Taxi driver who grabbed woman between legs faces jail

A TAXI driver from Leamington who grabbed a woman between her legs when she got out of his cab following a row about the fare has been warned to expect an immediate prison sentence. Balvinder Singh had denied sexually assaulting the woman after driving her home, claiming ‘it just did not happen’ a jury was told. But the jury at Warwick Crown Court took just two hours to find the 56 year-old of Tachbrook Road, guilty by a unanimous verdict.

Adjourning for a pre-sentence report, Judge Barry Berlin warned that a taxi driver convicted of breach of trust by a sexual offence against a passenger ‘ought to go immediately to custody.’ Prosecutor Tariq Shakoor said that in the early hours of Sunday January 17 last year a woman in her 50s made a complaint to the police that she had been sexually assaulted by a taxi driver. “The defendant’s case is that he was the taxi driver during this incident, but that no sexual assault took place.”

Mr Shakoor said the woman had been out for the night, socialising with friends in Coventry city centre, and had visited a number of pubs, ‘having a normal Saturday night out.’ At about 2.30 in the morning a friend she was with, but who lived in a different part of the city to her, left to go home. “She stays on, and eventually she too decides it’s time to go home. She leaves a public house and flags down a black cab close-by. There is no dispute the defendant is the driver.”

The woman shared the cab with a male friend who was dropped off first before continuing to her home. But when they arrived there was a dispute over the fare, which was higher than she thought it should be, which Singh said was because of waiting time while they dropped off her friend. The woman became abusive, and called the police to complain about being overcharged – but although the operator told her it was a civil matter, the line remained open and recorded the exchange, which ended with her paying Singh £10.

She complained she could not get out, so Singh got out to open the door, and when she got out he then grabbed hold of her. “He put his hand between her legs, over her clothing, in the area of her private parts. She couldn’t believe what he’d done,” said Mr Shakoor. “If you are sure that is what he did, that is a sexual assault. His case is that it just did not happen,” he explained.

He said during the incident the woman heard someone shout out, which caused Singh to let go, and he got back into the taxi and drove off – and she went inside and, ‘quite distraught,’ called the police again. The jury heard a woman who lived in the same street happened to be awake and could hear the argument over the fare, so got out of bed and looked out of the window. “She describes seeing the driver grabbing the female around the area of her waist and holding her in what she described as a bear hug, pulling her towards him. “It appeared as if he was trying to kiss her. She alerts her partner who gets out of bed and shouts out of the window.”

Following the incident, Singh was traced and arrested, but denied the offence, added Mr Shakoor. In court, Singh said he had kept his foot on the brake during the argument over the fare to keep the door locked so the woman could not make off without paying.

But he said it was then she who hugged him, apologising for the argument over the fare, so he had hugged her back. “She said she liked me. I said ‘no, I’m married, and I moved her with two hands, pushing outwards to her shoulders, and then got back into the taxi and drove away.” He denied touching her between the legs, and accused her of making it all up to get him into trouble.

After the jury returned its verdict, at the request of his barrister Jonathan Veasey-Pugh, Judge Berlin agreed to adjourn for a pre-sentence report to be prepared on Singh. But he commented: “He must realise this is a serious matter for which an immediate custodial sentence is highly likely, particularly in view of what is a breach of trust.” Singh was granted bail, but Judge Berlin warned him: “That must not in your mind mean that there is not going to be an immediate custodial sentence. “I take the view that a taxi driver who is convicted of breach of trust by a sexual offence committed against a passenger ought to go immediately to custody.”

Private Hire driver loses licence for ‘intimidating’ women

A private hire driver has been stripped of his licence for intimidating women.

In one incident he confronted an elderly passenger at her home at night after her daughter had complained about his attitude towards her mother.

The complaint centred on his refusal to help the elderly woman when dropping her off after a journey. He was also accused of requesting a tip from her.

In a separate incident, he used his vehicle to block access to another woman in her own car.

She was trapped for ten minutes and subsequently complained to the firm he worked for, saying she had felt “intimidated” by his behaviour.

