Drink-driving Sevenoaks minicab boss fined for operating without a licence

A former Sevenoaks minicab boss has been fined after being found guilty of operating without a licence.

Mohammed Abdul Jabbar, of Glyn Davies Close, was convicted of two counts of the offence at Sevenoaks Magistrates’ Court on Thursday.

The 31-year-old was fined £180 per count plus a £20 victim surcharge and £1,200 in costs, totalling £1,580.

Sevenoaks Taxis – the firm he used to run – was ordered to pay £4,600.

Sevenoaks District Council investigated allegations that Jabbar had been collecting fares without a licence and found CCTV footage of him taking fares on 2 and 24 August 2015, despite having his licence revoked for a drink driving offence in January 2014.

Sevenoaks Taxis did not attend court but was found guilty in its absence on three charges at the same court hearing and was fined £500 per count, plus £1,500 in costs and a £50 surcharge totalling £3,050.

A spokesman for the firm has previously said Jabbar is no longer anything to do with the business.

Councillor Anna Firth, Sevenoaks District Council portfolio holder for licensing, says: “We take the safety of the travelling public very seriously and we work hard to ensure drivers are fit and proper people to do the job.

“In this case a driver had no licence so wasn’t insured to pick up the public.

“Our licensing and legal teams worked hard to bring about this successful prosecution and the size of the fine and costs demonstrates the magistrates took the case seriously.

“I hope this prosecution sends out a warning to rogue drivers who are thinking about breaking the law.”

Sevenoaks Taxis has 28 days from the court cases to pay the £3,050 fine and costs. Jabbar has been ordered to pay his fine and costs at £40 a month.

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

Cumbrian health trust’s taxi bill to be raised with Prime Minister

The taxi bill of almost £600,000 chalked up by hospital bosses in north Cumbria is to be raised with the Prime Minister.

Copeland MP Jamie Reed reacted furiously to news that the NHS trust running Whitehaven’s West Cumberland Hospital and The Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle spent £585,000 on taxis in three years.

That was the bill for nearly 13,000 taxi journeys, used to transport drugs, patient records, and patients.

The spending – revealed in response to a Freedom of Information request from the News & Star – came to light as North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust confirmed it faces a predicted £49.5m deficit.

“This is utterly scandalous,” said Mr Reed.

“It’s a diabolical illustration of the chaos caused by centralising services at Carlisle. “The patient and the taxpayer both lose out. The worst of it is: we told them so. I’ll be raising this with the Prime Minister.

“The government is presiding over a seemingly endless crisis and it must get a grip.”

One Whitehaven based NHS campaigner said a patient sent from the town to Carlisle’s Cumberland Infirmary recently saw her medical records, crammed into carrier bags, arrive at that hospital in a taxi.

Trust officials rejected the claim, saying drugs and medical records are always sent in secure packages or containers.

The News & Star’s investigation revealed that the trust routinely uses taxis to transport pathology samples, medical records, and patients, with some individual taxi trips costing more than £600.

Managers say patients are sent by taxi if using an ambulance is not appropriate and to beat treatment waiting time targets.

Siobhan Gearing, who started the We Need West Cumberland Hospital Campaign, said: “It’s absolutely ridiculous.

“How can they claim to be in financial difficulty when they’re spending nearly £600,000 on taxis over three years?

“It makes no sense at all. That money would be better spent on the services which, time and time again, they tell us they can’t afford to give us.”

Mrs Gearing, a mother-of-two, who has argued consistently that services at the West Cumberland Hospital should be protected, said using taxis also raised questions about patient confidentiality.

She said: “A lady told me yesterday that she was at The Cumberland Infirmary for an appointment when a taxi arrived there and dropped off three carrier bags filled with her medical records.

“That’s not a professional way to run a hospital.

“A patient’s medical records should only be transported in a sealed, tamper-proof packet. It would make more sense if they employed somebody in the trust to do this work.

“It’s a management failure.”

In its response to our Freedom of Information request, the trust confirmed that 2,800 of the taxi journeys it paid for in the last three years were between the hospitals in Whitehaven and Carlisle.

The most expensive taxi trips, taking patients from Silloth to non-trust destinations, cost £640 and £600 respectively.

