Crawley minicab firm can still operate in town despite former licencee’s conviction for 10 offences

One of Crawley’s best known minicab firms will continue to operate in the town after an agreement was made that a man convicted of criminal offences would hand the operator’s licence to somebody else.

Mawaz Khan held the private hire operator’s licence for United Cars on Grand Parade, just off the High Street, but on May 13 he was convicted of 10 offences relating to using private hire cars and drivers which were not licensed by Crawley Borough Council for bookings in Crawley.

This practice is sometimes referred to as ‘cross border hiring’ and he was ordered to pay more than £3,000 before the council then revoked his operator’s licence.

Khan was given 21 days to lodge an appeal, which he did, and the case was due to be heard at Worthing Magistrates’ Court on July 20. However he withdrew the appeal on the day of the hearing because an agreement was made with the council.

The operator’s licence has now been issued to somebody else, meaning United Cars can still operate in Crawley, but under strict conditions designed to prevent such practices occurring again. The council was also awarded costs in defending this matter.

United Cars has been able to continue operating since May, pending the outcome of the appeal.

Councillor Michael Pickett, chairman of the council’s licensing committee, said: “We take public safety very seriously and cross border hiring seriously affects our ability to regulate the taxi trade and is illegal.

“Crawley has an international airport and a large number of private hire and hackney carriages and great efforts are made to ensure those working in the taxi trade who are issued a licence by the council are safe and suitable to undertake this work.”

United Cars has been contacted so that we could speak to Mr Khan but we were told he is away on holiday until tomorrow.

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

Shock at would-be taxi drivers’ criminal pasts

Manslaughter, possessing an offensive weapon, arson and burglary are just some of the convictions held by prospective Wigan taxi drivers, according to a new shock report.

Government data reveals town hall checks on would-be drivers have flagged up almost 3,000 offences in the last three years.

The recorded convictions also include serious motoring offences such as driving without a licence or insurance, drunk driving and driving whilst disqualified.

The information does not include how many applications for licences were granted by the council although the Evening Post understands a vast majority would have been rejected.

However, a recent investigation by our sister paper the Wigan Observer found that on 19 occasions in the last three years applicants with criminal records did have their licence bids given the green light.

Town hall bosses have moved to further reassure residents that the safety of the public “is of paramount importance” in their decision process.

The government figures show Wigan Council has requested 1,544 background checks in the last three years, of those 488 had previous convictions or cautions.

From those 488 applications, a total of 2,939 offences were flagged meaning those applicants will have had multiple convictions.

Julie Middlehurst, group manager for regulatory services at Wigan Council, said: “We would like to reassure the public that each case is considered very carefully on its own merits and based around the circumstances of the offences along with representations made by the driver at the hearing of the committee. But at all times the safety of the public is of paramount importance in that decision.”

Earlier this year the Evening Post’s sister paper the Observer revealed on several occasions private hire licence holders who committed motoring offences were hit with temporary bans. On one occasion a driver who had accrued 12 points on his DVLA licence – the usual limit for disqualification, received just a six-week suspension from the town hall.

Rachel Bedgood, chief executive of Complete Background Screening, said the figures highlight the need for stringent checks to take place. “Without DBS checks, it is impossible to know the full background of people we employ in industries including those serving the public on a daily basis and, quite frankly, the reality could be quite dangerous if we do not continue to screen employees correctly.”

A spokesman for the National Private Hire Association had previously said a common sense approach is required by town halls when assessing licence applications and a clear distinction should be made between lower-tier motoring offences and more severe offences in the decision making process.

All taxi or private hire vehicle applications are submitted for consideration by the council’s regulation committee.

Ms Middlehurst added: “When the Regulation Committee considers convictions against a person who is applying for a taxi drivers’ licence they will also refer to adopted policy and guidelines based on the previous convictions which is available to view online here:

http://www.wigan.gov.uk/Docs/PDF/Busine … ctions.pdf

source: http://www.wigantoday.net/

Fife councillors welcome first electric taxi

Councillors have welcomed the first electric taxi to Fife’s roads – and have hailed the success of Fife Council’s ECO Stars scheme.