All three incidents happened in April this year.

The driver, who cannot be named for legal reasons, had previously been issued with a final written warning by East Riding Council over his conduct towards passengers.

That had been triggered by two complaints in the space of five months about his behaviour.

The first, in December last year, involved claims of “abusive conduct” towards a young female passenger who he followed down a cul-de-sac after dropping her off.

In March, a male passenger alleged the driver had asked him to sell him some drugs although this was subsequently denied.

He was issued with a final written warning on April 7 – the same day as he was alleged to have asked for a tip after refusing to help the elderly passenger who he later confronted at her home.

The decision by the council’s licensing committee to revoke his licence with immediate effect has been revealed in newly published minutes.

The minutes say: “At a meeting with officers on April 28, the appellant failed to see the importance of these complaints and how his actions were not appropriate and how they may have impacted on vulnerable customers and caused them alarm.

“The appellant is not promoting the aims of the licensing policy and his conduct is not that which is expected of a licensed driver, particularly relating to his unacceptable conduct towards a vulnerable adult by visiting her uninvited at her home address.”

The committee was told the man, who had been a licensed driver for over 11 years, was not currently working as a taxi driver having had his licence suspended on April 27.

The minutes reveal some councillors favoured a three-month suspension of his licence but they were out-voted by a majority who supported an immediate revocation.

Taxi driver accused of ‘sitting outside swimming pool in pants’ loses licence appeal

A Labour councillor was accused of ‘sitting outside a swimming pool in his pants’ as he lost an appeal after being refused of a taxi licence.

Oadby and Wigston Borough Council denied an application made by Gurpal Atwal in late 2016 and this decision was backed by magistrates in Loughborough yesterday.

This was after a committee in January 2017 decided he was “not fit and proper” to undertake the position of a cab driver.

The body rejected the private hire and Hackney carriage licence application despite Mr Atwal passing a DBS check and other relevant driving checks.

Outlining the council’s position, its legal representative Dave Gill said: “In essence there were a number of allegations.

“From 2015 there were a consistent number of complaints. No charges, but alleged offences and contact with police.

“The council’s single sole duty is to protect the public.”

Following his statement the officer from the council who led the committee’s enquiries took to the stand.

Licensing Enforcement Officer for Oadby and Wigston Borough Council, Tracey Aldwinckle, 49, explained the statements she had gathered – from which varying accusations emerged.

While being questioned by Mr Atwal’s defence, she said: “I was told your client is using unlicensed drivers on school runs and then he sat in his pants outside a swimming pool because he believes that’s acceptable.”

As well as this a raft of further alleged misdemeanours were stated to the court – most of which had stemmed from 2015 up until now.

There were also claims of racism and an allegation Mr Atwal “swore at” a man.

However he said that when this was followed up officers chose to take no further action.

Mr Atwal’s defence solicitor Anthony Schiller said there was “no indication” from any member of the travelling public of aggressive or racist behaviour.

He also described how his client has worked for over 20 years as a taxi driver in Leicester.

He stated that the majority of witnesses spoken to by Ms Aldwinckle had connections to Mr Atwal’s former business partner.

Mr Atwal owned a fifty-per-cent stake in Handsome Cars in Leicester and is taking his former business partner to high court in regards to a sum of around £300,000.

Mr Atwal still has a taxi licence in Leicester

Addressing magistrates Mr Schiller said: “We know there are links to people you have not seen today.

“It’s often said a business dispute can be worse than a divorce.

“You have to use the mythical scales of justice to make the decision.”

Mr Atwal also denied the accusations in court – stating they were “all fabricated”.

When questioned in front of magistrates Mr Atwal said: “I am not a racist person. I treat everybody fairly.
“They [the statements] were all fabricated to discredit my character.”

In regards to the business dispute Mr Gill commented that it was believed Mr Atwal had involved “heavies” when things did not go his way.

Mr Atwal did not comment following the hearing.

As well as not being granted a licence Mr Atwal was also charged £1,250 in costs.

