Taxi driver convicted of fraud and stripped of licence for not declaring conviction

The Lancashire Telegraph reports that a TAXI driver has been convicted of fraud and had his licence revoked after failing to declare a conviction.

Shahid Javaid, of Arnold Street, Huddersfield, pleaded guilty on August 19 at Burnley Magistrates Court to fraud by false representation.

He was fined £80 in total and was ordered to pay £150 costs.

His licence has also been cancelled.

Rossendale Borough Council’s Licensing department had previously granted a hackney carriage licence driver to Javaid.

He had failed to declare his conviction of driving without insurance on a previous hackney license with another licensing authority when he applied to Rossendale Council.

The enforcement team at Rossendale collated a vast amount of evidence for the case which resulted in the guilty plea.

Councillor Steve Hughes, chair of Rossendale Council’s licensing committee welcomed this conviction.

He said: “This shows the important work our enforcement officers are doing and how their work is monitoring and making sure that taxis are a safe transport option for the public.

“It is simply unacceptable to fail to declare convictions on your application form and this case shows our enforcement officers will find out.”

source: http://www.lancashiretelegraph.co.uk/

Taxi driver made nearly 400 trips without insurance

A taxi driver was banned from the roads after carrying out 382 trips without insurance.

Father-of-one Darren Hickling did the work although his cabbie’s licence had been suspended by Gedling Borough Council, a court heard.

When told he could not drive for six months, he told Nottingham magistrates: “I have got a problem. I did an airport run and came straight to court.

“The car is in the car park. I have not got someone to fetch it.”

Presiding magistrate Deborah White told him: “You will have to find someone to help you with that.

“You need to understand very clearly if you were to drive on a public road, you would commit an offence of driving while disqualified and that is an imprisonable offence.

“Please don’t drive,” added Ms White, who sat with two colleagues. Hickling was fined £600 and must pay the £550 council costs and a £60 government surcharge.

He admitted four counts of driving without insurance on December 31, January 5, 8 and 25. Hickling also pleaded guilty to using a hackney carriage without a licence between December 30 and January 26.

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Hickling of Wendling Gardens, Bestwood Park asked to be excused a ban, saying it would cause “exceptional hardship.” He told JPs that he needs to keep working as a cabbie to meet living expenses and look after his son.

“I could be homeless because I have a private landlord who would not accept DHS payments. It is just cash for him.

“I would not be able to afford food for myself,” he added. But the magistrates said there were no grounds for excusing the ban.

Hannah Cash, prosecuting, said Hickling was issued with a licence in February last year. This covered taxis and private hire work.

On December 8, he was called before the council’s Licensing Committee “after a complaint regarding his conduct towards a civil enforcement officer.

“He didn’t appeal and the suspension started on December 30 to January 26. He was made aware of the suspension and on January 4 called the council enforcement officer to say he had handed in his badge at reception.

“On February 24, the council received a further complaint regarding Mr Hickling’s conduct from a licensing enforcement officer from Broxtowe Borough Council,” said Mrs Cash.

When checks were made with a taxi firm, they said he began working for them on December 2.

“He undertook 382 jobs during the suspension and never informed them of the suspension. During the suspension, he drove members of the public while uninsured.

“He was aware of the suspension and took a conscious decision to drive anyway. He was driving the public for hire and was undertaking over 300 bookings.

“It was not practical to prosecute every journey,” said Mrs Cash. Checks with his insurance company indicated that they would not provide cover if they had known he had no taxi licence, she added.

Read more at http://www.nottinghampost.com/

Reducing waiting times: DVSA’s taxi driver assessments to end

Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency have released this bulletin today:

Reducing waiting times: DVSA’s taxi driver assessments to end

From 31 December 2016 DVSA will no longer be offering a taxi driver assessment service.

We are committed to reducing waiting times for car practical driving tests.

To help us to reduce these, we’ve reviewed all our services and have decided to stop offering taxi driver assessments from 31 December 2016.