The public sector union Unison described the trust’s taxi bill as “excessive”.

But a spokeswoman for the trust said: We have a process in place for using taxis and we only send medical records and drugs in sealed bags and containers. The taxis we use operate under a formal contract.

“It happens in almost all other trusts.”

She added that previous investigations had shown it was more cost effective to use taxis rather than operate a similar service in-house. The practice is regularly reviewed, she said.

A recent centralisation of medical records is expected to reduce the need to use taxis, a statement added.

John O’Connell, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “There isn’t anything wrong with using taxis to fill in the gaps every now and then, but the authorities must make sure they opt for the most efficient option, providing value for taxpayers’ money.

“When families are struggling with ever-rising bills, authorities must do all they can to keep costs down.”

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

Uber driver found guilty of assaulting black cab driver at a taxi rank

AN Uber worker has been convicted of assaulting a black taxi driver in the latest outbreak of a hire-car war.

Uber app operator Mohammed Dalim, 40, smashed Jon Cox, 49, over the head after a prang at a taxi rank outside King’s Cross station, central London.

Last week Highbury Magistrates Court convicted Dalim of assault, which heard how a war is raging between traditional black taxi drivers and hi-tech Uber mini cabs.

The area where Dalim carried out the attack is one of the key battle spots between the warring cabbies.

Trouble flared when former bus driver Dalim, of East London, nearly swerved into black cabbie Mr Cox because he was setting up the Uber app for his next customer, the trial heard.

Mr Cox told the court “I pulled alongside him and asked him ‘Didn’t you see me, what do you think you are doing?’ I wasn’t happy.

“He wound down his window and just started a torrent of abuse.

“He started goading me, saying ‘You’re crying, Uber has f**ked you, you can’t pay your mortgage.’”

Dalim cancelled his next booking and then bumped into Mr Cox as he tried to pull away.

Mr Cox said : “We were so close he pulled forward and struck my cab which was stationary, I hadn’t moved.

“And then he went mad, he put his window down and went “What have you done, you have damaged my cab, I’m going to damage you, I’m going to beat you up.

“He then reversed his vehicle, jumps out and runs round the back of his car.

“I got out as well just to inspect if there was any damage.

“I went round the front and he was ranting and raving at me and I just said ‘Well give me your details we will let the insurance deal with it.’

“At that point he just attacks me, threw some punches at me.”

Mr Cox, who has been a Hackney Carriage driver for 22 years, went on : “As I turned around to get my phone he punched me from behind in the back of the head.

“He just punched me from behind, I fell over.

“I went forward on my knees and hit my head on the footwell of the taxi because the door was open.”

The Uber driver was arrested at the scene following the bust-up on March 23 this year and told cops Mr Cox punched him and then “dived like a footballer” when he pushed him away.

Dalim denied common assault and claimed in court he had been “framed” by black cab drivers intent on Uber’s downfall.
He said: “I get abused by black cabbies on a daily basis.

“If you ask me there’s a war going on between black cabs and Uber, it’s a known fact.

“I’m an Uber driver, that’s what got me into this mess.’

Dalim said the accusations from the black cab driver were a “complete lie.”

“He came in, he pulled to the right, he started abusing me and I couldn’t get out of the situation.

“To me it felt like when I watch football, a little dramatic.”

However, District Judge Nicholas Rimmer rejected Dalim’s evidence and gave him a 12-month community order and 150 hours of unpaid work.

Mr Rimmer also ordered Dalim to pay £620 prosecutions costs, £200 compensation to Mr Cox, and a £60 victim surcharge.

He said : “You felt everything was a conspiracy because, as you put it, there is a war going on between black cabs and Uber.

“I don’t accept your evidence as credible because you were inconsistent about a number of things.”

Judge Rimmer noted that Dalim ‘chopped and changed’ his account, adding: “The force you used went way beyond anything that could be described as lawful or reasonable.”

The attack happened yards away from an earlier incident between an Uber and black cab driver in June.

The black cab driver was caught on camera repeatedly punching the Uber man in the face in the film which went viral online across the world.

Speaking after the hearing, Mr Cox said the taxi rank on Pancras Road has become a ‘mad house’ because Uber drivers are ‘flooding’ the drop-off points.