Aitch Taxis, one of the scheme’s members, has become the first company in Fife to start using an electric car as a private hire vehicle.

Councillor Bob Young, chairman of the regulation and licensing committee, said: “The ECO Stars scheme encourages operators to run their vehicles in the most efficient way, which reduces carbon emissions as well as their own running costs.

“Cleaner air is good for everyone and 22 operators – running 111 vehicles – have joined the scheme so far, showing they’re committed to reducing air pollution in Fife.

“I’d like to congratulate Aitch Taxis for putting us on the road to a cleaner environment and hope others will follow their lead. Electric vehicles don’t emit any pollutants while they’re in use so they can play an important role in tackling climate change and improving local air quality.”

Cllr Young added Fife had an excellent network of chargers that anyone can use if they were considering switching to an electric car.

There are 19 charging points for electric vehicles, including three rapid chargers. These are available for the public to use at long stay car parks in town centres and at public transport interchanges such as railway stations.

The three rapid chargers can be found at Petheram Bridge car park, St Andrews; Bankhead Central (visitors car park), Glenrothes; and Halbeath Park and Ride.

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

JAILED: Mechanic beat up Wolverhampton taxi driver who refused to take friend home

A ‘highly skilled’ motor sport mechanic has been jailed for launching a savage attack on a taxi driver when he refused to take his ‘very drunk’ colleague home.

Furious Gregory Senior hurled a glass at the taxi as it started to leave without the customer, who had collapsed after being sick during a work Christmas party, Wolverhampton Crown Court heard.

The 42-year-old then raced across the car park to repeatedly kick and punch the driver, Mr Harvinder Singh, who had stopped to protest at the missile being thrown.

Friends quickly ushered Senior away from the fracas, leaving the bloodied victim slumped in the car with a fractured right eye socket.

Trouble flared in Warstones Drive, Penn, near the Indigo restaurant, shortly before midnight on December 4, said Mr Gareth Walters, prosecuting.

He added: “The defendant had been at an enjoyable works Christmas meal but a member of the group had drunk too much and was unwell in the restaurant. This man was taken outside where he effectively collapsed.

“A taxi was called to take him home but when the driver saw the state of the man he refused to take him and started to drive off. At this point the defendant threw a glass after him.

“The taxi drove on a little way before stopping. The driver was getting out when the defendant ran over to him and punched and kicked him.”

Self-employed Mr Singh needed an operation on the injured eye, followed by 15 hospital appointments and said the incident had cost him around £7,000 in lost wages, the court was told.

Mr Walters added: “He has suffered from flash backs, loss of sleep and anxiety when picking up passengers.”

Miss Jodie Smith, defending father-of-two-Senior, said: “He is horrified by what he has done. He is a mature, responsible man who was trying to play the role of Good Samaritan. He had been drinking sensibly but another person got so intoxicated that he passed out.

“He is horrified by what he then did. He clearly has anger management problems.”

Senior, from Rose Hill, Willenhall – whose offer of £3,000 compensation for the victim was accepted by the court – pleaded guilty to causing grievous bodily harm and was sent to prison by Judge John Wait for 14 months.

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

Londonderry taxi operator fined £3,500 for taxi licensing offences

A licensed Londonderry taxi operator was fined a total of £3,500 at Londonderry Magistrates’ Court on 28 July 2016.

Taxi Co (NI Ltd) of 3(a) Lower Clarendon Street, Londonderry contested the matter but was found guilty and fined £2,000 for using an unlicensed taxi, £750 for failing to keep licensing and insurance records and £750 for using an unlicensed driver.

On 9 September 2015, DVA enforcement officers stopped and inspected a motor car displaying a ‘Taxi Co’ taxi roof sign at Crescent Link Retail Park, Londonderry.

Checks carried out at the scene established that its’ driver was a disqualified driver and that he did not hold a Taxi Driver’s Licence or valid motor insurance.

