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.

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.

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

 

 

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.

 

 

 

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/

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/

Taxi driver loses licence after judge rules he was not a fit and proper person

Taxi driver loses licence after judge rules he was not a fit and proper person
Peter White, from Billingham, had his taxi licence revoked after being told he had a previous conviction which he failed to disclose

Peter James White, from Billingham , has had his licence revoked after a judge at Durham Crown Court endorsed a council view that he was not a fit and proper person to hold a taxi licence.

White, 40, of Tempest Court, Wynyard was also ordered to pay the council’s costs of £3,888.

The judge agreed with the Durham County Council committee that White was not a fit and proper person to drive taxis and its decision not to renew his licence

The local authority had initially made its ruling after hearing of a previous conviction which was considered relevant to White’s suitability to be licensed.

The committee had also based its decision on White’s failure to declare the previous conviction to the authority and complaints of aggressive behaviour towards council and enforcement officers.

A second man, Trevor Stark, 48, of Hawthorne Close, Langley Park had had his licence revoked by the authority after it found he too was not a fit and proper person to drive taxis as a result of previous convictions.

The two had then appealed the decision to Peterlee magistrates which ruled they should both be able to hold a licence.

But, unhappy with that decision, Durham County Council then took the case to the crown court which found in its favour.

Speaking after the hearing Joanne Waller, Durham County Council’s head of environment, health and consumer protection, said: “We are satisfied with the ruling of the crown court judge in these cases.

“When deciding whether someone is fit and proper to drive taxis, it is only right that we consider convictions which might impair their suitability to be licensed.

“These could include road traffic offences such as speeding or breaching laws which prevent drivers plying for hire.

“We were always confident in our original decisions which took into account the drivers’ previous misconduct, the taxi licensing regime, the relevant legislation, our licensing policy and relevant case law.

“We will continue to take our duty of deciding who is fit and proper to drive taxis extremely seriously.”

Bridlington’s largest taxi firm could be forced off the road

Bridlington’s largest taxi firm has had its licence revoked “in the interest of public safety”.

Q Cars, which employs around “30” drivers was given 21 days notice to cease operating, by East Riding of Yorkshire Council on Wednesday, last week.

The authority would not confirm the reasons behind the licence withdrawal.

But a spokesman added: “There have been concerns around the operation of a private hire business and so a decision has been made to revoke the private hire operators licence in the interest of public safety.”

It is understood that Q Cars plans to appeal the council’s decision.

However, the news spells an uncertain future for around “30” drivers employed by the firm.

One driver told the Free Press: “Everyone is going to be put out of a job.

“The owner is in a dispute with East Riding of Yorkshire Council and has lost his licence.

“We are going to have start driving on our own. We had a meeting last night (Tuesday February 7) and the council won’t budge.”

The employee added: “In the incident, a purse, containing bank cards and cash, was stolen.”

Q Cars’ website describes the company as “Bridlington’s largest taxi and private hire firm”. It also claims to make “5,000 bookings per week locally and nationally”.

The family-run business has been operating in Bridlington for more than 25 years.

The business owner was approached by the Free Press, but he declined to comment.

Uber’s York licence to be reviewed, as complaints log is revealed

UBER drivers are coming from Leeds, Bradford and London to work in York, according to a council report.

City of York Council has received 72 complaints about Uber’s vehicles and drivers since the app-based service was allowed to operate in the city four months ago.

A union representing local drivers has now urged city leaders to rescind Uber’s licence, when it comes up for renewal later this month.

The company operates in 536 countries and works by customers ordering a taxi to their location on their smartphone.

It has proved controversial in other UK cities and York is no exception.

Thirty one complaints have been made about vehicles coming into the city from elsewhere, however investigations found 24 of the complaints were unfounded or could not be fully investigated due to insufficient evidence.

A council report said drivers of vehicles licensed by authorities in Leeds, Bradford, Kirklees and London appeared to have chosen to work in York.

Uber was reported 23 times for plying for hire – the process of a private hire car picking up passengers who flag them down instead of booking them – but 22 cases were deemed unfounded or could not be pursued.

Picking up people illegally means passengers would not be insured if the driver was involved in a crash.

Other complaints range from Uber cars not having the correct door signs and licence plates to no insurance and smoking in the cab.

Councillors will meet next week to discuss renewing the firm’s licence, which expires on Christmas Eve, but is facing strong calls from the GMB union to rescind it.

GMB, the trade union for Hackney and Private Hire drivers, met with Rachael Maskell MP, for York Central, on Friday.