He said: ‘There’s a lot of trouble down there, there’s a lot of flash points at the place because of the situation of the drop-off bays.

“It’s a bit of a madhouse round there.”

He added: “The Uber drivers are flooding it, they are getting desperate because they are hanging round trying to get jobs round there when they are not supposed to.”

Black cabbies say the tensions are the result of TfL licensing 45,000 Uber drivers in the capital without adequate checks or training.

They are angry about being undercut by Uber while being restricted by a rigid fare structure imposed on them by Transport for London.

Marc Turner, from taxi magazine Call Sign, said: “There is a conflict between Uber and registered taxi drivers in every territory in the world.”

Sean Paul Day, from London Taxi Radio, said: “It’s a war, but I don’t see it as a straightforward war. It’s a state-assisted attempted takeover of a registered industry.”

Tom Elvidge, Uber’s general manager of its London operation, said : “There’s no excuse for aggressive behaviour on the roads.

“We’ve had many reports of licensed drivers who use our app being on the receiving end of threatening behaviour from black cab drivers and we take it very seriously.

“There’s room for both black taxis and private hire operators like Uber in London.”

source: https://www.thesun.co.uk/

Oxford City Council fears over legal loophole with taxi licensing that could open door for child abuse

A LOOPHOLE allowing taxi drivers from other areas to work in Oxford could be closed as part of moves to protect young people.

Concern is growing about national rules that allow drivers licensed in one area to operate anywhere, regardless of differences in standards.

Officials say it allows hackney carriage drivers to avoid tougher standards in Oxford by getting credentials elsewhere and then working in the city for private hire firms.

Last year Oxford City Council estimated there were about 300 Hackney Carriages not licensed by it operating in the city, mainly on Friday and Saturday nights.

But now an influential committee of MPs has called on the Government to close the loophole.

Their comments come after a review of efforts to tackle child exploitation in Oxfordshire – carried out in the wake of the Bullfinch child sexual abuse investigation – warned the loophole made it harder to keep children safe because the authority that issues the licence is responsible for enforcement.

Colin Cook, vice-chairman of the city council’s licensing committee, said: “At the moment, it is in theory possible for someone to get a hackney carriage licence in the worst enforcement authority in the country, wherever that is, and still come and work in Oxford.

“We do what we can to make sure most are licensed here by us, but there is an increasing minority now coming from elsewhere and it can become more problematic when you are having to rely on them taking enforcement action.”

The Communities and Local Government Committee’s call was part of a review of the situation in Rotherham, which was at the centre of a child sexual abuse scandal, where measures to introduce CCTV were being “undermined” by neighbouring areas that do not require it.

The committee said: “We believe local authorities must be able to apply particular measures in relation to taxi licensing in their areas, such as requiring taxis to have CCTV installed, without those measures being undermined by taxis coming in from other areas.”

In Oxford, the city council has previously complained that higher standards in the city were being undermined by neighbouring authorities, including training in safeguarding. They have been working towards joint enforcement agreements but have yet to reach a deal.

But Mark Green, director of 001 Taxis in Oxford, said his firm needed to use drivers from “across Oxfordshire” because it operated over the whole county.

He added: “If councils wants to do more about these issues, they should raise standards together. We have an operator’s license for every area and have no problem taking people on across Oxfordshire.

“The fees outside Oxford are cheaper for drivers but they still have to do the same DBS (disclosure and barring service) checks, so it is not a safeguarding issue.”

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

Uber launches legal action over new London licensing rules

Uber has launched legal action against London’s transport regulator over new rules that threaten to limit its business in the capital, City A.M. can exclusively reveal.

The billion-dollar startup is seeking a judicial review to halt the introduction of new rules it claims are too strict.

Transport for London set out new regulations earlier this year after a wide-ranging consultation of the taxi and minicab industry following a long-standing feud between Uber and London’s black cab drivers.

The initial regulation was previously welcomed by Uber, but in recent months the details of the rules have become too onerous, Uber claims.

Now, Uber is pursuing legal action over the matter, filing official papers with the courts this week after sending a so-called letter before action to TfL.

TfL said it would defend the legality of the new regulations.