We currently provide this service to local authorities. We have contacted them to suggest alternative providers, such as road safety charities or representative bodies of driving instructors.

source: http://www.msagb.com/

Wolverhampton minicab row: 2,000 more expected to apply to become minicab drivers

Another 2,000 drivers are expected to apply for minicab licences by the end of the year, despite soaring numbers and existing drivers complaining of huge salary losses.

Now angry drivers are threatening strike action against Wolverhampton council.

Earlier this year it was revealed that the number of private hire drivers in the city had shot up from 858 in July last year to 1,323 this year, as drivers from Birmingham and other areas flooded the market and took advantage of restrictions being removed by the local authority.

At the last licensing committee meeting it was revealed the council was expecting to receive ‘in the region of 2,000’ additional applications by the end of this year.

Raheel Shah, from Wolverhampton Private Hire Association, said: “As a union we are not happy. It’s all well and good giving licences out but where are these people going to find the work? There are already too many drivers in Wolverhampton.

“The standards are too low for drivers to get a licence and the people of Wolverhampton are suffering because of it.

“The council do not care about the people, they just care about making money. It’s not fair on the drivers either. How can they deliver the best service if they are so stressed?”

The increase in drivers in the region, which equates to almost 60 per cent compared to last year, could be attributed to restrictions being removed by the city council.

An exam familiarly known in the trade as The Knowledge, which tests drivers’ understanding about the local road map, and a practical skills test, were dropped by the authority in response to government changes in policy. Now a simpler test is done by prospective cabbies.

Mr Shah said: “There is no space for anymore drivers. There must be 1,500 already. A lot of them don’t even know the area because they have come in from elsewhere and are not taking their tests.

“Drivers aren’t required to take the proper tests here, yet in other areas they must. Without the proper knowledge of the roads in Wolverhampton, the customers are going to get a rubbish service.

“As a union we are against any more drivers being taken on. We may have to consider a strike against the council.”

Councillor Alan Bolshaw, chair of the council’s licensing committee, said: “There may be a lot of applicants but I’d imagine only a handful will be granted licences.

“I can understand drivers might be alarmed. Under the new laws, people can apply for taxi licences from anywhere in the country. But only a handful will be working in Wolverhampton.”

Read more at http://www.expressandstar.com/

Taxi drivers threaten strike action over Cambridge rail station plans fearing ‘chaos’ and clashes

MP Daniel Zeichner
MP Daniel Zeichner

Taxi drivers are threatening strike action and launched a petition to save Cambridge station rank fearing “chaotic” scenes and clashes with other road users if it is moved.

Cambridge Hackney Carriage Association, which represents more than 200 taxi drivers, fears changes at the rail station will mean they are being sidelined as transport bosses “pander to cyclists and buses”.

The association is being backed by Cambridge MP Daniel Zeichner.

Paul Bradley, General Secretary of the association, said: “We are concerned that the public Station Road rank where it always has been near the station is being taken by stealth. It is in everybody’s interest for it to remain there and for taxis to have access through the bus gate so they can safely exit away from the Station Road rank instead of the congestion at the new drop off/pick up point which they have allocated to taxis, deliveries and the public all in a little area. I think this will be chaotic and a lot worse than is currently there now.

“There are other options to consider which can work better without pandering to just buses and cycles. We are doing our best to avoid demos and strikes but if we are not listened to and our views at the least considered, I fear this may happen.”

He added: “We have started an online petition to ‘Save the Station Rd Rank’ and hope the public to get behind this too as its their rank and the will be affected greatly too.”

The petition says: “They plan to relocate the Station Road public taxi rank to an obscure location. Cambridge Hackney Carriage Association (CHCA), a voluntary organisation, are campaigning to keep the public taxi rank, that has been serving the public for decades.

“The operational taxi rank is currently close to the bus stop, flats, shops and most importantly, it’s seconds away from the station doors. That makes it part of the hub. Why is this important? New plans will mean the public will have to walk for several minutes, possibly pulling luggage in adverse weather conditions (rain, cold, snow, etc) to the far end of Station Road where they have to cross a busy junction to get a taxi. Public safety cannot be compromised.