Speaking after the hearing Bill Boulter, 70, who chaired the Oadby and Wigston Borough Council licensing panel which made the original decision said he was “very pleased”.

Mr Atwal currently holds a licence allowing him to drive cabs in Leicester until 2018.

 

source: http://www.leicestermercury.co.uk/news/local-news/taxi-driver-accused-sitting-outside-218270

Cabbies ‘would be forced off the road’ as Hull council says they may ban diesel taxis from 2018

Councillor Martin Mancey has said the council may ban giving new taxi licences to diesel drivers

Taxi drivers would be ‘forced off the road’ if the city council stopped issuing licences to those with diesel vehicles, it is claimed.

Councillor Martin Mancey, portfolio holder for strategic transport, has suggested the Guildhall may consider following London, where mayor Sadiq Khan has said no new taxi licence should granted to drivers with diesel vehicles from January 2018.

But Peter Nilsson, chairman of the Hull Hackney Carriage Association, has warned that would undoubtedly result in fewer taxis because of the extra costs drivers would incur.

He said: “Would our fares go up? Probably not. But I do believe people would not taxi driving, and so there would be fewer taxis on the road. Each taxi represents a business.

Cllr Mancey was speaking ahead of the publication of the Government’s air action plan, which is expected later this month.

He said: “In London, the mayor is saying that no new taxi licence will be issued for diesel vehicles from January. As a council, we have to look at all measures and I would not rule that out.

“If we were to go down a similar path, and it’s a big if, it would certainly not be in January 2018. We would want to hear the views of both Hackney carriage and private hire drivers. We would have have a discussion with them. There would be extensive consultation.”

Cllr Mancey accepted the measure would be met with concern among Hull’s cabbies, many of whom claim they are struggling to scratch a living even without any incoming extra costs.

However, he said this needed to be seen in the context of an estimated 29,000 deaths each year caused by emmisions.

Cllr Mancey said: “From the point of view of taxi drivers, I imagine there will be some concerns because petrol vehicles do less miles to the gallon, potentially increasing overall costs. That may put pressure on fares. But we have to look at the bigger picture – public health.”

He added the council is working hard to encourage people to use public transport.

Despite this, Mr Nilsson has predicted a number of problems should Hull follow a similar path to London, and said the association’s lawyers would invariably be involved.

He said: “Trying to get a petrol taxi is very difficult, because they’re a lot dearer to run than diesel taxis.

“Electric cars? I personally have not seen any that are fit for purpose. You can only go 100 miles on a charge. What do you do if a fare wants to go to Manchester Airport? It just can’t work.

“Hybrid vehicles are very expensive, compared to say a diesel taxi.”

According to Mr Nilsson’s reckoning, there are 170 black cabs in Hull. He believes there are in the region of 1,300 private hire vehicles.

He feels the driving factor behind Hull’s congestion, linked to poor air quality, is “poor road layout” as opposed to traffic volume.

“The roads are not coping with the number of vehicles,” he said. “No-one one knows the roads like taxi drivers. We know how the city works.

“Look at Spring Bank West, Cottingham Road and Bricknell Avenue. There used to be two lanes in each direction. Now there’s one. That’s the reason why our roads are becoming clogged. We’re losing roads.”

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

Taxi drivers ‘are being fined £200 for picking up passengers at Cheltenham Railway Station’

They say they keep being caught out by the automatic numberplate recognition system

Taxi drivers Pete Ballinger and Neil Harvey outside Cheltenham Railway Station.

Taxi drivers allegedly face hundreds of pounds in fines because they keep being charged for dropping off and picking up people at Cheltenham Railway Station.

Three drivers from Andy Cars in Cheltenham are facing fines which could top £600 between them.

They say they keep being caught out by the automatic numberplate recognition system which is in place at the station which charges motorists who stay there longer than 20 minutes.

Each of them have received fines of £100, which would rise to £200 if they were not promptly paid.

But the cabbies say they are only staying in the car park for a few minutes while they pick up and collect customers – and their on-board computers can prove it.