Bill Chard, speaking on behalf of the GMB’s Professional Drivers’ Section, said: “These drivers have no connection with, and are not controlled or managed by City of York Council.

“GMB calls upon the council to withdraw Uber’s licence as they have proved that they are neither fit nor capable of operating safely in the city.

“GMB would like the council to confirm whether Uber’s operating licence was given on the basis of six licensed vehicles.”

A spokesman for Uber said: “Uber is fully licensed in York and abides by the same rules and regulations as other operators in the City.

“Uber is also licensed in surrounding areas and licensed private-hire drivers are not restricted from carrying out bookings in other areas provided the operator, driver and vehicle are properly licensed. Uber only uses licensed drivers and vehicles under its operating licences, and therefore such bookings are not illegal.

“York licensed drivers booked by other York private hire operators are also able to carry out booking in other areas, for instance picking up bookings from Selby.”

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

Minibus taxi safeguarding loophole must be fixed, councils urge

A “worrying” loophole that allows people to drive members of the public in minibuses without having a criminal record check must be solved by urgently updating taxi licensing laws, councils warned today.

The Local Government Association (LGA), which represents more than 370 councils, says the safeguarding flaw is a huge loophole which is putting the public at an increased risk of harm, including those who may be more vulnerable after a night out.

Under current laws, drivers of Public Carriage Vehicles (PCVs) – those seating between nine and sixteen passengers – are licensed by the DVLA but are not subject to a criminal record check.

This contrasts with councils whose licensing of taxis – both hackney carriages and private hire vehicles (minicab) – requires drivers to produce an up-to-date enhanced criminal record check. Councils have the power to refuse or revoke a licence if a driver has convictions or cautions, or has behaved in a way that they believe renders the driver a risk to the public.

The loophole means that drivers refused a taxi or minicab licence, or whose licence has been revoked by councils, are obtaining a PCV licence and then continuing to operate in the same area – sometimes working for the same company. The drivers are effectively operating as licensed drivers by transporting members of the public around in larger vehicles, despite not having had the same checks or being deemed not ‘fit and proper’ to do so by the council.

The LGA says the loophole is undermining work to safeguard taxi passengers and is urging the Government to amend the law to ensure that 9-16 seater vehicles are licensed by councils in line with the requirements for taxis and minicabs. The Law Commission made recommendations on this in its 2014 report into taxi licensing, but the Government has yet to respond to the report or introduce a taxi reform Bill.

Examples of drivers who continue to drive members of the public despite councils determining that they pose a risk to passengers include:

A taxi driver whose licence was revoked following a conviction for harassment and further allegations of harassment and inappropriate conduct with a child was granted a PCV licence.

A taxi driver whose licence was refused for issues relating to misconduct – mainly with young female and vulnerable passengers – was granted a PCV licence within six months, working for the same company.

A taxi driver whose licence was revoked for inappropriate conduct with two young female passengers – specifically using data from booking and dispatch records to call and text them from his mobile phone – is working for the same taxi company as a PCV driver.

A man who, after being refused a taxi licence twice, drove his car through the barrier of the site where the councils’ officers were based in order to confront them, is now driving a 16-seat minibus taxi.

As larger minibus taxis become more commonplace, the LGA says that it is vital that the public receives the same level of protection regardless of whether they are using a standard sized taxi, minicab or minibus.

Cllr Simon Blackburn, Chair of the LGA’s Safer and Stronger Communities Board, said:

“The majority of PCV drivers will be people who the public can trust, but this loophole provides an opportunity for unscrupulous drivers to continue to work in close proximity to passengers, even when a council has determined that they are not safe to do so.

“Anyone who books or flags down a standard taxi has the reassurance that all drivers are vetted and licensed by councils. The same safeguarding checks should apply to anyone driving a nine to 16-seat minibus

“Larger minibuses are often sent in place of a regular taxi to pick up individuals or small parties, purely because they are nearest to the pick-up point rather than because there is a requirement for such a large vehicle. They are used to take groups of children to school, or to drive groups home after nights out.

“It is therefore extremely worrying that councils’ proactive work to protect taxi passengers from harm – and particularly those who may be most vulnerable – is being undermined by this loophole.

“We are urging the Government to act quickly to address this and bring PCVs into line with other local taxi licensing requirements.

“Two-and-a-half years after the Law Commission’s report into taxi licensing, this issue shows why it is vital that the Government introduces a Taxi Reform Bill to address this and the many other anomalies hindering our taxi licensing system.”

source: http://www.local.gov.uk/

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