“We responded to Uber’s letter and will be robustly defending the legal proceedings brought by them in relation to the changes to private hire regulations,” a TfL spokesperson told City A.M.

“These have been introduced to enhance public safety when using private hire services and we are determined to create a vibrant taxi and private hire market with space for all providers to flourish.”

Uber is challenging four of the new rules; requiring written English tests for drivers, having to locate its customer service call centre in London, requiring insurance that covers drivers when they are not working and having to alert TfL of changes to its business model or app.

It last week rallied customers to contact the mayor of London urging him to review the regulation while business leaders and entrepreneurs have also written to Sadiq Khan asking him to rethink the rules, raising concerns that the red tape could stifle innovation and London’s digital economy in the wake of Brexit.

It comes as the mayor promised to make new plans for the future of the taxi and minicab industry in the capital.

A spokesperson for the mayor said: “Sadiq has asked his team to produce a comprehensive new strategy that will herald in a new era for the capital’s taxi and private hire trades.

“Further details will be released later this year of a plan that will deliver radical improvements for customers, a boost to safety, support for the taxi trade and further improve the quality of service offered by the private hire trade. There will also be a concerted effort to make London’s taxi fleet the greenest in the world.”

City Hall would not be drawn on whether this would include reviewing the new regulations, agreed under former mayor Boris Johnson.

Tom Elvidge, general manager at Uber London, said: “This legal action is very much a last resort. We’re particularly disappointed that, after a lengthy consultation process with Transport for London, the goalposts have moved at the last minute and new rules are now being introduced that will be bad for both drivers and tech companies like Uber.”

London’s cabbies, who believe the new rules do not go far enough, have also backed Uber’s call for a rethink, indicating the black cab trade stood to gain from a more favourable outcome.

The head of the London Taxi Drivers Association Steve McNamara on Monday said he was confident Khan would do “what’s right for London”.

Other minicab firms in the capital have backed the new regulation, however.

Addison Lee chief executive Andy Boland said: “Having previously backed the proposals it’s hard to understand Uber’s resistance to implementation of these new regulations. The whole industry was fully involved in the consultation and there is a strong belief that they will benefit both passengers and drivers.”

Gett managing director for Europe Remo Gerber called Uber’s U-turn on the regulations “baffling”.

“Frankly we’re surprised we’re wasting time on this. We should be focusing on the post Brexit needs of London, not minor operational details,” he said.

source: http://www.cityam.com/247633

 

Minicab firms Addison Lee and Uber at war over Mayor’s private hire rules

The biggest minicab firm in Europe has written to Sadiq Khan attacking Uber’s bid to water down tough new private hire rules.

Addison Lee, which has 5,000 licensed drivers, told the Mayor it was “indefensible” that Uber has launched legal action against Transport for London’s new rules.

The regulations include written English tests for drivers and vehicles being insured even when they are not being used as minicabs.

Uber’s London general manager Tom Elvidge said: “The goalposts have moved at the last minute”, adding that the new rules would be “bad for both drivers and companies like Uber”.

Addison Lee chief Andy Boland said Uber was trying to “undermine” the new passenger safety rules.

Mr Boland has written to the Mayor to say he continued to support the new rules. TfL said it would defend its plans in court.

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

Taxi drivers having to work longer hours to make a living

New research shows both Hackney and private hire drivers in the city have had to increase their working hours over the last three years

Taxi drivers in Liverpool are working harder than ever just to make ends meet, a new study reveals.

The research shows Hackney and private hire drivers in the city , including those working for Uber, travel 27,485 miles a year and take an average of 95 fares a week – up 35 fares since similar research carried out in 2013.

The survey of more than 1,000 drivers across the UK, including Liverpool, was commissioned by taxi insurance broker insureTAXI.

Longer hours

More than a third of respondents in Liverpool said they have increased their working hours over the last three years, with 45% citing increased competition as the reason for clocking up more time on the road.

Half of drivers in Liverpool said they’re working longer hours to make ends meet at home.

In an average week, taxi drivers in Liverpool are now working 43 hours and earning £316, making the average hourly rate £7.35 – £0.65 above the current national minimum wage.