He said: “If that’s the case that means we can’t pick up and drop off at the station, and that can’t be right. If you want to pick up a disabled person you want to stop as near to the station as you can.

“It’s our livelihoods, it’s our jobs. We go there every single day. I can go there five times a day myself.

“It’s very frustrating. Now they’re reluctant to do drop offs just in case they get fined.”

ANPR systems use cameras to capture images of the vehicle and the licence plate on their arrival and when they leave the car park to calculate whether a motorist is liable for a fine.

A spokesman for APCOA said: “The ANPR system provides 20 minutes of free parking for dropping off and picking up passengers. We cannot comment on individual cases without further details.”

APCOA have been contacted for further comment.

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

May 25

Taxi reforms on the cards in Wales

THE system licensing taxis and private hire vehicles in Wales is to be reformed, it has been announced.

Control over the licensing of taxis and private hire vehicles will be devolved to the Welsh Government early next year.

And, yesterday, Wales’ economy and infrastructure secretary Ken Skates announced plans to revamp the system.

Speaking in the Senedd Mr Skates said the reform would form part of a wider revamp of public transport in Wales, including the South Wales Metro.

“When these planned improvements to rail and bus services are implemented, there will remain communities within our society for which public transport is simply not available or a viable alternative to use of a private motor vehicle,” he said.

“Taxi and private hire services are, therefore, an essential aspect of the transport network here in Wales.

“Taxis and private hire vehicles provide a vital public service, connecting people to places when alternative public transport services are not available or viable.

“The contribution that the sector makes to the night-time and tourism economy in many of our communities should not be underestimated.”

But he said the legal framework governing taxis has not been significantly reformed for more than 200 years, while the most recent legislation relating to private hire vehicles outside of London dates back to 1976 and this, along with more recent developments such as mobile phone-based booking apps such as Uber, had resulted in “a complex and fragmented licensing system”.

Mr Skates announced a consultation into the planned changes, due to begin shortly after next month’s General Election.

He said he hoped the new rules would protect licensed drivers from exploitation by rogue firms, as well as ensure customers had the best service possible. He added he also hoped he would be able to make it easier for drivers to work across local authority borders.

“Above all, we have a duty to ensure that the licensing arrangement in Wales safeguards the public and prevents the exploitation of the professional drivers that are delivering these very important services across our communities,” he said.

There are around 9,200 licensed taxi and private hire drivers in Wales.

Details of the reforms are yet to be confirmed.

 

source: http://www.southwalesargus.co.uk/news/gwentnews/15305277.Taxi_reforms_on_the_cards_in_Wales/

May 23

22nd May 2017

Apr 06

Law change provides equal treatment for disabled taxi users

Law change makes it illegal for taxi drivers to discriminate against wheelchair users.

Mar 30

Commons Questions – Taxis: South Yorkshire

Taxis: South Yorkshire

Department for Transport written question – answered on 29th March 2017.

Louise Haigh Shadow Minister (Culture, Media and Sport) (Digital Economy)

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, if he will make an assessment of the specific requirements of South Yorkshire in relation to taxi and private hire licensing; and if he will make a statement.

Andrew Jones Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)

The legislation that provides for licensing of taxi and private hire vehicle (PHV) services is enabling in its nature, giving local licensing authorities the discretion to set standards that they deem to be appropriate. The Department does not therefore undertake assessments of the licensing requirements of individual authorities.

The Government will shortly consult on Statutory Guidance in relation to the protection of children and vulnerable adults when using taxi and PHV services. The adoption of these measures among licensing authorities will be assessed.

Mar 30

Commons Questions – Taxis: Assistance Dogs

Taxis: Assistance Dogs

Department for Transport written question – answered on 29th March 2017.

 

Roger Godsiff Labour, Birmingham, Hall Green

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps the Government is taking to ensure that assistance dog owners are able to access taxis and minicabs.

 

Andrew Jones Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)

Drivers of taxis and PHVs must by law carry assistance dogs and cannot charge extra for doing so. It is therefore unacceptable that some drivers continue to discriminate in this way.