“This will affect everyone including people with disabilities (wheelchair users), the elderly, lone travellers, visitors, tourists, families with young children. Consequently this will affect customer experience and will inconvenience rail users.”

Part of CB1’s highly anticipated Station Square will open this month, station operator Abellio revealed.

The area right outside the existing station building will provide space for a taxi rank, disabled parking, short stay parking bays and drop-off points.

Rising bollards will be fitted in Station Road, meaning only walkers, cyclists, buses and some delivery vehicles will be able to access the interchange directly. Taxis and cars will use the northern access road to get in and out of this part of the development.

Read more at http://www.cambridge-news.co.uk/

Chelmsford minicab boss wants The Knowledge test made easier to attract recruits

A Chelmsford minicab boss wants the city’s knowledge test made easier because potential recruits are put off by the current requirements.

But while private hire firm bosses want a relaxation of Chelmsford City Council’s exams to meet demand, others want the standard maintained and even made harder.

The proposals will be voted on at a meeting of the city council’s regulatory committee, chaired by Councillor Lance Millane, at the Civic Centre on Thursday evening (September 6).

Waqas Hussain, of Lister Tye, who has been working for family-run firm Happicabs for six years, feels potential drivers are put off joining the industry because of the lengthy qualification process.

“We were one of the taxi firms who first put this idea of making the test easier to the council,” said the 25-year-old.

“The demand for private hire cars in Chelmsford at this moment in time is growing and we are struggling to meet that demand and cater for the customers.

“We have got all the technology in the world, but we are having to turn down 30 per cent of our calls because we haven’t got enough cars on the road.

“The only thing holding us back is the knowledge test. It can take four months to pass and people don’t want to wait that long to get a job.

“Including our Stansted fleet, we have 45 drivers, but we need to get up to 65 to be able to meet the current demand.”

The two recommendations open to the committee are to either make no changes to the current licensing process for private hire drivers or to shorten the full knowledge test element of the application.

The test can take three months to pass and costs around £300, with applicants asked to identify streets or landmarks in Baddow, Danbury, South Woodham Ferrers and the city centre without referring to a map – similar to the famous knowledge test London’s taxi drivers must undertake.

Private hire companies say that journeys could be downloaded within car sat navs, without the need to know every road in the area.

Waqas claims he hasn’t got enough taxis to meet demand in Chelmsford

Waqas added: “We are not proposing anything radical. We still want drivers to be CRB checked, go on a disability awareness course, have a medical check and all of that.

“But we are proposing the points of interest pass rate should be five out of ten rather than six, and the knowledge test pass rate to be ten out of 25 rather than 18.

“I think that is fair because of the way we have operators taking calls first, so a driver has time to pre-plan his route rather than being put on the spot.

“The difference is black cabs can be hailed but private hire taxis have to be pre-booked. I would say 95 per cent of our fleet is private hire.”

But not all taxi bosses are supportive of the proposals.

Jane Rezaie, who runs Chelmsford taxi firm Ali’s Taxi’s, wrote to the committee ahead of Thursday’s meeting.

Her letter said: “The main problem, I believe, is new applicants do not want to put the effort in to learning the knowledge and they are looking for an easy way out.

“It appears people are forgetting that we are professional drivers providing a service to the public, it is our job to know where we are going.

“It is our job to give the customer the best and most comfortable ride for their journey, and that the customer feels we are doing our best and they feel sage and confident in our ability.

“There is undoubtedly a problem with a lack of drivers in Chelmsford, both Hackney carriage and private hire drivers.

“All professional drivers should have a comprehensive knowledge of the area they work in, as we are providing a public service.”

Last month, Uber, an app that connects drivers with passengers directly, said it is not currently looking to launch in Chelmsford but could consider branching into the city if the demand was there.

Read more at http://www.essexlive.news/

One in four Londoners fear they won’t get home safely in minicab in early hours, research finds

One in four Londoners fear they will not make it home safely in a minicab in the early hours of the morning, new research suggests.

A quarter of people living in the capital who use minicabs fear a risk to their safety when travelling in one between 12am and 4am, according to a new survey carried out by YouGov.