Further investigation also established that the vehicle was unlicensed and was operating on behalf of Taxi Co (NI Ltd) at the time.

source: https://www.infrastructure-ni.gov.uk/

Daimler to take stake in UK taxi app Hailo

The Ft reports that Daimler will increase its drive into the world of car booking services by taking a stake in Hailo, the UK taxi app.

The owner of Mercedes-Benz will announce a deal to partner with the service as early as Tuesday, according to people briefed on the matter, write Peter Campbell in London and James Fontanella-Khan in New York.

It already owns MyTaxi, a German company it bought in 2014 that links consumers to nearby taxis.

The deal will be the latest advancement by automakers into ride booking services, which many in the industry believe may be the future of urban transport.

General Motors has made a $500m investment in US group Lyft, Volkswagen has taken a $300m stake in Israeli app Gett, and Toyota has announced an undisclosed investment in Uber.

These deals allow the car makers to develop on-demand services and share technology with the app groups.

They also propel the car groups to the front of the queue to sell vehicles to taxi operators or minicab drivers, in a time when personal ownership is expected to dwindle in city centres – especially among younger people – and be replaced with a greater number of “on demand” services.

The founder of Gett, Shahar Waiser, has predicted that within a decade, half of all journeys made will be using a vehicle summoned by an app.

While services such as Gett and Hailo link consumers with taxi drivers, Uber has its own drivers who do not have to be members of a taxi group.

Hailo, which launched in 2011, has not been without setbacks in its journey so far, and has been seeking a strategic investor for some time.

The company, which has raised around $100m to date, pulled out of the US and Canadian markets in 2014 after saying that strong competition from Uber and Lyft rendered it unprofitable. At the same time, Jay Bregman, co-founder and co-chief executive, left the company.

Its current investors include investment group Accel, Wellington Partners and Sir Richard Branson. The group continues to operate in cities across Europe including London, Madrid, Barcelona and Dublin.

In 2014, the most recent year for which figures are available, Hailo Network Holdings Limited reported a pre-tax loss of £10m.

Hailo and Daimler were not immediately available for comment. The planned investment by Daimler was first reported on the Sky News website.

source: http://www.ft.com/

Minicab driver Assaulted After Teens Fled Without Paying

A private-hire driver has ended up in hospital after being an assaulted in Plymouth.

The 46 year old suffered injuries to his head and face after picking up a group of teenagers from a pub on North Hill.

Police say they tried to run off without paying at Honicknowle Lane and when the driver followed one of the group, he was assaulted.

Officers are urging anyone who saw something in the early hours of Sunday to come forward.

A spokesman from Devon and Cornwall Police said: “Police are appealing for witnesses following an assault on a private-hire driver on Honicknowle Lane, Plymouth, at around 5am on Sunday 24th July.

“A Private-hire First blue Ford Mondeo estate picked up four teenagers near the Carpe Diem pub, North Hill around 4.50am, and drove the group to Honicknowle Lane.

“On arrival at Honicknowle Lane, all four occupants fled the private-hire without paying. The driver followed one of the group who, along with another person, proceeded to assault the private-hire driver.

“The victim, a 46 year old local man, sustained head and facial injuries which required hospital treatment.

“The four occupants of the private-hire are described as a white female aged 16 to 18 with long blonde hair, and three white men, all aged between 16 and 18 and around 5”3 in height.

“One man was of slim build wearing a black baseball cap black jacket and grey bottoms; another was wearing a black baseball cap, wearing a dark top, and carrying a black man bag. The other man wasn’t wearing a cap but was also carrying a black man bag over his shoulder.

“Police are appealing for witnesses to the attack and for any information to help the investigation.”

Anyone with any information is asked to contact the police on 101 or 101@dc.police.uk quoting police crime reference CR/050256/16.

You can also give information anonymously through Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

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

New policy after South Ribble Council taxi licence row

Months after a taxi licensing scandal broke at South Ribble Council, a comprehensive regulation policy has been agreed.