We aim to consult later this year on revised best practice for licensing authorities which will include strengthened recommendations relating to authorities’ response to alleged instances of assistance dog refusal.

Mar 23

More problems on the horizon for Uber

Until now, it’s Uber’s corporation tax dodging that has come under public scrutiny. Its VAT liability -not so much. But all that’s about to change.

Uber’s VAT problem arises out of a basic tension in its business model. The Uber brand is all about selling to passengers. The very front page of its website invites passengers to “Ride with Uber.” But its contracts pretend – as the Employment Tribunal found last year – that it is selling not to passengers but instead to drivers. And facing in two directions at once is always going to cause you problems.

And the VAT problem it causes is this: Uber’s contracts says its drivers are supplying passengers with transport services. And the Employment Tribunal agreed that passengers were being supplied with transport services. But it said that the passengers were being supplied with those services not by the drivers but by Uber.

And all of this matters because the drivers are below the VAT threshold. They earn, by and large, less than £83,000 a year and so, if they are supplying transport services to passengers, they don’t have to charge VAT.

But if Uber is supplying transport services to passengers for VAT purposes, well, we know it earns more than £83,000 a year. And so it has to charge VAT. And then something has to give.

The drivers get paid less or fares go up or Uber’s commission falls.

And there’s also a pretty big hit to Uber’s balance sheet. It will owe HMRC very substantial back tax: all the VAT it hasn’t paid over the last four years. And it will very likely owe back taxes not just in the UK but all across Europe.

Now, it’s really HMRC that should be having this fight with Uber. But it’s got a feeble record of taking on the big US tech companies.

And at the Good Law Project – which is bringing this fight – we’re not confident that it’s up for this fight. And so we’re going to take Uber on.

Our director is a Queen’s Counsel, specialising in tax. And we’ve taken formal advice from another Queen’s Counsel, also specialising in tax. And they both reckon Uber should be charging VAT.

So next week we’re going to launch our challenge. Check it out over at http://www.GoodLawProject.org. The Queen’s Counsel and solicitors who will act in the challenge will do so at very discounted rates.

But Uber is a mighty beast – you don’t need us to tell you that. And so, if we’re going to have this fight, we’ll need all the financial help you can give us.

So please, come on over, sign up for email updates, have a look and if you can – when we launch the case – make a contribution to the costs.

 

Link to crowdfunding – https://www.crowdjustice.org/case/uber/

 

source and thanks to our friends at: : London Cab Drivers Club

 

 

Mar 22

London Attack

The thoughts and prayers of the National Taxi Association and our membership go out to the victims of todays cowardly attack in our nations capital.

We praise the work of our emergency services and the braveness they showed during this horrific event.

 

 

 

Mar 18

Taxi drivers face ‘total nightmare’ over £450 CCTV they were ‘forced’ to install

TAXI drivers say the CCTV systems they have been ‘forced’ to install in their cars are invalidating their insurance and running down the vehicles’ batteries.

Some cabbies even fear the wiring has made their cars unsafe.

Warrington Borough Council ordered every taxi driver in town to fit CCTV in their vehicle to protect drivers and passengers.

Three companies were selected by the council to do the work and each driver had to pay £450 for the equipment to be installed.

But one driver, who asked not to be named, said: “This is draining the batteries because the CCTV is still running after the engine has stopped. It’s a total nightmare.

“Some drivers are having insurance problems due to the fact the car has been modified, meaning they can only get third party insurance. And potentially we are now all driving cars with electrical problems.

“The council forced this on around 700 cars without due diligence.”

Cabbies also say the cameras can easily be blocked by lowering the sun visor and another taxi driver added: “Many drivers want CCTV however there have been failures in the implementation from the start.

“As a trade we are helpless to do anything. As a diligent driver with my passengers’ safety in mind I would disconnect the system and get it checked, however I would be suspended immediately if I was to do this. Our licence conditions say it must be working all the time.”

A council spokesman said the matter is currently under review but declined to comment further.

The Information Commissioners Office is also looking into claims the system breaches data protection.