The survey for the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association revealed that almost half of minicab users in London doubt that they would be fully insured for any injuries sustained if they were involved in an accident.

And nearly a quarter of Londoners who use minicabs began travelling in them more over the last two years, the research found.

The LTDA has criticised popular minicab app Uber after it launched a legal challenge to tough new private hire rules including requiring drivers to pass a basic English language tests and a crackdown on insurance requirements.

Steve McNamara, LTDA general secretary, said: “Today’s figures are yet more proof of the need for action to ensure that Londoners feel safe and secure when using a minicab.

“Uber’s recent campaign for TfL and the Mayor of London to water down the overdue and much-needed update to PHV [private hire vehicle] regulations shows how out of touch they are with public opinion.”

Mr McNamara added: “The regulator must not only follow through on its proposed changes, but must take further action to raise standards across the industry, if it is to fully address passengers’ concerns and offer them, and other road users in the capital, proper protection.”

But Tom Elvidge, general manager of Uber London, said: “More that 2 million Londoners use Uber on a regular basis and because of the convenience and safety the app has brought to the industry.

“Uber is not a traditional minicab firm so it is interesting to note that Uber was not mentioned in this poll.

“Uber keeps a record of all drivers’ insurance documents and drivers cant access the app unless they are in place.

“Uber has helped raise standards in the private hire industry by using technology to give people more information than ever before, from their driver’s details to being able to share a live map of their journey and an electronic receipt showing the route taken.”

The survey of 1,037 adults was carried out last week

source: http://www.standard.co.uk/

Taxi drivers in Nottingham could face penalty points and even have their licences revoked

Taxi drivers could be given penalty points for 10 offences including turning off the meter or parking badly in Nottingham.

The city council is considering introducing what it has dubbed a Driver Improvement Penalty Point Scheme.

Drivers say it would mean “double punishment” but the council says it will improve driving standards.

Councillors will debate the idea at Nottingham City Council’s regulatory and appeals committee on Tuesday September 6.

Kaleem Ashraf, chairman of the Nottingham branch of union Unite, represents unionised hackney carriage drivers. He said: “We haven’t been consulted yet, but we are happy to speak to the council and raise our concerns.

“They are trying to reduce the number of hackney drivers but are portraying it as improvement.

“And if they do bring it in they need to enforce it 24/7, unless it will just be targeting hackney drivers or develop into a game of cat and mouse.”

There are currently 411 hackney cabs and over 1,000 private hire vehicles licensed in Nottingham.

Mr Ashraf said: “There’s only about 80 or 90 hackney spaces, so if everyone came out at the same time it would be chaos. We’ve been asking for more spaces for years.

“And the night time economy is changing, so we need to move with that but the council need to work with us rather than making it as difficult as possible.”

Under the proposed scheme, drivers can receive up to twelve points over a three-year rolling period before their licence will be reviewed. If they exceed twelve points, action will be taken, up to and including suspending or revoking their licence.

Points could be given out for “driving a vehicle in an unroadworthy condition”, “failure to convey passengers in a safe and responsible manner”, “parking a vehicle in contravention of parking restrictions” or “failure to use taxi meter for journeys within prescribed distance”.

  • 4 pts – Failure to use Taxi Meter for journeys within prescribed distance
  • 4 pts – Refusal to accept hiring without reasonable cause
  • 4 pts – Failure to display driver badge and/or wear identification badge
  • 6 pts – Driving a vehicle in an unroadworthy condition
  • 4 pts – Parking a vehicle in contravention of parking restrictions
  • 4 pts – Failure to display signs or plates correctly, or displaying unauthorised signs
  • 6 pts – Obstruction / failure to comply with reasonable request made by Authorised Officers or Police Officers
  • 6 pts – Failure to convey passengers in a safe and responsible manner
  • 6 pts – Unacceptable behaviour towards members of public, Authorised Officers or Police Officers
  • 4 pts – Failure to comply with any other Nottingham City Council combined drivers and vehicle licence condition not included above

Kevin Clarke director at private hire firm NG11 Cars, said: “They are trying to make the city centre a completely car free zone.