Council members have voted to approve a draft document outlining the council’s policies including a ‘fit and proper person test’, qualifications needed and condition of vehicles.

Previously, the authority’s policy could be found within numerous decisions taken by the General Licensing Committee over previous years.

Councillor John Rainsbury, committee chairman, said this was the case for 80 per cent of borough councils across the country.

However, following a high-profile investigation into failings of South Ribble’s licensing department – including drivers being given licenses without correct documentation and reports of child sexual exploitation by two taxi drivers – it was “seen as best practice to have a comprehensive policy as it promotes a transparent and consistent approach towards the regulation of the trade”.

Developing a policy was also the number one recommendation made by independent solicitors who reviewed the council’s licensing functions.

Labour Councillor Matthew Tomlinson asked for two amendments to be made to the policy, which were agreed.

The first point related to items of clothing deemed inappropriate for drivers.

He said: “It’s picking out clothing that women might wear and I think that’s casual sexism. Just take it out and say inappropriate clothing, we all know what that means.”

He also suggested adding a requirement that a driver should have a valid driving licence, as there has been a case where a driver did not have permission to drive in the UK.

Coun Warren Bennett suggested reducing the time between health checks from five years to three years, but it was decided that this should go to consultation.

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

Teenagers jailed for knife and meat cleaver attacks on taxi drivers

TEENAGERS who lured taxi drivers into a series of New Year attacks and robberies have been jailed.

Ryan Costello, 18, and Anthony Graham, 19, attempted to rob four separate taxi drivers over two nights starting in the early hours of New Year’s Day.

Bolton Crown Court heard how one of the drivers was so badly hurt that his life has been ruined and the teenagers are regarded as so dangerous that the court imposed an extended sentence for public protection.

Judge Richard Gioserano sentenced Costello to six years and nine months in custody and Graham to seven years and two months. They will each spend an additional three years on licence.

The court heard how the defendants called Royal Taxis in Bury asking for a taxi on what is the busiest night of the year for taxi drivers.

Javed Ahmed picked up the pair from Coronation Road, Radcliffe, taking them on a round trip to get pizza.

But on their return Costello produced a knife which he held to Mr Ahmed’s throat and shouted: “Give me your money, give me everything, give me your phone.”

Craig Macgregor, prosecuting, said: “Mr Ahmed was very scared — he could feel the sharp blade against his throat. He thought he was going to be cut. Then the blade was held to his left cheek.”

The driver managed to escape the car and scream for help, at which point the defendants ran away.

Undeterred, the teenagers then called Royal Peel Cars to Coronation Road at 4.30am and driver Abdul Anjum arrived.

While Graham asked him to open the door, Costello held up an eight inch bladed machete and “brought it down with force” towards Mr Anjum’s head.

The taxi driver was then pulled out of the car by Graham, with Mr Anjum telling the robbers to take his money.

But Graham continued to punch the victim in the head and back, laughing as he rained down blows.

“Graham was saying ‘you should be recording this’ and at this point Costello then used the machete to hit him (Mr Anjum) on his leg just below his knee,” said Mr Macgregor.

The teenagers then stole £350 before running off.

The court heard how Mr Anjum had to have an operation on his leg and, in a statement read out in court said: “I feel like this has destroyed my life. I have lost my independence and I am scared and paranoid.

“I do not trust people any more. I can walk but I have to keep stopping to rest between and it is very painful.

“I am unable to pray because I can’t kneel down and I struggle to get to the mosque. It has had a huge impact on my life.

“This incident has destroyed my plans for the future, I don’t how long it will be before I get better or if I will get better at all.”

In the early hours of the next day the pair targeted another two taxi drivers.

Mohammed Ahmed, from Swiftline Taxis, picked them up at 2.45am on Coronation Road and the court heard how Costello, sat in the back of the vehicle, was bragging about the “attempted murder” of Mr Anjum the previous night.

When the taxi stopped in Coppice Street Costello, said to have been armed with a meat cleaver, and Graham demanded money from Mr Ahmed.