A spokesman from the ICO said: “The Data Protection Act protects the public by setting out rules that personal data must be handled fairly and lawfully. We have ongoing discussions with Warrington Council about its use of CCTV in taxis.”

The council was one of the first in the country to introduce CCTV in taxis and the plans were launched in June 2016 following a public consultation.

It was hoped the system would prevent drivers from verbal abuse and assault as well as helping to provide evidence for any crimes that may take place inside taxis.

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

Mar 18

Taxi drivers must ‘pass route tests, have good English’ and told to adopt dress code

Taxi drivers in Sandwell will have to pass a tougher test proving knowledge of the area, good English – and will also have a dress code.

The rules on clothing, footwear and personal hygiene has been branded ‘ridiculous’ by taxi chiefs.

They will also be required to undertake training on issues around child sexual exploitation and disability as part of the new Sandwell Council rules.

There will also be ban on tinted windows and the council says it will no longer be accepting driving experience in other countries.

Prospective cabbies must have held a full UK licence for two years and will have to pay for the suitability test.

Existing drivers with serious criminal offences are to have their licences reviewed by the council’s licensing committee.

Shaz Saleem, of the West Midlands Taxi Drivers Association, said: “Some of the ideas in these new policies are ridiculous.

“Having a dress code is ridiculous. That has nothing to do with customers’ safety. That is not going to make any difference.”

Mr Saleem welcomed improvements to the knowledge test, but said drivers should not have to pay extra as it should be part of the licence.

Councillor Preet Gill, cabinet member for public health and protection, said: “The public’s safety is at the top of our priorities.

“Something which I think is really important is that they will now have to go through CSE training.

“We have started rolling it out gradually but it will now be something they all have to do.”

The current verbal knowledge test requires the applicant for a drivers licence to answer 10 questions based on the law and conditions attached to the licence.

Any applicants must answer eight questions correctly in order to pass the test, and must do so within three attempts.

But this current knowledge test does not contain any arithmetic, Highway Code, or location questions and is described in the report as ‘weak.’

The tinted windows rule does not apply to limos or those vehicles already fitted with them prior to the new rules.

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

Mar 18

Cab drivers hold protest outside Luton Town Hall

Hackney and private hire drivers protest outside Luton town hall yesterday morning

MORE than 50 drivers attended a protest outside Luton Town Hall yesterday over safety issues and the ‘unfair’ issuing of licenses.

The protest was organised by Luton Hackney Carriage Association and Luton Borough Drivers Union with the aim of raising a number of longstanding issues they have had with Luton Borough Council.

In a jointly released statement the two groups raised their concerns, which include fears the public could be at risk from drivers who are operating in Luton but not under the jurisdiction of Luton Borough Council (LBC).

Mushtaq Ahmed, chairman of Luton Borough Drivers Union, said: “We wanted to show our anger about how Luton Borough Council are turning a blind eye to us.

“The next step is to arrange a meeting with Luton Borough Council so we can hear their side.

“Any further protests will be subject to the outcome of the proposed meeting.”

The statement released by the two groups read: “Drivers suspended by Luton Borough Council for serious offences are back working in Luton with Uber.

“[The] council is ignoring the lessons of Rotherham Child Sexual Exploitation Case which involved taxis and minicabs working unchecked outside their licensed zones.

“Lack of enforcement increases public vulnerability; Councillors and Licensing Enforcement will be held directly accountable for any unfortunate incident as they have been repeatedly warned about this risk.”

Other areas of concern which have been raised are:

Accusations that Central Bedfordshire-based drivers have been granted licences to operate in Luton

That licensed Luton drivers are being forced out of the profession by drivers who don’t pay money to the council

That more drivers who are coming in from elsewhere lack the local knowledge that the licensed drivers do

A spokesman for Luton Borough Council said: “The council is always happy to engage constructively with local businesses and is ready to offer assistance, advice and share information with representatives from the town’s taxi trade.

“We are already putting plans in place to invite an independent legal adviser to speak on some of the issues raised by the drivers and hope to be able to continue a positive dialogue with them in the future.”

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

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