“I don’t condone any drivers that fly around the roads but if they park badly or drive badly they will get points on their drivers licence. Giving them separate points on their taxi licence is a double punichment.”

As licensing authority, the council says it is “keen to see the sector survive and thrive as part of the city’s widely-admired sustainable transport network” and says the DIPP Scheme will help make that happen in the next five years.

Other ideas being considered include restriction of granting licences to potential cabbies with driving offences on their record and temporary licence suspensions if taxis enter restricted streets.

Portfolio holder for business, growth and transport, Councillor Nick McDonald, said: “Taxis are an important part of the city’s widely-acclaimed transport network and we need to be sure they are fit for purpose in the modern world.

“The proposal to introduce a Driver Improvement Penalty Point Scheme helps to reassure passengers that there are minimum standards among licensed taxis in Nottingham aimed primarily at ensuring they get a good, safe service, while reminding taxi drivers of the responsibilities and standards expected of them.

“This is part of a broader strategy to bring local taxis up to standards that the travelling public expect and connect them more effectively with other parts of our local transport network.”

A council spokesman added: “Taxi driver representatives came to us two years ago asking for us to consider introducing a points system and as we’ve looked into it we’ve had various discussions and meetings with them about it.

“However as the enforcing authority, it is appropriate that the we determine the details of the scheme.”

Read more at http://www.nottinghampost.com/

Tourism Action Plan

Policy paper

Tourism Action Plan

From: Department for Culture, Media & Sport and Tracey Crouch MP

First published: 26 August 2016

Part of: Tourism

This report outlines how the government will be supporting the tourism industry and ensuring the benefits of tourism will be felt across the United Kingdom

 

Link to plan document

 

Page 9

Commonsense Regulation

Working in partnership with the Tourism Industry Council, we have identified four areas of regulation where progress can be made to allow tourism businesses to flourish:

• We will seek to deregulate an element of Private Hire Vehicle (PHV) licences as soon as parliamentary time allows. This will allow owners of hotels/ attractions to collect visitors from train stations/ ports of entry, without having to apply for PHV licences (operator, vehicle and driver).

Bath & North East Somerset Council respond to concerns over Bath-operating Bristol-registered Ubers

Bath & North East Somerset Council has responded to concerns that Uber minicabs registered in Bristol are operating in Bath.

The council has said it is “considering” the issue, raised by one reader in response to last week’s Bath Chronicle story about the lack of availability of Uber cars in the city.

In the UK it is not illegal for private hire cars to take fares in areas other than the one in which they are registered.

But there are concerns Bath-registered cabs are losing business to Uber drivers based in the neighbouring city.

Earlier this year one Bristol cab driver told the Bristol Post he had lost “10 to 15 per cent” of his earnings on last year amid a rash of London-registered Ubers taking fares in Bristol.

Uber launched in Bath on June 24. A B&NES Council spokesman said: “The operation of Uber taxis in Bath & North East Somerset was discussed at a licencing committee hearing in October 2015.

“At that meeting questions were raised about the operation of Uber as it is a new entry into the marketplace. Officers have therefore continued to monitor the operation of Uber drivers in the district.

“The council is aware of concerns expressed over allegations that Uber drivers who are licensed in Bristol have been picking up fares in Bath & North East Somerset.

“These concerns are being considered by the council. The council aims to ensure that the public are protected and that private vehicle hire and hackney carriages operate safely and in accordance with their licensing requirements.”

As with any private hire company Uber cars can sometimes be called to take fares to destinations outside the area in which they are registered.

But as the app searches out the nearest cars as soon as a user requests one, Bristol-registered vehicles finished with taking fares to Bath can then be called on to take Bath jobs.

An Uber spokesman said the company, which now operates in more than 20 UK towns and cities, encourages its drivers to work in the authority where they are licensed but “does not instruct partners on where they should work”.

He added: “Private hire drivers are able to start or end a trip anywhere in the UK provided that their private hire licence and vehicle licence match the licensed operator that processes their booking.”

Read more at http://www.bathchronicle.co.uk/