The final victim was Ibrahim Ali who works for Magnum Taxis.

He was called to Mossfield Close in Bury and as the defendants got to the taxi they told him to get his money out.

Mr Ali called the police and both youths were found at a flat in the street, where police retrieved a hunting knife with an eight inch blade and a meat cleaver.

A phone was also recovered which had been used to call all four taxis.

Costello, of Coronation Road, Radcliffe and Graham, of Mossfield Close, Bury, both pleaded guilty to conspiracy to rob and wounding with intent.

The court heard how both defendants had taken a cocktail of drink and drugs when the offences were committed.

Mark Friend defending Costello said: “He is still haunted by what he did and it’s clear that the defendant has had a very difficult start in life.”

Michael Lea, defending Graham said: “He has had a troubled childhood and a troubled family background.

“He had taken a cocktail of drink and drugs which is no excuse, but that’s the position that he was in.”

Passing sentence on the teenagers, Judge Richard Gioserano said: “You, Ryan Costello, issued a merciless attack on a defenceless man, you attacked him before he had the chance to say that you could take his money.

“He was a man at night working alone providing a public service and he was outnumbered and defenceless and it had a devastating effect on his life.

“It was not an isolated attack and instead you repeatedly lured in other taxi drivers to attack them.

“One night’s violence was not enough to you two and you moved on to your next victim, leaving the last victim to live with what you did to him for the rest of his life.

“Both of you pose a significant risk of serious harm to the public.”

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

View sought on council’s new taxi policy

A consultation on the draft policy was given the go-ahead this week by councillors at Licensing Committee. It will run until 22 August.

The council is responsible for licensing hackney carriage and private hire vehicles and their associated proprietors and operators throughout the city.

The aim of the proposed policy is to give a clear statement on how the council will work with operators to protect the public and the environment and deliver a professional, respected and easy to access taxi service for all.

One of the most important elements of the proposed new policy is the objective to license only low emissions taxi vehicles by 2026.

Air quality is poor in a number of locations in the city where there is a concentration of emissions from buses, taxis and service vehicles.

The council’s Air Quality Action Plan last year identified reducing emissions from taxis and buses as one key policy to help improve air quality here.

Incentives to encourage the take-up of low emission taxis, in order to help meet the proposed 2026 targets that are under consideration in the proposed new policy, include:

  • A discount or exemption on fees for drivers of ‘Low Emission Taxis’ (petrol electric hybrids) or ‘Ultra-Low Emission Taxis’ (fully electric);
  • Extending the maximum age limit allowed for taxis if they are fully electric or petrol/electric hybrids;
  • Creating an electric taxi-only rank;
  • Providing a number of taxi-only charging points.

Other initiatives under consideration in the proposed policy include:

 

  • Making training in safeguarding and disability awareness mandatory for all taxi licence holders;
  • A review of the current medical examination requirements for licensed drivers;
  • Prohibiting the use of e-cigarettes or similar devices in taxis.

The current policy, which has been updated from time to time, has been in place since October 2011 and is now due for review.

Cllr Gerri Bird, Chair of Licensing Committee, said: “For a number of residents of the city, as well as people doing business here or visiting, the taxi trade provides an important service.

“It’s the council’s job to provide a taxi service that’s safe, accessible to all and meets demand.

“Low emission taxis are less polluting and have lower operating costs, so it is right that we look at encouraging their take-up by the taxi trade.

“Our draft policy sets out the high standards we expect and I would encourage everyone to take this opportunity to have their say on the future operation of this important city transport service.”

Residents, visitors, taxi operators and others can take part in the consultation which will be published at: https://www.cambridge.gov.uk/consultations/tell-us-what-you-think-of-our-revised-taxi-licensing-policy .

Consultation letters to taxi operators and other stakeholders will also be sent out and a trade forum held.

All comments will be taken into account in preparing the final policy and the results of the consultation will be discussed by councillors at the next Licensing Committee on 17 October.

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