On top of this, the research revealed they can expect an average tip of 68p for each fare. Considering the number of fares taxi drivers take on average a week, this means they could earn around £64.60 in tips each week.

Rising costs

But while the research paints a largely positive picture of taxi drivers’ earning potential, there are a number of costs that taxi drivers regularly incur.

On average, taxi drivers in Liverpool spend £100 a week on fuel, £91 a month on general vehicle maintenance and £1,901 a year on their taxi insurance – totalling an average of £8,193 of expenditure each year.

The rising cost of being a taxi driver is a concern for a number of taxi drivers in Liverpool, with 35% stating it’s the biggest threat to their profession.

And 28% think the increase in competition is the biggest threat, while 17% of non-Uber drivers think Uber is the biggest threat.

Increasing demands

“Speaking to over 1,000 taxi drivers has given us a real insight into the demands and challenges faced by our customers,” explained Tim Crighton, marketing director of insureTAXI. “Taxi drivers are having to work longer hours in order to combat the increase in competition and changes in consumers’ lifestyles.

“What’s more, the associated costs of being a taxi driver is a real concern to some – especially when they feel that there isn’t as much business available as there was a few years ago.”

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

Taxi ‘legal loophole’ could put children at risk in Rotherham

Ministers have been urged to ‘act without delay’ to prevent a ‘damaging’ legal loophole from putting young people in Rotherham at risk in taxis.

Since the child sexual exploitation scandal in Rotherham was revealed in 2014, all taxi drivers in the town now have strict rules to adhere to, including having CCTV installed in their vehicles.

But the Communities and Local Government Committee said it is concerned that taxis licensed by other local authorities may still operate in Rotherham, even if the drivers have had their application for a Rotherham licence rejected.

MPs said action is needed to address the ‘damaging’ legal loophole to prevent young and vulnerable people from being put at risk.

They have called for Government departments to prepare guidance in law over taxi licensing ‘without delay’, adding that new legislation should be considered.

Taxi drivers had a ‘prominent role’ in child sexual exploitation in Rotherham, according to the 2014 report by Professor Alexis Jay which suggested that 1,400 children had been abused over a 16-year period while those in authority turned a blind eye.

Children were often transported in taxis while they were moved around to be abused.

A report by Communities and Local Government Committee says: “We believe that local authorities must be able to apply particular measures in relation to taxi licensing in their areas, such as requiring taxis to have CCTV installed, without those measures being undermined by taxis coming in from other areas.

“We recommend that, in order to ensure that lessons are learned from experiences in Rotherham, the Department for

Communities and Local Government works with the Home Office and the Department for Transport on the preparation of statutory guidance under the Policing and Crime Bill in relation to taxi licensing.

“That guidance should be brought forward without delay. Once the guidance has been introduced, the Government should monitor the extent to which it ensures consistently high standards in taxi licensing across the country, and also enables local authorities to put in place and enforce specific measures which are appropriate for their local circumstances.

“If guidance is not able to achieve this, the Government should consider legislation.”

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

Delta private-hire driver pleads not guilty to raping male passenger

Private hire driver Khaldon Mohammed, 30, of Gwendoline Street in Toxteth has pleaded not guilty to raping a male passenger in Aigburth.

Khaldon Mohammed will stand trial in the new year

A Delta private hire driver has pleaded not guilty to raping a male passenger.

Khaldon Mohammed is alleged to have attacked the customer in his taxi in Aigburth late last year.

Mohammed, of Gwendoline Street in Toxteth , is alleged to have picked up the victim before attacking him near Sefton Park

The 30-year-old denied two counts of rape at Liverpool Crown Court today and is due to stand trial on January 12.

He was released on bail with conditions not to drive a taxi and not to contact the complainant.

He must also sign on at a police station three times a week.

Bootle-based Delta is one of the biggest minicab companies in the North West and employs more than 2,200 private hire drivers, according to its website.

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

Mystery passengers could be used to snare illegal street pick up private hire drivers

MYSTERY passengers could be used to nab private hire drivers who illegally pick up people who flag them down in the street.

City council bosses believe the move could save passengers being put at risk by rogue drivers.

The city has almost 3000 private hire cars which can only pick up people who have pre-booked and are not allowed to trawl the streets for trade – known as pirating.

