Only my liver”, the court was told.

Bench chairman Mrs Anne Morgan told 41-year-old Singh adjourned the case so the probation service can prepare a report, but warned him he faces jail. He pleaded guilty to failing to provide a specimen and using a motor vehicle in a condition likely to cause danger yesterday.

Mr Kevin Good, for Singh, said his client was the “major breadwinner” for his family. His wife worked part-time to help support their children, aged five and 15, but the family’s financial circumstances would be “drastically affected” by his disqualification from driving, Mr Good told the court.

The court heard Singh had been parked at the front of a rank in Market Street when police noticed damage to the door of his cab at around 1.10am on February 5.

Mrs Morgan told Singh, who was convicted of drink driving in 2003 and speeding in February 2008 there were many “aggravating features” including his previous convictions.

Singh was granted unconditional bail to appear for sentence on March 10.