Licensing bosses say pirating is not only a breach of licence conditions but poses a serious threat to the safety of passengers.

They warn there will be no recorded details of the journey putting people in a potentially vulnerable situation and open to being exploited by inflated fares.

A report to councillors says: “If details of the journey are not known or recorded by the booking office, it can be much more difficult to trace the driver if unlawful or inappropriate behaviour occurs.

“The risk to the safety of passengers in these circumstances can be exacerbated as pirating tends to happen during peak periods late at night and in the early hours of the morning, often when passengers may be under the influence of alcohol.

“There are also potentially serious consequences for members of the public and other road users as the driver of the private hire car engaged in pirating is very unlikely to be covered by a valid policy of motor insurance in the event of an accident if he or she is operating contrary to the conditions of their licence.”

Officers from the council’s taxi and private hire car enforcement unit carry out regular action checks in known hot spots at peak periods.

That has resulted in a significant number of drivers facing having their license suspended.

But the report adds: “Pirating continues to be a serious and widespread issue and additional robust measures are required to tackle and deter drivers from continuing to engage in this illegal and irresponsible practice.”

It says introducing mystery passengers will allow the enforcement unit to identify and gather evidence against pirate drivers.

Taxi and private hire companies will be informed of the plan in advance.

The report says: “It is hoped this will act as a more effective deterrent to those drivers who might consider picking up passengers who have not made a booking if there is a risk the potential passenger is part of a mystery shopper operation.

“Another key component of launching a mystery shopper scheme is to raise awareness among members of the public of the dangers of getting into a private hire car that has not been pre-booked.”

Stephen Flynn, vice chairman of Glasgow Taxis, said he hoped the council plan would be introduced as soon as possible.

He added: “The existing regulations are in place to ensure the safety of residents and visitors alike and anyone caught in breach of them should be sanctioned accordingly.

Read more: Decision day on age limit for city taxis

“We advise anyone hailing a cab on the street to look for the distinguishable yellow flag on each of our 800 vehicles.”

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

Bristol taxi driver who couldn’t pay for sex hit prostitute with a frying pan, court told

Tonia Noto said she knew Ayman Yousif as a client and he propositioned her for sex as she worked in Fishponds Road

A prostitute told a jury that a punter who didn’t have money to pay her for services bludgeoned her with a frying pan.

Tonia Noto said she knew Ayman Yousif as a client and he propositioned her for sex as she worked in Fishponds Road, Bristol Crown Court heard.

But she said when she went to his nearby flat later he didn’t have the money to pay her and became agitated, attacking her with a frying pan and screwdriver.

Yousif, 46, formerly of Fishponds Road but now living in Bothwell Street, Edinburgh, denies assault occasioning actual bodily harm in April 2014.

Ms Noto said she had smoked drugs and done business with taxi driver Yousif, whom she knew as Ali, before.

But she said after he wanted to have sex, she twice went to his flat but he had no money to pay her.

She told Bristol Crown Court: “The second time we sat down and talked a little bit.

“Then he started groping me, he touched my breasts and crotch.

“I said I needed him to pay me. He only had £10.”

With that Yousif became agitated, she said.

She told the court she backed up against a draining board, feeling for something to defend herself, when Yousif attacked her.

She said: “He picked up a frying pan and repeatedly hit me with it. He was hitting me across my head, I raised my arm and he hit my arm.”

Ms Noto recounted how she screamed for help, hoping her partner stood outside would hear her.

Yousif continued to attack her with a frying pan, bit her and also struck her with a screwdriver, she said.

Ms Noto said: “It was just crazy.”

Even though Yousif locked his front door and tried to block it with a sofa, Ms Noto managed to unlock the door.

She said her partner then came in and punched Yousif to the floor before police arrived on the scene.

Though she suffered black eyes, a lump on the back of her head and bruising she told police “forget it” when they arrived.

But the court heard she made a complaint later after speaking to the One25 project, a charity which helps street sex workers.

Yousif said the woman came to his flat wanting money to buy drugs, hit him with his frying pan and stabbed him and he defended himself.

He told the jury: “I didn’t approach her for sex. I didn’t become angry. I wasn’t violent towards her,”

The case continues.

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